In the workplace, each employee may have their own tasks and targets, but together, you are all working toward the same end goal.
But with so many different people coming together, there’s bound to be some friction on how to implement ideas and strategies best. The key to helping your team succeed is communication.
Communication is a collaborative effort, and everyone can stand to work on their communication skills. While some workers may feel shy and won’t share their brilliant ideas, other team members may struggle to see or understand different points of view.
No matter where you are with your communication skills, you can improve them with five simple steps, leading to a more collaborative and productive team.
How to Improve Communication Skills in the Workplace
Improving communication skills in the workplace can involve many different elements. Whether you want to be a better listener or check in with each employee, there are several ways to help your team communicate more effectively with each other. Here are five easy ways to start bettering your communication skills.
1. Be an active listener.
Are you truly listening to your team members? If you’re doodling away in a meeting, writing emails during a Zoom call, or interrupting with your own ideas or solutions, you’re not actively listening. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to improve your listening skills to ensure your co-workers feel heard.
- Make eye contact when others are speaking.
- Put away distractions. You can take notes, but don’t doodle, send emails, or type out texts when someone is trying to speak with you.
- Pay attention to the other person’s tone and body language.
- Hold your thoughts until the person is completely done speaking. When it is your turn, respond appropriately and reflect back the information just shared with you to show your attentiveness.
- Nod and smile as appropriate while the other person is talking. If possible, try to avoid tugging at your hair, fingers, or other nearby objects.
- Don’t plan out what to say next in your head. You can quickly become consumed by these thoughts and miss what the other person is saying.
- Hold judgments and opinions to yourself. Avoid jumping to conclusions, and instead, let the person share everything they have to say.
- Once the person has finished speaking, ask questions to clarify any points you are unsure about.
2. Hold effective meetings.
If you just start adding meetings to the calendar every other day, you’re probably going to have a lot of groaning and grumbling employees. Improving communication doesn’t mean hosting more meetings. The trick is to host efficient and meaningful meetings instead.
- First thing’s first. Determine what meetings are necessary, and which ones would be better off as emails. Wasting time in unproductive meetings leaves employees with less time and energy to get their essential tasks completed.
- Create outlines for each meeting. This helps keep everyone on topic, and you can divert back to the outline any time the conversation starts to stray.
- Invite only the people who truly need to attend the meeting. While communication company-wide is important, it’s counterproductive to invite people to a meeting who have no need to be there. If there are a few points that pertain to someone, but they don’t need to be there for the whole meeting, invite them to attend and start with those points. Better yet, send it in an email.
- Leave the meeting with defined action items. This helps make the meeting worthwhile.
- Follow up with the team after the meeting. Send notes on what the meeting covered, and end with the action items expected of the team.
3. Explain the why.
When you ask an employee to start doing research for a new project or download reports, try explaining why you’re asking them to do the task. You may ask an employee to download reports for something they worked on last month.
With no explanation, they may worry that their performance was poor and they are in trouble when really you just want to apply the numbers to a new company initiative you’re working toward.
Regardless of the task and reason, share why you are asking for certain things. This can also help avoid misunderstandings and miscommunications among the team.
4. Check-in with employees.
Even if you have an open-door policy that invites employees to speak their minds to you at any time, not everyone will take advantage of this open communication line. Some employees may feel nervous to share their thoughts or prefer to keep to themselves.
Host one-on-one meetings periodically, perhaps once a month or per quarter, to check in with each team member. Ask them about the progress on their tasks, check if they are feeling overwhelmed, and invite them to share their ideas and goals.
5. Ask for feedback.
Communication is a two-way street. In addition to leading productive meetings and checking in with employees on their tasks and project progress, you should also welcome feedback on your own performance and the company as a whole.
This can happen during one-on-one meetings, or offer regular surveys for employees to fill out. Offer an option to submit feedback anonymously as well, which can help some employees feel more comfortable speaking up.
When you receive feedback, don’t just push it to the side and forget about it. Make an action plan to work on improving your own weaknesses. If you receive feedback that applies to the company, make sure to share that information with your management as well.
Additional Options for Better Communication Skills
While these five steps are a great place to start, there are other ways to boost communication skills in the workplace. Utilize technology, such as Google Chat or Slack, to create communication channels.
If you do use an app or other communication tools, consider applying limits to when those lines are open. Constant 3 a.m. messages about a work project can lead many employees to feel burnt out if they can never switch off from work mode.
Ask your co-workers about their communication preferences, too. Surely there will be times where you have to have a meeting for everyone, but keep communication preferences in mind when you need to reach out to just one or two people. Some people retain information best when they can read it in an email, while others prefer to talk out ideas in person.
