Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Check adwords keyword tool

Once you've developed your list of key words and phrases and gotten the big picture with Google Trends, you're ready to find out what the millions of internet users are actually searching for in your subject area. One of the best ways to do that is to use the Keyword Tool offered by Google's Adwords. Because it's offered by Google, and because Google is by far the most-used search engine, you get up to the minute results showing every imaginable search term. It even includes mis-spellings and words you may not have thought of. Most importantly, the results show what people are actually searching for rather than what you may think they're searching for. This is truly helpful ... we think it's better to be rich than to be right.


For most topics, the keyword tool will give you a huge list (around 800 results). You can sort the list by most searched, local searches (this is the one we use most often, because it shows what people in the US are searching for), and several other very helpful criteria. It's easy to download this list into Excel or some other data management format to help you collate the results.

So how are you ever going to optimize your site for 800 words and phrases? You're not. Almost nobody has the resources to optimize that many terms, and the good news is that most of us will do very well by focusing on the top ten or so words and phrases (more about that in a future post).

By the way, opening an Adwords account is free. Just Google "Adwords." You'll find the Adwords site in the organic listings at this address:  Pretty neat, huh?

At this point you should have a better idea of which keywords to use, based on the amount of traffic that each one is generating.  Another tool to evaluate what keywords and phrases you should use is the Traffic Estimator within Google Adwords.  We'll talk more about that in a future post.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Check Google Trends

A good way to get a rough idea of how many people are searching for a particular word or phrase is to use Google Trends. Trends allows you to enter up to five words or phrases (separated by commas). Your results will show the relative number of people searching for each word or phrase.

Suppose you sell floor coverings and you're trying to decide whether to focus this month's online advertising on tile, plank flooring, bamboo, or carpet (we realize this example probably seems excessively simple if you're in the business, but we don't sell floor coverings!). You just type those words into Google Trends and you'll know which of them is being searched for most, which second, which third, and so forth. You'll have a good general understanding of the online trends (we're pretty sure that's what they call it "Trends").

There are a few things to keep in mind both about the value of Google Trends and about its limitations. Trends shows results for the entire English internet (though it does break those results down by geographic region), not necessarily for your city. It's more of a butter knife than a scalpel. It's also true that just because lots of people are searching for a particular term doesn't mean they're going to find your website. We'll talk more about how to become successful by avoiding the most searched-for terms, but for now we'd just like you to keep in mind that Trends is more of a tool for getting to know the big picture than it is for developing a detailed keyword list for your website.

One neat aspect of Google Trends that can be helpful for websites dealing with hot topics or current events is that it shows spikes in searches and correlates them with major news stories. That can be very helpful if you're researching when to emphasize certain words and phrases and what information to correllate them with to take advantage of surges in search numbers.

Once you've got an idea of the big picture, it's time to go to step 3: the Adwords Keyword Tool.