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

by Andrew Walsh on October 7, 2011 · 55 comments






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

When you’re building a new website, it’s important to do keyword research. That way, you can optimize your pages around the phrases that your target market is actually typing into search engines and earn more traffic.

There are a number of tools for keyword research, both free and paid, but one of the most popular free options is the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. This can be an extremely valuable resource for identifying good keywords, but there are a few common mistakes that many webmasters make that can cost them a lot of time and money.

#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!

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{ 55 comments }

Mat October 7, 2011 at 4:05 am

Excellent information Andrew and I actually not aware fully about competition tab in google keyword tools and now I understand it. Thanks for providing a great article.
Mat@Carports Kits´s last blog post ..Metal Buildings from Metal Carports Kits offer Superior Life

Andrew October 7, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Thanks! Learning what the competition bar really means is very important. I bought a few ill-advised domains when I was just starting out because I thought they were low competition keywords!
Andrew´s last blog post ..What is Twitter Jail and How Can I Avoid Getting Locked Up?

goa carnival October 7, 2011 at 6:21 am

This tool is so important now adays but if we are not well aware about that tool so we should use this tool very safely.
goa carnival´s last blog post ..Goa Carnival 2012

Andrew October 7, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Good point. It’s always good to proceed carefully if you don’t know much about a particular tool.
Andrew´s last blog post ..What is Twitter Jail and How Can I Avoid Getting Locked Up?

Online Marketing October 7, 2011 at 8:03 am

Many people do these mistakes especially the first one, the solution is to use a variety of anchor text on your links in order to get as many rankings and traffic from all the different variations of a keyword

Kostas | Opportunities Planet
Online Marketing´s last blog post ..Writing without a Degree: 4 Tips for Starting a Freelance Writing Career

Andrew October 7, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Yes, varying up your anchor text is a great strategy. It both helps you rank for more phrases and also looks much more natural in the eyes of big G.
Andrew´s last blog post ..What is Twitter Jail and How Can I Avoid Getting Locked Up?

Swayam Das October 7, 2011 at 9:42 am

The best search type is “Phrase”
Swayam Das@SEO Tech Marketing´s last blog post ..Best 5 Business Marketing Strategies

Andrew October 7, 2011 at 5:03 pm

You’re right, Phrase is more flexible than Exact and more targeted than Broad. A whole post could be made on just that first tip!
Andrew´s last blog post ..What is Twitter Jail and How Can I Avoid Getting Locked Up?

Jasmine October 11, 2011 at 4:12 am

Nice tip, Swayam. Andrew, can’t wait to read more about your first tip… really interesting and would definitely want to learn more about the Google keyword tool!
Jasmine@Top Web Hosts´s last blog post ..Free Domain Name with FatCow Web Hosting

Riya October 7, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Totally agreed with you my friend.
Riya @ Couponseasy´s last blog post ..HostGator Coupon Code

Swayam October 7, 2011 at 9:48 am

Google External Keywords is truly unique set of free tools but we found its expanded versatility when we logged in. So please log in to your adwords account to use it optimally
Swayam@Foreclosure Information´s last blog post ..The 4 Stages of Finding Foreclosure Properties

Andrew October 7, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Yes; that’s a great point. When you search keywords, for example, the only way to see the CPC estimates now is to log in with your Adwords account. This is a fairly recent change.
Andrew´s last blog post ..What is Twitter Jail and How Can I Avoid Getting Locked Up?

Shower Valves October 7, 2011 at 9:49 am

Mindblowing one

As I persoanlly experience the first one lol…when I am new to this.

Thanks a lot for this as this is small but if neglected then it surely going to affect very badly.

Andrew October 7, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Thanks! You’ve said it well: these are definitely minor things but they can result in a completely failed site if you interpret them the wrong way.
Andrew´s last blog post ..What is Twitter Jail and How Can I Avoid Getting Locked Up?

Gold Investment October 7, 2011 at 10:24 am

Will remember it always and thanks for sharing I didn’t knew that I came to know by your article
Gold Investment´s last blog post ..1 Gold Investment Article Round Up

Nick Stamoulis October 7, 2011 at 2:43 pm

When selecting keywords, it’s important to choose keywords that are somewhere in the middle between broad and niche. If it’s too broad, there’s too much competition, and if it’s too niche it won’t result in many visitors. Find that sweet spot in the middle.
Nick Stamoulis´s last blog post ..Using Your Competition to Find Topic Ideas http://ow.ly/6QmeC #content #marketin…

Andrew October 7, 2011 at 4:40 pm

That’s definitely a great way to approach it in general.

