Keyword Research Meets Google Instant

by Chris Horton

We looked at keyword intent to uncover how Google looks at your site, but with the full blown release of Google Instant which we see to be a positive thing for long tail SEO, it also gives us some more insight into just what Google is thinking even as you type.  That revelation alone can uncover even more missed opportunities for your website.

If you’ve used Google, you’ve already seen Google Instant at work. You start typing and Google is already displaying results based on what you’ve typed so far even if you pause for a split second (hence the “Instant” moniker). Not only is it presenting you with options that are the most popularly searched for the moment based on other searches, but it’s also changing the results page for each variation that you complete. In this example below, we started typing the word “printer” and it gave us keyword options that are the most popular at the moment, all the while showing us SERP results for “printer“, just in case we’re already done typing.

Google Instant

There is a lot of significance here for you as a website owner and one that’s not lost on any serious SEO professional worth their salt.  The first being that Google is offering up the most popular keywords based on the root keyword of “printer”.  Not since the now defunct Google Wonder Wheel has Google laid it out so nicely for you. If your website carries a wide variety of printers, maybe you would consider creating a page dedicated to reviewing those printers since it’s a heavily searched keyword. While you would never expect to rank for “printer reviews” because of the competitive landscape like CNET, Amazon and the like), it may help to round out your site’s relevance to Google and also make your site more useful and comprehensive to your visitors in search of printer information.

However, if you’re a business card printer, you’re already going down the wrong path since these variations don’t lend any relevance to what you do.  Just think about the variations of the “printer” keyword;

printer – could mean an inkjet printer, magazine printer, or business card printer.
printers – same as above, but now plural.
printer reviews – a review of inkjet printers? Or maybe customer reviews of local business card printers?

If you’re a business card printer, you should focus on that branch of keywords such as “card printer”, “business card printer” and don’t forget that adjectives are your friends. Words such as “free“, “best“, and “cheap” often rule the roost in search volume.  The same goes for localities such as “Dallas business card printer”. While “business cards” may sit on top of the most searched keyword related to your industry, you can almost guarantee that the person’s search didn’t end there simply because the results presented to them were probably way too broad to make any good decisions.  And once that happens, the searcher then begins to add those adjectives and begins refining the search term to narrow in on what they’re looking for.

This is exactly why Google implemented Google Instant. To not only guide a potential customer down the right path to find the most relevant information, but to also show you how to properly focus your site content to be useful to that person. We’ll talk more about that next.


What Keywords To Chase – Google’s Keyword Tool

by Chris Horton

One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is to assume that they know what keywords people are searching for to find them.  9 times out of 10, when an SEO client provides a list of keywords that they wish to rank for, they’ve missed a huge chunk of their biggest draws.  For a dealership to chase the term “cars” or “automotive” is suicide.  And when you ask why they’re striving to chase that word, they say, “Google says that 5 million people search for the word cars every month and I want that market.”

To start, that’s not what Google is saying .  People often get confused when they see the Google Adwords tool tell them that “cars” is the highest search term.  That number also includes a lot of words that include the word cars (i.e. – classic cars, used cars, new cars. etc.), so don’t let that skewed number entice you to throw money somewhere that you shouldn’t.  Your best bet is to look for more specific 3 word terms such as Atlanta Chevy dealer, Chevy dealership in Atlanta, etc. that a searcher will actually use to find your business.

If you’re not locked into a location and have a site such as a movie review site or something similar, use Google’s Keyword Tool to look for 3 word terms that contain the word movie, movies, theater, etc.   Make sure that you choose the “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms” checkbox and sort the results by Global Monthly Searches. You’ll find tons of ideas that thousands of people search for every month and where competition is little to none.

Keyword research - Google Keyword Tool

Make a list of your top 20 keywords and then make sure that you have good landing pages on your website that actually use those terms in the text, title tags, etc.  Once you have those terms, use a program like IBP to find out what you can do next with your site to start ranking for that keyword or hire an SEO expert (with a proven track record) to tell you what you need to do next.  They can even help you with the keyword search process if even that frustrates you. The trick is to not chase only the terms on the top of the list (when sorted by Global Searches), but to also make sure that you actually have a page on your site that clearly and definitively talks about the search term.

That’s the biggest mistake most people make. They say something along the lines of, “I want to rank for cookies.”, but they only have one page on their site that has one recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies.   You might be able to rank for “peanut butter cookies”, but not the broad term of cookies unless you had some more pages with a proper silo to support that term.  Understanding customer intent is very important and Google has made a business out of it.  Someone searching for photography is not looking for the same thing as someone searching for photographer.  One is most likely looking for photography tips on how to take photos and the other is looking for the person to take the photos.  That’s a big difference.  And it’s also the main reason why people get frustrated choosing the right keywords and get annoyed when they don’t appear on the rankings for those terms.  Get real about what you’re chasing.

So spend some time going over your main site pages and see exactly what you should rank for and more importantly make sure that your site has a good content silo to support it.