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Keyword research is one of the most tempting parts of a search engine optimisation campaign to outsource.

My advice to UK SEO consultants and webmasters is to be very careful.

In the past we have outsourced a lot of keyword research but over the last year it has all been moved back in-house. Why?

Because the UK market is so Google-focused it is hard for keyword research firms to get the right results.

Most keyword research tools use Overture (Yahoo) or Wordtracker to some extent.

Yahoo has about a 3% market share in the UK compared to Google's 90% so the results are bound to be easily skewed by just a small number of searches.

Wordtracker uses data from the Dogpile and Metacrawler engines in the US along with a small sample of ISP data from the UK to come up with its data.

To create accurate UK data from a small ISP sample is almost impossible.

The only viable method of carrying out keyword research in the UK is to leverage Google's PPC tools and a bit of common sense.

Using the excellent traffic estimator tells me the traffic that will arrive at a site for any keyword.

This tool assumes a CTR of 5% so it is then quite easy to work out the total search volume for any term.

Google again has the lead when it comes to generating keyword ideas.

Try the external Adwords keyword tool to find your keywords and then plug them into the traffic estimator above and you have the most accurate UK keyword data available.

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Published 12 February, 2008 by Patrick Altoft

55 more posts from this author

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Anthony Sharot

Anthony Sharot, Search Marketing Director at http://www.marketappeal.com/

This advice is long overdue!

It has been apparent for a while now that there are several keyword research tools out there primarily based upon very small, and therefore almost certainly unrepresentative samples, and therefore but cannot help give skewed results.

Several such tools have already been mentioned, but similar problems can also be found with ranking systems such as Alexa, due to them ommitting data from market dominators like Google.

I recommended that keyword research (or another kind) is done on data as close as possible to the audience that you're targeting. For many clients 90% of their traffic comes from Google, so there is little point in looking for data elsewhere.

Anthony Sharot

http://www.marketappeal.co.uk

over 8 years ago

Ciaran Norris

Ciaran Norris, Chief Digital Officer at Mindshare

Very good points here Patrick. We tend to use WT & the like for some extra brainstorming (getting synonyms etc..) but then use Google data for researching actual volumes.

If you're running live PPC campaigns this can also be a good way of assembling data.

over 8 years ago

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Raman Shukla

The above points will help many webmasters world wide who target UK but were not aware of the fact.

A good keyword research can make a campaign successful.

Best of luck

over 8 years ago

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Kaya PPC, Internet Marketing Manager at Optimised Media

At Optimised Media we use a variety of methods. What surprises me is the number of agencies that think they can just feed information into one tool and provide the output to clients without any further work. There are a number of considerations that need to be made in keyword research and different approaches to both PPC and SEO keyword research. Kaya @ Optimised Media.co.uk

over 8 years ago

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SEO Design Solutions

I had a similar experience when working on clients sites in the UK. The good news is, links from US sources have more weight there, due to the Google US phenomenon being the hub. But the keyword research was no where near accurate using Word Tracker (which is one reason I abandoned it entirely). The results were way to inflated. I like the suggestions and will take note the next time we work on sites in the UK.

Thanks...

over 8 years ago

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Sarosh Elahi, Digital Marketing Consultant at Netcel

Hi I appreciatte the advice however in my experience the Google tool does not show click data for a great number of keywords. Unless i am calculating this the wrong way.

over 8 years ago

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Affiliate Blogger

This is good advice for all us struggling to get good keywords lists of UK search terms AND now that Google are also showing Search Volumes for the keywords returned by their External Keyword Tool things have just got a whole lot better!

For my keyword research I use the UK version of Google's external keyword tool at https://adwords.google.co.uk/select/KeywordToolExternal

Here you can now get average approximate search volume for both the previous month and a recent 12 month period. Notice that Google qualifies this data as being approximate and only time will tell haw accurate this is, but initial opinions are favorable. Enjoy!

about 8 years ago

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ChriSEO

its still the same today (2011) Google still by far has the largest market share so i suggest sticking to G for your keyword research, id also say develop something like as 'badge' that people can add to there site combined with your anchor text. it works for me

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