Of course, you’ll want to do your research and crunch the actual traffic numbers. I know I’ve found some very specific keywords that get a higher search volume than I’d ever have expected, and some broader ones with less competition. (The other side of the coin applies as well…)
Andrew´s last blog post ..What is Twitter Jail and How Can I Avoid Getting Locked Up?

Seo Services October 7, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Nice information, people usually could not understand it.
Seo Services´s last blog post ..SEO Company

Arun San October 8, 2011 at 3:27 pm

When I started with google adwords keyword tool, I used to get too carried away with “Broad” Match results and huge numbers. I learned it the hard way. Thank you for pointing these mistake and also giving valuable tips, Andrew!
Arun San´s last blog post ..How to delete Facebook

Andrew October 10, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Thanks! I definitely did the same thing. But hey, what’s a few bad domain name purchases if it means learning such an important lesson, right?

Camera Recovery October 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm

A very informative and high-quality article, I came here from BizSugar and find your blog very impressive. As a webmonster, I think I have lost behind to some extent. But hope it won’t be too late to fresh myself with keywords picking ideas. Thanks, buddy.

Andrew October 10, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Glad you found it helpful
Andrew´s last blog post ..What is a WordPress Theme Framework?

Sherman Smith October 8, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Hey Andrew, this was educational for me. Although I’ve been using adwords keyword tool for a year I never notice the 3 options on the left hand side. Thanks for pointing that out!
Sherman Smith´s last blog post ..Article Marketing Robot: The Link To Backlinking

Andrew October 10, 2011 at 8:33 pm

You’re welcome! Hope it helps you find some great new keywords to target.
Andrew´s last blog post ..What is a WordPress Theme Framework?

Sonny October 8, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Whenever I use the tool for keyword and keyphrase ideas, I hesitate to select [Exact] Match. The reason is that I know how sloppy the average search engine user can be in his/her spelling, and also searchers commonly arrange words in their queries out of order.
Sonny@Teen Projects´s last blog post ..A Steampunk Weapon Costume Prop

Andrew October 10, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Yeah, that’s a good point to add. Especially with longer queries, the phrase option can be more helpful because there’s a much higher chance of the searcher rewording things.
Andrew´s last blog post ..What is a WordPress Theme Framework?

Joseph J Young October 8, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Hi Andrew,
Great rundown on the Google Keyword Search tool. This type of understanding can really save a lot of time and effort. In this case, it is important to understand the tool versus just using it. I have used it multiple times and still will but with a better idea of how to use it for keyword purposes,

thanks
Joe
Joseph J Young´s last blog post ..Liabilities Are Like Fat

Andrew October 10, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Thanks Joe, and best of luck with your keyword research!
Andrew´s last blog post ..What is a WordPress Theme Framework?

Robin October 9, 2011 at 9:48 am

Thanks Andrew for explaining the google keywords in detail. As far as I understand that you can not find the competition in this tool, which is one of the important factor.
Robin@Samsung Tablet´s last blog post ..Samsung Tablet PC – New Samsung Series 7 Slate PC Review and Price

Andrew October 10, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Right, that’s a very important part of the whole process, and this tool does not tell you. A lot of people use premium software such as Market Samurai to assess the competition, but you can also install free SEO add-ons for Firefox that will give you a good picture of the competition.
Andrew´s last blog post ..What is a WordPress Theme Framework?

Ricardus October 10, 2011 at 8:23 am

A lot of us make the mistake like what you described in point no.2 and it’s actually such a waste.
Ricardus @WordPress Hosting´s last blog post ..Oktoberfest with 50% off for Freedom Plan

Andrew October 10, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Yeah, I agree. It’s such an easy mistake to make, since we’re all using as a keyword research tool. But it was really designed for the advertisers.
Andrew´s last blog post ..What is a WordPress Theme Framework?

tan October 10, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Great post. Thanks to explain “Broad”, that was confuse me for quite some time.
tan@yahoo pipes´s last blog post ..Bonus: How I Learnt Yahoo Pipes And Turned It Into A Website

Andrew October 10, 2011 at 8:41 pm

No problem; glad it was helpful!
Andrew´s last blog post ..What is a WordPress Theme Framework?

tan October 11, 2011 at 1:01 am

Regarding point #3, can you write another post regarding how to analysis potential of keyword? Thanks.
tan@clogged milk duct´s last blog post ..Clogged Milk Duct Prevention

Jasmine October 11, 2011 at 4:15 am

I like your article and the simple explanations which is easy to understand. I for one, was confused on the match types. Now I have better understand, hopefully I will be able to make better keyword decisions.
Jasmine@Top Web Hosts´s last blog post ..Free Domain Name with FatCow Web Hosting

