Which keywords should you optimize your site for?
In this article, we focus on
the correct way of finding out the keywords for which you should optimize your site for
the search engines. This article will give you the formula for the Keyword Effectiveness
Index (KEI) - a mathematical formula which I have developed to help you determine which
keywords you should be optimizing your site for.
By Sumantra Roy
Step 1: Open your text editor
or word processor and write down all the words and phrases that you might have searched
for if you were looking for a company which offers products and services similar to yours.
For example, suppose your company organizes packaged tours to Australia. Here's a list of
phrases that I might have searched for if I were planning to make a trip to Australia:
tourism in Australia
travel to Australia
traveling in Australia
travel agencies in Australia
traveling agencies in Australia
Australian travel agencies
Of course, the keywords that
came to your mind may have been different. But that's not important - the important thing
is to get an initial list of keywords.
You may be wondering why I
have not used single word keywords. Here's why:
Firstly, single word keywords
tend to be hyper-competitive. A search for "tourism" or "traveling"
in any search engine will probably generate hundreds of thousands of pages. While it is
possible that you may get your page in the top 10 for such a single word keyword, it is
Secondly, because of the sheer
number of pages that single word searches can throw up, most search engine users have
realized that they can get more relevant pages if they search for phrases rather than
individual words. Statistical research has shown that most people are now searching for 2
or 3 word phrases rather than for single words.
Thirdly, single word keywords
won't get you targeted traffic. When people search for "tourism", they are not
necessarily looking for tourist destinations in Australia - they may be interested in any
other country of the world. Even if you got your site into the top 10 for tourism, you
gain nothing from such visitors. However, when someone searches for "tourism in
Australia", he/she is your potential customer, and hence, it makes sense for you to
try and get a top ranking for your site for that keyword.
Hence, whenever you are trying
to generate keywords, try to be location specific. Try to think of keywords which apply to
the geographic area that your product or service is designed to serve.
Step 2: Open any spreadsheet
program that is installed in your hard drive. I assume you are using Microsoft Excel. If
you are using some other spreadsheet program, just change the spreadsheet related
procedures outlined here to fit your program.
Create 4 columns - one for the
keyword, one for the popularity of the keyword, one for the number of sites that appear in
AltaVista for that keyword and the last for something I call the Keyword Effectiveness
Index (don't worry - I'll explain what KEI means later on). In order to ensure that you
can follow what I am saying, I recommend that you add the following column headers to the
first four columns of the first row of your spreadsheet:
No. of Competitors
Step 3: A great way to obtain
a list of keywords related to the ones you have developed in the first step is to use WordTracker's keyword generation service. Click on the "Trial" option at the top
of the site. In the page that appears, type in your name and email address and click on
the "Start the trial >>" button. In the next page, click on "Click
here to start the trial". In the next page, type in the first keyword that you
developed in Step 1, i.e. "tourism in Australia", in the text box. Click on the
"Proceed >>" button.
Step 4: In the next page,
WordTracker will display a list of keywords related to the keyword that you had typed in.
(Just scroll down the left pane to see the keywords). Now, click on the first keyword in
the left pane which is applicable for your site. In the right pane, WordTracker will show
a list of keywords which contain the keyword you had clicked on in the left pane.
Then in the table that you
have created in your spreadsheet, copy each of the keywords in the right pane and paste
them in the first column of the table. Also, copy the number of times those keywords have
been used (i.e. the figure present in the Count column in WordTracker) and paste them in
the second column. In order to ensure that you can follow me, make sure that you type the
first keyword in the second row of your spreadsheet. Of course, you should only bother
adding a keyword to your spreadsheet if it is applicable for your site.
Once you have added all the
keywords in the right pane which are applicable for your site, click on the next keyword
in the left pane which is applicable for your site. Once again, WordTracker will display a
list of keywords in the right pane which contain the keyword you had clicked on in the
left pane. Again, copy the keywords in the right pane which are applicable for your site
and paste them in the first column of your spreadsheet. Also, copy the figures present in
the Count column and paste them in the second column beside the corresponding keywords.
Repeat this process for each
of the keywords in the left pane.
Step 5: Once you have finished
with all the keywords in the left pane, press your browser's Back button a number of times
until WordTracker again displays the text box which asks you to type in a keyword. Type in
the second keyword in your original list (i.e. "travel to Australia"), click on
the "Proceed >>" button and repeat Step 4.
Do this for each of the
keywords that you developed in Step 1.
Step 6: Go to AltaVista. Search
for the first keyword that is present in your spreadsheet using exact match search (i.e.
you should wrap the keyword in quotes, i.e. you should type a quotation mark before typing
the keyword and a quotation mark after typing it). AltaVista will return the number of
sites which are relevant to that keyword. Add this number to the third column of the
spreadsheet in the same row in which the keyword is present. Repeat this process for each
of the keywords present in your spreadsheet.
Once you have done that, your
first column will contain the keywords, your second column will show the popularity of the
keywords and your third column will contain the number of sites you are competing against
to get a high ranking for those keywords.
Now it's time to calculate the
Step 7: The Keyword
Effectiveness Index is the square of the popularity of a keyword multiplied by 1000 and
divided by the number of sites which appear in AltaVista for that keyword. It is designed
to measure which keywords are worth optimizing your site for. Higher the KEI, better the
keyword. How the formula for the KEI is arrived at is beyond the scope of this article. If
you want to know, send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you had used the
spreadsheet file that I created for you (see Step 2), you won't need to enter the formula
for calculating the KEI yourself. The KEI would be automatically calculated for you the
moment you enter the values in columns 2 and 3. You can go straight to Step 8.
In case you didn't download
the file, here's how you can calculate the KEI.
I am assuming that you have
created the spreadsheet columns in the way I recommended in Step 3 and that you are using
Microsoft Excel. If you using some other spreadsheet program, you will need to adjust the
formula to the requirements of your spreadsheet program. Click on cell D2. Type in the
following exactly as it is shown:
Then click on the Copy button
to copy the formula, select all the cells in column 4 which have keywords associated with
them and press the Paste button to paste the formula. The KEI for each keyword will be
Step 8: Use your spreadsheet
program's Sort feature to sort the rows in descending order of the KEI. In Excel 97, you
would click on the Data menu, click on the Sort menu item, choose KEI from the drop-down
combo box named "Sort by", click on the "Descending" option next to
it, and then click on OK.
And guess what - that's it!
You now know the keywords which you should optimize your site for. You can now start
optimizing your site one by one for each keyword, starting with the keyword with the
highest KEI. Exactly how many of the keywords you choose to optimize your site for largely
depends on the amount of time that you can spare from your normal business activities. But
whatever the number of keywords that you target, it obviously makes sense to go for the
most effective keywords first.
Tying up the loose ends:
The number of related keywords
that WordTracker displays in the trial version is limited. In order to get all the
keywords which are related to the keywords you had developed in Step 1, you would need to
subscribe to WordTracker's paid service.
Sumantra Roy is a search engine positioning
specialist on the Internet. For more articles on search engine placement, subscribe to his 1st Search Ranking Newsletter by sending a blank email to
or by going to http://www.1stSearchRanking.com
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