How to do keyword research on Google is a hot topic. It’s all very well getting found high up in the search results but you need people searching for you. That may sound obvious but a lot of people get preyed on by firms promising to get them to the first page of Google – which sounds cool and sexy – but neglect to ask what keyword phrases they’ll reach the first page for.
What to use for keyword research
Whilst there are a number of paid-for keyword tools, most of these just put a fancy looking wrapper around the results that you can get for free using the Google keyword tool.
This tool was designed to help people who are advertising with the Google Adwords program find profitable words to get their adverts placed for. But it works equally well for the rest of us – we’re just limited to 100 results per search, which is not a major issue, and have to fill out one of those annoying Captchas every now and then, which isn’t a deal breaker either.
Once you type in a word or phrase, you’ll get a screen like this:
When you first log into the Google keyword tool it will present results by what it calls “broad match”. This means it will include all sorts of things that are vaguely related to the search term and whilst it’s good for encouraging people to place adverts, it’s not much good for meaningful keyword research.
Fortunately there are two other options that you can choose – they’re in a tick box list on the left of the screen and ticking or unticking them will update the results.
The two options are:
- Exact match – this will give you numbers for just that phrase, no other words.
- Phrase match – this will give results where the phrase was included. So “keyword research” would include numbers for “online keyword research”, “how to do keyword research”, etc.
Which of these you choose is up to you. I tend to prefer the phrase search but occasionally use exact match for my keyword research.
To the right of each keyword phrase you’ll be given a bar chart for advertiser competition. This is a good reality check – if there’s competition for advertising there’s probably money being spent for that phrase.
Next are figures for Global monthly searches and Local monthly searches.
Local defaults to the country you’re in – United Kingdom for me as you can see from the screenshot.
If you’re targeting a worldwide market then use the global figures. If you’re only aiming at your own country then the local figures are a better guide.
One important thing to remember with this keyword research is that the search figures are only approximate.
They are historic – Google can’t predict the future – and they are definitely approximate. But they’re better than nothing.
Another thing to remember is that even if you’re in the first position on the page, you won’t get all those searches. The exact proportion will vary according to lots of different things but a good rule of thumb is to expect no more than half if everything else is in your favour and you’re at the top of the results. Lower positions can expect lower results.
Once you’ve done your keyword research you’ll have a shortlist of keyword phrases that you want to target.
Generally the bigger the number of searches the more competition you’ll have. But that’s not fixed in tablets of stone and you can often come up high in the search results for a highly competitive phrase, albeit only in your local area.
Experiment with your keyword research and you’ll get a feel for how it works in your area in your industry.