Five ways to perform keyword research with Google

- January 19, 2011

When I first started professionally working on the internet back in the stone ages of the mid-to-late 1990’s, all we cared about was:

1. Making HTML changes to web sites.
2. Learning about exciting new languages like XML and JavaScript.
3. Stuffing the “keywords” meta-tag with as many keywords as humanly possible (for SEO reasons).

Back in those days, you could do very little to tell Yahoo, Excite, HotBot, or Altavista what your web site was about so that if someone searched for something you did, you would show up higher than the other web sites in the search results. I vividly remember copying and pasting important words and phrases from client’s home pages into their “keywords” meta tag, hoping that Yahoo or Netscape would find the web site and rank it high. Man, those were the days.

When we fast-forward to 2011, we realize that we’ve learned quite a bit and have started using a few flashy tools along the way that this start-up company called Google has created to learn about what keywords we should be targeting, bidding for, or optimizing our web sites with. You may have heard of Google. 🙂

For today’s blog post, I review five tools that Google has made available for website owners and marketers to perform proper keyword research. Don’t worry, pure web analytics fans – you just may learn something new today!

Tool #1: Google Insights for Search
When you visit Google Insights for Search and start entering in a few of your favorite search terms, you’ll understand why this tool is becoming very popular and highly regarded. Within a matter of milliseconds, you’ll see historical search term trends, options to filter by industry, national and regional interest levels, other related search terms that have been used, and even which websites visitors are going to when they use your keywords.

Use Google Insights for Search to learn about the traffic volumes on the internet for your keywords, and learn about what websites people are visiting when they search for your keywords.

Tool #2: Google Trends
At first glance, Google Trends seems similar to Google Insights for Search, but it works in a different way and provides you different information. Google Trends specializes in comparing keywords, regardless of whether the keywords are related or contrasting. It also gives users search volume index figures and important news articles that boosted search volume over time. You can also compare websites and enter in URLs to compare your website with a competitor’s.

Make use of Google Trends by comparing and contrasting keywords and websites to refine your understanding of what volume is out there for your keywords.

Tool #3: Google AdWords Keyword Tool
If you’re like me, you need lots of ideas – fast. The Google AdWords Keyword Tool is great for both advertisers looking to build keyword lists for use in pay-per-click, but also great for discovering alternate keywords or synonyms. You can find keywords based on a word, phrase or website, and have the ability to receive traffic estimates and filter your results by industry. The tool works in a similar fashion as Google AdWords does, with a very similar look & feel.

Maximize the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to find new, related keywords to target your website (or, marketing efforts) for.

Tool #4: Google Suggest
You don’t have to look very far to use this great Google tool. Simply start searching for anything on Google.com, and you’ll see the Google Suggest tool in action. This is actually an excellent way to further explore the possibilities that exist for any keyword you type in. You’ll be able to see what other searches Google suggests to you via this auto-complete approach. I guarantee you that you have not thought of every possible variation or combination, so go use Google!

Take advantage of the standard Google.com search engine and see what possibilities exist for your keywords that you didn’t think of.

Tool #5: Google Analytics
With a pinch of editing (installing a small piece of JavaScript on your website pages), you can get access to hundreds of reports and thousands of possible views with Google Analytics. The great thing about analyzing the keywords reports that come bundled with this Web Analytics tool is that the keywords you see in reports are from visitors who have visited your website. Unlike the four other tools, the keywords here aren’t hypothetical or estimates – they actually happened and were actually responsible for visits to your website. Mining your Google Analytics account for keywords shows that you are paying attention to your visitors and learning how they are finding your website.

Create a Google Analytics account today and start learning what keywords visitors are using to find your website and what they are doing on your website after they arrive.

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