Andrew October 18, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Thanks Jasmine. Best of luck with choosing those keywords!
Andrew´s last blog post ..Why is the Kindle Fire So Cheap? Thoughts on Amazon’s Strategy

Usman October 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm

I have been using Google keyword tool for quite a long time, but could not understand it until I read this article. You have focused on very strong points. Good work.
Usman@Technology Blog´s last blog post ..10 Funniest Siri’s Answers & Responses

Andrew October 18, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Thank you Usman. The tool definitely can be confusing if you’re not sure what to look for.
Andrew´s last blog post ..Why is the Kindle Fire So Cheap? Thoughts on Amazon’s Strategy

Kavya Hari October 15, 2011 at 7:46 am

Google ad word key word tools will be most popular part in the wide. Most of the people are doing the same mistakes on here. Thanks a lot for given up here.
Kavya Hari´s last blog post ..Amazing News For Webmasters!

Mat October 15, 2011 at 9:26 am

You are right Kavya and I think many of the new bloggars might be making the same mistakes.
Mat@Carports Kits´s last blog post ..Metal Buildings from Metal Carports Kits offer Superior Life

Andrew October 18, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Yeah, the Google tool is very popular among newer bloggers because it’s free and convenient, but these mistakes are very easy to make.
Andrew´s last blog post ..Why is the Kindle Fire So Cheap? Thoughts on Amazon’s Strategy

Software Tools October 15, 2011 at 4:18 pm

This is definitely an awesome post. I found myself kind of “out” when see the 3rd mistake. yes, general people just pick those keywords or terms with high search volumes but ignore the high competition edge. Instead of involving in the crowd, it’s a good idea to find some places where most people don’t usually go there. You are making me awake to some extent. Thank you, Andrew :)

Andrew October 18, 2011 at 9:51 pm

You’re welcome!
Andrew´s last blog post ..Why is the Kindle Fire So Cheap? Thoughts on Amazon’s Strategy

Swayam October 15, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Cheers! :) We love sharing ideas lolz!
Swayam@TechUpdates´s last blog post ..SlimDrivers for Microsoft Windows

Andrew October 18, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Cheers to you too!
Andrew´s last blog post ..Why is the Kindle Fire So Cheap? Thoughts on Amazon’s Strategy

Lauryn Doll October 17, 2011 at 12:34 am

Great article!

I made several of these mistakes as well in the beginning, and I’m still not completely sure what the difference is for “phrase” when searched against “broad” or “exact.”

SEO is a great field to educate yourself in, but the learning never ends. I have Market Samurai but haven’t engaged with it much since the Panda update.
Lauryn Doll´s last blog post ..Facebook Marketing Strategies: Blog Roundup

Andrew October 18, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Thanks Lauryn. “Broad” basically includes additional keywords and similar phrases, variations. “Phrase” includes the exact phrase, but “Exact” includes ONLY that exact phrase. (no other keywords in addition)
Andrew´s last blog post ..Why is the Kindle Fire So Cheap? Thoughts on Amazon’s Strategy

Lauryn Doll October 19, 2011 at 12:51 am

Thank you!
Lauryn Doll´s last blog post ..Facebook Marketing Strategies: Blog Roundup

John Smith October 20, 2011 at 11:35 am

Resources of your information are very well. I am feeling very glad and satisfy after reading your post. You wrote in awesome style. Keep it up.
John Smith´s last blog post ..Price List Template

Lionel October 20, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Great tips for doing good keyword research. Many people overlook #3 and target keywords that “tire kickers” use, just because it gets a lot of searches. If you are going to target information keywords, then send the searcher to an information page where you can get their email address to send them newsletters and get them to buy later.

Sample Letters October 24, 2011 at 4:59 am

Hi Andrew
I like to most 3rd point in your post & agreed it’s good to target keywords that users will search when they are actually interested in buying.
Sample Letters´s last blog post ..Cancellation of Service by Letter

Sample Letters October 24, 2011 at 5:00 am

Really worth reading article & useful also,thanks for sharing.
Sample Letters´s last blog post ..Cancellation of Service by Letter

LisaAngelettie October 29, 2011 at 2:51 am

This is a really good article Andrew. I’m sure many folks are making these mistakes. I like to also advise people, especially blogging, B2B niches to pay attention to the Local vs. Global search numbers. Those two numbers differ greatly, and some people get all geeked on those global numbers, but the local really makes most the sense to pay attention to, especially if you’ve checked your stats and you see that most of your traffic comes from your own country.
LisaAngelettie@ContentMarketing´s last blog post ..What Is Content Marketing?

david December 6, 2011 at 7:22 am

So for the purposes of keyword research
- which is the best current software out there now ?

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