If you’ve been around web marketing long, you know how effective Google AdWords can be at getting lots of qualified traffic to your site. But did you know that it’s also a very powerful keyword research tool? If you know how to use it, there’s not another resource today that provides capabilities as rich and as accurate as AdWords.
Bob’s House of Rocks
To show you what I mean, let’s look at a fictional company called Bob’s House of Rocks. Bob’s is a full-spectrum supplier of rocks large and small for use in building or as ornamental pieces. He can service just about any area of the country, so he wants to get as much free traffic as he can from search engines.
Ahh, the power of Broad Match
Bob probably already has a pretty good idea of what keywords people use when they’re searching for what he provides, so he uses that list as our starting point when setting up his AdWords campaign—using Exact Match and Phrase Match where they make sense.
Here’s the problem, though: Bob’s competitors probably thought of roughly the same list. We tend to think like business owners, not like searchers. How does Bob find those high-traffic, relevant keywords if he can’t just think them up? Broad Match.
Bob adds a handful of general terms to his campaign as Broad Match keywords, enough to be reasonably certain that he’s covering any possible relevant search. In a few days, the keywords he missed will magically begin floating to the top—in his web server logs.
Panning for Gold
Every time a searcher clicks on an ad triggered by one of Bob’s Broad Match keywords, Bob gets an entry in his web log. The “Referring URL” section of that entry is where the missing keywords appear. It looks something like this:
See the “q” parameter in the query string? That’s exactly what the user searched for that triggered Bob’s ad. In this case, it was “rocks for sale.” By aggregating all the referrals from Google and grouping them by the keywords used, the missing keywords begin to reveal themselves. Bob may also find entirely new subject areas that lead him to add new Broad Match keywords.
Refine, Refine, Refine
As he finds common search terms that he hasn’t previously accounted for, Bob creates Exact Match entries for them in his AdWords campaign. This allows him to better refine the cost-per-conversion for those individual keywords rather than having them all lumped together under Broad Match.
And most importantly for his search engine optimization efforts, creating Exact Match keywords allows him to see exactly how many searches those terms get relative to the others in his campaign and to see how well they convert.
Eventually, he gets his keyword list as refined as necessary. He’s fairly certain that he’s capturing all relevant searches now, and he’s separated out all the popular keywords and left the rest grouped under Broad Match. It may take anywhere from a few months to a year or more to get it 100% complete, but the highest-traffic terms should appear fairly quickly.
Optimizing the Site…Finally
It took some time for Bob to get to this point, but it’s well worth it. Once he has his keyword list fairly complete, he can begin to use his Exact Match keywords to determine exactly which terms he needs to optimize his site for. It’s not enough to just look at which keywords get the most searches, though. He needs to calculate just how much a #1 ranking is worth for each keyword.
Let’s take the terms “rocks for sale” and “stones for sale,” for instance. According to his AdWords stats, the term “rocks for sale” gets 20,000 searches per month and converts at 1%. The term “stones for sale” only gets 10,000 searches per month but converts at 4%.
So, if Bob ranked #1 for “rocks for sale” and got an 80% click-through rate, that would result in an extra 160 sales per month. If he ranked #1 for “stones for sale,” his sales would increase by 320—even though “stones for sale” actually had fewer searches.
The two terms might have significantly different sale amounts as well. If so, that would also need to be factored into the equation.
Accurate Keyword Research with No Guesswork
The true power of AdWords is that it tells us with absolute certainty which keywords are the most valuable for a given site. Once the guesswork is eliminated, we can then set to work making sure the site ranks as well as possible for all those terms—focusing most of our time on the most valuable. No other tool gives us the same results as quickly and as accurately as AdWords.