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1.2.2 Shortlist your keywords

Now you have a long and versatile list of keywords and keyphrases to choose from.

So let′s brush aside all stuff and shortlist your search terms. Again, you can choose between a free but long way to do this, or use Rank Tracker tool you already know to make this task a snap.

Option 1: Sweep away the keyword trash, by hand

Calculating KEI

Here we go with the magic wand of SEOs. That′s the SEO know–how called KEI, or Keyword Efficiency Index. This index shows you how good a keyword is for bringing traffic to your site.n

You need keywords with high KEI.

Here′s what the importance of your keywords depends on:

  • Relevance (R): it is how closely your keyword is related to what you offer to your customers.

We use the three–grade scale to estimate relevance. So now you need to make a separate column for Relevance in your spreadsheet, and put one of the following numbers next to each word or phrase:

  • 1 for Excellent
  • 2 for Good
  • 3 for Poor
  • Search Volume (SV): it is how many queries are made for a keyword per month.

Here′s how you can check Search Volume for each word or phrase in Google AdWords. Let′s say you want to check it for "free ecard":

  • go to Google AdWords Keyword Tool
  • copy and paste the selected keywords
  • select the desired match type on the left (I′ll explain the options in a second)
  • select your region, language and devices you wish to scan the traffic for, wait a little bit and VOILA! you are now armed with the monthly search volumes for your keywords.

As promised, below is the description of the available match types. If you′ve already used Google Keyword Tool or simply know how they differ from each other, just skip this paragraph.

  1. So, broad match type is the default option. For example, for the query "free ecard" you′ll see the number of searches, containing either or both words "free" and "ecard" in any order, possibly along with other relevant terms. This number may also include singular/plural forms queries and synonyms.
  2. Choosing [Exact] match you′ll see how many times per month the keyphrase is searched exactly as it′s entered by a user.
  3. And, finally, the "Phrase" match will reflect the number of queries where words are in the same order as in your keyphrase – even if other words are present in that query. For example, the number of searches for "free ecard", will also include keywords like "free ecard happy birthday" or "free ecard funny".

If you are not an international business or by any reasons are not interested in the numbers of search queries from all over the world, select the necessary country in the Local monthly searches column. Note, that these figures may not be exactly accurate, but reflect general trends.

Now, in your spreadsheet, make a column for Search Volume and enter the number of search values for each phrase.

  • Competition (C): that′s how many websites try to rank for this keyword. Generally, all sites that have the same keyword as you are your online competition. And the fewer websites are optimized for the same keyword, the better KEI this keyword has.

The way to check competition is simple. Enter the keyword in Google and click to search. Now look at the image below to see where you find the Competition value:

Google competition for the free ecard keyword Google competition for the free ecard keyword

In a separate column for Competition in your spreadsheet, enter values for each keyword.

Here′s an example of how your keywords table may look like:

Relevance, Search Volume and Competition Values in Excel worksheet
Relevance, Search Volume and Competition Values in Excel worksheet

So what makes a KEI better? Higher relevance, higher search volume, and smaller competition.

Now, let′s count the magic KEI number for your keywords.

The classical formula for KEI looks like this:

Keyword Efficiency Index formula
Keyword Efficiency Index formula

Sometimes I also use an improved formula for better estimation. It takes into account real relevance of your keywords.

Keyword Efficiency Index with Relevance
Keyword Efficiency Index with Relevance

Now make a column for KEI in your Excel spreadsheet and apply the second formula to calculate KEI for each phrase.

Keyword Efficiency Index in Excel worksheet Keyword Efficiency Index in Excel worksheet

Let′s choose the best keywords

First, sort all keywords in your spreadsheet by KEI. As I already said, the higher KEI, the better your keywords.

You do not need many keywords to optimize your site for, so look at your list and choose top 5 keywords. Mark them as the major ones (say, color them green.) Then, choose the following 30 and mark them as important (you can color them yellow.) Some more 65 or so keywords should be marked as supplemental (e.g. red.)

Now you′ve got a nice list. We′ll target the green–marked keywords in the first turn, make use of the yellow ones as alternative and mind the red ones just in case.

