In the search engine optimization and marketing industry, there's been a rule of thumb: Longer keyword phrases have better conversion rates.

Recently, we put this conventional wisdom to the test, producing a study, "How Keyword Length Affects Conversion Rates." We discovered that, generally, longer keyword phrases do in fact have higher conversion rates. But we also found that conversion rates peak at four-word phrases.

Even though we found some surprises in the data, the study upheld our counsel on keywords. Here are strategies you should consider when developing keywords for your optimization and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns.

Develop keywords all along the decision-making process

As people become more educated about a product or service, they pick up industry jargon. A well-optimized site uses keywords for each stage of the saleā€”from when a prospect identifies a problem to the final sale and everything in between.


  1. What's the language a novice would use to describe the problem your company solves? For example, in the kitchen fixture industry, cabinet "handles" or "knobs" are called drawer "pulls" or "hardware." What problems will your prospect be trying to solve?

  2. Armed with a little knowledge, what features will attract your prospect? Your customers may be attracted by a product's smart design, but they may be convinced to purchase by the money-back guarantee. Make sure that your site is optimized for both benefits.

  3. Don't forget your brand. In your effort to optimize for products and services, don't forget to optimize for brands as well. Your branding efforts in other media will encourage prospects to search for your brand.

Plus, later in the sales process, prospects may search for your brand name to return to the resource-full site they visited when they were just learning. Our study pointed out that corporate or brand names have very high conversion rates. Make it easy for them to get back to your site by making sure you optimize for your brand and product together.

Add three- and four-word phrases

Sign up for free to read the full article.

Take the first step (it's free).

Already a registered user? Sign in now.



Lisa Wehr is president of Oneupweb. For more information, visit