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What makes a good search profile?

Hands down, the best profiles include keywords, keywords, and more keywords!

If you create a search profile with codes only (either NAICS codes, or NIGP codes or FSC/PSC codes), then you are missing a lot of valid opportunities for your clients.

Why are keywords so important?

Keywords are crucial in a search profile because all bid opportunities contain English keywords, regardless of data source. The way the OutreachSystems search engine works is that a match will only occur if the keywords/phrases/codes that are in a profile are also in the bid synopsis. If a search profile is searching for the word "janitor" but the synopsis references the word "custodial" then your client will not match on the article unless the word "custodial" is also in the profile. Our search strategists will work with you to make sure all commonly used phrases are added to your clients' search profiles, but you can also take a look at the Sample Search Profiles for some keyword suggestions.

Generally speaking, however, keywords aren't the problem. We see a lot of search profiles that only have NAICS or FSC codes. These profiles will miss many bid opportunities because buyers do not always reference a NAICS code in their brief bid synopsis. Did you know, for example, that we see NAICS codes in less than 1% of the state and local bids? And if your client is interested in foregin opportunities, then you should be aware that we hardly ever see NAICS codes used in foreign bid opportunities. The same is true for the FSC/PSC codes - these codes simply aren't used outside of the U.S. Federal Government. If your client's search profile consists exclusively of codes then they will miss out on 98% of all state and local bids!

Similarly, NIGP codes are seldom used (again less than 1% of the time) in the synopsis of state and local bid notices, and they are never used in any of the federal data sources.

Keywords are critical in a profile and perhaps most importantly with respect to keywords is to be as descriptive as possible. Words such as:

  • assessment
  • research
  • instrument

don't really describe what the client does. What type of assessments does the client offer? What type of research are they interested in? And what type of instruments do they sell? For example, there are:

  • analytical instruments
  • laboratory instruments
  • medical instruments
  • musical instruments
  • navigational instruments
  • etc.

As you can imagine, the client who sells musical instruments won't be interested in seeing bid matches for medical instruments, and vice versa. The more descriptive keywords you provide, the better the matches. Taking things a step further, a bid opportunity for a musical instrument may not even mention the phrase "musical instrument." So in addition to including this broad phrase in the search profile, you'll also want to be sure to list out the instruments themselves:

  • guitar
  • piano
  • accordion
  • flute
  • violin
  • etc.

Why? Because when a buyer is looking to buy guitars, they will most likely use the actual words of the product that they are looking to buy and they won't necessarily use words that classify that product.

Why are codes so bad?

Not only are keywords critical in a profile, we might even go so far as to say that codes are bad, even if you also have keywords in the profile.

Why? Because often codes classify a grouping of products or services that may include what your client sells but it may also include many other products and services that your client doesn't sell. When you search for a NAICS/FSC code, your client may get a number of mis-matches which will discourage and frustrate them and potentially turn them away from government contracting.

NAICS code 541511 is a perfect example. Often small Web design companies will add this code to their profile because it is supposed to be used for bids related to Custom Computer Programming Services. But do you know that this code is also used for:

  • Microsoft Office support services
  • Voyager system upgrades
  • Nuclear Ordnance Software
  • Cobal programming
  • Quickbooks software
  • Weapons planning software

Most small web design companies would not want to see any of these bids but this same code is used for all types of custom programming services. Administrators can change the Neoserra behavior and prevent codes from being transferred from the client record in Neoserra to the bid match search profile.

How will I know which keywords to use?

OutreachSystems offers a number of sample profiles that you can share with your clients to use as a starting point for creating search profiles. Clients can choose some or all of the line items of a sample profile, as well as add their own custom keywords if necessary. Even if we don't have a sample search profile that speaks directly to a client's industry, they're still valuable tools in getting a client to start thinking of their product or service in terms of an exhaustive listing of keywords.

You can find the sample search profiles here.

What about Set-Asides keywords in a profile?

There are usually two reasons to include the set-aside terminology in a profile:

  • The client only wants to see bids that have been set-aside. In other words,the client does not want to see any contract opportunities that are not set-aside, regardless of whether the bid matches their capabilities, or not.
  • The client wants to see all bids that have been set-aside, regardless of whether the bid pertains to their business or not. Searching for all set-aside bids may provide bid match results ranging from forklift rental jobs to HVAC repair jobs to landscape maintenance jobs.

It is important to ask the client why they want to include the set-aside terminology in their profile. If they truly want to exclude all non-set-aside bids from consideration then we can restrict a profile to only look for set-aside bids. This would mean that we restrict the search profile to those set-aside programs that the client is certified for and they wouldn't get any contract opportunities that are not set-aside.

If the client wants to see all bids that have been set-aside, regardless of the type of service/commodity sought by the buyer, then we can add the set-aside terminology as select statements in the profile.

But it is important to realize that if the client wants to search for both set-aside bids and non-set-aside bids within their industry, then there is no need to add any of the set-aside keywords.

Want more? Browse our extensive list of Neoserra FAQs.