Google Keyword Tool – is it useful?

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Google Keyword Tool – is it useful?

How do you decide which keyword phrases to use when you want to optimise a certain page of your website to appear high in Google?   Many people use the Google Keyword Tool (https://adwords.google.co.uk/select/KeywordToolExternal) but there are varying opinions online about whether that tool is actually useful.

For example, if you use the phrase ‘canterbury plumbers’ the tool implies that there are 390 ‘local’ monthly searches (meaning, 390 people within the UK use a search phrase that includes the words ‘canterbury’ and  ‘plumbers’ each month) …


If you get more specific and ask Google to show how many people type just the words ‘canterbury plumbers’ alone then it thinks there are 12 per month (see the phrase in square brackets below) and it thinks that there are only 16 searches on the phrase ‘canterbury plumbers’, which may have words to the left or right of the phrase (e.g. ‘cheap Canterbury plumbers’) – that’s the phrase with quotation marks around it in the view below …


Surely there’s more than 12 people per month typing the phrase ‘canterbury plumbers’ on it’s own!

So I ran the test on ‘custwin’ as a phrase, which brought up the following:


This implies that three times as many people search for ‘custwin’ than they do for ‘canterbury plumbers’.  I find that quite hard to believe.

Let’s say though, that for the sake of argument, there really were 390 people searching for phrases incorporating the words ‘canterbury’ and ‘plumbers’ each month.    If you’re a Canterbury plumber and are visible somewhere in the first page of Google then there are reasonable chances of getting clicks to your website – but you’ll never get all 390 people clicking.   If you’re highly visible on the search results page then you’ll get a reasonable percentage of those 390, but the lower you are, the more the drop-off in potential clicks to be gained.

Let’s pick a nice-to-have result of 10% of all searches becoming clicks through to the website of the Canterbury plumber.  So, about 39 per month (going by Google’s figures of 390 per month total searches).  The big question is:

How well does their website convert visitors into enquiries?

If the website of the plumber isn’t strong enough then the percentage of clicks to enquiries will be low.   This is made worse when the plumber is paying for clicks (via Google Adwords) because they may be getting a reasonable share of those 390 searches per month but they’re paying for traffic that could be unimpressed with their website.

So what’s the answer for any business that wants to be visible under certain keyword phrases (when people type them into Google)?  I’d suggest the following:

  1. Use the Google Keyword Tool as just an indicator of possible levels of searches per month.  Type in the phrase that you want to be visible under and see how many people are supposed to be searching for that phrase each month.
  2. Take that ‘Local Monthly Searches’ figure with a pinch of salt and remember that you will never get all those people clicking through to your website and of those who do click (probably around 10% if you’re lucky), only a certain number will become enquiries, which may then lead onto sales.
  3. Look at your website and in particular look at the page that you’d want people to land on, after typing your chosen keyword phrase into Google.
  4. Ask yourself the question “is this website page/website overall good enough to make people want to make contact?”
  5. IF you’re totally convinced that it is good enough then set up a small Google Adwords campaign, containing only the keyword phrase that you’re interested in, and link it to the most relevant page of your website.   Offer a high enough cost per click allowance so that Google makes you as visible as possible.
  6. Run the Google Adwords campaign for enough time to give you a reasonable sample of clicks to analyse (typically, 50-100).
  7. Compare your number of clicks to the number of perceived enquiries (and resulting business) that you gained from those clicks.
  8. If the percentage of clicks to enquiries is too low then you’ve proven something: your website wasn’t actually strong enough in the first place and it was probably good that you didn’t invest substantial time/money in raising your organic Google positioning for that search phrase.

In summary, the Google Keyword Tool  can be useful in that it gives you a very rough idea of how many people are searching on particular phrases each month.   It’s not accurate but it lets you see what types of phrases that your competitors may be visible under and if you’re not visible then they could be taking business away from you.   However, just because your competitors have invested time and money in becoming highly visible for your keyword phrase(s), doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re getting a good return on investment.  That good return can only come from a website that’s strong enough to convert good levels of clicks into enquiries.

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