August 5, 2009
[The following is an email conversation I had with a fellow HRA subscriber. – Jill]
I'm a Keyword Discovery subscriber, and I use the tool for organic SEO purposes. I've recently discovered that the keyword analysis information (competition and thus KEI info) is based on exact match search instead of partial match. I asked KD why they do this, and they said it's because it gives you a more "realistic picture" of the true competition on any given keyword.
I'm struggling to understand this. The vast majority of people don't put quotes around their search phrases. I choose the keywords and phrases I want to target based on the KEI info returned by Keyword Discovery. But if this info is based on exact match instead of partial match, then aren't we barking up the wrong tree?
Help! I feel like I must be really dense here, because I just can't understand... Your thoughts and input are greatly appreciated.
It's because you're not looking at how many people are searching for the words. You're trying to learn *how many other websites might be optimizing* for those words.
That said, putting it in quotes still isn't a very good measure for how many other sites are possibly optimized for the phrase. It's only telling you how many pages have that exact phrase somewhere on them. A much better way to check the competition is to do it manually at Google via the "Allintitle:" command.
For more info, please read this article:
Avoiding SEO Brain Freeze Part One – Hunting for Keyword Phrases
Specifically Step 6 (but you should find the whole thing helpful).
For what it's worth, we use Google's Keyword Research tool these days because it's much more accurate than the others, is free, and you get info straight from the horse's mouth.
Hope this helps!
++Ellen's Follow-up Questions++
Thanks so much for taking the time to reply.
So you're actually collecting your keyword data from two different sources: the number of searches from Google's keyword research tool and the amount of competition using an Allintitle search? Then do you just compare the info from both sources to decide which keywords you're going to target? Do you not use KEI info for that purpose?
So one last question about this whole exact-match vs. partial-match thing for determining competition... Isn't your competition in any given search based on the way the user conducts that search? For example, if the user has done a search with quotes, obviously you'll have less competition in that given search than you would if they searched without quotes?
I may be missing something here, but it seems that if you want to target the majority of search engine users, then shouldn't you gauge your competition based on the number of sites returned using the most common search method (partial/broad search)?
You are correct, I'm getting my data from two sources: Google's keyword research tool, and Google's Allintitle data. I create a spreadsheet with the number of searches and the Allintitle number and then it becomes clear which are the "keyword gems."
I don't use KEI at all because it is a useless measurement – all it tells you is which other pages have those words on their page somewhere. That doesn't necessarily mean they're your competition.
Isn't your competition in any given search based on the
We assume that the users don't use quotes, since most don't.
Your competition is the number of pages that are OPTIMIZED for the phrase in question. Because it's hard to know for sure who actually optimized and who didn't, the Allintitle command is a quick and dirty way to get an idea. If they've got the phrase in their title tag, then they're at least minimally optimized for it. You then can dig further at the sites that show up for the phrase in question and eyeball them to determine if they really are optimized for the phrase, and if you think your site can beat them.
You also said:
I may be missing something here, but it seems that if you
No, because those pages may or may not be optimized. In all likelihood, they may just have one of the words somewhere on the page. So they are not really your competition. You're not alone in being confused, however. It's a common mistake for people to think that somehow the number of searches for a particular keyword phrase tells them how competitive the phrase is.
Here's an article that goes into more detail on that:
Why Use Keyword Research Tools
Here is where you can see all the Keyword Research articles from the past newsletters.
That should help reinforce what I'm saying. You may also want to check out our Keyword Research Forum.
Jill Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings, a Boston SEO Consulting Agency.
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