Power of Keyword Research with Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool

February 20, 2010  |   Keyword Research   |   3 Comments

Alright ladies and gents, this one is going to be a very powerful lesson so if you need to go grab a cup of coffee, put your kids to sleep, run to the bathroom, or even take a nap to stay awake…I suggest you go do it now…I’ll wait here patiently.

Doo doo doo…actually I’m going to go grab a glass of water.

Okay back…good to see you’re back also.  :)  Let’s get to it.

These days, SEO is starting to get a pretty big hype and of course that means that everybody and their mom are trying to get involved in the industry.  In that mix are a ton of developers trying to make a small fortune by creating the next best SEO tool that is going to revolutionize the industry.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a TON of great SEO tools out there but in all honesty, I honestly don’t believe that a mere tool can outperform the skill set of an experienced SEO professional.

I’ve seen so far too many websites lately that don’t rank for competitive keywords.  When I say competitive keywords, I’m talking about keywords that your potential customers would typically use to find some information regarding your industry.  I call it, the art of keyword research.  Whether or not you show up above your competitors is all up to you.  If you are in the music industry, to rank #1 for the keyword “music” over your competition of 1.5 TRILLION websites would be the gold mine.  Do you think Yahoo! got to the #1 spot for the keyword “music” by just deciding to become #1?  Sure, that was the first step but Yahoo started with a SEO plan to rank over sites such as Pandora & MTV.  Well, MTV hasn’t played any music since Beavis & Butthead so I guess that doesn’t count.  :)

While there are many factors that we’ll go over in the future, let’s stick with the foundation of SEO which is choosing the right keywords.  You can go pay a couple hundred bucks a month for a piece of software that isn’t always reliable or you can spend a little bit of time to learn how to use this powerful tool from Google and enjoy a steak dinner at a fancy restaurant with the couple hundred bucks that I’ll save you every month.

Google Adwords Keyword Tool

This is my keyword research tool of choice.  I’m going to show you a few screen shots and list the things you should be aware of in bullet format.
Google Adwords Keyword Tool Screen 1

  1. Click “Edit” to change the language and country settings (see below for more info)
  2. Enter your keyword ideas (see below for more info)
  3. Click filters to set limitations on your keyword ideas
  4. Fill the captcha and click the button

Google Adwords Keyword Tool Screen 2

  1. Language settings for your region of interest(for example, if you’re in Canada you could do some keyword research with English & French)
  2. Country settings for your region of interest(for example, if you’re in America and wanted to expand into Australia, you would set this to “Australia”)

Google Adwords Keyword Tool Screen 3

  1. Once you’ve clicked the filters button, this is where you enter your negative keywords (in other words, enter in the keywords that you DON’T want to show up in your results)
  2. From the 2 check boxes, unless you’re running an adult XXX site (which I really REALLY hope you aren’t), you should only concern yourself with the first checkbox.  Check this box if you ONLY want to see the search volume numbers for the keyword ideas you entered.
  3. Click the “Get keyword ideas” button to get your keyword ideas!

Google Adwords Keyword Tool Screen 4

  1. Once your keyword ideas generate, you have the option of clicking the drop down menu to uncover a ton of additional information for more advanced research.  To keep this tutorial short & sweet, I will plow through these advanced options as a training module for my subscribed members.  The general rule of thumb you want to follow here is to see if the keywords you are currently ranking for have any search volume and to find closely related keywords that might have better search volume.

Google Adwords Keyword Tool Screen 5

  1. These are your keywords
  2. This metric does NOT show you how competitive this keyword is…I repeat this does NOT represent the competitiveness of this keyword.  I’ll try to explain this metric as best as I can.  Let’s take the keyword “boxer dog training”.  The estimated average CPC (Cost Per Click) as defined by Google Adwords is $1.23.  If every advertiser bids at or above $1.23, this Advertiser Competition would be 100%.  If only half of the advertisers bid at or above $1.23, this Advertiser Competition would be 50%.  Make sense?  Don’t worry, it’s a tough one to understand at first.
  3. This is the search volume data (as in “how many times did this particular keyword was used in Google.  Local Search Volume denotes the search volume for the prior month.  Global Monthly Search Volume denotes the total amount of times this keyword was used over the past year divided by 12.
  4. This shows how the search volume has trended over the past year.  Very strong metric to see if the keyword is hot or not.
  5. You can see different match-types for the keyword.
  • Broad – Allows your keyword to show data for searches on similar phrases and relevant variations
  • “Phrase” – Allows your keyword to show data for searches that match the exact phrase
  • [Exact] – Allows your keyword to show data for searches that match the exact phrase exclusively
  • -Negative – Ensures your keyword doesn’t show data for any search that includes that term

Google Adwords Keyword Tool Screen 6

  1. You can export this list in an excel sheet if you so choose.

If you didn’t check the “Don’t show ideas for new keywords” box, you should’ve noticed that there are two sections of keywords

  • Keyword related to term(s) enteredThese keywords are the exact keyword ideas you entered or variations of them
  • Additional keywords to considerThese keywords are suggestions from Google that closely match your keyword ideas

Well, I hope this has helped you a little more to figure out if your webpage is targeting good keywords or not.  A common question I’ve heard many times is “so now that you’ve explained this tool, why in the world would anybody want to pay you to do their keyword research??”

That’s a very fair question and my answer is in the form of another question, which is “why WOULD you want to hire me?!”

With all jokes aside, keyword research is one of those things you want to make sure you do correctly the first time otherwise your SEO efforts from that point on are futile.  Remember, keyword research is an art.  It takes years to not only get good at testing keywords & their variations, but to also see what kind of competition you will have with other competing websites for that specific keyword.  And remember, you can’t tell how competitive a particular keyword is from this tool alone.  The main idea is finding keywords and performing analysis on them based on a certain set of criteria.  A subscription to Ranking Channel gives you exclusive access to Keyword Research Buddy, a tool that I created which will do all of the analysis for you and help cut  lots of cost from your SEO bill.  The choice is yours and however you decide to go about your keyword research, I just hope I have helped in some way or another!

About the author

Maximus Kang is the Director of SEO Strategy & Founder of Ranking Channel, a Seattle-based SEO consulting agency. With enterprise level experience at Expedia and agency experience at Optify, his SEO knowledge covers a wide spectrum. He also started his very . Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on Facebook.

New to SEO? You can learn How to Win Users & Influence Google.


3 Comments for this entry

  • Kyle

    March 10th, 2010 on 10:38 AM

    Good stuff! :-)

  • Maximus

    March 10th, 2010 on 10:58 PM

    Hey Kyle! I’m sure you’re already very familiar with this tool yea?


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