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Fortune 1000 Companies Must Target Single-Word Keywords

Staff Writer
Published: 2004-11-17

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Search Engine Marketing Firm iProspect released the iProspect Natural Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Keyword Length Study.

In this study, data mined from iProspect's SEMCARD (Search Engine Marketing Campaign Aggregated Results Data) data warehouse clearly demonstrates that Fortune 1000-level companies must target single-word keywords with their natural search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, or risk ceding a considerable percentage of qualified traffic to their competitors.

SEMCARD is a data warehouse created by iProspect that contains natural search engine rankings and traffic data for every keyword targeted by most of iProspect's Fortune 1000-level clients across all the major search engines over the last five years. By aggregating statistically significant results from 39-44 clients over the last three years iProspect discovered that 39% of natural search results clicks to the websites of these size companies take place as a result of searches for single-word keywords, and that another 49% of their natural search referrals come from searches on two-word keyword phrases.

Surprised by Findings

"We were actually quite surprised," stated Dr. Naga Krothapalli, iProspect's Director of Business Analytics. "With all the buzz in the industry recently about the growing irrelevance of single-word queries, and data from firms like JupiterResearch on the dramatic increase in the number of keywords being targeted by search engine marketers, we expected to see a dramatic increase in the percentage of search referrals being generated by three-, four- and even five-word queries. And though there has been an increase in referrals from multi-word keyword phrases lately, it's worth noting that one-word searches still generate four out of ten clicks to large company websites. Based on this data, and the trends that SEMCARD reveals, we don't see this changing dramatically any time soon."

Implications to Search Engine Marketers

Potential reasons for this phenomenon include:

-- An increasing number of new Internet/search engine users who are not yet search-engine-savvy - and who may still search on single-word keywords and click on their results;

-- The number of searches on single-word branded keywords - especially in the case of Fortune 1000-level brands;

-- The number of referrals garnered by big brands on unbranded single-word keywords because the user recognized the big brand's name in the search results - so they select it over the websites of lesser-known brands that appear on the same results page.

Regardless of the reason, the implication from a natural search engine optimization (SEO) perspective is clear. Big brands still need to target branded and unbranded one-word keywords that apply to their products or services.

Website visitors who arrive as a result of searching on multi-word keyword phrases often convert at higher rates than those who searched on one-word keywords. However, 39% of all referrals still come from one-word keywords and often, even single-word keywords are sufficiently relevant in certain vertical markets to suggest a degree of purchase intent, so these keywords result in a high enough volume of conversions to justify targeting them.

Consequently, failing to target those keywords means ceding the conversions that come from that substantial 39% of search referral traffic. Big brands, by their very definition, have an advantage when it comes to generating referrals and conversions from these single-word keywords due to the searching public's comfort, and familiarity with their brand.

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