When you’re establishing effective communication among your team, make sure you include everyone. Of course, you only want to loop people into an email when it is relevant to them, but as a whole, include everyone — even if they aren’t in your section of the office or even in the same city — in your communication policies.
Finally, consider establishing an open-door policy to let employees stop by your office to discuss concerns or thoughts at any time.
Benefits of Strong Communication Skills
The benefits of improving your communication skills are seemingly endless. When everyone feels heard, there are fewer chances of tense confrontations. Plus, your team will spend less time fixing misunderstandings that happened because one person wasn’t actively listening or someone else was interrupting a meeting. That means boosted productivity and more time spent on meaningful tasks.
When your team communicates effectively across the board, you’re likely to improve the customer experience, too. Employees can meet client needs more efficiently when they can work through challenges together, and they can make sure there are minimal miscommunications that leave tasks falling through the cracks.
Better communication skills mean that every employee feels heard and more comfortable sharing their ideas. That means your team can bring more ideas to the table, which will help your company set and achieve new goals.
Communication Is Key In the Workplace
Your team is only as strong as their communication skills are. Taking time to utilize communication tools, review feedback, set meeting agendas, and conduct one-on-one sessions with employees will result in more employee engagement and productivity across the board.
Communication works both ways, so be sure to work on your own communication skills and help your team improve their communication. In the end, your company will be all the better for it.
How to Use Product Synonyms to Build Use Case Awareness & Scale SEO
The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.
Let’s move back in time to your third grade English class — lesson of the day: synonyms.
Synonyms (not to be confused with cinnamon) are words that have a similar or the same meaning as another word.
But, you already know this. What you might not know is how synonyms help you build use case awareness.
It all comes down to talking about your product in multiple ways, all of which are useful to your target audience. By expanding the ways you talk about your product, you attract more users, which in return scales your SEO strategy by giving you more relevant keywords to rank for (ideally even with high purchase intent – yes please!)
In fact, by finding and targeting product synonyms, you can even tap into a new unique selling point for your target market.
Let’s find out product-led SEO with synonyms can slingshot your growth forward.
What is the value of synonyms for SEO?
First off, using synonyms is a common SEO best practice recommended by Google.
SEO guru and webmaster trend analyst, John Mueller, explains how synonyms work, particularly in connection with search intent and context:
“…especially when you’re looking at something like ‘edit video’ versus ‘video editor,’ the expectations from the user side are a little bit different. On the one hand you want to edit a video. On the other hand you might want to download a video editor. And it seems very similar but… the things that the users want there are slightly different.”
So, when it comes to using product synonyms to scale your SEO strategy, the key is to align user search intent with a product use case that helps them.
I’d like to highlight how well this works not just for e-commerce, but also B2B, because those are the businesses that often struggle the most with low product-related search volume, making it seem like SEO just isn’t worth it. To add to that, there’s often a gap between what your audience calls your product and what you call it internally, so this strategy ensures both angles are covered.
Do this over and over again and not only will it expand your brand awareness, but it’ll also take a niche product with low search volume and turn it into a lead and sale generator — all from compounding hundreds of thousands of organic monthly searches (or more, depending on the topic).
Let’s go over some examples.
Examples of product synonyms for SEO
A use case (or a roadmap for how your audience will interact with a product) is a fantastic way to apply product synonyms. If people learn how they can use your product, the more likely they’ll feel it’s relevant to them. The more detailed the use case, the more personal it feels to the reader.
Examples of product synonyms in e-commerce
Product synonyms for e-commerce are pretty straightforward. For example, “occasionwear,” “wedding guest wear,” and “party wear” are all product synonyms that can be found as focus keywords at a made-to-order men’s suits store.
An online sport store may use synonyms such as “tennis shoes,” “sneakers,” and “trainers” to capture all target markets, for different levels of athletic wear.
Now let’s put it into practice.
What product synonyms would you use for “webcam” and “Bluetooth headphones”?
Maybe, “streaming camera,” “e-meeting camera,” or “Zoom camera”?
For Bluetooth headphones, what about “impermeable headphones” or “running headphones”?
It’s all about the use case that matches the same search intent.
Examples of product synonyms in B2B
In B2B, use cases become even more relevant, because one of the most common questions in the buying cycle is: “Is this truly relevant for my particular business?”
Take a look at these phrases:
Conversational AI chatbot
Customer support automation
Product recommendation software
Omnichannel engagement platform
Even though these have vastly different use cases and are semantically different, the technology used produces the same outcome as what each phrase describes. In fact, it’s actually the exact same product (in this case a chatbot), only described with a different phrase.
