The thing about the Internet is that just when you figure you’ve got it all figured out, they change it on you. I wrote some articles late last year on keyword selection strategies. But as with any Internet techniques, these things change and evolve. So this article presents the latest techniques on how to get the right keywords that I think work the best.

Selecting the right keywords can be one of the most important aspects of search engine marketing. This is equally important for search engine optimization and for pay per click search engine marketing.

Research shows that a person who enters a 2 or 3 word keyword is quite a bit more likely to buy.  So generally stay away from the single word keywords.  Go for 2, 3 or 4 word keywords. 

Starting Your List

The first step in keyword research is to create a spreadsheet. In the first column put your keywords. Here are some tips for coming up with keyword ideas:

1. Go to your company web site and see if whoever designed it placed any well though out keywords in the metatags section of the code on the home page.  Of course if it was you who designed it, you will be the one who came up with that list.  Go to the home page, then select View | Source.  Add those to your spreadsheet.

2. Brainstorm for types of phrases someone might type in at a search engine to find your type of product.  Add those to your spreadsheet.

3. Select 4-5 competitor web sites, and go to those web sites and see what keywords they have used in their metatags.  Add those to your spreadsheet.

Evaluating the Keywords

By now you should have some keywords in your spreadsheet, and you’ll add more as you go through the rest of these steps. But how do you evaluate the data there? Which keywords are better? Which keywords are a must have? Which keywords should be thrown in the trash? Properly evaluating the list of keywords is vital to your success in either SEO or pay per click search engine marketing.

We’ll now discuss some free tools you can use to evaluate the importance or value of the keywords. These include:

  1. The monthly number of searches on Trellian’s Keyword Discovery web site
  2. Data on the keywords from online keyword tool Wordtracker

In my previous articles I discussed other methods for evaluating your keywords. While those other methods are still valid. I believe the above two are the most relevant and valuable at this time.

Trellian Keyword Discovery

Keyword Discovery is a great site with lots of keyword tools. They have a free tool that has more or less replaced the free tool that Overture/Yahoo used to have. You can find it at:


Enter a keyword or key phrase in that online tool, and it will tell you how many people have searched for that keyword on various search engines over the last month.

This is by far the most important tool in determining which keywords to use. After all, you want lots of people coming to your web site or sites, and so it’s vital to know the amount of traffic for the various keywords on your list. The higher the monthly searches the better.  In general you need a selection or group of keywords that adds up to some decent number of searches per month.

So go through your entire list and enter each phrase into the Trellian tool, get the search amounts, and enter them into column two on your spreadsheet.

The Keyword Discovery tool will not only give you the amount of the searches for each keyword, but also will give a list of other related key phrases, and their counts as well. So as you enter your keywords into the tool, note the other phrases on the list that Keyword Discovery gives you and add any to your spreadsheet that look good. Often I print out these pages, go through the lists and highlight the ones that I want.


Wordtracker is an online keyword service. You can try out the service for a limited time (until your browser closes), but after that it is a paid service, $59 per month.


The main benefit you get from using the Wordtracker service is finding keywords that you could rank well for organically, which means not through Google AdWords but through the regular, or organic search results, which appear in the wide left-hand column underneath the few paid search results in yellow at the top.

What I mean when I say finding keywords you can rank for is this: You can find keywords that 5 jillion searches per month, but chances are that those keywords also have 65 jillion sites competing for them. In such a case, you are not likely to be able to compete in terms of ranking well in the organic results for that keyword. The reason is that you’re competing against sites that have probably been working on ranking for that keyword for several years, and besides, there are 65 jillion of them!

I’m exaggerating a little with my numbers of course to attempt to add a little comic relief, but the point is that we want to find keywords that have some decent traffic, but DON’T have 65 jillion sites competing for them. Those are the gold nuggets that we want to find, because we will likely be able to compete well and start ranking for them in a relatively short time. And they will give us traffic. Whereas, if we tried to start ranking for the really competitive keywords, we would likely not get anywhere and would therefore not get traffic.

Wordtracker will give you the daily number of searches on Google for a given keyword, plus what they call a Keyword Efficiency Index (KEI) rating. A keyword will have a good KEI rating if it has some decent number of keywords, plus not many competing web sites. In other words, the rating is based on the relationship of the monthly searches (preferably high) and the number of competing sites (preferably low).

So if your keyword has a KEI rating of 25.00, that would mean it’s got some decent searches for it every month, and hardly any or no competing sites.

So take your spreadsheet and get Wordtracker Google search and KEI data for each of your keywords.

Some people think Wordtracker is the greatest tool ever invented for keywords. I myself still find it hard to use, but the KEI is very valuable in terms of finding keywords that you will be able to rank well for.

How Do You Choose the Keywords?

So if followed my advice above, by now you have a spreadsheet with keywords in one column, Keyword discovery search data in another, and from Wordtracker, Google searches in another column and finally a Keyword Efficiency Index (KEI) rating in another.

So what do you do with these keywords and this pretty spreadsheet?

Well if you are searching for keywords for a pay-per-click campaign on Google AdWords or some other similar program, the data that is most important to you is the Keyword Discovery searches column, because you want keywords with lots of searches. You don’t care as much about competition.

But if your goal is to get your web site ranking for some keywords, then the first thing you want to do is take all the keywords where there is ANY Wordtracker KEI, i.e. above 0.0, and highlight those rows. Now go through and edit for relevance, i.e. that they are relevant to your site and what you’re promoting. For any that aren’t, delete those rows now if you haven’t already.

Wordtracker does not have every single keyword ever invented by the mind of man, so in some specialized industries you won’t even find many of your keywords in the Wordtracker database.

Next go through and select keywords that have a 0.0 KEI rating that you feel you have to include because of their high relevance to what you’re promoting. Remember, keyword phrases with 2, 3, 4 or more words work better than single words.

If you are hungry for even more data than this, I recommend the book The Unfair Advantage Book on Winning the Search Engine Wars, by Planet Ocean Communications.