January 24, 2008, 12:00 AM

What good’s a keyword if there isn’t any product?

While e-retailers keep their eyes on managing keyword costs in paid search efforts, they may fail to focus on identifying new opportunities with search marketing to maximize sales, such as syncing keyword campaigns with inventory.

Yes, buying keywords as part of an overarching search engine marketing campaign can be expensive. Yes, e-retailers must be careful to manage keyword costs in paid search efforts. But in doing so, they may fail to focus on identifying new opportunities with search marketing to maximize sales.

Many e-retailers, for example, do not sync their keyword campaigns with product availability. “Retailers can’t afford to promote an item in a paid search ad and say it is out of stock or that it is back ordered and will ship in a couple of weeks after the shopper has clicked on the ad,” says David Szetela, CEO of Clix Marketing, a paid search advertising firm. “Paid search ads have to be backed up by available inventory.”

E-retailers often fail in managing ad visibility in relation to available inventory for a product, experts say. Informing a shopper that an item is no longer available or is on back order after she has clicked on a paid search ad can irreparably damage that retailer’s credibility with the shopper and even result in bad reviews about the retailer in blogs and on other communal web sites to which shoppers are turning for product information.

Creating a link that provides a search marketing manager with updates on available inventory of products promoted in paid search ads can alleviate the bad press-or blog entries-that comes with not having the product to support the ad. “Retailers do not want to mislead shoppers,” Szetela says.

Informing search marketing managers when an item is in short supply makes it possible to adjust the ad copy to reflect the limited inventory. Search managers can include copy to say, for instance, there are fewer than 10 items left, which in turn creates a sense of urgency with the shopper.

“If an item is back ordered, state it in the ad copy,” Szetela says. “When an item is out of stock, the ad needs to be shut down.”

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