If you are a Web site owner, you have no doubt already learned that it is important to have a good keyword selection when creating your META tags. Keywords are important in determining which users a search engine sends to your Web site, so care should be taken with their selection.

OK, so far so good, everything stated above you already knew, right? Well, not really. You see there are still far too many companies out there that feel they should be targeting generic, non-specific keywords. For example, your Web site may sell fine porcelain dolls and obviously you wish to ensure that you get as many people viewing your products as possible. The temptation is to target keywords such as "gifts" or "dolls", thinking that these terms must get hundreds of thousands of searches each day. Well they do, but two things always happen.

First, the search engine user is displayed a list of millions of companies (search "gifts" at Google and you will get over 11 million results). That is a lot of Web sites to browse through if all you are looking for are fine porcelain dolls. So what happens next? The user goes back to the search box and narrows down their search by using a more targeted search term, in this example, "fine porcelain dolls."

Now the results are reduced to a few hundred, making it easier for the user to locate the product they want. My point? Generic terms do indeed receive a lot of search requests each month, but they also have the lowest sales conversion rate. That's because search engine users are becoming more Net savvy and know that they need to be more specific with their keyword searches.

Target, Target, Target

With the above example in mind, think hard about your own keyword selections. Have you fallen into the trap of targeting generic terms such as "gifts", "books" or "computers"? Ask yourself, Is that what I would search for if I were looking for my product or service? Sit down with your co-workers and think of this from your customer's perspective. What would they search for if they were looking for you? While it would be nice to be No. 1 for a term such as "gifts", it's just not going to happen and if it did, you would be very disappointed with the conversion into sales. Think of two to four-word combinations that relate to the products you sell and instead target these. Trust me, I know it is hard to break away from the single-word selections, but those Web site owners that have done so, have seen a far higher number of targeted visitors to their site and their sales conversions go through the roof.

One Last Thing

I would be hung out to dry by my peers if I finished this article with the impression that all you need are targeted keywords to make your Web site a success. Keyword selections and META tag optimization are very important when promoting your Web site, but they are not the only thing you need to do. Other factors play an important role in your search engine ranking, including Web site layout, page content and inbound links. Targeting the right keywords is just the first step in ensuring great success on the search engines.
April 18, 2002

Internet marketing consultant Andy Beal has provided online marketing advice to thousands of companies including, Motorola, NBC, Lowes and Quicken Loans and is a trusted resource for The Washington Post, LA Times, Dow Jones, NPR and CNBC. Andy provides consulting services on search engine optimization, business blogging and online reputation management. Read his blog and request a free consultation at Marketing Pilgrim.

Search Engine Guide > Andy Beal > The Art of Selecting Good Keywords