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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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#441 2009-08-03 09:37:31 Daren Emmingham

Hi there Dan,

can i ask what the difference is between using wordtracker to find how many times a keyword has been searched for (per day and then muliplying it by 30) compared to using the google adwords tracker that shows you the global monthy search volume?



#438 2009-07-28 07:21:27 Dan Richmond

<b>@Stefan Habermeier</b>
Pretty simple: Rank Tracker is unable to decide on the relevance :)

#1486 2010-09-04 16:09:15 Keith Rejino


Maybe you've incorporated this already, but is there a way to add a relevance column to input our perceived R value for each keyword in Rank Tracker? Adding a relevance multiplier seems like a great add-on. Although I've only played with the free versions so far, it will be difficult to pass on the paid version of Seo PowerSuite. Well done!


#1487 2010-09-04 16:57:14 Keith Rejino

Probably exporting it into Excel and adding the KEI relevance column with formula would work fine.


#437 2009-07-27 15:57:45 Stefan Habermeier

Hello Dan! I dont understand why you prefer the "Keyword Efficiency Index with Relevance" and the Rank Tracker uses "just" the Keyword Efficiency Index formula. Did I miss something?

Kind Regards,

#421 2009-07-05 10:52:42 Saumil Thakkar

This is great.

#394 2009-06-10 04:54:26 Dan Richmond

<b>@ John Atchue</b>

There is some rationale here but on the other hand, when people search in Google for <i>super tasty dog food</i>, very few will use quotes for the exact match.

#390 2009-06-09 03:08:56 John Atchue

Hey Dan,

Just a little confused about the competition numbers. I though that when researching competition for a specific keyphrase you should enter it as a phrase match ex. "super tasty dog food" otherwise your results will be full of websites that have some of the keywords on them but possibly not others, is that correct or am I wrong?

#365 2009-06-02 09:36:11 Rose Williams

Thanks. I actually did realise that I should be using "phrase match" and not exact match.

I look forward to seeing it in your tool as I feel its more honest in its results.

#360 2009-06-01 07:54:08 Dan Richmond

<b>@Rose Williams</b>

In the software (I mean Rank Tracker) this possibility will appear only in a couple of weeks. Outside Rank Tracker you can use Google Adwords for the number of searches, and you do not need to use "exact match".

#359 2009-05-30 09:51:22 Rose Williams

Hi Dan

Can I use Google Adwords "Keyword Tool" to determine the number of searches on a keyword for the last month? If I do should I use the [exact match] facility?

#346 2009-05-11 07:26:33 Dan Richmond

<b>@Webmaster Turtlemail</b>

Thanks for deciding to give SEO in Practice a good read!

As for keyword choice, KEI was not invented by me, it's been a useful measurement of keyword effectiveness for years now. And it works better than just taking high-searches, low-competition keywords. Check this page to get more info on that:

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