Keyword Research and Keyword Ranking Tools

Many would argue that thorough and diligent keyword research is the most pivotal part of a successful search marketing campaign.  Not only can it help you bring relevant traffic to your website and away from the competition, a deep dive can also help you understand what topics your target audience are interested in, and what vernacular they use in the process informing both content creation and link building opportunities. As promised in my ExactTarget webinar today "Get With the Program!  Integrating Email within Your Overall Marketing Mix," here are some helpful tools to use when building keyword lists:

Google AdWords Keyword Tool – This free tool can be used with or without a Google AdWords account, and results are based on actual Google search traffic results. Marketers can also see the approximate number of advertisers bidding on specific PPC keywords. If you’re researching SEO keywords, the Google Ad Words Keyword Tool will also help gauge the popularity of the term.

WordTracker – WordTracker compiles a keyword list based on 330 million search terms from the major metacrawlers, including Dogpile and Metacrawler. Keyword search volume numbers are typically lower in volume than those reported by the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, but WordTracker does generate additional keyword derivatives and bases traffic on more engines than just Google, a big advantage depending on your target and the engines they frequent.

Keyword Discovery – From Trellian, Keyword Discovery generates up to 10,000 keywords per engine. This tool goes beyond simple keyword research and conducts a long list of specialty searches, including permutations and excluded (AKA negative) keyword lists.

Once your keyword research is completed and your site has been optimized for search, consistent tracking and reporting related to how your Web site is ranking for those phrases in the search engines is part of the necessary information needed for long-term success (coupled with of course the results you are actually acheiving from your listings). There are a large number of keyword ranking tools on the market, but these have proven to be the most effective:

WebPosition – The newest version, WebPosition 4, not only reports on how your targeted keywords are ranking in over 29 search engines, it also helps you optimize your pages, target keywords, submit URLs to the search engines and analyze conversions based on WebTrends.

RankChecker – All you need is an SEOmoz account to log in and check your rankings on Google, Yahoo, MSN and, as well as international domains ( for example). Also handy is the archiving feature allowing you to trend how keywords have performed over time.

Authority Labs – A very simple to use keyword ranking tool that helps track domains, and also allows for multiple user access on the same account. A cool feature is their Graph Analysis, which also trends how each keyword has been performing over time. There is a wide variety of monthly pricing tiers based on the number of domains you are wishing to track.

The one drawback of keyword ranking tools is that Google frowns upon third parties scraping data from their site. They allow it, however, the data may take longer to pull from Google based on when the reports are pulled.

Almost all of the fee-based tools offer free trials, so test each one to determine which tools work best for your unique needs.

Posted by - Mike Corak – Originally posted on 4-29-09

[caption id="attachment_113" align="alignleft" width="56" caption="Mike Corak"]Mike Corak[/caption]

Mike Corak leads the strategic planning practice and account management efforts at Off Madison Ave, and is co-founder of  An active member of the digital marketing community and frequent blogger and speaker, Mike's passion is interactive marketing. Mike's developed and implemented winning digital and integrated strategies for hundreds of companies over his 12 year career including the likes of Coca Cola, ConAgra Foods, ConocoPhillips, FedEx, Fujitsu, Nike, Office Depot, and Walt Disney. Contact Mike at, or interact with Mike here: twitter, LinkedIn.