Search Engine Optimisation: How Accurate are Keyword Tools?
by: David Touri
In search engine optimisation, it is a crucial element to select the right keywords when optimising a website. The obvious reason being, if you have keywords with no search volume, you will not receive any traffic. Secondly, if you have keywords that are too competitive, you will find it very difficult (almost impossible) to win high ranks. So how do we find the in between balance for both obstacles? This is where keyword tools would come into place, but how accurate are they?
To start, the main keyword research tools that are found on the market today are Wordtracker, Overture Keyword Tool and Trellian Keyword Discovery. Now I bet many of you are pulling your hair out over which keywords are going to be suitable for optimisation. What makes it probably even more stressful is the varying results between the three different keyword tools i.e. one keyword tool may show a particular keyword to be very good, while another tool may suggest a whole different result for the same keyword. Well stop stressing right now! The truth is that we dont really know how accurate these keyword tools are and we should only use their search volume figures as an indication as to whether a keyword is popular amongst search engine users.
Lets say a keyword phrase, dog products, has a search volume of 5,000 searches per month on the Overture Keyword Tool. To make an assumption that dog products is a good keyword for optimisation, based ONLY on the Overture figure, would be a very bad assumption. However, it gives us a rough idea of the search volume for that particular keyword. The next step would be to use Wordtracker or Keyword Discovery to see if a similar amount of search volume is present for dog products (remember to convert searches for each tool to a common time frame i.e. monthly or daily). If we have a very low search volume in BOTH Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery, then I would be very skeptical about using dog products for optimisation. The whole idea is to get at least two of the three keyword tools to reflect reasonable / high search volumes before considering that keyword to be suitable for optimisation. If you have all three keyword tools returning reasonable / high search volumes for dog products, then the chances are that this keyword is reasonable / high in search volume and definitely worth considering for optimisation.
Once a good set of keywords have been agreed upon through the use of the keyword tools, you should then focus on the keywords that have a low / reasonable amount of competing web pages. There is no point trying to compete for a keyword that has 1,000,000 web pages in competition for it. If you are good at SEO then you could achieve high ranks for that keyword, but it would require a lot of time and investment which could be spent on better things. The lower the competition is, then the more chance of achieving higher ranks.
To recap, there is no indication to say that keyword tools are 100% accurate. Whilst the reseller of the tool may suggest otherwise, I highly doubt it. The results should be taken like a grain of salt as they are only useful to give you an idea as to what the search volume might be like for a particular keyword (high, moderate or low). With each tool obtaining its results using different algorithms, in some cases their results will not support each other. Provided you use two of the keyword tools to investigate the search volume for keywords, you should be able to make a good decision as to whether a keyword might be worth optimising for. With that in mind, it would also be wise to use your common sense to determine if a keyword is one that YOU would actually use in a search. Otherwise, what would be the point of optimisation in the first place?
About The Author
David Touri works for SEO Sydney, who aims to improve search engine
placement with a search engine marketing service for websites in
Australia and overseas. He is currently working on the Loaded
Technologies website, who specialise in ecommerce website development.