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Keyword Research

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Google Keyword Planner

We’re going to move on to keyword research and we’re going to look at some tools that you can use. So, logically, we’ll start with the tool that Google provides, and that’s the Google Keyword Planner.

To use the Google Keyword Planner, you need a Google Ads account. We do use this tool a lot for SEO as well, primarily as a keyword research tool. We can see that you can enter in a key phrase or a topic, or enter in a landing page.

So, when you enter in a landing page, it could be your own landing page, it could be a competitor’s landing page, and you’ll get ideas of keywords around that landing page. And you can target globally, so you can get keyword search volumes for the entire world or you can get them at a country-level, or you can even get them at a city level.

And for SEO, we tend to focus more at country-level. So, at this stage, we are looking at United States. And there are some keyword options as well that you can experiment and check out. So, in terms of using it for keyword research where you don’t have an active Google Ads account. Unfortunately, in 2016, what Google did is they took away the free information for this exact search volume.

Keyword planner

This is a screenshot where we are using an active Google Ads account and we can see, of course, the search volumes of that.

We can see for digital marketing, there’s 22,200 searches per month in the United States. The other thing that you might want to check out is when you do look at a key phrase, you can click on the graph item, and what that does is it will give you an idea of the seasonality of a key phrase.

Alternative tools

There are alternative ways of getting search volumes without using an active Google Ads account

These four tools offer just that:

  • KWFinder
  • io
  • SEOmonitor
  • SEMrush

Unfortunately, these are premium tools, so you do have to pay a fee in order to get search volumes from them. All these tools offer additional services, but the most economical one just for getting search volumes is KWFinder.


The results that it brings back when you type in a search phrase are the same as what you would get from Google Keyword Planner, and we can see that the search volume is there as well. The other thing that this tool does is it gives you an idea of how difficult that keyword is to rank for. And this is very useful as we’re going to explore in the strategic section.

Matching searcher’s intent to the right landing page

Consider what the underlying intent is for a key phrase. So, for beds, it’s quite general. It’s quite generic. Someone might want an airbed, but the chances are they’re probably wanting to have a more conventional bed. Equally, if someone has typed in airbed, we know they want airbeds. But if someone has typed in Intex double-high twin airbed, they’ve pretty much decided what they want and the chances are that’s going to convert very highly, even if the search volume is going to be less than compared to a more generic phrase.

Brainstorming keywords

Let’s look at this in terms of category pages.

We’ve got airbeds. A subcategory of airbeds is double airbed. A subcategory of that is double airbed with pump. And then at a product level, we’ve got Intex double-high twin airbed with pump.

So, we can see that the specificity is getting more specific as we go lower. The search volume is probably getting lower, but it’s going to convert that much better. And our goal as SEOs is when we are targeting a phrase, we need to do it at the right level. So, it wouldn’t make sense for me to target double airbed with a pump on the airbeds page, because the person that’s looking for double airbed with a pump, they really just want to see airbeds with pumps.


We’re now going to do a little exercise. So, let’s imagine that you’re doing keyword research for a twin air mattress, so for a specific landing page. And I’m just going to suggest that what you do is to try and find 6 to 12 keywords that you think are a good fit for that page.

We can see that double airbeds has got a search volume of 110 searches. Now, from a British person’s perspective, that’s unusual, because we tend to say double airbeds rather than twin air mattress. But from a United States perspective, you know, it’s more twin air mattresses is what people say. So, do notice these nuances when it comes to international SEO keyword research.

So, in this case, double airbeds probably isn’t the best keyword for this phrase, but we can see there’s a lot of search volume for twin air mattress. Marker two is pointing to twin bed, which is probably a little bit too generic. In fact, it’s not really very relevant for an airbed page. So, we would just dismiss that keyword. For marker three, we’re looking at twin air mattress with pump and double-high air mattress.

Now, I suspect these would be better fit for another landing page, so we’ll move those away from our research for this specific page.

Look at the search engine results page. Now, I’ve typed in twin air mattress and what I can see is, for the listings one, four, and five, these were category pages. These are the types of pages that I would expect would offer the best user experience for that phrase. But results two and three are product pages. So, you know, still good pages for that phrase, but maybe not the best user experience compared to category pages. So, I guess the question is, “Why has Google done that?” Well, one reason might be that it wants diversity in its search results. And another reason is because Amazon and Walmart have got such big domain authorities, it means that can compensate for maybe not having the best user experience page that could exist.

The other thing that I want you to take a note of when we look at this slide is all the top players are actively targeting the most obvious key phrases. So, generally, around twin air mattress, but when we have a look at twin blow-up mattress, no one on that first page of Google was mentioning that phrase in the title tag. So, that kind of gives me a little bit of an indication that if I was a smaller player, then maybe I would go more for that phrase, because it’s probably going to be a little bit less competitive.

Prioritizing keywords

We’ve done is we’ve brainstormed between 6 and 12 keywords for a page, but what we then want to do is you want to prioritize those keywords. So we want to know what is the most important key phrase, what’s the next most important and so on.

And the reason that we do this is when we optimize a page, like a title tag element, for example, it’s very difficult to optimize for 6 or 10 or 12 keywords, because there’s a limited amount of space. But we can certainly optimize for maybe 3 or 4 keywords. So the goal at this step is to actually prioritize those brainstormed keywords. And what I’m imagining now is that we’re quite a big brand. So we’re a brand which sells air mattresses that has a good domain reputation and because of that, what we’re going for, really, are keywords that are relevant and keywords that have a good search volume as well.

P1: So, in this case, we can see that marker one points to P1, that’s a top priority and it’s for twin mattress, great search volume that’s going to be our main focus keyword that we’re going to be targeting.

P2: At the next level are what we’re going to call our secondary keyword or our P2 priority keywords. And again it’s largely in this case volume driven.

P3: And then we can see for the remaining three we’ve called those P3 keywords. And you might find you have two or maybe six at that P3 level. In this example, we’ve just got six in total for our P1s, P2, and P3s. So that’s maybe how we would do it if we were a big brand.

Now if we were actually a smaller brand and we thought realistically because we haven’t got so much domain reputation, we’re going to find twin air mattress a bit difficult to rank for, so we might take a slightly different approach. And earlier when we looked at twin-sized blow-up mattress, we could see that it was actually being targeted a lot less than the P1 keyword on the previous slide. So, in this case, we haven’t gone specifically for the higher search volume phrases. We’ve gone more for what we think is within our reach for a smaller brand.

And that might be something that you want to consider depending on your website. Because essentially for SEO, we should be thinking about the short to medium term we need to make progress in three months, six months. We don’t want to wait a year or two years to make any progress. So that’s why this approach might work quite well in certain circumstances.

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Joe Williams

Managing Director and SEO Trainer at Zen Optimise

  • Founder and SEO Trainer at Zen Optimise with 10 years’ experience in Search Engine Optimization
  • Zen Optimise is a London-based digital marketing training company
  • SEO consultant and trainer for hundreds of small, medium, and blue chip companies including Qantas Airlines, Sky, Eurostar, EasyCruise, and Anti-Slavery

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