Search Engine Marketing Fundamentals – Part 2

Last issue we began our coverage of search engine optimization by looking at three methods to build your list of keyword phrases. If you missed the last newsletter you can read the first search engine marketing fundamentals article here. This month we continue on the same topic by looking at popular keyword tools that you can use to make selecting the right keyword phrasesyou’re your site easier.

Keyword suggestion tools will play a major role in selecting the keyword phrases you choose to target. These tools will help you find new keyword phrases and validate existing keyword phrases based on estimated market usage.

The following tools should meet your current research needs, whether you’re looking for a place to start, are plum out of ideas, or simply feel like you’re missing something. These are the most common tools my team uses on a daily basis.


Price: Approximately $250 USD per year or $8 for a day.

WordTracker is the most popular keyword research and is an absolute must have for doing your research.
WordTracker maintains a database of over 350 million keywords sourced from several meta search engines. The tool is easy to use and provides a valuable source of information. When you run a search for a term it will show you related keywords, including misspellings, the plural and singular versions of the word or phrase, and references from its thesaurus if desired.

WordTracker allows you to build your list of keyword phrases through a process similar to adding items to a shopping cart. The tool enables you to drill down a bit further by selecting keyword phrases of particular interest that are related to the specific phrase you are concerned with. Here is a screenshot of WordTracker’s interface:

Figure 1: WordTracker's Interface.

A nice feature of this tool is that it provides you with an indication of the popularity for your keywords as well as the predicted volume of competition for said keywords. This is a handy feature when trying to determine which keywords are worthwhile going after and which are a waste of time.

Overture – Search Term Suggestion Tool
Price: Free

The Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool enables you to enter keyword phrases and search for related keywords based on the previous month’s search data. Up to 100 results per query will be displayed. The results are displayed in order of popularity and only search terms with a minimum of 25 queries during the previous month will be displayed. An example of the tool in action can be seen below.

Figure 2: Overture Keyword Suggestion Tool.

The Overture tool does have some notable ways of doing things that you need to keep in the back of your mind when using it. For one, it always converts the word you are questioning from the plural to the singular so it is not possible to tell if someone is really searching for the plural or singular version of a word (e.g. stores versus store). Second, the Overture tool always displays the correct spelling of a word, but in some cases you may want to know what a common misspelling is along with how often it is searched for (e.g. accommodation versus accomodation). A final note is that the tool does not offer alternative keyword phrases suggestions – it just shows results that include the phrase you search for. If I searched for ‘cheap flights’ as I did in the example above all of the results would simply include ‘cheap flight;’ it will not suggest discount flights, discount airlines, cheap airfare, etc. as alternatives. You will have to enter more specific phrases to drill down.

Google Adwords: Keyword Suggestions
Price: Free

You can use the Google Adwords Keyword Suggestion tool to generate new keyword ideas and compare the results from the other tools. The Google tool will also make suggestions on related terms you should consider. An example can be seen below.

Figure 3: Google AdWords Suggestion Tool.

WordTracker and Overture are essential keyword suggestion tools; however, the Google tool can offer some support and it can help generate new ideas. The Google tool’s primary purpose is for researching keywords for its AdWords program.

Related Searches on Search Engines and Directories
A lesser known technique is to run a query on a search engine and watch for the related search options it suggests. Some search engines such as AltaVista, Teoma, and Lycos will make suggestions on related keyword phrases that you can use to refine your search. You can use these suggestions as a means of generating additional keywords or opening a new theme of search phrases you never thought of. Here is an example of search suggestions made by Teoma for a query on ‘cheap flights.

Figure 4: Search Suggestions from Teoma.

Remember, these are tools that are meant to assist you – no data set is perfect. You must use your own discretion to make the final say on which keywords you plan to target and those you plan to omit. Do not gather keywords that are unrelated to your business objectives.

In the next issue we will wrap up keyword research by outlining how to pick the right keywords to optimize your Web site, along with other good practice tips. For now continue building your keyword database!


More Tools & Resources

Here is a collection of additional resources for you to check out:

Search Engine and Directory Guides:

KwMap – A Keyword Map for the Whole Internet

Yahoo! Buzz Index – Buzz Index Leaders Summary

The Lycos 50 – Top 50 Searches

Site Content Analyzer (Examines HTML pages for keyword density, weight, and relevancy.)

There are other tools, but this should give you a great start!

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