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Organic and PPC Attractiveness: two new metrics for a scientific SEO strategy

Like everyone else, you want to rank high on Google and you want to extract maximum ROI out of your Adwords PPC campaigns. Your website deals with a particular topic area, say Conversion Optimization (which is the case for this blog).  But then the topic is so vast that optimizing (or positioning) website and content on a single broad topic becomes very challenging. A whole gamut of websites deal with Conversion Optimization, so how does this blog have even a minute chance of getting seen on search engines?

The answer is to write website content including keywords and phrases that people search for at prominent places. This is such a no brainer advice that it borders on being completely useless.  The real challenge is to know what people search for. You can (and should) bring process to researching what exactly people search and how to rank on it:

Step 1: Go to Google’s Keyword Tool

This tool displays a lot of juicy information on the keywords we enter and other automatically generated related keywords list. Mainly, what we are looking for is:

  1. A list of keywords in conversion optimization domain (or your area) where we can rank
  2. Particularly, we are interested in keywords that get most searches on Google (and similarly on other search engines)
  3. If you want to do paid advertisements on Google (Adwords), we are looking for keywords with minimum competition, maximum search traffic and minimum cost

Enter your main keyword in tool. For example, I enter “conversion rate optimization” as the keyword and get a long list of related keywords. To derive maximum information on these keywords select ‘Show All Columns’ from the drop down (‘Choose columns to display’) towards top right.

Google's Keyword Tool

After you click on show all columns, you will see an image like the one above. You can note we have multiple data points here:

  1. Local monthly search volume. Number of monthly searches from the region you have chosen (US, India or any other region)
  2. Global monthly search volume. Number of monthly searches from the whole world for that particular keyword.
  3. Advertiser Competition. An indication of how popular is this keyword from sales perspective (since advertiser competition will be greatest on the keywords which generate most sales). But then you want to avoid heavy competition as it will decrease your visibility.
  4. Estimated Cost Per Click. If you bid for this keyword on Google, what should you expect to pay. In this case the bid is in Indian National Rupee (INR), so don’t get alarmed :)

Let’s download all this information in MS Excel format to crunch some numbers. Click on Download all keywords (.csv for excel) towards the center right.

Step 2: Delete irrelevant keywords

Open the freshly downloaded list of keywords and pour through it. You will notice that it may have many irrelevant keywords. In my case, I found a lot of keywords related to currency conversion. Delete all such keywords. Aim  to have a short list of keywords which closely relate to your area of operation.

Step 3: See competition on Google for remaining keywords

In the list we have a field called advertiser competition. But that related to PPC campaigns on AdWords. For organic, natural search results (from SEO perspective) we want to know the competition on Google search. Ideally, it will be easy to rank on the keywords which have low competition.

A good proxy of competition on Google is the number of search results. So fire up and take each keyword, enter it into the search engine (you can try including the keyword inside double quotes to get finer results but searchers seldom use double quotes so best to enter keyword as it is) and note the number of search results. For example, the keyword “optimizing conversion” (without quotes) gets us 1,650,000 results while “improving conversion rates” gets us 3,930,000 results. This tells us that there is more competition for the latter keyword than the former. Make a new column in excel and for each keyword add number of search results into it. It may be bit tiring to repeat it for 30-40 odd keywords but trust me, it will be worth it.

Step 4: Do the magic!

This is the step where we define our new metrics for each keyword (using the existing columns in the excel):

Organic Attractiveness = Global Monthly Search Volume / Search Results on Google

Idea is that those keywords are most attractive for SEO which get  most searches on Google but have least competition.

PPC Attractiveness (Volume) = Global Monthly Search Volume  / Adwords Advertiser Competition

This ranks keywords on bringing most traffic through AdWords CPC campaigns.

PPC Attractiveness (Budget) = Global Monthly Search Volume  / Estimated Avg. CPC

This ranks keywords in your area which will be most pocket friendly.

PPC Attractiveness (Overall) = Global Monthly Search Volume  / (Estimated Avg. CPC * Adwords Advertiser Competition)

This ranks keywords in your area which will be most pocket friendly and which bring in most traffic.

So, you simply add these four new columns and do simple calculations in Excel to get values for these four new metrics. (Tip: only do the calculation for the first keyword, drag the results down to all the rows to get values for all keywords automatically).

Step 5: Sort the columns to get most important keywords

Now all you have to do is sort the columns for Organic Attractiveness and PPC Attractiveness to know which keywords are best for SEO and PPC Campaigns respectively. In my case, for SEO (Organic Attractiveness) I get following keywords at the top:

Excel Screenshot

Click here to download the excel file.

I marked some keywords in green to indicate the keywords which I think will turn out to be most useful. Red keyword (“conversion rate”) is too broad to be useful. And I left topmost keyword (“conversion tracking”) uncolored because Wingify doesn’t only concentrate in this to justify maximum effort into optimizing the website for it.

In the end I get keywords “landing page optimization”, “conversion rate optimization” and “conversion optimization” which will yield maximum benefit from SEO perspective. If I choose to advertise on Google through Adwords, all I have to do is to sort the column PPC Attractiveness (Volume or Budget or Overall) to get list of keywords on which I will be bidding first.

Let me know if you find this strategy useful by leaving a comment below.


  1. This is a great article.

    Comment by Adam Coburn — December 30, 2009 @ 10:18 pm

  2. Great article, deserves more exposure – well done.

    Comment by Gareth Mailer — February 14, 2010 @ 12:36 am

  3. Organic and PPC Attractiveness are a very good and interesting concept.

    But the article is missing one key ingredient – Keyword Relevancy. Deleting entirely irrelevant keywords is important, but the next step is to rate which keywords are most likely going to make money or whatever the sites goal.
    Some keywords are directly on it, while others just related and only a part of the searchers will be interested in the kind of products/services your site offers.

    I recommend multiplying the traffic volume by a factor (e.g. 100% for directly searching what you have to offer and 50% kind of related) to get the potential buyer volume.
    This can quickly change the top targeted keywords.

    PS: Don’t try to make perfect estimates. Some rough guessing will do.

    Comment by Bora — May 24, 2010 @ 11:06 am

  4. Doesn’t google just list any websites in the organic results which simply contain whichever keywords you’re looking at? So doesn’t this mean that there might be a lot of listings, but that they are not necessarily sites that are highly optimised for those key words? In which case coulodn’t it be that the competition might not be very fierce even if there are a lot of search results?

    Comment by Helen Silverwood — August 29, 2010 @ 2:04 pm

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