Google provide a great service for writers, photographers and artists who are interested in keywording web page articles and online photographs. It's called the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. It suggests keywords that can be used to tag your web pages and images, so that they will be more easily found by search engines (like Google itself). It let's you analyse the visitor traffic that each keyword combination gets.
This article takes a close look at the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. Click that link to open it in a separate window while you read on.
When you open the keyword tool, it looks like this:
Under the heading Find keywords, in the box called Word or phrase, type a simple keyword phrase that relates to your text or image. Try a simple phrase like "travel to Samoa".
Type in the characters that appear in the picture in the box (that's there to check you are human). Click the Search button.
The Google Keyword Tool will think for a while then it will show a list of keyword suggestions that relate to the phrase you entered:
Try some other keyword phrases. Experiment with the options to get a feel for the tool. When you get bored or confused, come back here and I will tell you some more about the Google Keyword Tool.
generating a good list of seed Keyword Phrases
Did you notice that you can enter several phrases at a time into the keyword tool, one phrase on each line? That's great, because it means we can work with several synonymous keyword phrases at once, a good seed list with which to feed the tool.
Here is the common way to get started with the process of finding suitable keywords for your web page or photo:
- Make sure that the Use synonyms option is ticked.
- Enter a basic keyword phrase (for example: "travel to samoa")
- Look at the results and pick out a few of the keyword phrases that are particularly relevant to your material, for example:
travel to samoa
specials to samoa
holiday in samoa
- Enter these keyword phrases back into the Google Keyword Tool, one per line, and click the Get keyword ideas button again. (If you are having trouble seeing the results, try refreshing the page: you may need to enter the captcha code again if it has silently expired.)
- Repeat this a few times, tweaking and refining your list of starting keywords until you feel that you've covered all the important bases for your content. For example, if we have a web page that promotes Samoan holiday packages, we might, after going round a few times, end up with this list of keyword phrases:
In this instance, I've dropped the common word "to" and I've concentrated on plural noun phrases. (Plural keywords match both plural and singular terms in searches, so I always like to use the plural form in my seed list.)
There are an infinite number of ways to iterate your keyword list. For example, you might decide to explore verb phrases:
travelling to samoa
taking a trip to samoa
holidaying in samoa
booking vacations in samoa
or you might choose to get a lot more specific:
honeymoon in samoa
samoan honeymoon packages
samoa for newlyweds
get married in samoa
and so on.
Ask yourself what it is you expect your customers to enter at a search engine to find your content. If you think they are most likely to search with the phrase "cheap holidays in samoa", then put it in your list. What you want to end up with is a set of 6-12 "seed" phrases that accurately describes the content of your material, and does so from various valid angles.
the "Use synonyms" and "filter my results" options
When I enter my seven seed keyword phrases back into the Google Keyword Tool, it suggests 102 related keyword combinations along with another 98 additional combinations that it thinks I should consider.
The results list includes synonyms of the words that appear in my seed list. That's because I ticked the Use synonyms box.
For example, through the results list I can see that the results list contains "samoa vacation" because of course "vacation" is a synonym of "holiday". The "Use synonyms" option is very useful during the initial iterations of our seed list, helping us find all those important variations of our starting keywords.
If you un-tick the Use synonyms box, every result the Google Keyword Tool gives you always contains all the words in one of the phases that you have entered, and no synonymous keyword phrases are shown.
The Google Keyword Tool also lets you exclude some words or phrases from the results. Suppose you are running exclusive holidays to Samoa and you don't want riff-raff turning up at your web site. Click the Filter my results link and the tool will give you a place where you can exclude results that include words and phrases like "cheap", "bargain", "inexpensive", "low cost" and so on. You can also set filters so that the tool doesn't return alternative results that it thinks you should consider, or so that it includes adult content. This last option is useful if you are running "samoa sex tours" or the like.
Choosing Languages and Countries
The Google Keyword Tool can suggest keywords based on what the whole world is searching for, or it can just suggest keywords based on searches been done in a particular country. Click the Edit link next to "Results are tailored to..." in the introductory text to see the languages and countries that you can select. (You can use the Ctrl key to select multiple options from lists.)
A lot of people stick with "English, All Countries and Territories" for this option, but that's not always the best thing to do. One of my clients, for example, is an Australian travel agency who sell holiday packages to South Pacific islands. If you start to build lists of travel-related keywords for "All Countries and Territories", you will sooner or later end up with a lot of keyword phrases that include the term "vacation". But if you tailor the results to "Australia" those "vacation" terms disappear. That's because Australians use the search term "holiday" much more frequently.
So an important question to ask is where you want your visitors to come from. There's not much point going to the trouble of building a vacation web site for Australians: you need to build them a holiday one!
Another use of this option is to select you local language, or if you are lucky to live in a polyglottal country, to select several languages. In my home country of Sweden, many web sites are in English and Swedish. If I am writing and article about scanning photos, I may well be interested in keywords from both languages "scanner, "skannar", "photo", "foto", etc. Again, it is worth thinking a little about who you are trying to attract: who the target audience for your material is. Sometimes you'll get better results in the long run, by targeting a smaller, but better-defined audience.