Finally! Intelligent, actionable keyword data strait from a reliable, accurate and transparent source – right at our fingertips!
In a bit of science-fiction inspired uber programming and marketing genius, Microsoft introduced Ad Intelligence, a Microsoft adCenter Add-in which is sure to impress even the most seasoned search engine marketer.
In addition to including and improving on common keyword research tool features, the Microsoft adCenter Add-in introduces new, intelligently conceived features built with an understanding of the SEO & SEM professionals needs.
Ad Intelligence Beta
In Microsoft’s own words, Ad Intelligence “Helps you choose the right keywords to target the right audience, capture the right customer and maximize your marketing campaign ROI”
With it’s seamless integration into Excel 2007, the add-in can collect and aggregate raw data on thousands of keywords/keyphrases into intelligent, actionable reports in seconds and all with just a few mouse clicks. The results can then be integrated quickly and cleanly into documents, deliverables & client/customer facing reports.
If I sound ridiculously impressed it’s because I am. With over 7 years of Internet marketing & website optimizing efforts under my belt I’ve tried just about every keyword research tool the industry has put on the table (not to mention the tools that never met the scrutiny of public consumption). I have never been more impressed with a keyword research tool, but enough raving, let’s check out the details and let you judge for yourself!
What is Ad intelligence?
Ad Intelligence is a free, simple-to-use plug-in/add-in for Microsoft Excel 2007 that introduces an additional tab with special SEO/SEM related functions to the Excel 2007 ribbon. The tab features several differrnt algoriths/tools to help build and expand targeted keyword lists for paid and natural campaign optimization. The tools provide inciteful data beyond simple keyword search volume, to help you plan keyword strategy based on a wide range of attributes, allowing you to determine keyword value by a site/vertical relevance, historical cost, opportunity (daily/monthly search volume) and more!
Ad intelligence results are absolute numbers for daily & monthly data, and return results on exact search query matches (no jumbled/scrambled data as with some other tools). The tool itself is surprisingly quick, for me it returned 50 semantic results for 25 phrases in under 30 seconds and it’s simple to use – I literally copy/pasted a list of phrases from another project and clicked an icon, after a few second the results were generated ordered and I was moving on to my next task.
One of the things that should be nice about this tool is that Microsfot has stated they are committed to being transparent about their methodology and sources. many tools of the past seemed to operate out of a magic ‘Black Box’, or have such complex, confusing methodologies that it was often difficult to trust the numbers you were recieving.
Where does the data come from?
Following their stated commitment to “methodological transparency and clarity” Microsoft has outlined the basics of how the data is collected and where it comes from. Data for the tools results comes both from the Live.com index and adCenter. Data is collected & structured using the Keyword Services Platform (KSP).
The KSP is more than the infrastructure for this specific tool. It is a server platform that provides a set of intelligent, keyword related web services as an infrastructure for developers to build tweaks and applications. I’m no developer so some of this passes over my head, but it sounds as though the Ad Intelligence plug-in is only the beginning of what is possible considering the robust systems and structures built into the KSP and Live database. With developer tools and open API access, a developer’s imagination might be his only limit.
The Microsoft team openly discussed one piece of the ‘algorithm puzzle’ that I found most interesting - ”Microsoft AdLabs has been working for several years on semantic research, the results can really be tapped via the Ad Intelligence add-in” – adding fuel to the ongoing discussions about the importance of ’indirect semantic relevancy’. AdLabs’ semantic research really comes into play on one of the keyword research tool discussed later.
The Ad Intelligence Keyword Wizard
While each of the reports/tools can be ran independently, the Ad intelligence Keyword Wizard can help walk you through setting up and running most of Ad Intelligence’s core features. A great way to familiarize yourself with many of the benefits and features of the Ad Intelligence add-in, the wizard takes you on a step-by-step walk-through of the core tools, options providing you with some great basic reports.
The tool allows you to generate expanded keyword lists and associated search volume, average cost & trending data from… a simple list of terms, existing URLs, and/or from a specified vertical. The wizard wraps up those tools most likely to be used often by marketers and wraps them into a sinlge step-by-step process for quick & easy access.
Build A Keyword List Relevant to a Specific URL
Wondering which page to use for your paid media landing page? Trying to optimize a page around it’s current strengths? The Keyword Extraction tool will crawl specified URLs and return keywords that the Live.com algorithm deems relevant to a specific URL. I can imagine some fairly strategic uses for this tool, but right out of the gate it’s perfect for…
- Outlining keyword theme relevancy for possible landing pages
- Outlining opportunities for additional content based on keyword/page relevancy
The default settings provide 15 keywords per URL , but this can be adjusted to as any as 100 phrases per URL, with a maximum of 200 URLs per query. One other interesting things about this is that the data is collected ‘on-demand’ indicating that it isn’t cached or indexed data. It wasn’t 100% clear if the Live.com spider is called to recrawl newly revised pages to provide updated semantically relevant suggestions or wether it is based on some parallel semantic index – but that’s something I’ll be watching out for – if the former were true, it could be an amazing tool for trial & error optimization/experimentation.
Based on anonymous adCenter data, this algo/tool will return keywords that are relevant to your core terms based on what has been used in various paid media campaigns that also included your core terms. This could be great for…
- Researching & building out keyword lists quickly
- Expanding target phrase suggestions for possible optimization in paid or natural campaigns
- Research & review the competitive landscape (although the advertisers remain anonymous)
By default this tool returns a 50 campaign related keywords (if there are 50 relevant keywords available), this can be adjusted to accommodate more aggressive or targeted build-outs. It’s important to note that this particular data is only updated quarterly.
[singlepic=104,150,,,]A great iteration of a common keyword research tool, this built-in tool returns suggested keywords that contain the core term you have entered (similar to Overture, KeywordDiscovery, WordTracker etc) This is perfect for…
- Building lists of relevant keywords
- Building out expanded lists by running the tool again on it’s own result set
By default results return 50 keywords with a confidence level of 0.2, once again these parameters can be adjusted to suit your needs. The ‘confidence level’ is an interesting qualifier which reminds me a bit of Google PageRank (or even for you old school SEOers – Yahoo WebRank) in that it acts as an indicator of how certain the algorithm is that a particular word is relevant to your content/selected phrases – the higher the number the higher the relevancy certainty.
Returns ACTUAL Phrase results
One of my favorite features of this tool (in fact the entire add-in) is that this keyword research tool returns results for the EXACT phrase, not some mixed up jumbled aggregate of variations of a phrase (IE “used cars” and “cars used” are returned as different phrases – unlike Overture results where “Los Angeles Car Rental” would become “Angeles Car Los Rental”. Once again, this data is updated quarterly.
Taking advantage of the AdLabs semantic index based on years of semantic research this built-in tool suggests keywords based on their semantic similarity to your core phrases. Using this feature you can build out more intelligent keyword lists that include not only directly related phrases (roots & long string terms, but also semantically relevant phrases – IE Start with “Car loan” terms and build out your list to include “Auto loan” terms as well. This tool is perfect for…
- Building out lists of semantically relevant/connected phrases
- Include common misspellings, incorrect punctuation, strange word order searches and more
The tool returns 50 keywords per core term by default, but as with all of the tools this can be adjusted. The data for this tool is also updated quarterly.
To be continued…!
Until then you can download & review:
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