Wordtracker Overture Difference

I have been asked about this issue many times and have seen it discussed on numerous forums. So obviously it's of interest to a lot of Internet marketers.

Both Wordtracker and Overture's Keyword Suggestion Tool can be used to research the best keywords for your site.

To learn more about keywords and search engine marketing, consult the e-book, "Make Your Content Presell" which is available free on this site. (make sure to scroll down the page for "Make Your Content Presell" as there are nine (9) free e-books available on that web site).

This 3-article series explains the Wordtracker Overture difference better than anything else I've ever read on the topic.

The series begins below the line:




Demystifying The Radically Different Keyword Results Provided By Overture and Wordtracker ...because your online success depends on getting accurate keyword counts! Part 1

- by Robin Nobles

The root of all success in search engine marketing begins with keywords. Period. Get them wrong and virtually everything about your online endeavor will fail. Only by targeting the right keywords can one expect to ride that exhilarating magic carpet to online prosperity.

Stating the obvious you say? ...well, if so, then why is it that virtually everyone - professional and amateur alike - is oblivious to the fact they are selecting, and frequently buying, keywords based on highly skewed numbers?

The fact is that very few online marketers understand the results supplied by the two most basic keyword selection tools. These are the very same tools being used globally to hone keyword choices into supposedly laser sharp focus in an effort to keep pace with the challenges of increasingly keen competition and ever-rising keyword pay-per-click costs.

The critical differences — Overture's STST vs. Wordtracker's KSS

As one of Wordtracker's technical support team (http://www.wordtracker.com/moreinfo.html), one of the most frequent questions we receive these days is...

Why are the keyword search query numbers supplied by Overture's search term suggestion tool (STST) so incredibly different than those supplied by Wordtracker's keyword selection service (KSS)?

Frankly, there isn't a better search engine related question one could ask. And, now's a good time to pay close attention because the surprising answer will likely change forever how you evaluate keywords!

First: Understanding Their Motives.

To help you understand the details we're about to reveal, let's examine the motives of the services that are providing the keyword query numbers.

Motive Analysis: Purpose

On the one hand, there's Overture's STST whose purpose is to help customers buy keywords.

On the other hand, there's Wordtracker whose purpose is to help customers select keywords.

Proposal:

Overture's STST suggests what keywords to buy from them.

Wordtracker suggests what keywords to use in your optimization efforts and/or which to buy elsewhere.

Success:

Overture's success depends on you believing there are LOTS of search queries for whatever you are selling.

Wordtracker's success depends on you getting accurate numbers upon which you can reliably base your optimization and keyword purchase decisions.

Profits:

Overture's STST is free. Overture profits by selling you the keywords that STST reports on.

Wordtracker's KSS is fee based. They profit by selling you access to accurate and impartial information. Since they don't sell the keywords, there's no vested interest in query numbers beyond accuracy.

It's important to note there is no good-guy, bad-guy here - just two companies that provide information and do so with different incentives in mind.

Second: Understanding The Artificial Skew.

In researching the search term "keyword," Overture's STST indicates there were 180,468 searches for the 30-day period ending the last day of December '03. Of course, when we divide this number by 30 (days), one naturally assumes that's an average of 6,016 combined searches per day for the term keyword - (180,468/30=6016).

Now, if you happen to be in a business that sells keywords (like Overture) then 6,016 pairs of eyeballs per day is a pretty encouraging number indeed! The problem is, there isn't anywhere even close to 6,016 per-day queries for the search term(s) keyword(s). In fact, the actual number, which we'll share with you in a minute, will no-doubt shock you!

But, for the moment, let's look at why that number is skewed.

Reason #1 — Artificial Searches

Overture's STST numbers are increased upward by automated queries. These include automated bid optimizers, position and ranking monitors, page popularity analyzers - anything other than a real person manually performing a search is considered an automated query. Monitoring a site's positioning at, say, AltaVista for the search term "keyword" tallies a "hit" within Overture's STST system for that search term. That's in spite of the fact that it was actually automated software that generated the hit. The same holds true for page-popularity checkers, pay- per-click bid optimizers or any other machine generated monitor or tabulator that queries an engine for a "pet" keyword and generates a hit in the process.

Then, when the same positioning query is done at, say, MSN (another Overture partner), STST records yet another hit. Understandably, STST cannot differentiate between automated and human queries. Neither can they tell when the auto-query has already been queried at another partner's site.

Now, when we take into consideration all of the position monitoring, page popularity checking and pay-per-click bid analyzing - there are well over 15 automated and semi-automated bid checking software programs alone - it's staggering to realize the significant effect these automated queries are having on the overall search term query tabulations.

However, artificial searches are only one aspect contributing to the artificial skew (defined as: the inflation of actual search queries for specific keywords performed by anything other than humans).

(Continued in Part 2. Contact Robin@SearchEngineWorkshops.com for the complete article.)

About the Author

Robin Nobles teaches 2-, 3-, and 5-day hands-on search engine marketing workshops thru http://www.searchengineworkshops.com in locations across the globe as well as online courses at http://www.onlinewebtraining.com/. Robin's partner, John Alexander, recently published an e-book titled, “Wordtracker Magic," at http://www.wordtracker-magic.com (which offers great tips for helping you learn how to focus on your target audience.)




Demystifying The Radically Different Keyword Results Provided By Overture and Wordtracker ...because your online success depends on getting accurate keyword counts! Part 2

- by Robin Nobles

(Continued from Part 1. Contact Robin@SearchEngineWorkshops.com for the complete article.)

