Originally at http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/9375/3288478

Posted by Dr-Pete

When we do keyword research, we tend to focus on discovery. We take a short list of keywords we think matter, brainstorm wildly, paste the resulting list into a dozen tools, paste the results back into Excel, and measure our success by how often our spreadsheet crashes. Then, we throw it all away when our tax attorney client tells us he only cares about ranking #1 for “taylor swift downloads,” because he heard that gets a lot of traffic.

Maybe I’m exaggerating. Keyword discovery is a critical process, but what we’re left with at the end is a long and often rambling list to prioritize, and typically we prioritize either by our own gut feelings or by the black box of AdWords global volume. What if there were a better way?

When we were building Keyword Explorer, we wanted to solve the deeper problem — how do we pick the best keywords to start with, given the complexity of Google SERPs and our competition in modern SEO? Which keywords really balance potential traffic with ROI?

Over the course of many months, we created four metrics:

Keyword Difficulty (V2)
Keyword Opportunity
Importance (user-defined)
Keyword Potential

Today, I want to explain the philosophy of these metrics, some of the math behind them, and how you can use these ideas to reinvent your approach to keyword research. Stepping outside of our product, I’m going to try and translate these metrics into questions that are relevant to anyone, regardless of which tools you use.

1. How difficult is the keyword to rank for?

All else being equal, we’d rather rank #1 on a keyword that gets a ton of traffic. In the real world, though, all else is rarely equal. High-volume keywords are often highly competitive, which translates directly into more ranking difficulty. More difficulty means more time and/or more money.

A few years ago, we…

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