Choosing keywords for your web site is an important step in search engine optimization (SEO). One method often used to help choose keywords is to consult and rely upon the Keyword Effectiveness Index or KEI. As an “automatic” way to pick keywords the KEI leaves something to be desired, but that could be said about any way to use an automatic method for keyword selection. As a tool to help YOU pick keywords, it can be useful, as long as you keep its limitations in mind.
What is the KEI?
The Keyword Effectiveness Index compares the number of searches made for a given keyword to the number of search results that pop up, where number of searches increases the KEI and number of results reduces it. The actual formula is Searches *Searches/Results. For example, suppose a given keyword has 500 searches per month and Google presents 200,000 results. The KEI would then by 500 * 500 / 200,000, or 1.25.
The theory is that the higher the KEI of a keyword, the more popular it is (the more searches are made for it), and the less competition your web site has from other sites using the same keyword. A keyword with a high KEI would theoretically give you a good chance of it being searched for and of your web site being near the front of the search.
Limitations of the KEI
The problem with the KEI is that while it takes the quantity of the competition into consideration, it does not evaluate the quality. If there are only a few competitors using your keyword, but many of those competitors are big players with extensive SEO efforts and a huge network of links, odds are your web site is going to be outdone by these powerhouses and could still be low down in the search even if the number of results total is not large.
The number of keyword results can’t really tell you how easy it is to get onto the first page of the search results. It’s a lot easier to go from 40,000th place to 30,000th than from 250th to 7th.
The KEI can still be a useful tool in helping you to choose your keywords, but it cannot take the place of human effort. You need to make sure your keywords are appropriate for what you are trying to market and that they will attract, not just traffic, but the kind of traffic that is really going to be interested in what you have to offer. There is simply no mechanical way to do this, although tools like the KEI can help to a degree.