Reason #2 - Duplicate Searches

As you most certainly must know, Overture's strength as a viable advertising medium for online businesses lies in the fact they are provide results to "tens of thousands of Web sites" which include AltaVista, Yahoo, MSN Search, HotBot, and AllTheWeb just to name a few. They claim to reach more than 80% of active U.S. Internet users.

Potentially, this is great for advertisers! ...yet this very same structure is what so greatly contributes to the artificial skew leading to extremely over-inflated reporting of keyword queries.

According to Overture itself, statistics on searches in any previous month are compiled from Overture's partner search engines. To further understand how partnering tends to facilitate skewed query counts, let's examine what happens when a visitor conducts a search at AltaVista.

What's actually happening is that two searches are being conducted at one time - one at AltaVista, and another that lists the SPONSORED MATCHES supplied by Overture's pay-per-click engine.

Although it is next to impossible to know the exact figures, suffice it to say that a single human often generates multiple queries when doing a single search as calculated by Overture's STST. In some cases that same human could even generate additional "hits" for a given keyword simply by conducting the same search again on a different engine if such engine is also an Overture partner.

For instance, searching Yahoo, then searching again on MSN, then searching again on AltaVista, then again on AllTheWeb.com would tally at least five "hits" for the selected search term. In comparison, if Overture (like Google, for instance) counted only the searches that were done "on-site," such duplicate searches would not be counted and their search query numbers would be far more accurate.

This scenario, combined with the myriad artificial duplicate searches conducted by the various softwares (explained above), severely pumps up the number of queries for virtually every legitimate search term imaginable.

Reason #3 - Plurals and Singulars

Remember our STST example (above) regarding the 180,468 "searches" for the term "keyword"? Well, another factor to consider is that Overture's STST combines both the plural term (keywords) and the singular (keyword) in compiling that number.

And, Overture's STST not only combines the plural and singular versions of "keywords," they also combine upper and lower case searches as well. Obviously, these two factors also exert an upward effect on the query count tabulations.

Third: Examining The Alternatives.

So now the obvious question - Is there a "better" way to tabulate search term query counts? ...let's examine the alternatives.

Meta-engines - a better way to accurately tabulate queries.

Obviously we'd like to eliminate artificial and duplicate searches from our tabulations, and fortunately there is a way to do so. The solution is Meta-engines.

Composite (Meta) engines, like Metacrawler and Dogpile, are search engines that query all the major engines simultaneously. One of the key differences is that the ratio of human queries to automated queries for a meta-engine is much higher than for a major search engine. That's because it doesn't make sense for anyone to point their auto-bots at meta-engines.

Position monitoring, bid-optimizing, popularity checks, etc., are typically conducted directly at the search engines themselves. It would be pointless to conduct such automated queries on a meta- engine because meta-engines do not "add-url's" nor do they offer pay-per-click options. They are simply a search engine that queries other search engines. And, since there is no "metacrawler" of meta-engines, the search query counts are unlikely to be artificially skewed by such artificial searches.

Furthermore, duplicate searches are eliminated because the query counts are being tabulated from a single source instead of combining results from myriad partners.

Therefore, query counts taken from meta-engines are far, far more representative of the number of searches conducted by actual people - but even this is not yet a perfect solution due to a relatively obscure form of keyword spam.

Keyword spam (in this case not to be confused with word stuffing or repeating keywords within a Web page) refers to the practice of using cgi-scripting to manipulate the Metaspy metacrawler voyeur to artificially promote certain products or services.

By entering a flow of terms or phrases at predetermined intervals, such spammers hope to inflate the importance and significance of certain search terms thereby artificially increasing the value of such terms related to their products.

In a perfect world, adjustments should be made to filter out this flavor of spam. In a minute we'll share with you how such filtering is done but first, let's address the issue of combining plurals with singulars and upper with lower-case searches.

Plural, singular, upper, and lower-case searches represent a decision-point for search engine optimizers because sometimes it's good to combine the search query numbers while other times it isn't.

For instance the search terms "keyword and keywords," whether singular, plural, or in upper or lower-case, are similar enough in meaning that they could arguably be combined into one search query number.

However, the search terms "tap, taps, Tap, and TAP" can have entirely different meanings. Take a look at the results for the search term "tap" on Overture. The following references were all found within the top ten sponsored listings:

Machine threading taps, Tap / Rap support software Beer taps Tap Dancing TAP A Stock TAP Terminal Phone Numbers

Note that none of the above has any relation to the others! Obviously if we are selling any of these items, we'd want more specificity regarding the search queries than the simple 10,485 searches that STST reports were conducted in the past 30 days.

The example above illustrates the importance of obtaining search query tabulations for each version of a selected keyword independently of the other.

After all, it's easy to manually combine the numbers while it's impossible to break them out into their own categories once they've been compressed by Overture's STST into a single search term regardless of potentially different meanings.

(Continued in Part 3. Contact Robin@SearchEngineWorkshops.com for the complete article.)



About the Author

Robin Nobles teaches 2-, 3-, and 5-day hands-on search engine marketing workshops thru http://www.searchengineworkshops.com in locations across the globe as well as online courses at http://www.onlinewebtraining.com/. Robin's partner, John Alexander, recently published an e-book titled, “Wordtracker Magic," at http://www.wordtracker-magic.com (which offers great tips for helping you learn how to focus on your target audience.)






Demystifying The Radically Different Keyword Results Provided By Overture and Wordtracker ...because your online success depends on getting accurate keyword counts! Part 3

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