I’ve been hearing about the importance of keyword research but I have very little clue how to do it. Can you tell me why it’s important and show me how to do some keyword research around cellphones and mobile telephones? Thanks.
Actually, keyword research is quite important for good search engine results, for findability, and it revolves around the question:
How do you know what words and phrases people use when they search for your product or service?
This is one area where the Internet is so cool, because prior to search engines and keyword research tools, you really never had a clue how people thought about your product or service. Do they think of “cellphone” or “cell phone”, “mobile phone” or just “cell”? Knowing which is most popular, knowing which is sought more frequently on a search engine, helps you make sure that you’re using the right phrases too.
There are a number of different tools online to do this sort of research, including tools included with the various pay per click ad systems (think AdWords and Overture), but one of my favorites is Wordtracker. Wordtracker isn’t free, to be fair, but they offer a free trial that works pretty darn well, so that’s what I’ll demonstrate here.
To use their free trial, you need to give them your name and email address:
You’ll need to accept their terms, then you can start having fun. Wordtracker uses a four step process where you enter keywords, have related keywords suggested, then dig into the specifics of each, picking the subset you want to learn more about (they call it “add to your basket”). When you’ve identified the subset of keywords that are most interesting, you go to the final step, KEI analysis. But I’ll talk about that in a minute. For now, let’s enter the keyword cellphone:
Enter that and in just a few seconds Wordtracker offers up a long list of related keywords, some of which are inevitably irrelevant, but others of which are always great additions to your research:
Click on one of these words and Wordtracker digs through its database of billions of search engine queries and tells you how often each is sought:
It’s worth taking a second to explain the three columns of data: Count is the number of times that search was done on the Wordtracker partner search engines (it’s worth noting that this isn’t Google, MSN or Yahoo data, but from aggregate search engines like Dogpile instead), Predict is the estimated number of times that the search is entered Internet-wide on a daily basis, and Dig lets you “dig into” that search to identify what other searches include that keyword or key phrase.
In this case you can see that “cellphones” is searched quite a bit more frequently than “cellphone”, for example. If I click on the “dig” icon next to “cellphones”, I’ll get additional interesting data:
As I’ve gone along, I’ve also been clicking on the most interesting keywords themselves, which adds them to my “basket” for later. When I’m done with the basic identification of keywords, it turns out that I’ve dropped seven keywords into my basket:
I click on “Click here for step 3” and get a nice summary of the words I selected and their traffic data:
You can see that “cell phones” (two words) is the most popular keyword and that’s incredibly useful information: “cell phones” is almost 6x more popular than “cellphones”!
But we’re not done with Wordtracker yet, because it also has this additional fourth step that really makes it cool. Click on that last link to get to step 4 and you’ll get:
KEI stands for Keyword Effectiveness Index, and it’s basically a numeric value that takes into account both the number of searches and how many matches are found for that particular search on MSN. A superb keyword is one that has lots of searches and very, very few competing pages, and that’d be a KEI of 100 or more. A terrible keyword, like “mobile phones”, has a KEI of less than 1.0, which means that there aren’t that many searches on a given day, but there are a zillion pages that match.
None of our keywords are that great as you can see: Wordtracker suggests that any KEI under 10.0 is probably too busy to be useful, and our best is “free nokia ringtones” with a KEI of 7.9. That’s alright, it’s still useful data because you might just be stuck with this space and have to do the best you can.
Anyway, that’s the Wordtracker scoop. I really like the site and find it an invaluable tool, so much so that I recommend anyone serious about keyword research get the full paid service, which is far more powerful than the free trial.
If you’re interested in more information about keyword research, I also suggest you read through a copy of my popular book Growing Your Business with Google.