It is "vital" that online marketers developing search engine optimisation campaigns do their homework on the keywords and phrases their target audience is searching for, it has been claimed.

Writing on Search Engine Journal, Garrett Pierson said all too often, companies develop search engine marketing strategies that focus on keywords "that not a single soul searches".

He said there are a number of free keyword research tools on the web that online marketers can use to brush up on what is being typed into global search engines.

Once a firm knows what the market is actually looking for, the next step is to avoid using keywords that are too broad or competitive to boost search rankings.

By focusing on long-tail keywords, e-retailers can generate "great traffic" while also boosting their ranking by bypassing competitive key phrases, Mr Pierson said.

Once a firm has its ranking in place, it can focus on more broad keywords, he added.

Kristin Marquet recently said on that sites should aim for a keyword density of three to four per cent to help them rank higher on sites like Google and Yahoo!.

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