As part of Yahoo!’s specialized and knowledgeable search engine marketing team, I am committed to support our advertisers in their search marketing campaign goals and performances.

Search engine marketing is all about keywords, hence getting your keyword management strategies straightened out can impact your account with immediate return on investment improvements. We have witnessed as much as 400% improvement in cost per acquisition (CPA), which does not even include benefits to your account in the long run.

Here are four of the common keyword selection misconceptions that I have come across being an evangelist for search engine marketing. I have also included my attempt to debunk them with the correct approaches.

1. Should I limit the number of keywords in my search marketing account?

There should never be a limit to the number of keywords for a search engine marketing account. When proper optimizations are being carried out, the number of keywords will increase or decrease accordingly. It can further help to reach your desired search engine marketing campaign performance objective.

Even for advertisers with a low advertising budget, different keyword types such as brand keywords or specific keywords will yield varied performance results. To get the best out of your search engine marketing account, you will have to find your own winning keyword mix by launching, implementing tests and adjusting your keywords accordingly.

2. Do I still need to bid on brand keywords when my website already appears in the organic result?

The best benefit of search engine marketing is that ads can be shown to the right person at the right time. By bidding on your brand keywords, you can take advantage of the opportunity to communicate in real time to users who are doing research on your brand.

You are now able, for instance, to immediately blast out the latest promotional message to users who are interested to find out about your brand's information, which is like having your potential customers coming to your counter for your latest product flyer. Thus, flyer distribution guys deployed at train stations may now be a thing of the past.

3. Do I still need to bid on general keywords since it is giving me lower click through rate and conversions?

Firstly, this is the best kind of branding campaign you can ever run. You are engaging consumers who need your product but have not yet decided on a brand to go for. If you are not present at this stage of research, your brand will be left out of the eventual buying decision process.

Secondly, by bidding on general keywords, you are exposing your brand to many more potential customers than the group that already knows your brand. It’s simply the best opportunity for you to grab market share from your competitors.

And last but not least, in a perfect scenario, the number of users searching for your brand term should increase over time, if you bid on general keywords consistently over a long period of time. Consider this as mid to long term investment into increasing your brand awareness.

4. Will I be able to reach the stage where my search marketing account is 100% optimized so that I won't have to work so hard anymore?

Ian TanSearch engine marketing optimization should be an ongoing process. Just keyword grouping alone can be further broken down to achieve relevance, better conversions, and budget control. The list can go on with different types of AB testing, which is the reason why search engine marketing is so dynamic and cool.

To conclude, the above mentioned suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg and there are definitely more advanced approaches, too. However, to get the best out of your search engine marketing account, do not be clouded by any pre-conceived idea of which keywords will perform and which will not. Always test it out to find out. Do not under estimate the eventual performance of any group of keywords. Keep in mind that we have to keep moving forward and do implementation tests – this is what search engine marketing is all about.

By Ian Tan, Account Manager, Direct Sales Yahoo! Search Marketing, Southeast Asia