Using The Google Keyword Tool Like A Pro (Part 1)

Choosing keywords for a new pay per click advertising account is no easy task. There are lots of keyword tools out there that claim to do the job (and are more than happy to charge you for the privilege), but in my experience the Google Keyword Tool delivers the best results. And best of all, it’s free! This week, Google announced that their new keyword tool interface was finally out of beta, so it seems like a good time to go over how to use this tool like real PPC pros do.

You can access the Google Keyword Tool one of two ways. You can follow this link to the external keyword tool: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal. Or, you can access it within your AdWords account by going to the “Opportunities” tab, then clicking on the “Keyword Tool” link on the “Tools” menu on the left side of the screen:

AdWords Tools Menu

The external version of the tool is easier to link to, but you have to deal with the hassle of a captcha. If you’re going to research one or two words, the external tool might be quicker. But if you’re going to do some serious research, you’re probably better off logging in to your account and using the tool there.

Using the tool is pretty straightforward. Type in some words or phrases relevant to your products in the search box. You can also search by using a website that’s similar to yours. You can then search based on these criteria. If you’re totally stumped, you can even browse through a list of categories on the left side of the tool. This will give you some pretty broad keywords for specific product verticals, but if you really want to drill down to the specific keywords that are going to be the best for you it’s probably best to use these as a jumping-off point to come up with your own keyword lists.

It’s also a good idea to define match types in your keyword research. You can do this by selecting the Match Types checkboxes below the Categories menu on the left. Note that the results won’t explicitly say what type the result keywords are. Instead, it will display them with the appropriate search operators around the keyword, such as broad, “phrase”, and [exact]. This should help you determine which keyword match types you should bid on by letting you know what kind of traffic you can afford. It can also determine what kind of long-tail traffic you’re likely to get for each search query. Just subtract the amount of exact match traffic from the amount of traffic the broad match counterpart gets. The remainder should give you a rough estimate of how many people are searching for longer, more specific phrases on a particular search query.

First off, let’s define that data that you can get out of the tool. There are a few different data points that Google will provide during the research:

Keyword – keywords related to your query or category selection. Note the use of search operators to indicate match type.
Competition – this is a rough estimate of what the competition is like for this keyword on Google AdWords. A fuller bar indicates that more advertisers are bidding on it, and your CPC is likely to be higher as a result.
Global Monthly Searches – the total number of Google searches on this term worldwide, per month.
Local Monthly Searches – the total number of Google searches on this term within the area specified by your country and language selections, per month.
Estimated Avg. CPC – the average cost per click you can expect to pay for this keyword to get top positions (1-3) on Google search results.
Ad Share – the percentage of time your ad will show on the exact match version of this keyword, specific to your geographic area. Stats for this don’t show up too often, so it may not be helpful for most users.
Search Share – describes the percentage of time your website shows up for this keyword on the first page of Google results. More helpful for SEO than PPC, and stats are pretty sparse for this one as well.
Extracted From Webpage – this statistic appears when there is a keyword match to a relevant landing page. Helpful for diagnosing Quality Score relevancy issues, or getting SEO diagnostics.

That covers the basics. Next week in Part 2, we’ll discuss some advanced options for the Google Keyword Tool, as well as a few more tips and triicks.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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One Response to Using The Google Keyword Tool Like A Pro (Part 1)

  1. Rob Boyd says:

    Hi Shawn, thanks for the Tweet. Look for your post on our PPChero RoundUp tomorrow. Keep an eye on our Tweets because this might be something we do on an ongoing basis.

    - Caleb & Rob @ PPC Hero