TLWR: Take advantage of the widely available free platforms - Google Ads and Google Trends.
In the early days of the internet, keywords were king when it came to ranking highly in search engines like Google. Although things have become much more complicated since then, finding and using keywords is still one of the most important things for you to master. But how can a complete beginner do that without buying overpriced professional software?? In this blog, we'll quickly break down how, with just a laptop, you can quickly set yourself up to be able to do your own keyword research – anytime it’s needed, and with only two websites involved: Google Ads and Google Trends.
Finding the Best Keywords Using Google Ads
The first thing you need is a Google Ads account. Although this is usually meant for people who are planning a pay-per-click Google Ads campaign, that's not how we'll be using it. Whether intentional or not, in the process of creating this software Google built a great keyword research method that allows us to find the best ones for a given topic – even if we never intend on running an ad campaign with Google. This is extremely helpful for anyone working on a website, searching for the best keywords to bring up their search engine optimization (SEO) results.
Step 1. Log in to your Google Ads Account. If you do not already have an Ads account, simply visit ads.google.com and create one. Webucator has a great walkthrough if you need help with how to create a Google Ads Account.
Step 2. In the top right-hand corner of your screen, click on "Tools & Settings", and then select "Keyword Planner" to go to the next page.
Step 3. On this page, simply click the box that says "Discover New Keywords".
Step 4. There are two fields on this page for you to fill out. The first is where you enter products or services related to your business. For example, if you are a vehicle service centre, you might type, "Car Service". The field located below that is asking for your domain, which it will use to further filter through suggestions to give you the best ones. Simply enter the domain of your website here (e.g., https://www.carserviceexample.com) and then click "Get Results" to go to the final page.
Step 5. This is the final page we will be using within Ads. You will see a large list of keyword ideas that have been generated based upon the information you gave the software during Step 4. This is where only you will know best which keyword ideas suit your business. Take a few minutes and jot down the best ones, with the best average monthly searches to competition ratio (high search volume and low competition is best). After you have created your list, it’s time to move on to the second piece of software.
How to Find the Best Keywords With Google Trends
Now that you have your list of preferred keyword ideas, how can you determine which are the absolute best for you, in your particular location in the world? Some people say that the Ads page from Step 5 already has everything you need to determine which keyword ideas are the best, but rumour has it that this information can be skewed, due to Ads being made for paid ads. Let's see what Yoast has to say on this topic:
Use the Google Ads Keyword Planner to find new and related keywords, but ignore the search volume data! The search volume data in the planner is really only useful for keywords that you’re actually spending money on to advertise. Otherwise, these volumes are not reliable. While not really helpful to decide which keyword is most used by your potential audience, Google Ads Keyword Planner is a useful tool to help find ideas for potential keywords!
Whether or not that's true, it is generally believed that more accurate comparisons can be made for your website SEO purposes in the Google Trends software, available at trends.google.com.
Step 1. Visit trends.google.com, and in the search bar on the first page, enter one of your keyword ideas. Hit enter to go to the next page.
Step 2. On this next page, you can add multiple keyword ideas to see which are searched most often. Be sure to adjust which country (or even province/city) you are pulling data from, and specify the timeframe that's most important to you (e.g., the last 12 months). When using this tool to compare keyword ideas, it’s important to compare different phrases for the same thing, thus finding out which is best (e.g., "auto repair" versus "mechanic near me"). There isn't much sense in comparing items such as "auto repair" and "coolant flush" together, because you should be building website content on both of those different auto-related topics. The Google Trends tool is best used to find out which similar terms are going to get you the best return regarding keywords on your website; for example, if you are doing marketing online, then you may want to compare "online marketing" and "digital marketing" to see which term would be more beneficial for you.
Step 3. Scroll through the data and determine which keywords are the best for your website, based on the highest search volume (and other important factors as you see fit) in your desired geographic area.
In the below images, you can see the discrepancy between the search volumes reported by Google AdWords (first image) and Google Trends (second image) for the search terms "car service" and "mechanic near me" for the same geographic location and timeframe. AdWords says "car service" is less popular then "mechanic near me" while Trends says it is more popular. It is best to make your SEO-related keyword decisions based off of the results found on Google Trends.
What To Do With Your Top Keywords
Finding the best keywords is just the beginning. What to do with these top keywords is a complicated topic that requires a deep dive, so we’ll come back to it in the future. This blog is simply meant to empower business owners who feel clueless when it comes to internet marketing, and enable them to do some initial research for their business. If we were to give one small piece of advice to those people eager to do something now, it would be to look into keyword density and ensure your individual products and services pages are at the proper percentage preferred by search engines, for the current year. Keyword density preferences shift over time, as do many other things online – so unless you want to keep up with every internet change and constantly adjust all your content, it is best to take your keyword research to a professional in digital marketing and create a custom SEO strategy with them to help achieve your business goals. In addition to utilizing Google AdWords and Google Trends for keyword research, it's worth exploring other free keyword research tools and techniques to enhance your SEO efforts. Platforms like Ubersuggest, Answer the Public, and Keywordtool.io can provide valuable insights into search trends, related keywords, and long-tail variations. Moreover, consider leveraging the power of user-generated content, such as mining customer reviews, social media discussions, and online forums, to identify emerging keywords and gain a deeper understanding of your target audience's language. By expanding your arsenal of keyword research tools and embracing user insights, you can uncover hidden opportunities and stay ahead in the ever-evolving landscape of search engine optimization.
Here is the clip I put out on social media that got me enough direct messages that I decided to write out this full blog for anyone who wanted more details!