The root of all success in search
engine marketing begins with keywords. Period. Get them
wrong and virtually everything about your online endeavor
will fail. Only by targeting the right keywords can one
expect to ride that exhilarating magic carpet to online
Stating the obvious you say? ...well, if so, then why is
it that virtually everyone - professional and amateur
alike - is oblivious to the fact they are selecting, and
frequently buying, keywords based on highly skewed
The fact is that very few online marketers understand the
results supplied by the two most basic keyword selection
tools. These are the very same tools being used globally
to hone keyword choices into supposedly laser sharp focus
in an effort to keep pace with the challenges of
increasingly keen competition and ever-rising keyword
The critical differences ? Overture's STST vs.
As one of Wordtracker's technical support team ( http://www.wordtracker.com/moreinfo.html),
one of the most frequent questions we receive these days
Why are the keyword search query numbers supplied by
Overture's search term suggestion tool (STST) so
incredibly different than those supplied by Wordtracker's
keyword selection service (KSS)?
Frankly, there isn't a better search engine related
question one could ask. And, now's a good time to pay
close attention because the surprising answer will likely
change forever how you evaluate keywords!
First: Understanding Their Motives.
To help you understand the details we're about to reveal,
let's examine the motives of the services that are
providing the keyword query numbers.
Motive Analysis: Purpose
On the one hand, there's Overture's STST whose purpose is
to help customers buy keywords.
On the other hand, there's Wordtracker whose purpose is to
help customers select keywords.
Overture's STST suggests what keywords to buy from them.
Wordtracker suggests what keywords to use in your
optimization efforts and/or which to buy elsewhere.
Overture's success depends on you believing there are LOTS
of search queries for whatever you are selling.
Wordtracker's success depends on you getting accurate
numbers upon which you can reliably base your optimization
and keyword purchase decisions.
Overture's STST is free. Overture profits by selling you
the keywords that STST reports on.
Wordtracker's KSS is fee based. They profit by selling you
access to accurate and impartial information. Since they
don't sell the keywords, there's no vested interest in
query numbers beyond accuracy.
It's important to note there is no good-guy, bad-guy here
- just two companies that provide information and do so
with different incentives in mind.
Second: Understanding The Artificial Skew.
In researching the search term "keyword,"
Overture's STST indicates there were 180,468 searches for
the 30-day period ending the last day of December '03. Of
course, when we divide this number by 30 (days), one
naturally assumes that's an average of 6,016 combined
searches per day for the term keyword - (180,468/30=6016).
Now, if you happen to be in a business that sells keywords
(like Overture) then 6,016 pairs of eyeballs per day is a
pretty encouraging number indeed! The problem is, there
isn't anywhere even close to 6,016 per-day queries for the
search term(s) keyword(s). In fact, the actual number,
which we'll share with you in a minute, will no-doubt
But, for the moment, let's look at why that number is
Reason #1 ? Artificial Searches
Overture's STST numbers are increased upward by automated
queries. These include automated bid optimizers, position
and ranking monitors, page popularity analyzers - anything
other than a real person manually performing a search is
considered an automated query. Monitoring a site's
positioning at, say, AltaVista for the search term
"keyword" tallies a "hit" within
Overture's STST system for that search term. That's in
spite of the fact that it was actually automated software
that generated the hit. The same holds true for
page-popularity checkers, pay- per-click bid optimizers or
any other machine generated monitor or tabulator that
queries an engine for a "pet" keyword and
generates a hit in the process.
Then, when the same positioning query is done at, say, MSN
(another Overture partner), STST records yet another hit.
Understandably, STST cannot differentiate between
automated and human queries. Neither can they tell when
the auto-query has already been queried at another
Now, when we take into consideration all of the position
monitoring, page popularity checking and pay-per-click bid
analyzing - there are well over 15 automated and
semi-automated bid checking software programs alone - it's
staggering to realize the significant effect these
automated queries are having on the overall search term
However, artificial searches are only one aspect
contributing to the artificial skew (defined as: the
inflation of actual search queries for specific keywords
performed by anything other than humans).
(Continued in Part 2. Contact Robin@SearchEngineWorkshops.com
for the complete article.)