Looks complicated? It definitely does, that′s why I′ll provide you with a quicker and easier way to perform the same check automatically. Stay tuned!


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#1021 2010-02-19 09:43:39 Dan Richmond

@Ben Neale

There's no point sending the file. I see that you've been taking search volume from different sources in Rank Tracker and manually.

#1010 2010-02-09 07:04:48 Ben Neale

Hi Dan

I'm not making it up! :D
I can send you the Rank Tracker file if you like!!

I 've worked out the maths now. It seems that RT was giving me daily search volume. If I multiplied that column by 30, it all fell into place.

Regarding the tool. I was using Wordtracker, but I'm now using Google Adwords - which is giving me monthly search volume, and so the maths is making sense.

#1005 2010-02-04 14:15:13 Dan Richmond

@Ben Neale

Which tool are you using to check number of searches? (You can check that in Preferences -> KEI Settings -> Number of searches) I don't see where you can get 557 for storage sheds.
RT is calculed KEI correctly (just checked it on a number of keywords). The point is I don't believe you've got 557 for search volume in Rank Tracker. Please could you check this out?

#987 2010-02-01 09:36:50 Ben Neale

I've copied the results that Rank Tracker has generated into a spreadsheet, and created an extra column using the classic formula, and it generated completely different KEI figures.

keyword: storage sheds
KEI (Rank Tracker): 214.788
KEI (Classic Formula): 0.238653076923077
Competition: 1300000
Searches: 557
Relevance: 1
KEI(R): 0.239

Am I missing something?

I've also ordered my results byt KEI(R) and at the top of the list I have a high number of keywords that I've marked 3 in the relevance column. As these words clearly aren't relevant to my website, should I just ignore them?

Many thanks


#946 2010-01-15 04:02:51 Dan Richmond

@Nikolay Gachev

the "allinanchor" improvement you're talking about lets you find competition among the pages which are obviously <i>being optimized</i> for your keyword. The classical KEI formula works with the competition among pages that are <i>ranked</i> for your keyword. What if a page's owner did not purposefully optimize the page, but it's still ranking? You might miss it if you're using the KOI formula.

Still I'm not 100% againgst KOI here (though not really using it as much as KEI). It rather has to be a matter of your choice.

<i>Also, which formula uses RankTracker to display KEI? </i>

It's using the classical KEI formula (the software would need an AI to estimate relevance wouldn't it;)

#937 2010-01-06 09:08:15 Nikolay Gachev

Hey Dan,

Thank you very much for sharing your experience. The book is really helpful!

In his book 'Get to the top on Google' David Viney states that he uses so called KOI (Keyword Opportunity Index) and he thinks it is much more reliable than the classic KEI. He calculates KOI as
KOI = (Sv^2)/P,
where P is Popularity of the keyword (actually P is Google's result when searching in anchor texts only: allinanchor your_keywords).

Obviously your formula gives weight to relevance of the keyword, while David's one uses more concentrated on subject search results. However, having little experience with SEO, I cannot figure out what are the pros and cons of your formula vs David's KOI. Would you mind to clarify this?

Also, which formula uses RankTracker to display KEI? I guess it is the improved one, isn't it?

#876 2009-12-28 07:28:07 Paul Watchorn

Just for now, I will let the software do the KEI bit :)

#831 2009-12-11 12:11:45 Dan Richmond

Yes, Ken, you're quite right!

#794 2009-12-07 03:32:44 Ken Taylor

Hey! Thank you for clarifying KEI. That was the a question I had from the previous lesson. It's a bit of a challenge using KEI when you might have a fairly 'obvious' list of KW's. For example, say I wanted to create a mini-site (5 to 6 pages) focused around one KW: "Round Plastic Tray", now my list of KW's may include, "Black Round Plastic Tray", "Green Round Plastic Tray"(remember, I want the site to be "super-focused", I'm using an extreme example here), so as long as KEI is in the green I'm good to go. Don't really need to do any calculations.

Have I made an acceptable conclusion?

#761 2009-11-12 08:39:08 Dan Richmond

@Emmanuel Parrou

Please restart your software to let it auto-update. There were algo changes in the French Google - this might have caused the problem. If the update doesn't help, please write to the developer's support at

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