Keyword research is usually the first step of search engine optimization of any website.
Most often, it is needed when you’re:
- looking for a new niche
- looking for new content ideas
- optimizing your existing content
What are keywords?
Keywords (sometimes referred to as “SEO keywords”) are any words or phrases that a user types into the search engine to find certain information on the internet. The keyword is a gateway that leads people to the organic search results and ultimately, to the website where they find what they’re looking for.
That is why finding the right keywords is so important in search engine optimization. It helps you to discover the phrases people use when looking for the information so that you can optimize your website to appear in the search results for the right keywords.
What is keyword research?
Keyword research is the process of finding and analyzing actual search terms that people enter into search engines. The insight you can get into these actual search terms can help inform content strategy, as well as your larger marketing strategy.
Why is keyword research important?
More and more, we hear how much SEO has evolved over just the last 10 years, and how unimportant keywords themselves have become to our ability to rank well for the searches people make every day.
And to some extent, this is true; using keywords that exactly match a person’s search is no longer the most important ranking factor in the eyes of an SEO professional. Rather, it’s the intent behind that keyword, and whether or not a piece of content solves for that intent (we’ll talk more about intent in just a minute).
But that doesn’t mean keyword research is an outdated process. Let me explain:
Keyword research tells you what topics people care about and, assuming you use the right SEO tool, how popular those topics actually are among your audience. The operative term here is topics — by researching keywords that are getting a high volume of searches per month, you can identify and sort your content into topics that you want to create content on. Then, you can use these topics to dictate which keywords you look for and target.
By researching keywords for their popularity, search volume, and general intent, you can tackle the questions that the most people in your audience want answers to.
What is Google Keyword Planner?
Keyword Planner is a tool that provides keyword ideas and traffic estimates to help you build a Search Network campaign.
- Search for keyword and ad groups ideas based on terms that describe your product or service, your website, or a product category related to what you’re advertising. You can also enter or upload a list of keywords. And you can multiply two or more lists of keywords to create a new list that combines your keywords.
- Get historical statistics, like the number of times people have searched for a keyword or how competitive that keyword is.
- You can also get traffic estimates, like how many clicks and impressions your keywords might get for given bid and budget amounts.
How to Use Google Keyword Planner Tool?
Once you understand the basics of using the Google Ads Keyword Tool, there are several strategies you can adopt to help take your campaign to the next level. Check out these tips on how to use the Keyword Planner to help your ad find its way to a potential customer’s search the moment they want what you offer.
1. Use Basic Filtering to Refine Your Audience & Budget
When you start using the Keyword Planner, you’ll be given four options:
- Search for new keywords:Allows you to type in a phrase, website, or category to generate new ideas.
- Multiple keyword lists:Combines two separate lists that you’ll input to create new keyword combinations.
- Get search volume and trends:Shows the historical trending and search volume data of keywords.
- Get click and cost performance forecasts:Gives you performance projections for your keyword lists based on average bids and your budget.
2. Use Quality Keywords Over a Quantity of Keywords
If you’re struggling to think outside the box for keywords, or to find ones that are relevant to your business, the Keyword Planner can help you discover new terms and phrases potential customers are using to search for businesses like yours. The tool allows you to view Google-recommended keywords generated by:
- Keyword:Type in words or phrases relevant to your business or website to get new ideas or longer-form keywords you may not have considered before.
- Landing Page:Enter a specific page on your site (or any site), and the tool will read the page and generate relevant keywords.
- Product Category:Select which product categories best describe your business to discover popular keywords frequently searched within your industry. This could help you identify keywords that you might not have realized potential customers are using to search for businesses like yours.
When analyzing the suggestions the tool gives you, keep in mind that if a keyword has high search volume, there might also be a lot of competition for it, raising its suggested bid. Try to choose keywords that are realistic for your campaign, and that won’t absorb the majority of your budget.
3. Show Your Ads to Your Geographic Audience
The Keyword Planner’s filters allow you to customize where your ads show up based on language or location. This may be particularly useful if, for example, your business has a physical storefront, and you’re therefore hoping to reach more people searching around your location.
While a keyword may have a high search volume nationally or across other wide areas, the filter can help you determine whether it’s a popular and relevant term in your local area. Back to our Vermont-based maple syrup business example, you can set your filters to whatever specificity — whether that’s within your city (Putney), state (Vermont), country (USA) and beyond. Your results in the keyword planner tool will show the average monthly search volume, search trends, suggested bid, etc., for Putney, Vermont, or whatever you’ve set as your geographic area.
These filters will also let you design your campaigns around different languages. If you find that your company is popular with both English and Spanish speakers, using the Google Ads keyword tool helps you find the most relevant keywords in each language, so you can create separate ad groups to reach both audiences.
4. Prepare for What Your Competitors Are Paying
The competition level for keyword choices can substantially inflate their costs. Based on how many other people are bidding on it, a particular keyword’s competition level is ranked low, medium, or high. High competition keywords cost more per average bid, and using them may make it more difficult — and expensive — for your ad to gain a top-level viewing position.
Using the Google Ads keyword tool can help you find effective keywords that fit your budget by showing you what other advertisers are paying for keywords. The tool’s suggested bid column shows the average amount being spent to rank in a top level position for a particular keyword. You can see which of your desired keywords are within reach of your budget, and build your campaign around them to improve your chances of being seen by potential customers.
To view the estimated first page bid metric for your keywords, follow these steps:
- Visit the Keywordstab and click the Columns button
- Select Modify columnsfrom the drop-down menu
- In the “Attributes” drop-down menu, add first page bid, and click Save
- You can do the same to view your estimated top of page bid (add top page bidand Save)
If the first page bid estimate is very high, it may mean that your keyword’s Quality Score is poor. You can click the Help bubble next to your keyword to find more details. To find out more about this topic, check out our article on first page bid estimates.
5. Analyze Your Plan to Help Make the Most of Your Budget
As you discover keywords that are viable options, click the button to the right of the column to add them to your keyword plan. This will temporarily store your potential keywords. Once the keywords are in your plan, you can set a daily budget, bid maximum and location to receive a detailed forecast about the potential for the keywords that you’ve chosen.
Once you have a list of 10-20 keywords for your group, clicking on the Review Forecasts button will display the estimated clicks, impressions, average position, and average conversion rate for your potential keywords so you can analyze whether they’re realistic for your budget range. Use your findings to add and delete keywords until you have a refined list that will help make the most of your budget.
The Google Ads Keyword Planner is a useful tool to lay the groundwork for a successful PPC campaign. No matter your budget or company size, this tool can help you customize your keywords for more efficiency. Keep these strategies for how to use the Keyword Planner tool in mind to help your online marketing campaign succeed.