Hi all,

I'm new here but not new to the world of SEO / SEM. Over the years I've put together a keyword research process that has worked well for me but I now have time to see if it might also work for others.

I've spent the last 15 years of my life as a director of a range of companies, mainly in printing but also in systems development, marketing, etc. I spent a large percentage of my time developing systems and tools to help me with my search engine marketing. I've now sold all my companies and I'm semi-retired, somewhat bored, and would love it if I can assist others with the process I've used over the years.

My motivations are primarily on sharing knowledge and I hope I've posted this in the right forum and the right area.

It's kinda lengthy but there is an infographic (look for the link further down) if you're more of a visual person.


I've developed a keyword research tool which answers the ultimate question asked by anyone embarking on a search engine marketing campaign…

"If I have a website and some competitor websites, how can I know the top 20 search terms that I should focus on?"

By "top 20", I mean the search terms that are the best combination of "keyword difficulty" and monthly search volume. And if you're talking Adwords, then it means the best combination of competition (cost per click) and monthly search volume.

It sounds like yet another piece of software like Long Tail Pro, or SEMRush or Market Samurai, but I actually wrote this software out of frustration that I couldn't find any software that summarised all information and returned a list of keywords I should focus on.

I'm curious to know whether SEM professionals agree with the way my system ranks keywords from "best" to "worst". If you're interested in testing this process and telling me if you think my list of keywords is "spot on", "not bad" or "horrible!", then please read on…

The problem
When promoting my businesses, all I wanted to know is which search terms I should focus my time and effort on. There are many online tools and downloadable software that give me information about search term competition and who my competitors are, but none actually answer the question I want - exactly which keywords are the "best" ?

For example, assume I wanted to know whether "dog kennels" was a good search term to rank for. There are tools that allow me to get information on the top 10 ranking pages for that search term but then I need to collect information on those top 10 competitors such as number of juice passing links, domain age, etc.

Some tools will do this competitor assessment for me, and will even give me a general indication of how "difficult" it would be to rank for that search term. SEMRush, SEOmoz, Majestic SEO are a few. Long Tail Pro have recently added their own "difficulty" metric to keywords. But there's no point in trying to rank well for a search term that only gets 20 searches per month. So then I need to compare the "difficulty" of a search term with the monthly search volume.

Again some tools include this information but none of them summarise it for me and none of them take into account my preferences such as search term length or whether I consider it a "purchase" keyword or an "education" keyword. There's possibly no point in trying to rank well for a search term with only one word in it, like "kennels". It'd be better to rank well for "wooden dog kennels Utah".

But even if there was some software that had these features, the biggest problem is that while some tools allow me to see all this information in the one place, they only do it on a search term-by-search term basis. What if I want to evaluate 300 search terms and rank them in order?

There's no tool that will tell me which search terms are "better" or "worse" when compared to each other by taking into account all competitor factors AND the monthly search volume AND my personal preferences such as search term length.

Finally, I have not come across a tool that gives you two keyword lists - one for my organic keywords and one for my Adwords keywords.

And I'm in Australia which means some tools only provide worldwide data or US data.

A possible solution
That's why I wrote my own software. I combined all my knowledge and experience into this tool. It's not publicly available and I've only ever used it for my own work but hopefully it can work for others.

This infographic...


… outlines the logic flow and the features. However, if you want to read about it, then here's a list of the features my software addresses that other software / online tools ignore. My software will:

Build a keyword list...
  • automatically build a list of relevant search terms. You just need to give it your website, your competitor's websites and a few sample keywords
  • groups the keywords into those for which your direct competitors are ranking and those keywords for which are "niche" keywords
  • let's you filter out irrelevant keywords, thus creating a list of negative keywords, ready to import into your Adwords campaign
  • shows you which words are used most often across all your keywords so you can easily create keyword specific Ad Groups in your Adwords campaign
  • let's you group keywords into "education" and "purchase" keywords and to analyse these two groups of keywords separately

Get Google results for the keywords...
  • allow you to select to use broad match, "phrase match" or [exact match] when getting search engine results
  • allow you to specify any country you want the SERP results for, or even any city. User's IP addresses are now used by Google to deliver local results so this feature is vitally important
  • obtain the Google results live when you request the ranking report. No out-dated data
  • indicate which paid ads appear at the top, side AND bottom of the results page
  • indicate shopping, image, video, and local results

Allow you to adjust preferences...
  • allow you to specify "thresholds". eg; you can ignore the really competitive search terms, or ignore the really short search terms
  • allow you to specify "weightings". eg; you can put a greater emphasis on search term length, or a lesser emphasis on cost per click

Rank the keywords...
  • ne all competitor information and search term information together with your thresholds and weightings to give you a list of search terms ranked from "best" to "worst"
  • do the same for both organic search terms and paid (Adwords) search terms
  • do the same for both direct search terms and niche search terms
  • takes into account "word count" (number of words in a search term) as longtail keywords generally higher-converting search terms

As a result of the keyword analysis, it'll also show you who your organic and adwords competitors are based on all keywords, or just your top selected keywords.

I'd like to hear from any SEM professionals who want to test this process.

All I need from you is your (or a client's) current website URL, 5 competitor websites, and 5 sample keywords.

Once I have your basic details I'll compile two list of keywords. They'll be broken down into "standard" keywords and "niche" keywords. The "niche" keywords might be a little outside your main focus but dominating on those keywords first is often a good way to begin your SEM campaign.

I'll ask you to go through the list, flagging some as "education" keywords, others as "purchase" keywords, and others simply deleting. I've made an online interface to make this process easy for you.

From there, give me 24-48 hours and I'll return 2 lists of keywords: "organic", and "Adwords". I'd love to hear your opinion about the relevance of the keyword lists.

If you're interested, please post a message in this thread letting me know why you'd be a good candidate to test this system. I really do want people who are well versed in search engine marketing. So please include a basic "resume" about who you are. If you have an SEM company and that's your main career focus then I definitely want to hear from you.