Keyword research enables site owners to choose keywords when constructing and optimizing a website (page). Keyword research is also extensively used to manage PPC advertising campaigns or if you are looking to research and identify profitable niche markets.
When performing keyword research for constructing and optimizing a website (page) you are looking to select search terms that will reach your target audience. One of the common mistakes made by some SEOs is to avoid choosing keywords that are very competitive. Searchers tend to use a lot modifiers when they search and the more competitive the search term the more likely they are to use a modifier. Removing the possibility of ranking well for these modified searches is not a good idea. Competition can be a factor in deciding how to target a specific search term but you should never ignore a search term simply because you believe it is too competitive.
There are two basic tools for the site owner:
Digital Point’s online keyword tool compares Overture and WordTracker data side by side. It is free, quick and easy to use although it lacks WordTracker’s more advanced features. Here is a partial screen shot.
You will need an AdWords account to use Google Adwords Keyword Tool (Update: Not anymore, Google have an external version now.) but signing up is easy and well worth it just to use the tool. Although primarily designed for AdWords it is also ideal for use as a simple keyword suggestion tool. The big advantage is of course that it is using the latest Google data and you can find and select keywords based on this data. You can create keywords from a url (i.e. one page), a whole site, a keyword(s) that you enter or for AdWords users the most relevant terms in your account. The results are shown by relevance but can be ordered by Advertiser Competition or Search Volume on a scale of 1 to 5. You can also download the results as a .csv (for excel) file which makes it easy to compile master lists.
Here is a partial screen shot of a list from a keyword.
Here is a partial screen shot of a list from a url.
Most site owners will find the above tools sufficient for their needs but if you want to investigate other tools there are basically two kinds, keyword analytical tools and subscription based tools. Here are some examples with a link to the product and a link to a review of the product.
Keyword Analytical Tools:
A word of caution though if you try these tools. The major search engines (Google,Yahoo and MSN) do not make their raw data available to anyone so these products have to obtain data from somewhere else. For example WordTracker uses data from the Metacrawler and Dogpile metacrawlers which represents a very small and not very representative sample of searches. Not only that but in order to estimate figures like the predicted number of searches for a keyword an extrapolation has to be made. In WordTracker’s case they assume Metacrawler and Dogpile account for 0.86% of all search engine queries (a dubious statistic in itself) and scale up the numbers in their database accordingly. This has the effect of compounding any errors in the original dataset and at the very least means that these derived numbers should not be taken too seriously.
A most important source of keywords that is often overlooked is your server logs. Regularly mine your server log data to find the search terms people are actually using to find your site and use these terms to construct new pages or modify existing ones. You can read more about this process in these two posts Long Tail Search and Long Tail Search Tool.
March 1st, 2007 Wordtracker have introduced a free keyword suggestion tool that will generate up to 100 related keywords.
May 11, 2007 Wordze is a new subscription based tool which has some interesting features.
July 31, 2007 Wordsfinder keyword generator.