Commentary

How Much Are Keywords Really Worth?

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For years marketers have tried to determine the correct budget to allocate for keywords by estimating the revenue each would generate. Now Anchor Intelligence introduces a keyword tool aimed at optimizing the amount of funds spent for search engine marketing.

ClearMark for Keywords predicts the value of each keyword the advertiser wants to bid on, even in the absence of conversion data. Traffic quality data enables Anchor to offer this application. Each month, the company collects and analyzes more than 1 billion cost-per-click (CPC) ad clicks.

The tool scores keywords by measuring thousands of traffic characteristics. It enables advertisers to match bids to the predicted value of each keyword. The tool benefits lesser-ranked keywords the most, according to Richard Sim, Anchor director of product management and marketing. Sim says these are the keywords that get the least ad clicks.

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Although they get the least clicks, these keywords can potentially impact the campaign most, because marketers can buy on the cheap. But cheap doesn't always translate into conversions, so marketers tend to avoid making informed buying decisions on these types of keywords.

Inefficiencies in the ability to combine data remain one of the industry's biggest problems in getting the most from all keywords, according to Sim. So, ClearMark relies on data traffic to determine bid price on keywords. Sim says using traffic quality as a proxy is the next best thing if you don't have conversion data.

Several advertisers in retail, comparison shopping and travel have begun testing ClearMark for Keywords. Anchor claims some beta testers have experienced an increase in return on investment between 10% and 20%.

Anchor isn't the only company expanding tools to support SEM marketers. Yield Software released two SEO tools for those wanting to check the health of their SEO and refine link-building techniques. The first, Yield SEO Analyzer, offers recommendations for improvement in content, inbound link building and outbound link repair, URL structure and content, and page accessibility and performance.

The second, Yield SEO Natural Search Optimizer, available as part of the Yield Web Marketing Suite, has become available as a stand-alone platform.

Yield CEO Matt Malden believes the SEO industry continues to struggle with what he calls a "link economy." As social media rises in importance, he points to Twitter and Facebook as two sites that complicate link building. Few marketers understand the implications of high-quality link counts for helping natural search results climb higher in queries. "Companies still are not always clear that site content aligns with important search keyword lists, nor are they clear about the degree that folks link to their sites," he adds.

Malden describes a fundamental shift during the past year and a half in the way companies generate links. He believes social media created this disruption by moving away from mainstream media, Web sites and blogs, and toward real-time streams of Twitter and Facebook updates. Malden says Yield decided to make SEO Natural Search Optimizer a standalone product because while some companies know how to integrate and optimize paid search, natural search and landing page content, others continue to struggle.

5 comments about "How Much Are Keywords Really Worth?".
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  1. Nelson Yuen from Stereotypical Mid Sized Services Corp., February 9, 2010 at 4:15 p.m.

    Amazing...

  2. Ken Dickens from 2080Ideas, February 9, 2010 at 5:23 p.m.

    Both companies are on to something and are interesting for those of us in the internet marketing biz. However, I visited both websites and tried to sign up for more info, and both failed for various "forms" reasons.

    While I am intrigued with their ideas, having bad forms that fail simple tests means that these two companies are still yet clueless as to the fact that to get used and get traction with web marketers, the basics have to be covered.

    Smacks of techies thinking that if you build, folks will come. This is right thinking in concept, but if your forms don't work or require credit card info in advance, neither will get traction with time-impaired SEM folks. We're busy. If your stuff isn't easily accessable and free to try, you're dead.

  3. Derek Gordon from Daily Casserole, February 10, 2010 at 9:31 a.m.

    Hey, Ken -- I couldn't replicate your issue. If you could get me a few more specifics at derek dot gordon at yieldsoftware dot com, I sure would appreciate it. Thanks! -- Derek

  4. Josepf Haslam from Integrated Waste Solutions Inc, February 12, 2010 at 10:12 a.m.

    Laurie,

    we struggle with just how many keywords to use and what mix for our DumpsterSource.com website. I can see how tools like this could help, however, if someone is using a tool such as Aquisio and has written rules to set bid prices for their keyword set then???? This tool might help set initial pricing, keeping up with the correct bid amount vs the placement you want is an arduous task without an automated bid tool... Do you agree or am I missing something!?!?! :-)

    best -- Josepf

  5. Uri Bar-joseph from Optify, Inc., February 18, 2010 at 1:58 p.m.

    Hi Laurie,
    Good article, thank you.
    Determining the correct budget for a keyword should be a function of CTR curve, something experts have been trying to estimate since the last CTR curve was constructed in 2006 (after AOL leaked their data). It's interesting to hear that ClearMark is building their own tool by analyzing the data that they collected; a good way to go, but can be proven to be a faulty one as well.
    Optify (http://www.optify.net) offers a free SEO analysis to your website that includes an ROI calculation for organic search. The analysis will provide the user with the issues his website is having with SEO and how to fix those issues to rank higher on organic search results. You can request a live assessment of your website - http://www.optify.net/seo-expert-analysis/
    One last note, social media has disrupted the link building process, but it can not stand alone and for it to truly succeed it must be compbined with good, thoughtful SEO.
    Thank you again for this post.
    Uri

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