With so many SEO tools out there it’s hard to know which ones are the best to use, but SEOmoz’s Keyword Analysis tool (formally the Keyword Difficulty tool) is a powerful tool that should be a part of every SEO’s toolkit.
This tool provides in-depth information on everything you could want to know about a certain keyword including: Search Volume, Keyword Difficulty and a detailed SERP analysis report – keep reading to find out how to use this great tool and what you can do with the data you obtain.
How to Use the Keyword Analysis Tool
The Keyword Analysis Tool provides two different reports based upon the depth of analysis you want: a Summary Report, which is returned by default, and an advanced SERP analysis.
To get started let’s learn more about the Summary Report. Enter your desired keyword in the box marked Analyze and hit ‘Run’.
Find the Keyword Difficulty & Search Volume by Country
SEOmoz uses the Google Adwords API to import search volumes and allows you to pull the data by country, with over 100 different country TLDs to choose from. Click on the drop-down menu next to ‘Run’ to select the country you need. The local search volumes are based upon your selected country and both the global and local search volumes are shown for broad match and exact match keywords.
Tip: Don’t see the country you need? E-mail SEOmoz and request a specific country, they are constantly adding to the tool.
The keyword difficulty score is calculated by SEOmoz and is based upon the page and domain authority of the top 20 ranking pages in the Google results. Keyword Difficulty is scored as a percentage, on a scale of 1 – 100, and is broken into four categories:
- Non- Competitive (0-25%) – Despite a low authority domain and light link metrics, a page could achieve top rankings for this keyword with strong on-page optimization
- Moderately Competitive (26-50%) – Both moderately targeted pages with a high authority domain and pages with a lot of authority on lower authority site can rank for this keyword
- Highly Competitive (51%-75%) – An authoritative page and domain with a moderate amount of inbound links are necessary to rank for this keyword
- Extremely Competitive (76%-100%) – These keywords are the most difficult to rank for, a highly authoritative domain with a well-targeted Page and many inbound links are required to rank for this keyword
Easily identify ranking competitors
On the lower two-thirds of the page, the tool displays both the Top 10 Ranking Pages and Ranking Analysis for the keyword you entered. The blue and green bar chart displays the distribution of domain and page authority for the top 10 ranking pages. On the left, the chart measures Domain Authority, or the probability that the domain as a whole will rank independent of keywords. On the right, the chart displays the Page Authority for the rankings pages, or the likelihood that that specific page will rank independent of keywords.
Below the bar graph is a table that displays the URL, Page Title and several metrics for each of the top 10 rankings pages. Look for the checkmarks in each column to easily identify which page has the highest acquisition for each metric.
Tip: Want more information on each ranking domain? Click the magnifying glass under each listing to automatically open a report in Open Site Explorer.
Export to CSV for Sortable Data
Click the ‘Export to CSV’ button above the chart to export data on the top ranking pages to Excel. This will allow you to filter and sort the data by different metrics and each CSV file includes the top 25 ranking pages so you can see which sites dominate the first three pages of the SERPs.
Advanced SERP Analysis
Now for the advanced report, click ‘Run Full Report’ and we’ll be on our way! The report is not generated instantly but instead a link is sent to the e-mail associated with your account once the report is complete.
SEOmoz claims the full report can take up to 24 hours to generate but most reports rarely take the full time (in our experience it takes about 12 hours). It will cost 1 credit every time you run an advanced report and each Pro Member is allotted 50 credits per month.
Tip: On a time crunch? You can run multiple reports (up to 50) at once.
The Advanced SERP Analysis report is a culmination of data from several of SEOmoz’s tools and contains:
What Can This Data Tell You?
Get a Holistic View of the Ranking Factors
With SEOmoz pulling so many data points into one place you’re able to get a holistic view of the individual ranking factors. The ranking table is presented as a heat chart with gradients varying from dark (highest-quality scores for that metric) to light (lowest-quality scores for that metric). So you can easily identify which sites consistently perform well across the 26 different metrics.
Rand Fishkin has also confirmed that the tool will soon include the functionality to add in and compare your own site (currently, if your site does not rank in the top 10 for that keyword it won’t appear in the comparison table). This will allow you to identify overall areas of weakness for your site and how the competition is performing in these areas.
