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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 or use Google Keyword Tool by Rank Tracker
  • 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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#1965 2011-04-26 22:55:08 Hema Suresh

So, do I type in each of my 140 keyword phrases that I generated using Rank Tracker in the previous step int Google to obtain search volume and competition?

#2448 2011-10-11 09:03:54 Dan Richmond

You can do that right in Rank Tracker — just click "update KEI' for all selected keywords.

#1915 2011-04-06 13:12:32 Front Doors

I now appreciate just how much you know about SEO. Thanks Dan. I can't wait for Rank Tracker to make it a lot easier :)

#1895 2011-03-25 15:14:45 Edwin Rude

While KEI is fairly standard, the idea of making a numeric ranking for relevance of a particular search term for your own web pages is sheer genius.
It is the perfect way to sort a list of useable search terms by both relevance to a page, KEI and thus end up with the most profitable Key Words for that particular website/web page.
Sheer Genius. Thanks, Dan

#1805 2011-01-22 01:35:48 Alessandro Brunelli

First time I see those formulas. Thank you for showing!

#1752 2010-12-18 09:13:52 elvin xhimitiku

this was a mindblowing concept and i had never come across this. Its true about what people say: "It's all about math" :)

Great information and helpful for a beginner like me.

#1654 2010-11-08 01:47:29 matt mohim


Very useful information I'm pretty sure you've used market samurai also ,could you please tell me how do you calculate KEI,KOI,KFI base on market samurai data and also , what is the difference between C (competition) and P ( popularity ) which "Nikolay Gachev" mentioned on his post for the KOI formula and what are the equivalent of the C and P for market samurai data ?

#1592 2010-10-05 09:01:19 Dan Richmond

The quotes are not really responsible for finding the sites with the keyword in titles, rather, for the exact keyword combination that is in brackets. The "allintitle" operator is responsible for that:

As far as I know Link-Assistant.Com are going to add some of these advanced operators into Rank Tracker to increase the keyword research power of the tool.

#1593 2010-10-05 12:22:56 Edward Beckett

With all due respect :-) (I Love Your Tools BTW )

Quoting from ...

"Phrase search ("")
By putting double quotes around a set of words, you are telling Google to consider the exact words in that exact order without any change. Google already uses the order and the fact that the words are together as a very strong signal and will stray from it only for a good reason, so quotes are usually unnecessary. By insisting on phrase search you might be missing good results accidentally. For example, a search for [ "Alexander Bell" ] (with quotes) will miss the pages that refer to Alexander G. Bell."

#1492 2010-09-05 20:41:06 Paul Sammut

Hi Dan

Thank you and all the contributors for a great thread.

I have a question relating to Keyword selection as indicated by the KEI number.

I used Rank Tracker on a customers website who is in the freight fowarding and logistics business,their website only had 7 pages and the home page only featured 5 keyword, so it was quite easy to build a large list using RT as adviced.

However when RT did the keyword research (Exact Match) the keyword with the largest KEI number (By absolute miles) was Logistics, which was also a highly relevent keyword to this site. This indicated to me that if I could optimise a website for this keyword and get to Google number 1 organic position I would get lots and lots of targeted traffic...!

However when I searched in Google for the websites the currently occupy the first 3 organic positons for the keyword Logistics, it did not look so easy to do...!

So my question is, what else do I need to do to select the right keywords to get to #1 in Google organic searches, using the tools within SEO Powersuite?


#1502 2010-09-06 10:55:23 Dan Richmond

A keyword can have a very good KEI score but be REALLY competitive, like in your case. With "logsitics" the high KEI score means that getting on top for this keyword will require a huge budget, but the traffic revenues you will get will be huge as well.

So you take a longer-tail keyword that will have less competition it will be more realistic in terms of achieving top ranks for those keywords. A highly competitive keyword such as "Logstics" would definitely be hard to compete for so there is always an option to pick longer-tail less competitive keywords.

