The KEI is a mathematical representation of the popularity of a keyword measured in number of searchers (demand), compared to its popularity measured as the number of pages in a search engines index (supply).
KEI is a statistical formulation that reveals the most effective keyword phrases and terms to use in optimizing your web pages for. Efficiency can be many things. According to KEI, it is efficient to optimize for keywords that have many searchers, but only a few competing pages.
The lower the KEI, the more popular your keywords are, and the less competition they have. That means that you might have a better chance of getting to the top in the search engines and receive a good number of searchers for your effort.
Brian Østergaard, a Danish web-marketing expert and blogger, also raises the following interesting point with regards to the KEI:
The KEI makes no statement about the quality of the competition. While there might only be a few competitors in the search results, these competitors could be big players with big SEO teams and thousands of back links.
And similarly, a keyword might show up has having a lot of competition, but that competition could be a clutch of small, insignificant players. How can you work around this? Simply type the keyword or phrase into Google and see what websites rank highest! If the results make you feel like David in a face-off with an army of Goliaths, you should probably prioritize other keywords with a lower KEI.
Important Note: Some keyword research tools no longer call this metric the “KEI” and instead use other terms such as keyword difficulty or opportunity. They’re essentially the same thing.
Ever-Evolving Search Algorithms
Google is a business and like any good and immensely successful business, it constantly seeks to upgrade and improve its product. It’s all about user experience. Imagine how irritated you’d be if you were forced to trawl through pages and pages of irrelevant and even downright shoddy content to find the information you were searching for? What search engines have to do is constantly find ways to optimise the user experience and make it possible for you to find exactly what you’re looking for in a matter of seconds.
In order to do this, the maniacal geniuses behind these search engines have devised some incredibly complex mathematical algorithms that analyze a grand suite of parameters on every page they index and rank them accordingly for every single conceivable search term. These algorithms are constantly being tweaked, adjusted and even completely overhauled in order to ensure that web users are delivered nothing but 100% relevant and useful content.
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Okay, So What Does This Mean?
It means that with every algorithm update, you need to revise your SEO keyword strategy and adjust your research methods. The ways we did keyword research in 2014 and before are no longer relevant to today’s search algorithms: they have become out-dated. In 2013, Google released the “Hummingbird” algorithm update that introduced a few nifty sophistications including the ability to better understand longer search queries and questions: what the industry calls “longtail keywords”.
Examples of longtail keywords:
What should I look for when choosing a good car mechanic?
Where in Cape Town can I find a cheap photographic print shop?
Should I keep drinking beer if I’ve shattered my front teeth?
In addition to this, Hummingbird recognises the actual meaning of every word you use to describe what you’re looking for! This enables Google to provide search results for similar meaning words, phrases and sentences: something referred to as “semantics.” How cool is that? You type up a search query and Google actually understands and intelligently interprets it to yield the best and most relevant results. This applies even if the exact words and precise word sequence you use doesn’t show up on the results page.
This particular upgrade – aptly called “RankBrain” – really empowers Google to go over and above on delivery. It is also responsible for processing the 15% of previously neglected search queries that are unfamiliar or have never been seen before, which, if your spelling is absolutely atrocious, really comes in handy.
These updates are what ensure that Google provides consistently useful and relevant results for its users and in a matter of seconds, so this change is good! But it does require business websites and the people who maintain them – whether that’s you or your digital marketing team – to constantly update your keyword research methods and SEO strategy to make sure they comply with the latest search engine algorithms.