The Free Google Keyword Tool
(and the Top 10 Reasons You Should Use It!)

We often talk about the importance of choosing the right keywords and keyphrases when writing for the web. It can mean the difference between heavy traffic and no traffic reading your landing page … and possibly the difference between a high-conversion landing page and a complete bomb.

In the PPC world, the trick is not just writing good copy but writing with keywords that a reasonable buyer would type in as a search query.

For example, someone looking for information on investing in stocks might type in “stocks” or “stock market,” or be more specific and type in “investing in stocks” or “buying stocks.” Or they may focus their search even further by typing in “the best low-priced value stocks” or “stocks under $5 for 2009.”

Your job as a web copywriter is to think of all these options … and brainstorm about what search terms would most likely be used. And most importantly, to make sure they not only answer the search queries but are relevant to the theme, product, or services of your client.

The best tool you can use for this research is, of course, your brain … and any opportunity to brainstorm with friends and colleagues. To further expand that knowledge, you’ll then want to use an online keyword tool. Keyword tools will not only give you ideas on how to grow your list of relevant keywords, but they’ll also give you synonyms and data about the popularity of your search terms.

If you do a quick online search, you’ll find many available keyword tools. But did you know that one of the best ones is free?

That’s right … it’s called the Google Keyword Tool (GKT).

The GKT is an integral part of the AdWords “pay-per-click” system, but it’s also available for free if you don’t have an account.

It’s a great way to find new keywords for your ad campaigns, as well as find negative keywords, estimated keyword traffic, and additional search terms that may trigger your ads.

For example, if you run a dollar store, the GKT can suggest helpful, related keywords like “discount stores,” “discount shopping,” or “closeouts.”

Adding these alternate terms can help you find new customers with similar questions. Questions that you might otherwise have missed, and that your offer can provide an answer for.

And now for the top 10 reasons to use the GKT …

  1. It’s free. Need I say more? Ok, well how about this … all your research is available and easily downloaded in multiple formats, such as Text, .CSV for Excel, or .CSV.
  2. It accepts filtering criteria for better results. When using the GKT, you can filter out results that are not helpful. For example, you can specifically request that it not include certain words or phrases. You can enter these, one per line. You can also request that it filter out adult content or words already included in your campaign. And you can request that it not show ideas for new keywords, but only show data about the keyword entered. This would include data on advertiser competition, approximate search volume for the previous month, and an approximate average search volume.
  3. It organizes your keywords into groups. In AdWords, Google will match up every keyword search with the most relevant ad copy and landing pages. Thus, by grouping words together in sub-themes and creating separate ads and landing pages for these themes, you can often achieve bigger and better results (i.e., conversions). The GKT will do this for you automatically when it lists your results, making it easier to break out some words into groups for your PPC campaigns.
  4. It identifies negative keywords. The GKT can show you off-topic keywords that are similar to your words but are irrelevant or too vague and, thus, will not convert. You want to exclude these “negative keywords” from your campaign.

    For example, suppose you sell a “stock newsletter” and you research in the GKT the word “stocks.” It may suggest multiple uses of the word that are relevant but many more that are not. Terms such as “stock film” or “chicken stock” will not help you sell stock newsletters. Thus, if you choose to use the word “stock,” you need to add these other terms to your group as negative keywords. This helps make sure only interested customers see your ads.

  5. It allows you to choose the match type. The GKT automatically produces results based on a “broad match” of the keyword or keyphrase entered. This means your ad will appear if any of the words are included in the query, even if not written in the same sequence as your keyphrase. This also applies to similar keywords such as plurals and synonyms. Thus, a “broad match” will reach a wider audience and trigger your ad to appear whenever that keyword or similar term appears in a user’s query.

    However, the GKT will also let you change the match type for your results. With one click you can change your results to a “phrase-matched” variation. This means your ad will appear for any query that includes your keyword or keyphrase in the exact sequence and form that you specify. (Additional terms in a user’s query can precede or follow the phrase.) Thus, this phrase matching narrows your reach by restricting your ad from showing on irrelevant variations of your keyword. To enable phrase matching, you enclose your keyword in quotation marks.

    Lastly, you can use an “exact match,” which is the most precise method for targeting your keywords. Use an exact match when you want your ad to appear only on a query that precisely matches the keyword or keyphrase you’ve chosen … meaning there are no additional words or letters before, between, or after the keyword or keyphrase. To enable exact matching, you enclose your keyword in square brackets.

  6. It supplies relevant statistics. There is an option called “Show or Hide Columns” in the GKT that allows you to see results with additional columns of relevant information. These are estimated performance statistics about the keyword results to help you pick the best ones. Available statistics include estimated ad position, estimated average cost-per-click (CPC), the number of advertisers worldwide bidding on each keyword, previous month’s Google search volume, the average monthly Google search volume over a recent 12-month period, Google’s search volume trends over a recent 12-month period, and the month that each keyword received the highest Google search volume within a recent 12-month period.
  7. It allows you to expand your theme (and be more specific) when your current keywords are performing poorly. Even the most relevant keywords can equal little or no traffic. No traffic means no one’s seeing your ad. Thus, for a PPC campaign you’d need to find more words. The GKT allows you to expand the theme and be more specific. You can even go the other way and test some vague words. The idea is to test any relevant words that will give you a boost in impressions.
  8. It expands with or without synonyms. When using the GKT’s “Descriptive Words or Phrases” section, you simply enter the relevant word or phrase, and it will generate wide-ranging synonyms. For example, it might suggest “index funds” or “investing” as a synonym for the keyphrase “value stock.” But most people don’t realize this is set by default. You can uncheck the “Use synonyms” button, so it will only give results that contain at least one of the terms you entered. These results might be more focused for your group.
  9. It expands based on site content. After you’ve brainstormed all the words and phrases you can think of, use the “Website Content” option. It lets you enter the URL of your landing page or website, or of any site related to your subject matter, to find more keywords. It scans the content of the link entered and suggests additional relevant keywords. In fact, you can even ask it to include other pages on your site linked from this URL.

    The best part is that you can enter the URLs of your competition and other related sites and learn the keywords of their content and what they might be buying for PPC. These pages may give you some unusable words, but I find its insight outweighs any extra vague terms.

  10. It enables you to target when you find a winning phrase. Often one word or phrase will bring in all your traffic and conversions. If so, follow that thread … and find as many variations on that word as possible. The GKT makes it easy … just click on the “Existing Keyword” button and then click on your best-performing keywords to generate variations.

Ready to give it a whirl? Check it out for yourself here …

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Published: January 28, 2009

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