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I need to do a quick teach-in for Gareth (our new business manager) on the age old keyword tool provided by Overture (now Yahoo! Search Marketing). So rather than just run through it for him, I thought I would share it here. There is nothing new here but, every now and then, it is worth going back over some old ground.

About the Tool

The Overture tool, in our opinion, still represents the best available keyword research data for the UK marketer. Whilst there are better tools out there, typically the data they use has such as strong bias to the US, that they offer little insight for those interested in the UK market.

The tool gives you information on how frequently someone enters a phrase into a search engine (“search volume”.) Further it also shows other phrases that include the phrase you put into the tool (e.g. entering the word “tyres” will bring back results including “new tyres” and “cheap tyres” as well as “tyres” itself).

Try out the UK version

We rarely worry about what the actual numbers mean but instead look at them as relative measurements (e.g. a number twice as big as another, suggests that a phrase is used twice as often by searchers).

For those of you who like market size estimates and other absolute measures, you could perhaps multiply the numbers by 5, add in a very large pinch of salt and get an indicative idea of how many UK searches are done a month across all search engines.

But then again you might not. Not least because there are a number of limitations to the tool that you should consider:

  • Single and plurals are often combined in the results e.g. results for “safari” also include results for “safaris”. However this is not always the case so double check with important words;
  • Misspellings are often combined e.g. accommodation and accommodation . Again however there are exceptions;
  • The order of the keywords in a phrase may or may not be the order that most people use. Occasionally the order can significantly change the meaning of the key phrase;
  • Most but not all, joining words are excluded e.g. “a”, “the” “where”;
  • The tool only shows the top 100 results. Very often there will be interesting keywords outside the top 100, which whilst infrequently searched may lead to high conversions;
  • Due to automated rank checking and other automated process, the search numbers can be skewed, often significantly. With experience you will start to recognise freaks – typically you see multi-word phrases with unusually high search volume.

International Versions of the Tool

Australia
France
Germany
Spain
UK
US

Other Keyword Research Tools

There are a multitude of other tools out there. Some free, some paid for. Some based on Overture data, many using other data.

However there is nothing out there that competes with actually running a pay-per-click campaign. Even in a few days, you can generate a huge amount of real data that not only gives you search volume data, but also, if tracked properly, will give you critical information about which phrases generate actual sales.

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