As your company evolved its web presence did you have a clear picture of the market for your product?

Or did you put up a web site and hope that the right people would somehow manage to find you? Did you develop your web presence around your potential customers? Or was it developed around your company and its products? It has become clear that a customer-focused web site that targets a distinct market offers you the greatest opportunity for growth. Perhaps it is time to re- evaluate your potential customer base.

The first step is to figure out what the target markets are for your product. You then need to focus your web visibility on attracting and keeping those visitors.

Your target market consists of the groups of people who are potential customers for your product. What is my target market? Begin by looking at your existing customers. Analyze their characteristics by observing their demographics, psychographic and behavioral differences. Do you notice different group characteristics? These groups are your market segments. These are the markets that you can target. You then customize your marketing efforts towards these groups or target markets.

It is a good idea to determine the priorities of your different target markets. Are there some markets that offer you more opportunities? Analyze the size and potential growth of each market. These should be in line with your own company objectives and resources. You may have to focus on one or two markets.

By now you should begin to develop a clear picture of your potential clients and your competition. From this you can plan your marketing strategies to maintain an advantage over your competitors. This should be done for each target market.

You should try to develop an in-depth understanding of these markets. What are your customer's needs, their motivations and their interests both now and in the future? The marketing program for your particular target markets should be carefully thought out with this in mind. This is easier to do for smaller sized niche markets. One important goal would be to communicate the idea that you are the market leader to potential customers.

The main marketing communication vehicle for many companies is their web site. The goal is to develop a strong web visibility program which will attract and reach your target market. This is done through effective search engine rankings. Once you have attracted your audience your site must be effective in communicating with and retaining your customers.

An important aspect of your marketing communication will be your web site's content and its focus on keywords and search terms used by your potential customers.

Keywords are very important. If you choose the wrong keywords you will miss your target market, and attract the wrong type of customer. You should not use keywords that you think are the right ones. You should know in advance that they are the right ones. When it comes to visitors you should be looking for quality not quantity. To find out what keywords to use you should undertake some research.

How do you choose keywords? Your keywords are generally phrases, not words. You should listen to your customers and how they describe your product. What are your industry buzz words? What keywords do your high ranking competitors use? Look at your server logs and determine what search terms people are using to find you. Use tools such as Wordtracker or Overture to determine alternatives.

Analyzing potential keywords will give you an understanding of which ones are highly competitive. This will help you to identify possible keywords that have been ignored by competitors and will offer a niche opportunity for you. Your ideal keywords will have low levels of competition. Your keywords should also have existing levels of searches. The higher the better. Low competition for keywords and high levels of searches will offer you the greatest opportunities. You should plan to avoid the highly competitive, generic, one word keywords that have many searches. You should also avoid keywords that have no or very few searches done on them. Plan to use only 2 to 4 keywords per page. Make sure you integrate these keywords intelligently into your written text.

Before you finalize your initial keyword selection you should find out where your competitors rank on the major search engines for the proposed keywords. The competitiveness of a specific keyword can be estimated using Google. Search for the keyword and look at: the total number of results returned, the number of incoming links to the top sites, and the Google page rank of the top sites. This will give you an understanding of how you stand against your competition.

Your goal should be to be ranked on the first page of results for your keywords. This is because most search engine users do not go past the first couple of pages of results during their searches.

There is so much research and analysis you can do relating to keywords and your target markets. And it is worth while as it is a way to stay ahead of your competition. It is not a one-off task but rather a work-in-progress. Keywords should be analyzed, maintained, and matched against your target market and competitors on a regular basis.

You should aim to have a comprehensive understanding of your market and of your competitors. By understanding the needs and challenges of your market, and what your competitors offer, you will then be able to identify niches that you can target. Use this to position your company as one of the few with in-depth expertise in those niche target markets. Build your website around that expertise to distinguish your company from your competitors. Aim to give the impression that you are the market leader for the niche.

By developing a customer focused web site, together with an effective web visibility program utilizing identified target markets and researched keywords which show up well in relevant search categories you will attract traffic to your site. And best of all this traffic will be made up of truly qualified prospects which will offer you the opportunity to develop the full potential of your online business.

Copyright James Peggie

About the Author:
James Peggie is the marketing manager for Elixir Systems a search engine optimization company located in Scottsdale, Arizona.