June 4, 2002, 12:00 AM

Top keywords change with the times, and quickly, say search engine experts

"Beanie babies" is out, "Harry Potter" in as new products and trends push once leading keywords off center stage.

Keywords are the foundation of any successful search strategy for Internet retailers, say search engine specialists, but given the rapid evolution of products, trends and fads, finding the most effective keywords can be like shooting at a moving target.

That’s especially true in fast-moving categories such as consumer electronics, toys and music. According to data from search engine optimization services provider iProspect, the popularity of "Playstation," a top-searched keyword on the Internet in 2000 and 2001, has this year been superceded by "X Box" and "Game Cube,’" terms representing newer products, while searches for "PDA," popular last year, are being supplanted by searches for "pocket PC."

Similarly, "Beanie Babies," a top keyword in 2000 and 2001, is now receding into history against terms such as "Harry Potter." And web searches under Puerto Rican pop signer Ricky Martin are now less frequent than those for the newer-on-the-scene Enrique Iglesias.

"It’s critical that marketers understand the language people use when they conduct a search on the web," says iProspect CEO Fredrick Marckini. "You need to continually reinvestigate keywords you’re targeting to make sure you’re not missing new categories of terms."

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