Slave To The Algorithm: Are Keywords Killing The Creativity Of SMEs?

Jayne Rodgers, Brendan James Keegan

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

    64 Downloads (Pure)


    Opportunities for SMEs to describe themselves creatively are restricted by the impact of writing content for search engine optimisation (SEO) purposes. The use of keywords imposes limitations on the ways businesses can differentiate their product, service or offering (PSO) from others operating in similar areas. The ability to be found online through the use of keywords/phrases is restricted by search engine algorithms, with training in 'good' SEO focusing on how to say what search engines expect, rather than on the ways business would ordinarily (or would like to) describe themselves. These restrictions are twofold: as businesses master keywords in order to be found online, search engines reiterate the same keywords as dominant, creating a self-perpetuating cycle in which creative, unusual or novel descriptors become unhelpful or ineffective. This is significant because digital marketing knowhow for SMEs is predicated in part on mastering keywords. This leaves SMEs little scope for effectively promoting through search engines the unique skills and expertise they often rely on to succeed. Linking to the conference theme, Marketing The Brave, the limitations of keywords are analysed and ways SMEs can use the growth of the semantic web to increasingly personalise their offering online are explored. Introduction With 5.7 million SMEs in the UK alone in 2017 (Rhodes, 2017), competition to be found online by potential customers is fierce. Digital training for SMEs often focuses on effective use of SEO and the tools and techniques needed to be found online ahead of competitors. Commercial entities of all sizes are highly reliant upon search engine marketing efforts to attract prospective customers (eMarketer, 2017). Recent figures continue to establish the importance of SEO to the ecommerce sector (OfCom, 2017). For example, in 2017 the majority of the £21billion UK digital advertising spend went to digital display and search engine channels (IAB UK, 2017).
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018
    EventAcademy of Marketing Conference: Marketing the Brave - University of Stirling, Stirling, United Kingdom
    Duration: 2 Jul 20185 Jul 2018


    ConferenceAcademy of Marketing Conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


    Dive into the research topics of 'Slave To The Algorithm: Are Keywords Killing The Creativity Of SMEs?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this