Google keywords tools updated 8 July 2008. Yippeee. We now have approximate traffic numbers on the Google Keywords Tools that we use for our Search Phrase Selection. Official notification was per the Google blog Keyword tool updated with search volume data.

We now know whether it is worthwhile optimising any website for certain phrases - is the traffic sufficient to warrant the expense? Should we be going for other search phrases that are more competitive but give better potential traffic? Yes, the tool is primarily for Google Adwords, but it is my primary tool for organic search phrase selection.

What is Search Phrase Selection

The first step in optimising a website is to find out what people are searching for relating to your website. What search phrases should you be found for? What phrases would people be satisfied at finding your website top of Google for? Brainstorming, thinking outside the square. World domination of all the different search phrases relating to your business products and services, categories of products and services, and questions relating to your products and services.

You need to make sure that you have those words actually on your pages. But you can only fit and rank for so many search phrases per page, so you need to make sure you have different pages for different search phrases. Each of your pages needs to be a solution. Once people have read your page, they should be satisfied with your solution.

Overture Tool

The Overture tool used to be my preferred method of search phrase selection because it provided traffic volumes attached to various search phrases. The Overture tool was based on Yahoo search volumes, and we know that Yahoo has rather low traffic in the USA, and less than 5% of the traffic here in New Zealand. So although it was a good tool… not so relevant.

Then the Overture Tool met with its demise. It was too popular, too many sites were scraping its results, and Overture was an old brand. Yahoo was not interested in maintaining the tool and the site experienced many timeouts until in the last few months it was finally officially taken offline.

The Old Google Tool

Google had in the past provided bands of traffic rankings, so you could see that a certain search phrase was 0.6 as compared to 0.3 etc for other phrases. But this was a very bland, broad brush approach. However, the traffic through Google is high, and the tool provided many related search phrases, so the old Google Tool has been my preferred method.

The New Google Search Phrase Selection Tool

We now have in my opinion, a very usable tool. You can either add in seed phrases for Google to come up with related suggestions, or add in a website page - yours or a competitors page that has been properly optimised for your phrases.

Google comes up with a wide range of suggestions that can be downloaded via to a spreadsheet for further analysis.

Comparison to your own Google Analytics Stats

Now Google has shown the search volumes for phrases, we can compare this to the volumes we get on our own websites for the phrases. What percentage of the total market are we getting? If we increase from 10th to 1st in the Search Engine Results Positions (SERP’s), we will now know how much more traffic can we expect to get.

Tricks to watch for

Lies, damned lies and statistics!!!!

As with any numbers, you have to be very careful with the interpretation.

Make sure that you use the Match type “exact”. I then sort the results by either Average search volume, or search volume for that month.

I put in my favourite search phrases as seed phrases: auckland restaurants restaurants auckland restaurants in auckland

When restricting to New Zealand only, the tool said that no-one was searching for “Auckland Restaurants”, and that 590 people were searching for “restaurants auckland”.

However, per my Google analytics, I know that more people are searching for “Auckland Restaurants” as a phrase.

When I changed the Google Keyword search to worldwide, I found that in June, 1600 people were searching for “Auckland Restaurants”, and only 590 for “restaurants auckland”.

Note that the 590 reported for New Zealand searches only, was the same as reported for worldwide, so definitely some approximation going on.

Lesson - trust the worldwide search data more than the individual country data. Test the data with your general knowledge to make sure that it makes sense. And use the country specific data to get a better idea of differences in language usage of words and phrases.

The updated Google Search phrase suggestion tool is certainly a fantastic improvement.

Enhancements I would like to see

I would love to see the stats integrated into Google analytics - so you could see your search volume as a percentage of the total number of searches. And then be able to see that total search volume graphed per month and compared to your own search stats.

Happy search phrase hunting!!!