Your keyword research will ultimately dictate how (and if) visitors find your site.
Your job in this stage of the site building process is to find out the exact phrases that people type into the search engines, when they are looking for information or products relating to your niche.
Example. Your website is about fly fishing. On it, you promote fishing tackle, rods, reels etc etc. If I was a fly fisherman looking to buy a reel, what am I going to type into Google to find relevant sites where I might buy a reel? After all, that is what you need to know as the webmaster behind a fly fishing site.
I might type in any of the following:
fly fishing reel
buy fly fishing reel
fly fishing reel review
and so on.
However, just because you think of a phrase related to this niche, does not mean that anyone is actually searching for that phrase. That is where keyword research tools come in. Not only will your research highlight phrases that are actually being searched for, it will also find a lot more phrases than you could realistically come up with yourself, and in a fraction of the time.
How many “fly fishing reel” related phrases can you think of? 5? 10 at a push?
Well, I just checked at Wordtracker, and in seconds, it returned 68 phrases that people are actually looking for. This is pure gold!
Wordtracker also provides me with essential data, like how many people are looking for each phrase, and how many competing web pages there are for each term.
I have 100% faith in the data returned from Wordtracker based on the results I have seen from various keywords I have targeted over the years. I cannot say the same for other keyword tools which use Overture’s Suggestion tool for “demand” data, so before going with a free keyword research tool, read the following true story:.
“A couple of years ago, I carried out keyword research for a web page I was creating about pheromones. I was going to send my traffic to a merchants site and get commission on any sale generated. Using the Overture tool, I found 4 or 5 terms with reportedly 47000 + searches in recent weeks…. and that is just at Overture.
I thought, hey, great. There should be several times this many searches originating from Google. I created a couple of pages and optimized them. I got #1 position on MSN, and later, #1 on Google too for some of my chosen terms.
When I saw my rankings, I could see the $$$ signs in front of my eyes. Two days later I had received just 6 visitors to my top ranking pages. My millions were melting away before my eyes.
I checked on WordTracker and found that in the last month, there has only been 41 searches for my main keyword according to Wordtracker (1 or 2 searches a day)”.
Let’s just take a quick example – you can try it yourself if you want.
Search Overture’s tool for “fly fishing reel”. Here are the top 3 results that I get:
fly fishing reel 5179
fly fishing rods and reel 377
saltwater fly fishing reel 126
Overture data is measured over the previous month. To get comparable data at Wordtracker, I found out how many times Wordtracker estimates the phrase is searched for at Google in 24 hours, and multiplied by 30.
Here is what Wordtracker returns for those top 3 Overture phrases (Google searches per month):
fly fishing reels 390
fly fishing rods and reels 60
saltwater fly fishing reels 120
For the phrase “fly fishing reel”, Overture says it was searched for 5179 times in January, whereas Wordtracker puts that figure closer to 390.
For the phrase “fly fishing rods and reels”, Overture says 377, Wordtracker says 60.
For the phrase “seawater fly fishing reels”, Overture says 126, Wordtracker says 120.
Go on, try it yourself
Not convinced? What I suggest you do, is try this experiment with several different phrases.
e.g. My old search on Overture for “pheromone” suggests that the phrase pheromone was searched for 54,905 times last month.
Wordtracker estimates that at Google pheromone was searched for 5940 times in a month.
Which do I rely on? Wordtracker of course.
While the two measurements cannot really be directly compared (as they provide search information based on different engines), I have found that the number reported by Wordtracker do correlate very well with the traffic I receive when I get a #1 in Google.
So where does this leave all the keyword tools that are available?
Here is some advice on Choosing a Keyword Research Tool.
If you find a keyword tool that looks promising, ask yourself:
1. Does this tool also provide supply and demand figures for each phrase?
Without supply and demand, the phrases are useless, because there is no way of choosing the highest demand, lowest competition phrases from the list. Many of the phrases may have hundreds of thousands of competing pages in Google. If you don’t have these figures, how can you be accurately target phrases?
If supply and demand is supplied, the next question to ask is:
2. Where does the demand data come from?
You can quickly check this by running a search in the tool, and at Overture, and comparing the numbers. If demand figures are the same, you know the demand was retrieved from Overture.
If the data comes from Overture, would you trust it?
I have not yet found a tool as good or as accurate as Wordtracker for keyword research.