I just got an email from an old associate. He is a PPC guy and is doing an SEO project. He asked for basic insight to “double check” on the keywords that his client provided to him, wanting to make sure that he wasn’t going to spend his time optimizing for keywords that were seldom searched.
Good call. In fact, when Ephricon takes on a new client we ask for lots of input from the client, but we reserve the right to have final say on the keyword priority list. I feel as though that’s part of what clients pay us for. We hold ourselves responsible not for rankings, but for traffic and leads. As such, we need to have significant say as to which keywords we target. This goes for both SEO and PPC.
My reply to him is below. I intentionally tried to keep it fairly high-level. The guy wants recommendations, not thorough discussion of every tool ever made.
Good hearing from you. There are a number of options, of course, but the fastest/easiest one is the good ole Google Keyword Tool.
Search volume is pretty much the same for PPC as with SEO – b/c at the end of the day its still just counting the number of people who are searching. Your approach to target them (PPC ads vs. organic listings) is different, but there is still the same “supply” of people searching.
That’s all volume. For relevance, I apply a more subjective measure. If you have conversion data than you can use that, but if you are starting from scratch you have to go with your gut, and when in doubt lean more towards longer tail keywords and keywords with “buying” intent.
For competition, we again use the Google Keyword Tool and also SEOmoz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool. Neither is perfect, so we also do a lot of “custom” analysis to determine difficulty levels. The SEOChat tool is actually pretty good too… it doesn’t look as cool as the others but I tend to agree with its scoring a bit more.