When keywords don't work in search

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There are numerous situations that I have come across when keywords simply do not work well in search - paid search to be exact, for products and services that are difficult to define. What happens if you have something to promote that is so cutting-edge that nobody knows about it yet? How about when your product is really hard to explain? If it is not well known or even slightly known, then chances are nobody is searching for it ... yet.

It is in these instances that keyword marketing has limited short-run effectiveness. Although you could try cost-per-click marketing through traditional channels such as top tier engines, it is highly likely the search volume or impressions wouldn't generate much traffic. There is also the daunting task of trying to figure out what words or phrases would actually describe your product or service, since it may require more words than acceptable for a campaign keyword, even within the long tail of search.

Success lies outside of traditional keyword buys in these situations. When you are unable to easily identify your product or service with a word or two, then contextual or behavioral marketing becomes vital to the equation. Your prospects may not know about you yet, but you have a pretty good idea who you're going to target with this new service or product. So, find them and introduce yourself, versus waiting for them to search for you.

Demographics, behavior and complementary products, services or content are three elements that are critical to determine for your market for an online marketing plan. I am not suggesting eliminating traditional paid search entirely if there are terms that can describe your offering, but this may help generate momentum.

There are a number of contextual advertising vehicles that allow you to target specific categories or Web sites where your customers or prospects may be found. Understanding your target demographic and how they interact online is crucial to success with a contextual paid search campaign. There are also behavioral networks, including AlmondNet or Tacoda, which would be helpful in these keyword-less scenarios.

For instance, if you know buyers of your product will be very engaged with health-related research and the medical industry, you can target users who visit those sites.

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