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Analyzing Your Website to Improve SEO
Illustration by Richard Downs

Using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool


From:

Analyzing Your Website to Improve SEO

with Peter Kent

Video: Using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool

One very popular keyword-analysis tool is the Google AdWords Keyword tool. It's really designed for use by AdWords pay-per-click advertisers, but is still popular with SEO people, mainly because it's free. Now, I would suggest that you log in to your AdWords account first because Google will show you more information than if you don't log in. If you don't have an AdWords account, go to AdWords.com and create one. But let me take a few minutes, and you don't have to start pay-per-click campaign or pay anything.

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Analyzing Your Website to Improve SEO
1h 43m Intermediate Jun 29, 2011 Updated Oct 12, 2012

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In this course, search engine optimization (SEO) expert Peter Kent walks step-by-step through the process of reviewing the content and markup of an existing web site to improve its ranking in search engine results. This course offers a consultant's take on how to analyze each component—from keywords to content to code—and determine what improvements are necessary to become more visible to search engines like Yahoo!, Bing, and Google.

This course was updated on 10/12/2012.

Topics include:
  • Understanding why indexing is important
  • Using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool
  • Dealing with frames, iframes, and popups
  • Working with SEO-friendly URLs
  • Using meta tags
  • Clearing source code clutter
  • Building links within the site
  • Working with Google+
  • Reviewing page content
  • Building and submitting an HTML and XML sitemap
  • Garnering links outside the site
Subjects:
Online Marketing Web SEO Marketing Small Business Marketing
Author:
Peter Kent

Using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool

One very popular keyword-analysis tool is the Google AdWords Keyword tool. It's really designed for use by AdWords pay-per-click advertisers, but is still popular with SEO people, mainly because it's free. Now, I would suggest that you log in to your AdWords account first because Google will show you more information than if you don't log in. If you don't have an AdWords account, go to AdWords.com and create one. But let me take a few minutes, and you don't have to start pay-per-click campaign or pay anything.

Once you've done that, load the keywords tool, and we'll get started. This tool is going to find keyword ideas for us. We're going to give Google either a sample keyword, one of the words on our original list, and Google will provide a list of related terms, or we could provide the URL of a web site, perhaps a competitor's even, and Google will give us terms related to that site. So let's put a term into this first box. We're going to be promoting twotreesoliveoil.com, so we'll begin with the term 'olive oil'.

Now if I click on this box, Google will only retrieve terms that contain the term I've entered, 'best olive oil', 'bulk olive oil', and so on. You may want to experiment with that, but for this example I'm not going to check the box, because I want Google to provide a wider range of terms. Let's open up the Advanced Options and see what we have here. As you can see, we can tell Google the location we're interested in. We'll keep that set to the United States. I can select to include adult terms if that's appropriate, and I can even ask Google to provide keywords used by different types of users, those with the regular computers, or perhaps those used in different types of mobile devices.

I can also tell Google to exclude certain types of keywords; for instance, I could tell Google to ignore keywords that are very infrequently used by entering a number into this box. So, now it will only show keywords that are searched for locally--that is, in U.S.-- 500 times or more a months. As you can see, these filters are mostly related to PPC, pay-per-click, so we're going to ignore this dropdown. When we're ready, we click the Search button and in a few seconds Google returns a bunch of keywords and provides these numbers over here. And here is where most of the confusion with this tool lies.

These numbers are not the number of times a particular keyword is searched for, either globally or locally, which in this case means the United States. Remember, this is a PPC tool, not really an SEO tool. Look over here. You can see that the tool is set to Broad match. So these numbers are telling us that if you create a PPC ad and broad-match it to this keyword, the ad will be matched to 673,000 searches. If you understand PPC, you know what that means.

If you don't, it really doesn't matter. All you need to know is that if we click on the exact check box and clear the Broad check box, Google will change these numbers, and now we will see the actual number of searches carried out each month on average. For instance, Google was showing 673,000 on the olive oil line. Now though, it's telling us that there are actually 22,200 searches for that exact term each month in the US, not 673,000.

These numbers are approximate of course. And you'll notice that the keywords are now in square brackets. Don't worry. That's just a PPC thing related to our exact-match choice. So what do we do now? Well, we might want to sort the list to find the most commonly used terms. Click the Local Monthly Searches column heading. That works well if you use the Closely Related Ideas check box. If you don't though, it may not be as helpful as you may see more popular terms that are not closely related enough.

We can work our way down the list, selecting the ones we like. In some cases, it may be better to select all the keywords--click here--and then work down the list, un-checking the boxes next to irrelevant keywords. As you can see, most of these are probably pretty good. This one though, we can lose, this one too. You can use the down arrow on your keyboard to move down the list and quickly click to clear when necessary.

When you get to the bottom, move to the next page and do the same thing. Google will save your selections as you move from page to page. You might also want to increase the number of displayed rows. Now, let's say we've worked our way through the list and made our selections. What next? Well, we could copy the information to the clipboard by clicking the View as text button and then the Selected option. Or we can download them into a spreadsheet using the Download button.

I prefer that method, because the spreadsheet file will include the numbers, not just the terms. The keywords will still have the square brackets around them. That's so the PPC advertisers can paste them into a campaign as exact-match keywords, but you can always do a search and replace to remove them. Now you won't just do one search, you'll go through entering a variety of keywords, searching multiple times to see what comes up. You can then merge and dedupe your spreadsheets to come up with a master list if you wish.

There is more to this tool of course. Over here, you can tell Google to include only keywords that contain the terms you enter in this box, or to exclude keywords that contain particular terms. For instance, we could tell Google to admit the keywords with the term 'canola' in them. Google is giving us a number of canola terms that thinks are related. You might also play with the categories. These are particularly useful when you're using keywords that have different meanings in different businesses.

For instance, if you search the computer category for the term for the term 'ram', you will get keywords related to memory; search the sports on fitness category and you'll get keywords related to RAM golf clubs. Many of the options on the screen, however, are related to PPC, so we can just ignore them. Finally, you should know that this is not the best keyword tool out there. It has the best data-- you can't beat Google's data of course-- but there are commercial services that provide better keyword management tools that will help you group keywords into projects, sort keywords, export keywords, and so on.

One of the best known is Wordtracker, but there are various others such as, KeywordSpy, Keyword Discovery, and KeyCompete. Remember, don't skip the keyword analysis; spend some time and really understands the keywords that are important to you.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Analyzing Your Website to Improve SEO.


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This course was updated on 10/12/2012. What changed?
We added three movies to keep the course as current as possible. The new movies cover rich snippets, the Panda/Penguin upgrades to the Google search algorithm, and incorporating Google+ into your marketing and search engine optimization strategies.
 
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