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A few weeks ago, a potential customer called me. A low-to-no-cost internet service provider, he had what he thought was a great idea: he wanted me to get his site listed in the top ten of all the major internet search engines for the key word "internet."

It's February, so I knew this wasn't an April Fool's joke. He was dead serious.

Sometimes, a call seems to come from so far out of left field, that I take it as a sign I need to develop better empathy skills to learn where my customers are coming from! I had to bite my lip before I explained why this idea wasn't so great.

Sure, getting your site listed at the major search engines can be a great idea. But getting a top ten ranking for a very broad term is almost worthless. Why? Well, for example, go to Google and type in "internet" and hit the search button. Not only will Google list over 109,000,000 pages (that's a lot!), you'll see that each link is very broad, indeed!

What does "broad" mean? When I did this particular search, the number one link was Microsoft Corporation, touting their internet browsing software. The next listing was for internet.com, a premiere "all things internet marketing" information site. The third listing was for--get this--an internet movie database.

Huh? What's the connection between these three sites? Browsers, Marketing, and Movies??? Not a whole lot. The connection between the three is too broad to be relevant for the searcher. Upon viewing this, anyone who is interested in low-to-no cost internet services is bound to say,

"Duh! 'Internet' is too broad a term! I'd better type in exactly what I want. How about 'free internet hosting' instead?"

After searching under this term, two things happen:

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Laura Bergells is an internet attraction consultant and distance learning specialist from Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can check out her portfolio site at www.maniactive.com, home of the free PowerPoint downloads