Are keywords key to marketing success?

I run a four-site cycling retail company, but increasingly we’re selling more via our website. Consequently, I’m paying a lot more attention to this side of the business and am concerned we’re not getting great ROI from our online marketing spend. Everyone is telling me keywords are the way ahead – what are the advantages of keywords over alternative marketing options and can I do this myself or should I use an agency?

A. Karen Francis of Thomson Directories writes:

With 60% of the UK population using the internet and 85% of users first discovering websites through search engines, advertising your business via them is a must these days. Millions of searches are done on search engines every month by users looking for everything from plumbers to estate agents. This offers advertisers a massive opportunity, but you’re right to look for a way to maximise your investment.

People use a variety of keywords and phrases to find what they are looking for – on Ask Jeeves users tend to use three to four keyword phrases and MSN users tend to use one or two keywords – either way, it makes sense to target these keywords to bring them to your site.

Keywords offer a targeted way of advertising, promoting a particular product range or niche service – basically ensuring you are driving the right sort of customers to your website, which will increase your likelihood of conversion and return on investment.

With each keyword a relevant title and description is written and listed on the search results. When the user clicks onto the listing they are directed to the most relevant page of your website instead of your home page, again increasing the chance of conversion.

The benefit of keyword marketing is that the keywords can be changed quickly to reflect availability in stock, seasonal trends or changes in strategy. It’s also cost-effective as you only pay when a user clicks through to your website, making it an extremely measurable marketing activity.

Depending on the pay-per-click packages purchased you are given a log-in account, which enables you to track the number of clicks you have received, by each keyword and campaign, and also identifies where you are appearing in the search listings in comparison to your competitors.

The benefits of managing the account yourself are the control and flexibility it offers to change your keywords and bidding strategies, but it does require time and some internet marketing experience. There are other packages available, which can be managed by experts, who will choose the most appropriate keywords for your website content and manage the whole bidding process for you.


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