Step by step

This is so simple, but it’s costing you a lot of money.

I lost the keys to my Toyota Prius (actually, someone stole my shoes when I was skiing on the snow-covered bike path, and my keys were in my shoes, but that’s another story altogether–why would someone steal my shoes?)

Anyway, I go to Google and type in "replacement key toyota prius." (here’s the search: Google Search: replacement key toyota prius.). A quick check along the ads on the side shows that the second one, ( has paid a lot to offer me a solution.

I click.

It takes me NOT to the parts for my car, but to the parts for all Toyotas (even though they bought the word Prius). I enter Prius and it takes me to another menu. No keys listed here.

I do a search for "keys".

This is what I get:


So, in fact, they don’t have keys for the Prius.

There are two problems here. The first is that the company is too lazy to buy just the right keywords.

The second is that the web guys are probably not the same people as the folks who are buying the ads. If they were, the entire online buying experience would be centered around me and my need for keys, not them and their need to accurately describe the hierarchy of their store.

Let’s assume for a moment that many businesses are going to grow or disappear based on how well they find the needles in the huge haystack of web searches… and that doing that well means efficiently turning that first clickthrough into a sale. If that’s true, then this means a much more measured, more customer-centric approach to turning mild interest into completed transaction.

This isn’t technically difficult (Link: Google AdWords Support: What are keyword matching options?.) It’s also not particularly time consuming.

What’s tricky, and the reason everyone doesn’t do it, is this:

You’re probably still working under a retail mindset.

The retailer builds a store. She stocks it. She arranges the shelves. She runs ads in the local paper and waits for people to come in who are "just looking."

This is not what happens online. (and I’m talking fundraising and just about anything, not just clothes or car keys).

Online you don’t have 1 retail store. You have 50,000 retail stores.

And you know what the customer is looking for BEFORE they walk in!

So send them to the right store.

And if a store isn’t working well, close it and start over.

PS If you’re a google shareholder (I don’t trade stocks) then this is really good news for you. Why? Because once companies increase their conversion efficiency, they’ll probably be willing to pay 400% more than they pay now for the right words.

(I got the URL wrong when I first posted this. I’m humiliated. Apologies!)