Review, Interview & Demo: Larry Kim, Wordstream Founder

4 Feb , 2009  

Create and manage keyword taxonomies

  • Keyword suggestion, automatic categorisation and administration
  • Web based (Flash) application
  • Integrates with Google AdWords API
  • Export function for other PPC providers
  • Starting at $300/month
  • Cost based on size of your keyword database
Functionality 4/5 does what it does well, some room for other integrations and refinement
Interface 5/5 very elegantly manage a huge keyword database
Value 3/5 affordable entry point but could be replicable for lower cost
Support 4/5 they’ve just launched with VC backing and good testimonials

Managing tens, or hundreds of thousands of keywords is a common requirement for serious search engine marketeers. Typically, unwieldy spreadsheets are devised that can be used to target the medium and long tail terms an SEM desires.

Keyword suggestion tools are plentiful but in popular spaces Larry Kim asserts their efficacy is limited, as organisations battle for the same terms. His tool, Wordstream, aims to allow you to build up and easily manage your own private keyword database- developing a taxonomy uniquely your own.

Keyword Taxonomy Management

Wordstream is a hosted service seeded with keywords from your web server logs, file upload or manual entry. From there it automatically groups these keywords into a hierarchical categorisation navigable using a familiar folder structure, except that these are buckets.

Kim believes that keywords are much like a stream, continually flowing through these buckets. A JavaScript tracker added to your site’s pages adds to this stream as your users search using new terms.

While an analytics package reports new keywords by analysing the referrer URL,what sets Wordstream apart is its ability to automatically place these under theright bucket. Typos are no problem for the software states Kim. Clearly this makes adding to your long tail keywords much easier. Goals and traffic alongside further unlocks their value.

Traffic & Goals

The service does not purport to provide analytics, but the Javascript tracker means keywords providing the highest value in terms of goals or traffic can be targeted. So, if whenever a user searches for [canned dog food chunks] they purchase said dog food, Wordstream lets you see it.

The value of this can’t be downplayed as one of the drawbacks of long tail theory is that you can easily burn time and chase the wind of valueless terms. Again, the data’s probably available to you at the moment, but Wordstream’s seamless presentation, categorisation, and administration of it is elegant.

AdWords Integration

From within Wordstream you can place a PPC ad for your newly identified keywords and manage existing campaigns with its Google AdWords API integration. One of the key aims of Wordstream is productivity and this feature facilitates more productive campaigns.

Somewhat disappointing is the lack of integration with Yahoo Search Marketing or Microsoft AdCenter. While the data can be exported, and Google is the focus of many PPC campaigns, it would be nice to see these brought into the fold. With this the unified view would negate a need to use anything else for campaign management.


Once Wordstream unearths new terms it’s up to you to action them for SEO. Creation of landing pages, on and off page optimisations aren’t executed in the tool. The value of data it unlocks and makes manageable, however, means it is certainly a powerful tool in your SEO arsenal.

Kim provides the example of Wikipedia: they are fantastically optimised for organic search due to the site and content structure with a page for each topic. Wordstream in the hands of copy writers brings that a step closer for any site.


The tool itself is well executed and thought out. This means that even though some of the component parts are available elsewhere, the core automatic keyword categorisation and management that it does coupled with goals, traffic, suggestions and AdWords integration adds to its value.

If you’re struggling under the weight of your keyword management or would like to pursue an elusive long tail then Wordstream is worth a look with their free trial. It’s easy to see how it will make PPC and SEO more productive if you’re generating tangible return from niche keywords efficiently.

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4 Responses

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