How to Find Keywords For Your Site With Google’s Keyword Tool

October 1, 2012 by  Filed under: SEO 

Google has many cool little tools and applications that are open-source, free to use. One of these tools is the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Which this tool was created to be used for people that are creating advertising campaigns with paid ads, it can be really useful for keyword research.

If you have a website and want to begin optimizing it for search engines, one of the first places you’ll start is by figuring out what keywords you want to optimize for. You want to select keywords and keyword phrases (also called “long tail keywords”) that people are searching for… but you want to select ones that do not have mega competition. If you have a more generic word like “weight loss”, for instance, you’re going to be competing with hundreds of thousands of well-established sites for that word. You’d be competing with Wikipedia, the Mayo Clinic,, CNN,… just to name a few of the 556,000,000 results for that word. That word is too broad to target an audience to be found in those search results (unless you’re well-connected as a celebrity or funneling a lot of money into a paid advertising campaign on Google and other websites).

However, there are likely variations and phrases of the broad keyword terms that you can have a possibility of ranking for with some search engine optimization activities. So how do you find those variations and phrases?

The Google Keyword tool is a free, easy way to get started finding them. When you go to the Google Keyword tool (type it into Google search and you’ll find it as the top result), you log in with your Google account and then you can type in a word or phrase and see what the results and competition are like for that word. (Underneath the search field is a checkbox that says, “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms.” Check this box. Otherwise, you’ll get a very long list of keywords that may not actually apply at all to your website or business.)

Google will automatically set your location and language to what is most relevant for where you are. You can change this if you need. The next step is to click “search”.

The results can be confusing. It can look like there are hundreds of thousands of searches for your keyword. That isn’t true; many people regret making decisions around pursuing those keywords if they don’t understand. Over on the left of the screen, there’s a column that says “Match Types”. Check the box associated with [Exact]. This will change the keyword results to reflect a more realistic search volume.

Why wouldn’t the tool show you this from the beginning?

The default is set to Broad, referring to the number of searches that involve that phrase. For example, it might be giving you the search volume numbers of the keyword “weight loss” as well as other keywords that mention that phrase, like “weight loss diet” and “weight and fat loss tips”.

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 but the phrase is not broken up, like “weight loss tips” and “exercise and weight loss”. If you want the number of people that search for a specific keyword, stick with the [Exact] results.

From these results, you will see the Global Monthly Searches and Local Monthly Searches. The numbers of Global are the worldwide search results averaged over the past 12 months; the local are the numbers averaging in the area you specified in the beginning (like the United States).

After you have an idea of keywords and number of searches, you can then go on to analyze your competition for those keyword phrases, research your searcher’s intent when they type in the search phrase and decide where to spend your time and budget.

Chelsea O’Brien is the president of Tech Diva Media, a web design and online marketing company. She and her team have been designing and building sites for internet marketing for over 9 years. Chelsea also works as a marketing consultant for Hot Topic Media LLC. Her specialty is designing and creating content to optimize websites for driving traffic and conversions. For more about building websites, using software for websites or marketing online, visit

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