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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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Comments page:
#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

#756 2009-11-09 17:03:17 Emmanuel Parrou

This tool is excellent !

But I have a problem : the website I am using as test is in french, and so I chose french Search Engines to calculate the KEI of my keywords, but I always get 'Not checked yet' in the results column.

One way to have something in this column (not for all keywords though) is to select USA as search engine, but I'm afraid that those KEI results are not usable for France, are they ?

Looking forward to reading soon from you and to continue this excellent ebook, thanks a lot for your excellent work !


#705 2009-10-22 15:50:02 Everett Patterson

Amazing! I love your brilliant KEI explanation. I've never heard of KEI before, but that's a great idea, and worthy of implementation! Thanks!

#472 2009-09-08 05:07:24 Sasha-IPR

<b>@Matt Hilbert</b>

Matt, you're right. Hope to get down to rewrite this chapter soon. BTW, the <a href="">Rank Tracker</a> tool I suggest here is using Google AdWords as the default and recommended tool to check search volume.

#470 2009-09-07 11:22:39 Matt Hilbert

This is really good - just one comment.

You suggest using Wordtracker to find search volumes, but Wordtracker is based on historical search volumes for search engines outside Google.

Isn't it better to find the search volume by using the Google Adwords Keyword tool instead?

Especially since Google has something like 65% of the search volume market and the results are therefore (1) far more representative of the total search market and (2) produced using current figures rather than historical figures.

#460 2009-08-16 15:30:53 Damon Day

I have Rank Tracker sorting through about 200 suggestions from google adwords as I type this.

I have a question. I am a financial consultant. One thing I have been doing a majority of lately is educating consumers about the different options available for getting rid of debt.

In my keyword research I find the most relevant phrase on that topic has a KEI of about 90. The next closest keyword is only a 5 in terms of KEI.

The phrase is very relevant to my site. Does this mean if I narrow it down to a few key words, that this one with 90 KEI is the word I should focus most of my effort on optimizing? This phrase gets over 100K searches per month. what is considered a good KEI number?

#444 2009-08-07 11:07:47 Dan Richmond

<b>@Daren Emmingham</b>

Google Adwords has already been added to Rank Tracker and now it's the most precise and informative tool to get search volume data, especially if you're optimizing for Google. Besides it works for many languages.

#3906 2014-12-05 13:44:32 Seo marketing

But that is paid , right?

#3907 2014-12-08 00:24:06 Dan Richmond

You do no need to pay for using Google Adwords in Rank Tracker. You just add your Google account and use it.

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