#1520 2010-09-06 20:40:00 Paul Sammut

Hi Dan

Thank you for your quick response to my question, however I feel you side stepped the answer some what!

My question was "what else do I need to do to select the right keywords to get to #1 in Google organic searches, using the tools within SEO Powersuite?"

Because I see that a high KEI only really indicates the potential for higher traffic than any of the other keywords in ones list, which is a good starting point but obviously not enough to conclusively select a keyword to build a web page around.

If I plumb for a "longer tail keyword" which would have a lower KEI and potentially lower traffic but the traffic would most likely to be more targeted with a better conversation rate per visitor...???

However this still does not help me decide which are the the best long tail keywords to select from my list. I feel there is something missing that perhaps one of the other SEO Powersuite modules could help make this keyword selection more conclusive!

Or perhaps the next step would be to dig deeper by selecting the higest ranking KEI, relevent Long tail keyword from the list and create a new related list to perhaps find those long tail keyword gems .. What do you think?

#1521 2010-09-07 04:46:25 Dan Richmond

> If I plumb for a "longer tail keyword" which would have a lower KEI and potentially lower traffic but the traffic would most likely to be more targeted with a better conversation rate per visitor...???

That's what usually happens, yes.

> However this still does not help me decide which are the the best long tail keywords to select from my list. I feel there is something missing that perhaps one of the other SEO Powersuite modules could help make this keyword selection more conclusive!

The best thing you could do is compare the competition' strength by comparing not only the competition quantity, but the value of their backlinks. You can do that by taking some 5-6 top competitors for each keyword and creating multiple projects in SEO SpyGlass for them, to see how many high-value backlinks they have.

Also you can check the number of sites really optimized for the keywords using the "allintitle" and "allinurl" search operators (they are not in Rank Tracker yet, but will be added soon AFAIK).

#1699 2010-11-23 09:55:35 mirko vegas

this method is wrong and crappy.
Example (localized in USA):
keyword: flash games
164.000.000 results
1.000.000 local search
KEI: 6097 (wow!)

intitle:"flash games"
1.560.000 results
KEI: 641.025 (OMG!)

inurl:"flash games"
1.050.000 results
KEI: 952.380 (OMFG!!!)


It seems that's easy so to rank with the keyword "flash games".
The truth is that it's impossible because there are many (very very) strong competitors using this keyword.

So, this parameter is very useless and crappy.

#1703 2010-11-25 11:23:34 Dan Richmond

Not sure we're on the same frequency here, I think you've missed the point...

> intitle:"flash games"
> 1.560.000 results
> KEI: 641.025 (OMG!)

There is no sense in measuring KEI for this word combination:

"intitle:flash games"

What you need is the number of results that you get by using that command on Google - and it is 1.560.000, that's your direct competition, pages that have "flash games" in their title. That is A LOT and, just as you said, it would be REALLY hard to get on top for that keyword. If you get around 10K results for your "intitle:keyword" operator that would be doable. That is why I suggested finding longer-tail keywords above there.

#1452 2010-08-31 16:52:21 Ivo Ignatov


Is it a good idea to choose keywords which primarily are in our domain name?

#1459 2010-09-01 11:13:26 Dan Richmond

Rather, the other way around - it's good to have your main keywords in your domain name, yes.

#1419 2010-08-18 15:55:14 Gerhard Bayer

Dan, can you outline a strategy to decide between keywords that have a high KEI, but are not very specific to our business, vs. doing it the other way?
Even your weighted formula wouldn’t make much difference, since the difference between potential keywords is so big, e.g. programming (1000000), integration (133000), middleware (5600), IT consulting (1600), SOA architect (64), SOA consulting (9).
What about keywords that have several meanings, e.g. SOAP – most people know it as a cleaning product, but it is also a computer term, so how would you determine the "real" KEI? Strangely enough, the computer related term has the most results on the first couple SERPs.

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