Tuesday: Using Keyword Research Tools

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The first step in building your keyword list is to review your marketing materials. This can include your website, brochures, sales letters, and any other documents that you use to describe and sell your products or services. Start your list by  choosing words and phrases from these documents that you think prospective customers would use in search queries during their research to find products and services like the ones your company offers.

During the rest of this week, we’ll discuss how to add pertinent keywords to this initial list.

There are many keyword research tools available, either as stand-alone software packages or as services accessed online. If you run a search query on Google for the term ppc keyword tool, you’ll get numerous results. Some of these tools are free, while others must be paid for on either a one-time or a subscription basis. To get you started with your PPC keyword research, we’re going to introduce you to our favorite free tools.

Google Keyword Tool

Google provides several useful keyword research tools. The first and most important is the simply named Google Keyword tool, which you can find here:

https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

As Figure 4.1 illustrates, Google’s Keyword tool gives you two ways to generate lists of keywords; it can scan a website for potential keywords or suggest them based on your seed keyword ideas.

Google’s Keyword tool is one of the most popular and important keyword research tools.

First, we’ll explore the Descriptive Words or Phrases option by using guitars as the seed keyword.

Google’s tool returned everything from guitars (the seed term), to different guitar types such as electric guitars and acoustic guitars, to a variety of different brands such as Yamaha guitars and Gibson guitars, to used guitars, guitars for sale, and about 140 other options. Not only does the Keyword tool provide keyword ideas, but it also shows projected advertiser competition for each suggested keyword, as well as the search volume (how popular a keyword might be), as shown in Figure 4.2.

A second way to use the Google Keyword tool is to enter a web page URL to find keywords related to the content of the page. Figure 4.3 shows the results of a search we conducted for www.specialteas.com, a company that sells high-quality,
organic teas.

As you can see in the figure, the Keyword tool located root, or seed, keywords, and then expanded on them with more-detailed terms. The root keywords in this example are loose leaf tea, green tea, and tea cups.

We know it may seem significant when Google itself is telling you via its tool what keywords to include based on your site, but as with any of the tools, you should not always slavishly follow the suggestions just because Google made them. Because this Keyword tool provides so many results, you need to determine which terms are relevant for your campaign, which terms are likely to be used by people searching for your offerings, and which terms have the highest potential for a great return on investment (ROI).

The Google Keyword tool displays keyword suggestions and indicates projected search volume and competition.Using the Google Keyword tool to display keywords based on a tea product website offered numerous keyword suggestions.

Search Engine Autocomplete

Another source for discovering new keywords is the search query autocomplete function available on Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. As illustrated in Figure 4.4 on Google, the autocomplete function guides searchers as they start to type in search queries.

The autocomplete function on Google can suggest full queries based on the first word or two that the searcher types.

Let’s say we want to find a keyword research tool. As you can see in Figure 4.4, as we started typing the word keyword, Google autocompleted the search phrase and displayed a number of options (headlined by their own keyword tool). The results are mixed—there are terms relevant to our search query, and there are other terms (such as the Key West–related terms) that aren’t. After we finished typing keyword, the suggestions were more relevant, as shown in Figure 4.5.

As you provide more information to Google, the autocomplete function provides more-detailed search term suggestions.

The autocomplete function often shows terms that aren’t at all relevant to your products and services. Hence, the autocomplete function can be a useful source of negative keywords.

The autocomplete suggestions can be influenced by what you have searched for previously. Before using this tool extensively, you should clear your cookies and browsing history.

Google Search-Based Keyword Tool

Another helpful Google-provided tool is the Search-Based Keyword tool (www.google.com/sktool/#). This is a great tool that can tell you what search queries have been made on Google that are relevant to your AdWords account and your website. If you are logged in to your Google account, the tool will also suggest keywords that should be relevant to your website but are not currently being used in your AdWords campaigns. To use this tool, just enter your website address, as shown in Figure 4.6.

Entering your website URL into the Search-Based Keyword tool

When you enter your website URL, you will be provided with keyword suggestions as well as landing page suggestions for these new terms. To provide results, the Search-Based Keyword tool reviews your current AdWords campaigns and the content of your website against actual Google searches.

Figure 4.7 shows the suggestions that this tool displays for the website www.specialteas.com, a company that sells organic, handmade teas. Within the results, you can see keyword and landing page suggestions on the right, and you can sort this information by category on the left.

This tool is very helpful, because the suggestions are actual terms that your potential customers have already searched on using Google. These aren’t suggestions that could be relevant for your products or services and may possibly have search volume; these are search terms that are already being used.

