Keyword Research Tools: What They CAN’T Do

by on January 30, 2012

Last week, I took a big step: I laid out some cash to buy a keyword research tool.

I had always assumed that when this day came, the money would go to Wordtracker. But after a conversation with my colleague Sarah Spencer of Got Clicks, and after extensive research, I settled on Market Samurai. And I couldn’t be happier.

keyword research

Plenty has been written about the benefits of this remarkable piece of software. (For a nice rundown, check out Chad Nicely’s post: Are You Aboard the Market Samurai Phenomenon?)

My favorite part of it so far is the way it formulates the most valuable keywords based on both traffic and competition. That kind of algorithm isn’t something I can manage in my head, so I really appreciate its hard work on my behalf.

Turning My Brain Back On…

But rather than write a review of Market Samurai, I wanted to share the one action that I continually forget.

I’ve been following the Market Samurai Keyword Research steps without difficulty. But there’s one very important piece to the keyword puzzle that can be easy to overlook – especially when you’re letting a keyword tool do all the heavy lifting.

Check the results in Google.

An example: I did some fun keyword research for a client in the equestrian accounting business. I was pleased to come up with what seemed to be an excellent list of keywords. But when I sent the list to the client, he pointed out that one of my terms – “horse games” – likely refers to online video games having to do with horses. (What will the Internet think of next?)

A quick search in Google showed me how right he was.

So, although Market Samurai had told me “horse games” was a high-ranking search term with a pleasing SEO value, the tool couldn’t point out that, in fact, it was off the topic of equestrian accounting. To learn that, I had to activate my brain.

So THIS Is Why They’re Called “Tools”

I love keyword research. I think I could do it all day. Heck, I have done it all day.

Having my very own, paid-for keyword research tool makes it even more fun – but I learned a valuable lesson. Just because the program is awesome and thrilling and makes you feel super smart, you still do need to look critically at the results.

Always check out the top 10 keywords in Google (and, while you’re at it, Bing and Yahoo). If they don’t return competitive sites, strike them from the list.

How about you? What silly keyword research mistakes have YOU made lately?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tanya McTavish February 1, 2012 at 7:12 am

“Just because the program is awesome and thrilling and makes you feel super smart, you still do need to look critically at the results.”

Excellent excellent points, Susannah. Just wrote a post about pretty much same thing. Tools are just tools, no matter how awesome they are.

susannah February 1, 2012 at 10:39 am

Thanks, Tanya! And this is what makes SEO fun and interesting, after all – using your brain!

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