Ask the Experts: Should I Trust Wordtracker’s KEI?
Q: I am stuck on a problem that I hope you can help me overcome. I understand that almost everything hangs on the choice of keywords. I have subscribed to Wordtracker but can’t find a useful keyword that isn’t WAY OVERUSED already. See example below.
We are a non-profit organization that helps teachers and students learn more about business and entrepreneurship. We try to help teenagers start their own business and become successful entrepreneur. Each year we conduct a Business Plan Competition and a Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. We also provide curriculum and teaching aids for educators.
Unfortunately, each of the words underlined above scores a KEI (keyword effectiveness index) of .0004. How can I build a successful SEO strategy if I can’t find appropriate keywords that aren’t incredibly overhyped?
A: We just love your methodology for telling us your keyword choices. It really helps to put things in context.
It looks like you’re using Wordtracker’s KEI as a primary indicator of your keywords’ possible success. KEI is only one measurement. It’s at best controversial, and at worst, unloved by lots of SEOs. (For fun, you can Google “KEI is worthless” to get various opinions.) Our advice is to ignore KEI as it’s not really a prime indicator of the actual competitive climate of a given keyword, and it certainly doesn’t tell you anything about the suitability of a keyword for your website. In our SEO book we recommend assessing keywords differently, by doing things such as reviewing allintitle data (See our search engine shortcuts page for a how-to) and snooping on websites that are similar to yours in focus, among other tasks.
You note a bad KEI score for “each of the words” you underlined in your paragraph. Taken individually, of course, your keywords are awfully generic. Trying to rank for single words like “teacher” or “business” would be an exercise in futility, so if that was your line of thinking, it’s no wonder that you’re finding your keyword choices problematic.
Even if you find a few gems by combining the keywords in your paragraph, we wonder if you might be barking up the wrong tree. We say this, of course, with zero knowledge of your campaign, but we’ll go by our hunch here. Since your business offers an unusual service, you are probably in a situation where most people aren’t actively searching for exactly what you provide. If nobody’s looking for your service, then you need to think about what they are looking for, and how your business fulfills this need.
One way to do this is to rewrite your paragraph from a user’s perspective and see what keywords emerge when you think this way. Off the top of our heads there might be some tie-in to summer jobs (i.e. you provide and alternative solution to them) or college preparedness (surely what you do helps beef up a college application), and it looks like you might offer specific tools for teachers – not just “curriculum” – like, say lesson plans. And, by all means, don’t forget to consider adding location-specific keywords to the mix. If you’re having trouble finding these kinds of keywords, it’s time to call up some of your teachers, students, and volunteers, and ask how they would describe your business to others. You might be surprised – and enlightened – by what they tell you.