3 Common Mistakes Using the Google Keyword Tool and How to Fix Them

#1: Not Realizing That The Default Search Is “Broad” Match Type

A common error goes like this: You search for a keyword, say themes for blogger, and see that it gets over 90,000 global monthly searches. Excited, you build a site targeting that phrase, and then are baffled when you only get a trickle of hits from that keyword, even when you start to rank highly. What happened?

By default, the Keyword tool searches by “Broad match.” This means that it includes all related searches that happen to contain those words.

In our example, hundreds of other keyword phrases, such as premium themes for blogger or best themes for blogger 2011 are all counted in the total number. And since they contain completely different words, your site likely won’t be ranking for them.

On the left sidebar of the screen, you will see “Match Types” part-way down. There you will see that “Broad” is checked. If you change it to “Exact,” for our example, you will see that the exact phrase gets only a couple hundred searches per month, which explains the small traffic. In other cases, there might actually be zero exact matches!

#2: Thinking that “Competition” Refers to Other Websites Targeting Your Keyword

Everyone wants to find keywords that only a few other websites are targeting, but using the “Competition” tab in the Google Keyword Tool for this purpose is a big mistake!

This little bar is referring to the number of advertisers who are bidding for that term; it has absolutely nothing to do with the number of competing websites in Google organic search. In fact, picking keywords with low advertiser competition will mean there aren’t many relevant companies purchasing ads, so if you use Google AdSense, you will likely get ads that aren’t very related to your website and a lower CTR.

It’s important to remember that the Google Keyword Tool was designed for advertisers, and we webmasters are repurposing it as a tool to help generate website ideas. To effectively assess website competitors for a keyword, you can use a free plugin SEO for Firefox or a paid tool such as Market Samurai.

#3: Neglecting to Consider the Implications of Different Keywords

This third and final mistake has less to do with the Google tool specifically but rather keyword research in general. Many webmasters get too wrapped up in the search volume and forget to consider the intent of the searcher as well as the general profitability of a niche.

If your goal is to promote affiliate products, for example, you might be able to find some related keywords that get thousands of searches per month, but if they are “informational” keywords and searchers won’t be interested in buying anything, a very low percentage of that traffic will convert.

Instead, it’s good to target keywords that users will search when they are actually interested in buying. Names of products and brands are typically “buying” keywords, and mixing in words such as reviews, buy, cheapest, online, and price comparisons” can provide great results.

Also, in certain niches, such as technology or blogging, most users are savvy and have become “ad-blind,” which will mean very few clicks. Other niches might not have many quality products or advertisers competing for the popular search terms, making monetization extremely difficult.

Keeping these ideas in mind will get you off to a good start in picking appropriate keywords and generating more traffic to your websites!

Article by Andrew Walsh


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