“Why are the Overture and Wordtracker figure always so different? Good Question!” Jim Williams Managing Director JU2
Selecting effective keywords is vital to any search engine optimisation campaign. Finding keywords that are going to be effective in attracting the right visitors to your website is a matter of trying to put yourself in the mind of your potential customers. How do you find out which search queries your customers use to search for your products or services? Well you can ask your customers directly but properly designed market research doesn’t come cheap. You can look at your web statistics although this only tells you the phrases used by visitors who have already successfully found your website. It tells you nothing about the hordes of potential customers who gave up or went to one of your competitors. What other tools do you have at your disposal?
Most search engine optimisation professionals rely on the Overture Keyword Analysis Tool and Wordtracker. If you enter “swimming pool” into Overture you get 46,239 searches for January 2006. Compare this to Wordtracker which returns 1914 searches. Why the disparity? To understand this you need to understand how Overture and Wordtracker arrive at these figures.
The Overture Keyword Analysis Tool is designed to help advertisers choose effective keywords as part of a Yahoo Search Marketing pay per click adverting campaign. It gives you the total number of times a search query has been entered into a search engines with-in the Overture network in the previous calendar month and includes searches from Yahoo! Search, AltaVista and MSN as well as others. On the other hand Wordtracker gets its figure from entries made on Metacrawler and Dogpile – meta search engines that query all the major engines simultaneously.
Also because of the way Overture provides search results to its partners a single search often generates multiple queries. On top of this Overture combines plural, singular, upper and lower case searches where queries can have potential entirely different meanings. While searches can also be inflated by automated queries by tools such as automated bid optimisers, search engine ranking monitors and some web analytics packages to name but a few.
How can you minimise the effect of duplicates and automated queries? Do what Wordtracker does and go to the meta search engines. Metacrawler and Dogpile, have a much higher ratio of human to automated queries because there is little value in pointing auto-bots at them. Automated bid optimisers, and search engine ranking monitors are typically conducted directly at the search engines themselves. Additionally, duplicate searches are eliminated because query counts are being tabulated from a single source instead of combining results from a network of partners. Unfortunately though the Dogpile and Metacrawler combined market share in January 2006 was less than 0.75% and are seen as niche search engines whose users tend to be much more technically literate than your average Yahoo user – can you assume that searches on Dogpile are similar to Yahoo? Probably not!
What’s the answer? Providing you understand that Overture and Wordtracker are measuring different things both tools are an invaluable help in selecting effective keywords for your search engine optimisation campaign.