Keyword Research – Automating the Process

by on February 12, 2009

Only a crazy person would try and do proper keyword research using just a manual approach. It’s vital you have the ability to use some automated keyword tools to get an overview of your target market in terms of keyword competitiveness and customer language. This information can be used along with your manual work to produce a complete list of keywords to target your market.

Most automated keyword tools are based on their own internal search databases. This means each tool will give you specific details based on how they perceive search popularity and how they calculate this. When working with automated tools, it’s best to not take the values generated too literally. They are estimates and cannot be relied upon to give accurate volume.

How do we use these tools ?.

Well how I use them is to really dig into my keyword categories. So as mentioned in Keyword Research and Discovery a user will often start with a general keyword and refine it until it’s almost a question. Using these tools we can start with a base keyword such as “LCD TV”. From this we may get:

LCD TV -> (Samsung LCD TV, Sony LCD TV, LG LCD TV) -> (samsung 40″ series 8, etc)

So we break down our categories and with the use of our keyword tools we can swap our base keyword to keep looking for more focused keywords i.e. our base goes from “LCD TV” to “Samsung LCD TV” to “Samsung 40″ series 8″.

1. Google Adwords Tool (https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal)

This is Google’s tool for Adword users to access the level of competiton for selected keywords. In terms of accuracy it’s probably one of the best as it’s coming straight from Google. During the summer of 2008 (correct me if I am wrong) Google added actual search volume to the results from this tool making the data even better.

Google Adwords Tool

Google Adwords Tool

From an organic stance there are some key things you can do with this tool:

a. Show seasonal trends for keywords by selecting “Show search volume trends” from the “Choose columns to display” drop down. In this drop down you can also add a column for “Highest Volume Occurred in” which shows the biggest month of traffic for a chosen keyword.

b. You can select to to generate keyword ideas from “Website Content” this allows you to enter a competitors URL and check what organic keywords they are targeting.

The Google keyword tool is a great one that almost every search marketer is using. Plus it’s free !!

2. WordTracker (www.wordtracker.com)

Wordtracker is one of the best known online keyword tools. It has a number of custom tools built in to allow you to generate lots of different keyword lists. One of it’s biggest draw backs is it draws it’s volumes from a limited set of search engines in which Google is not included.

But Wordtracker does give you a wealth of information. It allows you to check the relative popularity of your keywords and is an excellent tool for finding keyword modifiers. This again allows you to dig into the long tail of search.

Wordtracker also allows you to do competitive research on your keywords. It does this based on KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index). This is based on search popularity of a keyword and competition for a keyword. The bigger the KEI the more volume and less competition there is. I never found this measurement too useful and think it’s less relevant today in terms of your SEO strategy.

3. Google Suggest (http://www.google.com/webhp?complete=1&hl=en)

I love Google suggest. I am not sure why, I know it doesn’t offer me anything I can’t get from other keyword tools. But I think it’s really cool. Google suggest provides a drop down of related keywords as you are typing your search word into the text box.

Google Suggest Tool

Google Suggest Tool

It also gives you the number of pages indexed that contain that keyword, showing you a little bit of information concerning competitors.

4. Keyword Elite (www.keywordelite.com)

This is a stand alone product that runs off your desktop. There are a heap of features in Keyword Elite that let you generate keyword lists around your base keyword. You can check keyword competition in Adwords using this tool and also check what sites are ranking for specific keywords and how they are ranking their.

There are too many features to go through in this post and Brad Callan has done more than enough training videos around this tool. So I recommend checking it out. The only problem is you can’t tailor your results for regions (lots of my markets are Ireland / UK).

So there you have a few tools to get you started. These tools should basically allow you to:

a. Drill in on the highest search terms
b. Grab variations and related keywords.
c. Build a list of modifiers

and keep running through this process until you have a list of keywords targeting the most competitive terms through to the long tail.

It’s near impossible to talk about keyword research without talking about competitor research. Checking how competitive these keywords are and if you have a chance of ranking for them. This is a huge part in selecting your final keyword list, so guest what, yes in the next post we will be looking at Keyword Competition.

You can check out the previous post in this keyword series, Keyword Research and Discovery

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