Search engine optimization experts have
long known that choosing keyphrases is the single most important step
in a search engine optimization campaign. Not long ago, however, much
of the keyphrase selection process was done by trial and error, or
relied upon tools that provided data of questionable value.
Then came Wordtracker, a powerful
keyphrase evaluation tool that gave popularity figures for individual
search terms based upon actual search engine activity. Many search
engine optimization experts, this author included, immediately found
Wordtracker research to be an invaluable part of the search engine
I recently interviewed Andy Mindel,
Wordtracker’s founder and president, to learn more about the
London-based company and the service that it provides.
Scott Buresh: Tell us a little
bit about your background and the origins of Wordtracker.
Andy Mindel: We initially
entered the search engine positioning field. Whilst carrying out some
work for ourselves and friends we only had access to the Overture
suggestion tool. We achieved a number of top ten rankings and waited
for the traffic to flow. The Overture suggestion tool reported
hundreds of visitors a day from each keyword, so we braced ourselves.
Whilst testing we realized something must be wrong with the search
predictions. We were expecting over ten thousand visitors for the week
and we received about ten. So we carried out our own research and
utilized a keyword source available on the web at the time. The source
was taken from metacrawlers and the results we received from these
engines were very different. We started to use these words and found
them to be far more accurate. So initially a simple tool was created
for our own use. We then started to sell this tool to other
positioning experts, who requested additional features. Slowly we
integrated all these and created what you see today.
Scott Buresh: Where exactly does
the popularity data in the Wordtracker Database come from?
Andy Mindel: Popularity data is
taken from the largest metacrawlers on the web, Dogpile and
Metacrawler. After much testing, we found that results from these
engines were more accurate than other sources. We examined keywords
from other engines and noticed a distortion from position checkers and
hard coded queries. One thing we notice is that the top keywords
always fall into a certain pattern – these usually consist of google,
hotmail, sex, mp3, etc. When this pattern changes then we know
something’s up- and often it’s because the engine’s database is
being used at another site (for example gambling or shopping sites).
Scott Buresh: For each phrase
entered, the Wordtracker database gives both a "count" and
"predict" number. For those unfamiliar with Wordtracker, can
you explain exactly what these figures represent?
Andy Mindel: In a nutshell, the
count is the total number of times that a keyword has been looked up
in the past 60 days using our 350 million keyword database. This
database is the *complete* log of all requests made at the Metacrawler/Dogpile
Metacrawlers (we don't use search engines because of software
robots/position checkers distorting the results but the lookups are
The predict column, however, attempts
to predict the total searches of that keyword in the next 24 hour
period for all search engines/directories/pay per bids to give you a
rough idea of whether it's a good choice or not. It utilizes the
predicted total number of searches made on the net each day (see the
first article referenced below). Sometimes the count/predict will be
very similar. This is because the predicted total number of daily
searches may be the same as our total database size.
The count is from keywords in our
database. This database is taken from the major metacrawlers which
only get about 2/3% of the total search market (this number constantly
changes). Using the formula above we work out a predict that
represents all engines on the web. When we work out this number it is
often much higher than the count, as we are taking into account all
the searches on the web and not just the major metacrawlers.
Please look to the following sources
for detailed explanations of count and predict:
Scott Buresh: How has the
increased monetization of search changed Wordtracker, if at all?
Andy Mindel: In our current
version we offer the ability to find niches within the PPC engines.
This will be expanded upon in Wordtracker’s new release. There is a
much greater importance placed on these engines and Wordtracker will
be catering for these needs.
Scott Buresh: Do your customers
consist primarily of search engine optimization experts, or is there a
Andy Mindel: Our mix has been
getting wider and we now cater for marketing sites and those just
starting out looking for the idea and inspiration for a new product.
However our predominant base is still positioning specialists.
Scott Buresh: What are the
limitations of the free Wordtracker trial (as opposed to the full
Andy Mindel: Here is a summary:
- a) The full Wordtracker system returns
300 related words per search (and another 300 from the thesaurus)
whilst the free trial returns 15.
- b) The full database returns up to 500
keywords for each popularity search. You may also enter any number
of your own keywords. The free trial returns 15.
- c) You can store up to 5,000 keywords
with the full membership. You also clear your basket and delete your
last keyword. With the free trial you can store up to 30 keywords.
- d) You can find out how many people
misspell your chosen keywords (e.g. Altivista, alttavista). This
feature is not available on the free trial.
- e) With the full subscription we
provide you with a number of different ways to search our keyword
database - including word stemming (tie, ties, tieknot), upper and
lower case separation or compression, and pluralisation. You also
have the option to include or exclude adult search terms.
- f) The full database allows you five
projects for each account. They can be implemented as you need them,
cleared of keywords, renamed or deleted, the choice is yours. This
option is not available on the free trial.
- g) There are two reports, the short
term top 1000 which shows you data from the last 36 hours, and the
long term top 1000 which shows you data from the last 8 weeks. This
allows you to spot trends, sudden surges of interest or keywords
which stick around consistently from day to day.
Scott Buresh: What future
changes or additions do you anticipate for Wordtracker, in the short
and long term?
Andy Mindel: For the last year
and a half we have been working on a new and updated Wordtracker. We
have rewritten the infrastructure to make its workings faster and
smoother. We have been receiving suggestions over this period from our
users, all these will be implemented. We are also releasing a
webservices side to Wordtracker which will allow users to connect to
all parts of Wordtracker via an API. There have been big changes, far
too many to list. We are hoping to release Wordtracker in Beta mode
early next year and then we will implement any other changes and
suggestions throughout this period.
Scott Buresh: Thanks for taking
the time for this interview, and good luck with the upcoming release.
Andy Mindel: No Worries.
Scott Buresh is managing
partner of Medium Blue
Internet Marketing. His articles have appeared in numerous publications,
including ZDNet, WebProNews, MarketingProfs, DarwinMag, SiteProNews,
PromotionData, and Search Engine Guide. Medium Blue is an Atlanta
search engine optimization company that works with clients all over the