18 Apr 11 7:05 am
Just out of curiosity, I did a keyword search for "best guitar lessons".
Broad match: 5,400 searches
Exact match: 1,900 searches
Phrase match: 1,000 searches
Why does this matter?
When analyzing the results for determining how much traffic you might expect, the broad match will give you that. As you can see, the traffic to that keyword phrase is fairly significant. But only 1000 of those are searching using a phrase match.
The truth of the matter is that the vast majority of searches are broad match searches. Think to your own searches. How often do you really try to do a phrase or a exact search? I know for myself, unless I am looking for specific words together, for example "Grady Pruitt" as one phrase as opposed to "Grady" or "Pruitt", I generally use a broad match search.
Now, doing an exact search in the search engine (as opposed to the keyword tool) can give you an idea of the competition. But that kind of a search doesn't take into account how well they have optimized their site. Which is why for evaluating competition, it is better to use a tool like Traffic Travis to use a number of factors, including both on page and off page SEO, that could help in judging your competition as well as your potential for ranking.
But checking the "closely related" box will pull up some interesting thoughts. For example, if you just looked at the exact search for evaluating your pages, you'd most likely miss out on seeing that "best online
guitar lessons" is a subset of the broad match search. You'd also miss on seeing that "guitar lessons best" or "guitar best lessons" or even "lessons guitar best" are ways people might type in the phrase. (BTW, under a broad match search, if you were to check, each of these would have identical search figures. Try entering them in and checking the "closely related" button to see what I mean.)
There's a difference between using an exact match to evaluate competition
in the search engines, and using broad match to evaluate traffic
in the keyword tool.