Google Trends and Google's Keywords Tool

8 May 09 , ,

In a previous post on keywords, I mentioned Google’s Keywords Tool and Google Trends as ways to discover the keywords that people are searching for on Google. This post explains in more detail how to operate these tools, and in my next post I’ll explain a few different ways to put this information to work.

Google Trends

Google Trends is the simpler of the two, and gives a broader perspective over time on the relative popularity of search terms (if you are logged in to Google, you will see actual numbers and be able to export data). All you do is enter a comma-separated list of search terms. Entering “web design, graphic design” yields the graph below, showing that in general “web design” is searched on more often, and that both are declining over time. (I hope that doesn’t have any larger significance!)

Google Trends graph

Google Trends graph: 'web design' vs. 'graphic design'

You can also compare the traffic to specific websites, simply by typing in a comma-separated list of urls. Type in “abc.com, fox.com, nbc.com, hulu.com” and you’ll see that the traffic to the networks is currently flat or declining, while hulu’s is climbing.

Google’s Keywords tool

You can use Google’s Keyword Tool in two ways—via your own search words or an existing web page. With either method, there are a number of different data points you can display, and a few options.

This article is an excellent step-by-step guide on using the keyword tool, so here I’ll just highlight the main steps:

  1. Enter your keywords or phrases one per line
  2. Select “Use Synonyms” to see what terms people might be searching on that haven’t occurred to you. For example using the term “website design” shows that many more people search on “web design” instead.
  3. Choose the data to display using the “Choose columns to display” pull-down menu. One interesting one is “Highest search volume occurred in” which shows the month with the highest search volume for that term.
  4. Choose “Exact” in the Match Type menu. This eliminates longer (and possibly irrelevant) phrases that may incorporate your keywords.
  5. Sort the list via the different columns by clicking on the column title.

An alternative to step 1 is to enter a url, and generate keywords based on the content of that page or site. You should definitely try this out for pages on your own site, but also consider using successful competitors’ urls.

So now that you have all this data at your fingertips…how to put it to good use? Stay tuned for my next post on the topic.

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