The trick in this particular example is to talk about how the main product, the chatbot, relates to all the above phrases. Rinse and repeat and now you’ve gone from a niche product with limited search volume to HubSpot level organic traffic — all of which is highly relevant for your target audience.
How to find & rank for product synonyms
Finding synonym opportunities for products requires a deep understanding of the market and the search behavior of buyer personas. In other words, learn what your audience wants and explain how your product gives them that in multiple ways.
Understand your product use cases
Let’s start with your product use cases. Where should you begin?
First, compile all related brand themes and then build topic clusters based on that.
Let’s say you sell eco-friendly swimsuits for all types of bodies and your topic clusters focus on eco-friendliness and swimsuits per body type. All topic cluster pages are connected to the central brand themes and your products, but talked about from different angles.
In B2B, it’s common to cluster product use cases by industry or method. For example, the “conversational AI chatbot” mentioned earlier might target e-commerce managers, while “customer support automation” is a use case aimed at customer success. In the same way, “product recommendation software” grabs attention from a product team and an “omnichannel engagement platform” captures the marketing team.
With only these few keywords, we’ve described how nearly an entire business benefits from using a chatbot — sales here we come!
Aside from generally making note of words that are being used on their website, it’s helpful to perform a competitor keyword gap analysis. This helps you determine words they’re ranking for that you aren’t (yet), which helps inspire new use cases.
Understand the language of your audience
Do some research to see how your target audience refers to your products in their own words. Often in B2B there is a big gap between their descriptions and yours. Take note of the words, phrases, and any other insights pertaining to the language being used.
Some places to poke around include Slack communities, social media (especially LinkedIn), and Reddit. Don’t shy away from in-person events, too! When you talk like your audience talks, you’ll resonate with them because your products are simple to understand. Walk their walk, and talk their talk!
Pro tip: Talk to your customers on a regular basis! Ask to set up a 15 minute feedback session and record it. It’ll bring you massive insights about how they talk about and use your product.
If your business is big on social media, then social monitoring and listening tools will be crucial for compiling lots of information quickly. Social monitoring obtains information that has already happened in the past, while social listening keeps an ear out for current conversations about your brand. Hootsuite offers an extensive social monitoring tool to “dive deep beneath the surface”, while Talkwalker offers social listening so you can keep up in real time.
Review People Also Ask and related searches
Google SERP features are a treasure trove of synonym opportunities. If you’re looking for “shoes”, you’ll probably see people are also searching for “sneakers”, “tennis shoes”, etc. You can use this feature to understand user search intent (which will help you find more aligned synonyms) and ensure you create the right type of content based on what’s already ranking.
The People Also Ask feature is similar to the “related searches” at the bottom of the SERP, and you can also use this to curate synonyms.
Last but not least, utilize the auto-complete feature that suggests what you might type in the search bar:
Pro tip: Use AlsoAsked to dig a bit deeper into the People Also Ask questions from your potential consumers, and export the data graphically and in bulk. Answer all those questions and that’s a clear path toward SEO scalability!
Do keyword research
Without keyword research, creating your content and optimizing for SEO is like throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping that it sticks. Use a keyword research tool like Moz to find keywords based on use cases. This ensures the keywords are relevant, have search volume, and have relatively low competition. For a more in-depth guide on keyword research, be sure to check out this guide!
Once you’ve finished keyword research, turn the semantically-related keyword groups into clusters to create individual content pieces for each cluster.
Differentiate keyword placement based on your site structure
All websites have core product pages, so the exact match of high-purchase-intent keywords should go on those to maximize the potential for sales.
Product synonyms that are semantically unrelated, but still have a relevant use case, can go in an area like the blog, where you can explain them more thoroughly and then link back to your core product pages to incentivize conversions.
To go back to the chatbot example, “conversational AI chatbot” works best on an evergreen product page, while “product recommendation software” might make more sense in the blog, because you’ve got to give some explanation about how the two are connected.
Let us wrap this up with a quick recap
First off: why use product synonyms? Synonyms for SEO increase the relevancy of your product pages for a specific search query. At the same time, they can also help you scale out content strategies in the future, thus strengthening your SEO game and brand awareness.
But never forget, first you must understand your product use cases. How do your customers use your product? How do they describe it? Go deep into this process to get those granular details. Look around to see what language your customers are using, scope out your competitors for inspiration, and do some extensive keyword research. Review the People Also Ask feature and related searches to gather more information and ensure you differentiate your keyword placement based on your specific site structure.
Now you’ve got the basics of using product synonyms to build use case awareness. Class dismissed!
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