Rather than forcing content onto unwilling viewers, à la traditional marketing, online marketing should have its audience’s needs front and center. The Internet allows viewers their own autonomy, their own choices—should I read this editorial? Skim over this forum topic? Watch another hour of cat Vines? Ultimately the viewer is in control of their online experience, and they have equal say over what content they view when it comes to buying products. Your audience demands content that satisfies a need. So, like any balanced, two-sided relationship, you must know what your client wants and allow those wants to guide your audience to your content.
So, how can you make your content easier for your audience to find? The answer? Search engine optimization, or maximizing the number of visitors to your website by snaring a top spot in a search engine’s results. Search engines allow companies to find willing audiences to view their content. Knowing what your audiences are typing into those search engines allows you to match your content’s keywords to their search results. And luckily, the Internet has options for analyzing the search data that will allow you to use keywords pointedly and effectively.
Back in 2013, Google killed off their popular online data tools Google Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator and introduced a hybrid that would allow users both to discover highly searched keywords and to measure the traffic of certain landing sites and search words. Google Keyword Planner is that hybrid tool. The service is free, and only requires the creation of a Google AdWords.
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Here are three ways that Google Keyword Planner can help you optimize your online business.
The Search for the Holy Keyword Grail: Find Keywords That Will Draw a Bigger Audience
For each keyword search that you submit, Google Keyword Planner gives approximately one hundred related keywords. Often, one or more of these keywords will actually be more popularly searched than the keyword you put in, or give you new ideas for new, highly-searched topics. You can even identify keywords that rake in high local-traffic if you’re working with a specific country, region, or city, since Keyword Planner lets you filter results geographically. Based on Keyword Planner’s suggestions, you can replace your current keyword with one that will draw a larger or more targeted audience to your content.
This can also be incredibly helpful in identifying how your audience is describing words related to your product or service, and in identifying any differences that might exist between your company’s vocabulary and your audience’s. Hint: you want your keywords to match your audience’s vocabulary, making it easier for them to find your content.
With all of your new keyword ideas, Keyword Planner also lets you gather your chosen keywords onto a Keyword List to save, which then allows you to combine keywords from that list to generate even more keywords.
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To Trend or Not to Trend? (To Trend!)
Google Keyword Planner not only breaks down a keyword’s popularity by search volume statistics, but the tool also separates this data into monthly searches over the last twelve months. Keyword Planner’s monthly-searches graph shows you how a keyword is trending. Usually, you want to use keywords that have graphs that are high and moving upward, meaning that the word is trending positively—remaining popular and potentially gaining momentum. Using keywords that are experiencing search growth ensures that your content is riding the wave of the word’s popularity, and that it won’t crash under an outdated search-term in under a month.
Keyword Planner’s graphs can also show if a keyword is attached to a seasonal peak. Straightforward example, “Halloween costume” won’t trend as highly in March as it would in October. An online business selling specialty, hand-made costumes might want its advertisements and content to feature more seasonally neutral words outside-October instead of applying the same terms year-round. While not all terms are as easy to pin down to a seasonal timeframe, Keyword Planner’s here to help identify the trickier trends.
Photo Source: http://www.smartinsights.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/keyword-planner-monthly-segments.png
Social Listening—Are you there, Google? It’s Me, Margaret
Google Keyword Planner, in pointing out which keywords are currently the most popular, can also help your company’s social strategy by indicating what ideas related to your company are getting the most web chatter.
Through this, you can use Keyword Planner to brush up on the keywords that your competitors are using by searching their website (it’s not spying, it’s strategy), see which competitors are nailing those top-result spots (then Internet Age Game-of-Thrones-style dethrone them with your impeccable keyword use), and find which keywords to enter into your social listening tools. That final point is especially helpful in directing you toward conversations about your audience’s needs and thoughts concerning your business. Knowing what people are typing into Google will show you what to type into Google yourself when you’re conducting research.
Photo Source: http://shaebaxter.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/landing-page-URL-Google-Keyword-Planner.png
Google Keyword Planner, of course, has a few drawbacks. But being aware of the tool’s limitations will allow you to adjust its usage to combat these disadvantages.
- (A fairly obvious) Limitation: Keyword Planner only uses data from Google search engine, or from engines under the Google network like AOL. Therefore the given keyword’s popularity might not correlate on different search platforms. In the US, for example, Bing also processes a significant portion of Internet searches, and other countries outside the US may rely on different search engines.
- Solution: Pair your use of Keyword Planner with another analytical tool that allows you to observe search volume in other engines if your company has a large audience that doesn’t typically use Google.
- Limitation: This really only applies to users who are also actively using Google AdWords. Based off the paid search campaign created through AdWords, your campaign can potentially affect the keyword results Keyword Planner generates for you.
- Solution: Enter more keywords to have a more specified set of results, or use Keyword Planner’s Negative Keywords option and other filters to bar any keywords you think are appearing because of your campaign settings that don’t feel useful to this specific content.
- Limitation: Keyword Planner sometimes suffers from the same problem as Microsoft Word’s thesaurus—just because Keyword suggests a related word doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right fit for your business, or even that the word’s meaning is interchangeable with the term you put into the Planner.
- Solution: Grab a dictionary—online, that is—and compare carefully. Make sure that any keywords you’re switching to actually relate to and fit with your content.
Don’t let the tool overwhelm you; there are some really great Keyword Planner tutorials online to help you navigate the site. So get out there, get Keyword-ing, and remember: you catch more flies with SEO optimization than by trying to force traditional ads onto the web. Let your audience come to you.