Grade On-Page Keyword Features
According to the 2011 Ranking Factors Survey, page-level keyword features still make up an estimated 15% of the ranking algorithm. You can now see on how well each ranking page targets the selected keyword. The tool uses information from the On-Page Keyword Optimization tool to give each page an overall letter grade on performance and also shows Yes-or-No checklists based upon factors such as broad keyword use in page title.
Measure External Keyword Features
If you click on the tab labeled URL Anchor Text Metrics you are able to see the number of links with exact or partially matched keywords in the anchor text. The report even allows you to see the number of root domains linking to the page with the keyword phrase present in the anchor text, and view numbers as percentages of total links. This will allow you to see if other sites also associate the ranking URL with the keyword you’re interested in, and can indicate how much link building effort has been dedicated to targeting the selected keyword.
View Related Social Signals
If you click on the Social Signals tab you will find the number of Tweets, Facebook Shares and Google Buzz mentions related to each ranking domain. While this data is interesting to see, SEOmoz has not disclosed exactly where these numbers come from.
Rand Fishkin has confirmed information on Facebook Shares comes from the Facebook Open Graph API, and is based upon the number of times an external URL was shared on a user’s wall. However, it’s unclear whether Shares are based upon the exact ranking URL being shared or if the tool counts any variation of the root domain that is shared.
From what I’ve seen, different URLs with the same root domain have unique social counts so it would appear social signals are determined by more than just social factors at the root domain level. But what other factors are taken into account, or how keyword relevancy plays into these counts is unclear.
SEOmoz has said they will soon be switching out Google Buzz mentions for Google + 1’s and hope to include blog shares in the future.
What You Can Do With The Data
Alright I hope you’re still with me because now we get to the fun part! – What you can do with all this data. The amount of information generated by this tool can seem overwhelming but there are several ways you can use this data to give you an edge over your competition:
Identify your Real Online Competition
How many times have you or a client made the assumption that your offline competitors are also your competitors in organic search? While it might sound like an obvious mistake I see it happen time and time again. Now you can use data from the Keyword Analysis tool to prove to both your clients (and yourself) who your real online competition is.
Using the keyword set you’re trying to rank for, plugin the keywords to the tool and pull back the top ranking pages for each individual keyword. Export this data into CSV files and use Excel to sort the data and identify trends. Count the most common root domains ranking across your keyword set and discover who’s really outranking you.
Look for trends in the number of homepages versus the number of interior pages that rank for a specific keyword, or the . As shown in the Summary Reports it’s not always the site with the most authority and inbound links that ranks number one, viewing this data as whole may help you identify the other trends and factors that influence rankings.
We wrote an in-depth article about finding your real online competition if you want more information about it.
Identify keywords with the greatest opportunity
The keyword tool also allows you to look at a group of keywords (up to 5 at a time). Once you enter these keywords into the tool and hit ‘Run’ you will see a side-by-side comparison of each of the keyword’s difficulty score and search volume. You will also see this information presented in handy Comparison Graph below. Use this information to give clients a visual representation of why certain keywords have more potential over others.
And while everyone is after that coveted number one spot, most SEOs know that ranking in positions 2 and 3 can also reap benefits. The green and blue bar charts displayed under the Top Ranking Pages header can help you easily spot keywords that may have less competitive sites rankings in spots two and three.
Identify Potentially ‘Spammy’ Sites
An interesting metric incorporated into the advanced report is the mozTrust/mozRank score and the Domain mozTrust/Domain mozRank score. MozRank measures the link popularity for a specific URL, based upon the number and quality of inbound links. MozTrust measures the link trust for a specific URL and is based upon the distance of a specific URL from a trusted source (Domain mozRank and Domain mozTrust measure the same things but on the domain level).
Pages with a low score for mozTrust/mozRank indicate a large number of low quality links and could potentially be the sign of a ‘spammy’ site, or manipulative link building techniques.
Both Rand Fishkin and SEOmoz’s VP of Product have confirmed updates to the tool are coming soon. For now, you can run up to 300 Summary Reports a day (that’s once every 4 minutes in case you were wondering!) and all previous reports can be found by clicking on the Recent Reports button at the top of the tool.
And as always if you want to test out these tools head over to SEOmoz