SES San Jose: Keyword tips and pitfalls

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The success of a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign depends on selecting the right keywords, said Christine Churchill, president of SEM firm KeyRelevance, at a panel at the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose on Thursday.


The panel also featured speakers from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and search engine optimization (SEO) consulting firm High Rankings.


In particular, marketers need to bid on keywords their customers are using and not in-house jargon, Churchill said. "If you're speaking the same language as your customers -- then you're communicating," she explained.


In addition to paid search, relevant keywords should also be incorporated into Web site design, said Jill Whalen, CEO of High Rankings. She added that good content is the key to SEO as well as paid search landing pages.


There are a number of free tools marketers can use for keyword research, such as Google's AdWords' Keyword Tool, Google Trends and Insights for Search, said Frederick Vallaeys, a Google AdWords evangelist. The company recently started providing keyword volume data to marketers, he added, which is something people have been requesting for a long time.


Microsoft's adCenter Add-in for Excel 2007 is another tool that can be used for keyword research, said Jorie Waterman, lead program manager, adCenter keyword research platform for Microsoft. The add-in, which is free for those with an adCenter account, includes a number of features, including one that provides search query traffic data.


Another great way to get keyword ideas is through a Web site's search box, said Churchill, who added that it is important to collect those queries. However, keep in mind that keywords generated from an internal site query log may not be relevant to a given business, warned Jason Dorn, senior director, Yahoo search marketing. "People can type some crazy stuff into your search box," he said.


Dorn cited an example where an unnamed electronics company had mistakenly bid on the keyword "wwii," a clear misspelling of the popular Nintendo product.


Another best practice is to concentrate on bidding on keyword queries consisting of two to four terms, Vallaeys advised. "That's where you're going to get the best results," he said.


Vallaeys warned that one mistake some advertisers make is having too many or too few keywords in an ad group. An ad group should consist of between 10 and 50 keywords, he said.


Dorn agreed. The more numerous and dissonant the keywords are in a particular ad group, the harder it will be to come up with effective creative, he said.

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