Can We Talk About Keywords?

Mar 15, 2004 • 12:08 am | comments (1) by | Filed Under Keyword Research

After explaining for the umpteenth time this week why KEI (Sumantra Roy's "keyword effectiveness index") is not a reliable guideline for selecting the right keywords, I was relieved to see some new action in the keyword research forum at High Rankings.

I'm supposed to the be "IHelpYou" representative here, but I also moderate the keyword research talk over at High Rankings. "Measuring Keyword Competition" stirred up a lively discussion, but we're still shy of a good keyword metric to replace KEI.

My question, though, is whether a single metric can do the job. Any metric that ignores relevance (like KEI) is bound to fail, and my best advice these days is to target the best relevant search terms, regardless of how competitive.

But I can see that ignoring the competition (or measuring it as poorly as Wordtracker does) will not get us to a better keyword metric. Nowdays, though, what does competition mean anyway?

For all of you optimists who say "you're only competing against 10 sites," I get your point, but wake up already - everyone else can optimize their pages just as well as you can.

You may be competing against hundreds of optimizers, and what you see in the rankings has very little to do with what they put on the page. I'm sorry, but it's true - 99% of websites could use a trained monkey to do their optimization, if all you care about is rankings, and it seems that there are a lot of little monkeys banging on keyboards out there.

So where does that put us in terms of competition? Has the "real competition" moved off site now? Are inbound links, link text, link relevance, and (god forbid) themes the new battleground? If so, how in the world will we measure that?

Okay, rant's over... on to forum news. Doug Heil of the Best Practices search engine forums (formerly known as IHelpYou) has announced private SEO forums for donors, which should be an interesting experiment.

The private forums at Webmaster World are attractive because of all the noise in the public forums, and the (false) belief that Googleguy is in there. IHY/Best Practices doesn't have a Googleguy. They don't have a lot of noise either (in fact, their public forums are less noisy than WMW's private area), so I wonder if there will be enough interest.

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