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How to Use Google Adwords Keyword Tool for SEO

Mar 2, 2011 / by Kevin Phelps

While the Adwords tool is meant for PPC, it's also a vital tool when performing keyword research for SEO. Google Adwords identifies the number of searches for specific words or key phrases. However, many people leave with false information because there are several different filters with different numbers.

If you go to the keyword tool and search for "online schools," "online degrees" and "online education," you’ll get information about those keywords as well as many other related terms.

Underneath the search field is a checkbox as shown below:

Make sure this is checked; otherwise you will get a huge list of keywords that may not actually apply to your business.

Google automatically presets your location and language to serve you the most relevant results. It sets my location as "United States" and my language as "English."

You can change this if it doesn’t happen to apply to you by expanding the Advances Search section.

The next step is to simply click search. This is where the tool can get confusing.

If you’re like many, it would appear as though there are 246,000 searches for "online schools" all over the globe. Likewise, somebody would think that there are 201,000 searches for the same keyword in your local area.

This is not true and I’ve had many people regret their decision to pursue these keywords because they just didn’t understand the data.

Over on the left there is a column with "Match Types." Check the box associated with [Exact]. This will change the keyword numbers to reflect more realistic search volume.

"Why wouldn’t the keyword tool show me exact search volume from the beginning?"

The default match type of "Broad" is referring to the number of searches that involve the phrase. For example, it’s giving you search volume numbers for the keyword "online schools" as well as search volume for all the other keywords that mention that phrase such as "best online schools," "online schools degrees," "online high schools" and others.

The other match type, "Phrase," shows you keywords where the exact phrase of your keyword is used. This includes keywords where the term is used with other words within the phrase. For example, using the Phrase match type while searching "online schools" would give you search volume for other keywords like "best online schools" or "online schools degrees" but not "online high schools" or "online accredited schools" because the original phrase is being broken up.

If you’re looking for how many people search a specific keyword, stay with [Exact].

Now that the data has been changed to realistic numbers, you’ll notice the number of searchers go down drastically.

Because there are some terms that are searched worldwide, Google differentiates the two searches columns to Global and Local. The numbers underneath Global are the amount of searches all around the globe averaged out over 12 months. Searches in the Local column are referring to the location that you specified in the beginning. In our case, they’re showing the number of searches in the Unites States averaged out over 12 months.

That’s basically the gist of the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. There are some other things you can do with this tool to improve your keyword research and discover additional relevant keywords. This is by no means advanced or the end to your keyword research, you still need to analyze your online competition, research the searcher's intent and decide what's worth going after given your time and budget.

If you have tips or advice you’d like to add, comment below.

Topics: SEO Keyword Research Blog PPC

Kevin Phelps

Written by Kevin Phelps

Kevin is a former SEO Manager at SEO.com. He has been actively involved in the SEO industry for over three years and has worked with small and large businesses nationwide.

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