How To Use Google’s Keyword Tool

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Google’s keyword tool was created for Adwords users, but it’s also very useful for people who don’t use Adwords. It serves two main purposes for those who want to achieve good rankings and get more visitors to their website through SEO – to provide keyword ideas and to give estimates of monthly search volumes for keywords. As choosing keywords is a critical stage in the SEO process, knowing how to use this tool properly is essential.

Before explaining how to use the tool, it’s first necessary to highlight a few aspects of it that can be misleading and can result in mistakes being made. Firstly, the ‘competition’ column within the tool. The competition rating (high, medium or low) given in that column refers to the level of competition (i.e. the number of people bidding for a keyword) within Adwords. It’s of no use for assessing how difficult it will be to rank for a keyword using SEO.

Secondly, when assessing search volumes, you should view data for only one location, not all locations. This is because it’s highly probable that your site will only rank highly in one version of Google (i.e. .co.uk). How many searches a keyword gets globally is irrelevant as to get that level of traffic you would need to rank highly in every version of Google. It’s only how many searches a keyword gets in the UK that matters to you.

Thirdly, for one reason or another, the search volume figures aren’t 100% accurate. Therefore, you should use them only as a guide and primarily to compare keywords against each other (e.g. A gets searched for 3 times more than B gets searched for) rather than as an exact prediction of how much traffic your website will receive from Google if it ranks highly for a particular keyword.

Step By Step Guide To Using The Google Keyword Tool

1) Sign in to Google Adwords. Click on ‘Tools and Analysis‘ and then ‘Keyword Planner‘. If you don’t have an Adwords account you can set one up quickly and easily for free.

2) Click on ‘Search for keyword and ad group ideas’.

3) Understand the settings and data.

Google Keyword Tool Settings

A) Product or service – Enter your list of keyword ideas.
B) Landing page – Enter urls from your website.
C) Product category – Leave blank.
D) Location – Select ‘United Kingdom’.
E) Languages – Select ‘English’.
F) Data source – Select ‘Google’
G) Negative keywords – Leave blank.
H) Customise – Turn on ‘Only show ideas closely related to my search terms’.

Settings For Google Keyword Tool

I) Add or remove keywords – Click ‘Get ideas’ to refresh results.
J) Ad group ideas / Keyword ideas – Select ‘Keyword ideas’.
K) Results for the keywords you entered.
L) Additional keyword suggestions.
M) Search volume history – Hover over graph to view.
N) Average monthly searches.
O) Competition – Ignore (Adwords only).
P) Average cost per click – Ignore (Adwords only).
Q) Download keyword data.
R) Number of keywords listed.

3) Create a list of around 10 keywords that describe what your business does and/or what you sell. Include both broad, general keywords and specific, focused ones. Include local regions that you want to target too (i.e. UK, West Midlands, London, etc.).

4) Add to your list keywords suggested to you by suppliers/partners/customers/friends, as they may associate different keywords with your business than you do.

5) Enter the list of keywords into the ‘Your product or service’ field. Leave the ‘Your landing page’ field blank. Click ‘Get ideas’.

6) Change the selected tab from ‘Ad group ideas’ to ‘Keyword ideas’. The top list of results displayed are the keywords you entered displayed alongside the average monthly search volume for each of them. The list below is related keywords suggested by Google.

7) Download the keyword ideas as a .CSV file.

8) Click ‘Modify search’. Remove the list of keywords from the ‘Your product or service’ field.

9) Enter the URL of a page that lists all of your products or services (which may or may not be your homepage) into the ’Your landing page’ field and click ‘Get ideas’.

10) Download the keyword ideas as a .CSV file.

11) Using Microsoft Excel or Open Office, merge the data in the 2 .CSV files together to create one complete list of keywords and search volumes.

12) Remove any duplicated entries and sort the keywords by monthly searches.

13) Remove any keywords with a search volume of less than 10. Remove any keywords which aren’t directly relevant to your business.

At the end of this process you should have a list of 10-100 keywords. Those keywords will be relevant and have acceptable search volumes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should target all of them. You still need to assess how competitive each keyword is and decide how many of them you should target.

Further Reading
Assessing The Level Of Competition For A Keyword

What Makes A Backlink A High Quality Backlink?

Common Optimisation Mistakes

Do You Really Deserve To Be Top Of Google?

Citations For Local SEO

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