Ok, you are deciding on what keywords you should optimise your website for, or you are looking at investing in a Pay per click (PPC) marketing campaign, how do you determine what are the best phrases to use?

One of the most common ploys Search Engine Optimisation companies will use with you, to get your cash and appear to have achieved great results, is to optimise your website for phrases that are either not being searched for by users, or are not competitive phrases. By achieving a high ranking for either of these, you will not see an increase in traffic to your site, and you’ll have a high ranking for a phrase that means they will have met their “guarantee” to you the consumer.

If you are planning to optimise your own website or use an optimisation firm, make sure you do your homework first and discover what phrases people are searching for that are relative to your business!

Why research?

Search engine users in different countries and using different search engines will generally search slightly differently. You may believe you know what people are looking for, but properly researching keywords and phrases will make sure you target the right audience, conducting the relevant searches.

For example, you run an Estate Agent in Hertfordshire, England and are keen to appear high in the rankings for the areas of properties that you cover. You may target St Albans, Welwyn, Letchworth, Hertford and Watford in your keywords, but without researching, you wouldn’t realise that most people search for “Hertfordshire” before targeting individual towns and villages. Optimise your website for the County name, make sure your title and description are relevant to your content, and you will be one step ahead off your competitors!

What Keyword tool should I use?

In order to determine what people are searching for, probably the best and simplest place to view keyword searches is CommerceTuned’s keyword research tool, which allows you to enter a phrase and see the volume of searches for this phrase for the past month. It is based on results from Yahoo!’s Overture® keyword suggestion tool.

Another excellent method of getting keyword suggestions is to use the Google Adword keyword selector. This is not as efficient as Overture-based research, because with Google you have to begin the account creation process in order to get an idea of what sort of traffic you could expect for what cost. With Overture, you can also view advertiser’s max bids, to understand what potential cost would be involved in a monthly PPC campaign on selected phrases.

Espotting and Mirago also offer similar services but again tend to involve the creation of an account in order to gain information that Overture provide at the click on a link.

The best known tracking tool on the market that is not associated with the results of a specific search engine is Word Tracker. Word tracker is excellent for discovering what multiple search engine users are looking for, and giving you a view of the most used phrases relevant to your business. Word tracker charges an annual fee of just over US$200 and is well worth a look in terms of planning your keyword optimisation campaigns.


There are several excellent methods of assessing what keywords are being tracked on Internet Search Engines, so whether you are optimising your own website or paying a Search Engine Optimisation firm to do it, research the phrases relevant to your business to make sure you make the most out of your online marketing budget!