The Search-Based Keyword tool provided almost 1,200 keyword and landing page suggestions for the root website.

As we will allude to in the section “Friday: Researching Your Competitors’ Keywords,” you can research your competitors’ websites as well by using this tool. Although Google won’t let you spy specifically on other advertisers’ campaigns and keyword groups, they might just show you 50 or so suggested keywords, complete with suggested bids. And as with the Keyword tool, you will certainly not want to use all the possible keywords that the Search-Based Keyword tool gives you. You will have to review the results, and choose which terms you think will work best for your campaign.

Google Wonder Wheel and Related Searches

Google’s Wonder Wheel and Related Searches tools both provide related keyword suggestions, but their results are displayed quite differently. To access either Wonder Wheel or Related Searches, do a search by using Google. Under the Search box and above the first paid listings, there is a Show Options link. If you click that link, a sidebar appears and the link changes to Hide Options, as shown in Figure 4.8.

When you click Show Options on Google, you will see a sidebar with the Related Searches and Wonder Wheel tools listed below Standard View.

Google’s Wonder Wheel is the most visual of the keyword tools we’ve discussed so far. Figure 4.9 shows the process of exploring Wonder Wheel to discover new relevant keyword sets.

In Figure 4.9, step 1 shows the original search query, organic white tea, and it is surrounded by suggested keyword terms such as organic acai, silver needle white tea, and organic green tea. For this example, we selected organic oolong tea (as indicated by the rectangle). In step 2 you can see that the term organic oolong tea is surrounded by suggested keyword groups. We selected organic oolong tea bags, and in step 3 you can see that we now have suggestions for this term.

The step-by-step process of using Google Wonder Wheel to explore new keyword sets

The Related Searches function works in a similar fashion to the Wonder Wheel. As you conduct search queries on Google, you will be provided with additional relevant search queries. In Figure 4.10, you can see the suggestions provided for the term organic white tea bags.

The Related Searches function in Google is not as visual as the Wonder Wheel, but it does provide you with a great number of related searches.

You can select any of the suggested keywords in Figure 4.10, and additional terms will be presented. This is another very helpful tool for expanding your keyword list. As with any keyword tool, a large list of keywords may be suggested, but it’s up to you to decide which terms are most relevant for your campaign.

SEO Book Keywords

We also like the keyword research tools provided by SEO Book (www.seobook.com). SEO Book is a site ostensibly dedicated to search engine optimization (SEO), but we have found many of their keyword-related tools superb for use in PPC campaigns. You can find these tools at http://tools.seobook.com/keyword-tools.

Of the tools on SEO Book, one of the most uniquely useful is the Misspelling Generator. We use the Misspelling Generator to build the root sections of our permutations and concatenations. For keywords with multiple root words, we often put individual words through the Misspelling Generator to create variations.

SEO Book’s Keyword Typo Generator (http://tools.seobook.com/spelling/keywords-typos.cgi) can show you potential keyword misspellings and typographical errors in a few different ways: skipped letters, double letters, reversed letters, skipped spaces, missed keys, and inserted keywords. In Figure 4.11, we selected all of the typo categories, and the tool provided 320 misspelled keywords.

Another tool provided by SEO Book is the Keyword Suggestion tool (http://tools.seobook.com/keyword-tools/seobook). This tool is powered by a service called WordTracker. We like this tool because it centralizes many different tools and functions. In addition to the keywords provided by WordTracker, the SEO Book Keyword Suggestion tool gives daily search estimates for each of the major search engines (Google, Yahoo!, and Bing) and links to additional keyword research and trend information provided by Google and other services.

SEO Book’s Keyword Typo Generator can act as a springboard for keyword generation.

One of those services is Keyword Discovery. The full version of Keyword Discovery is a paid subscription service, but when linked from SEO Book, Keyword Discovery will give you 100 suggestions for the linked-from term.

The Permutator

The Permutator tool by Boxer Software (www.boxersoftware.com/thepermutator.htm) can quickly create keywords containing “all possible combinations of your input keyword lists,” as illustrated in Figure 4.12.

The Permutator can help you generate keyword combinations with low advertiser competition.

One advantage of using the keywords created by a tool like The Permutator versus those suggested by Google is that The Permutator is more likely to return keywords (based on your persona, URL variations, or other input elements) that are not being bid on by competitors. Clicks from these keywords will be lower priced because they are likely to be used by few competitors.