To make judicious budget and resource allocation decisions, it is essential to understand the characteristics and performance of keywords used by target shoppers. Taking the approach of understanding consumers’ information needs, we construct a goal-related keyword characterization framework. Most search keywords exhibit more than one of the following characteristics - retailer specific, brand specific, product specific, feature related, or shopping intention. We analyze search engine ranking, click-through, and revenue data associated with visitor-disclosed search keywords from a top Web-only retailer over one year. Our findings show the interesting impacts of both keyword characteristics and dual-appearance of paid and organic advertisements on search marketing performance. The contributions of the research include a comprehensive search keyword characterization framework, and the analysis of the relationships between keyword characteristics and search performance. These findings have strong implications for search marketing decisions.