Published January 2001

Find your niche (keyword) for Internet success

The difference between the success or failure of any Internet enterprise comes down to the execution of five key strategies of every successful Internet marketing plan. My next five columns will be focused on each of these strategies, which include how to bring people to your site, how to keep them there, how to bring them back, how to make the sale and how to maximize your back-end support.

Bringing people to your Web site has become a real challenge and one that requires the investment of considerable time and effort. We will start with search-engine registration, since it is still the primary means of reaching the vast audience on the Internet.

When I first got involved in Internet marketing in 1995, if you were savvy enough to meta code keywords into your Web site, you had a very good chance of getting traffic by gaining top rank with the search engines. Today, that same strategy has become a necessity just to be found by the people who already know you exist and are specifically searching for your site. In order to get good placement with the search engines today, it is necessary to do some serious homework.

Research your keywords. Niche keywords are one of the secrets to getting top rank with the search engines. Have you ever searched for something on the Internet and come up with zero or few results? GRAB IT! You have just found a niche market.

Let’s say you are selling a sport utility vehicle — a 1998 black Toyota 4-Runner. If you use “sport utility vehicle” as your primary keywords, you will compete with Toyota, General Motors and every other major manufacturer that carries sport utility vehicles. They will most likely get the top search engine rank and the millions of online searchers. However, if your keywords are “used 1998 black Toyota 4-Runner,” you will eliminate millions of searchers, but you may get good rank for the hundreds or thousands of people searching for exactly what you have to offer.

How do you research for niche keywords? Go to the top search engines and perform test searches on your keywords. The keywords with the fewest results represent niches.

Domain name selection. It used to be that short domain names were good and long domain names were bad. But the tables are turning. Using niche keywords in your domain name can provide you with improved rank. You don’t have to use them as your “main” domain name. You can “point” these domains to your primary domain so your visitors will reach the same destination.

Gateway indexing. Search engines read pages differently than people do. A normal Web page designed for human viewers requires tables and other formatting for proper placement of images and text. But a search engine will read all the code for the formatting and page layout before reading the actual text content of the page. This is where gateway promotion pages can provide considerable benefit.

A gateway index page is a page created with NO tables featuring an obvious link to your home page. The trick is to take your researched keywords, maybe create a domain name that employs these words, then use these words in the meta code keywords and again as the first words on the page.

The result when submitted to a search engine: The engine thinks, “Gee, this page has a lot to do with the keywords,” and it gives it good rank.

Getting people to your site also requires off-line strategies. Promotion is critical. Negotiating reciprocal links with noncompetitive but related sites is another strategy.

The key point is that Web-site promotion is not something you do half-heartedly. If your Internet budget doesn’t allocate 30 percent to 50 percent of your financial resources toward “getting people to your site,” then the investments you have made in creating a dynamic looking Web site aren’t going to get you very far.

Debra L. Malmos AAP is President and CEO of iFULL Enterprises, an Internet services provider for access and hosting, Web site development and Internet marketing. She can be reached by phone at 360-321-6242. Her Web site is

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