Today I’m going to offer a couple of paragraphs about how I do keyword research as part of any SEO work I do for clients. It’s very easy, it takes a fair bit of time but it is easy to do. I want to share it with you because I feel it will be useful for you and also I believe in 100% transparency and want my clients (and potential clients) to know that. Google too believes in 100% transparency as illustrated by the following paragraph taken from their What’s an SEO? Does Google recommend working with companies that offer to make my site Google-friendly?
“Be careful if a company is secretive or won’t clearly explain what they intend to do.
Ask for explanations if something is unclear. If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages or “throwaway” domains, your site could be removed entirely from Google’s index. Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire, so it’s best to be sure you know exactly how they intend to “help” you.”
OK on to keyword research, a very fundamental part of any SEO campaign. I use a number of different online tool resources. I do not think its a good idea to rely on only one source of data as the simple fact of the matter is no one tool can ever provide you with 100% accurate data. That’s why I always tell my clients that the specific figures from these tools are not important, what is important however is the relativity of one keywords count with another keywords count so you can see in a general sense which one is more popular.
The three main sources of data I use are the Google Adwords keyword tool, the free keyword discovery tool and plain old Google itself. I’ll elaborate on these a little.
The Google Adwords keyword tool located at https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal, allows you to see the average search volume of your keywords (and keywords which the tool deems related to your keywords) for a specific or multiple regions/languages. You could for instance get an idea of how popular a certain word is in the UK or how popular another word is in the spanish language worldwide.
, allows you to see the average search volume of your keywords (and keywords which the tool deems related to your keywords) for a specific or multiple regions/languages. You could for instance get an idea of how popular a certain word is in the UK or how popular another word is in the spanish language worldwide.The keyword discovery tool is located at http://www.keyworddiscovery.com/search.html. This tool returns a figure representing the amount of times a certain keyword or keyphrase appears in the keyword discovery database. The KD guys claim to have a database of 36 billion web searches. Again the specific figures are likely to be inaccurate but it’s how they compare to each other that count not the figures themselves.
I’m thinking about signing up for a full blown account so I can program a tool in PHP or ASP.Net against their API to make my life easier (well the keyword research part of it anyhow :-)). I’ve found Wordtracker and the Yahoo/Overture keyword tool to be lacking a bit when compared to something like Keyword Discovery, so KD is ‘in’ at the moment. In fact my only beef with keyword discovery stems from the fact they scored straight F’s for geography, history (or whatever you want to call it) when they included Google.ie in the list of UK search engines which they apparently take data from.
On Google.com, I get the amount of competiting pages for a keyphrase to try to determine how difficult a keyphrase will be to optimize for. I don’t like many other tools and consultants simply type the phrase in and take that figure. This is wholly inaccurate because it returns all pages that just happen to have your keywords in them, they are not your real competition. I use a special allintitle:keyword1 keyword2 query which allows me to see how many pages are really about the same thing I want to optimize for.
I put all this data side by side in excel and then examine it. Clear patterns will emerge. Basically what I do be looking for is keywords which have a good amount of popularity but which are not super competitive. The next SEO consultant will most likely do things completely differently, it’s all really about what works for you. By the way and speaking about SEO consultants Dave Davis has released the latest version of his Google Global Firefox Extension which allows you to see what the Google search results that you are viewing look like from different geographical locations. This is very useful if you want to compare organic search results in different countries or if you want to see how your AdWords PPC campaigns appear in different regions.