02 Sep 2006

Jim Answers Questions – Keyword Research Tools

Choosing Keywords – It’s all about who’s in the top 10.

In response to the second question on my "Ask Jim" blog post, Michael asks:

When considering keywords, does the order of the keywords matter to the search engines? If so… How do they matter? Should I pick an order and concentrate on that, or treat different orders as different keywords? For example, I type “search engine optimization” (without quotes) and get ~68,200,000 and then I do “optimization search engine” and get ~68,400,000. The same sites seem to appear in the top 10 but in a little different order. Another example might be “photography equipment nv” and “nv photography equipment”.

Does the order matter – yes.

Meaning…. if on your webpage you mention the exact phrase "Green Eggs and Ham" over and over, and on my page, I mention the exact phrase "Ham and Green Eggs", I should, in theory, rank higher for "Ham and Green Eggs" than you.

Hope that answers your question….so long as I’m on the topic of Keywords I might as well give more info on keyword selection.

The tool I mostly use is wordtracker (out of years of habit)….I also sometimes use keyword discovery, and sometimes I’ll pay with Aaron’s keyword tool (it’s a swiss army keyword tool).

Here’s a common misconception (in my eyes) that people make in keyword research:
If you play with keyword tools, sometimes these tools will give you results in KEI analysis order. To quote from wordtracker’s site:

The higher the KEI, the more popular your keywords are, and the less competition they have. Which means you have a better chance of getting to the top.

This is something I have to disagree with. When I’m doing keyword research I don’t look at how many search results there are for a phrase….to me it doesn’t matter if there’s 10 million results, or if there’s only 50 results….to me what matters is "What do the top 10 have going for them" and do I have a chance of getting into the top 10. And the tool I use to analyze that, I just happened to have built myself (We’ll I told my programmer what I wanted, and he built it) – the Cool SEO Tool.  Again. I don’t care if there 10 million sites for a phrase or 50 sites for a phrase…the whole game is "Can you get into the top 10". (Here’s more info on why that’s all that matters).

For years all I would focus on was the "Biggest" phrases (usually biggest 2-4 phrases) and that was it. Now though, I’m a big one for the "long tail"….and the longer the better…so now I actually do just a bit of keyword research and then write write write…the more writing the more of that long tail I’m going to pick up. Maybe if I did PPC I’d rely more on keyword research, but I don’t.

What are your keyword tips?