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Is the KEI really a good indicator for useful keywords?

Last week, we explained how to find good keywords for search engine optimization with the help of IBP's keyword generator and a dash of common sense.

Some webmasters also use the Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI) to determine the value of their keywords. Does it really make sense to choose keywords that way and is KEI something you should use for your keywords?

What is the KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index)?

The KEI compares the number of searches for a keyword with the number of search results to pinpoint which keywords are most effective for your campaign.

Suppose the number of searches for a keyword is 486 per month and Google displays 214,234 results for that keyword. Then the ratio between the popularity and competitiveness for that keyword is 486 divided by 214,234. In this case, the KEI 0.002.

The higher the KEI, the more popular your keywords are, and the less competition they have. That means that you might have a better chance of getting to the top.

Is this a good indicator for useful keywords?

According to the KEI definition, the best keywords are those that have many searches and that don't have much competition in the search results.

However, the KEI makes no statement about the quality of the competition. While there might be only a few competitors in the search results, these competitors could be big players with big SEO teams and thousands of back links.

The number of search results cannot really tell you whether it is easy to get your web site listed in the top 10 results for that keyword or not. It's much easier to move your web site from position 50,000 to position 32,000 than from position 210 to position 8.

In addition, the KEI factor is not a scientific number. The numbers on which it is based might not be comparable for all keywords. The keyword counts could be calculated differently for different keywords (some terms might be combined into one and other might not) and the search results sometimes change because a special word in the search term triggers a special filter. The changes in the starting numbers might cause that you compare apples and oranges.

What does this mean to your web site?

If you are serious about your web site, you must be serious about your keyword choice. KEI can help you to choose keywords but you should not rely too much on it and it should be the last step when choosing keywords.

Follow the instructions of our last article to find the best keywords for search engine optimization. It is important that your keywords are targeted and popular and that they attract web surfers with the right motivation.

Once you have build a list of specific keywords that have many searches and that are used by web surfers with the right motivation, you could apply the KEI formula to them.

Use common sense. If the KEI for a keyword is high it might still be a good idea not to use the keyword if your top ranked competitors are very big players.

Finding the right keywords is a very important step in every search engine optimization campaign. Take some time to find the best keywords for your web site and then optimize your pages for these keywords so that you get high rankings on Google, Yahoo and other major search engines.

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August 2005 search engine articles