SEM Keyword Research With Google’s Wonder Wheel & Suggested Searches


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harryhuxford | Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Filed under: PPC Tips & Advice, SEO Tips & Advice

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Keyword research is a vital aspect of any SEM strategy that desires to see growth in leads or conversions. While there are plenty of third party keyword research programs out there, you may want to try out something light and free when you first start cutting your teeth on keyword discovery. I’ve found Google’s Wonder Wheel and Suggested Searches to be an intuitive and free approach to keyword research.

The Wonder Wheel

The trick to using the Wonder Wheel is to approach it with a hierarchical perspective. PPC accounts are organized hierarchically from parent to child and we see this in the “Campaign -> Ad Group -> Keyword” structure. The first step is to search on a broad, short head keyword that would be an appropriate Campaign theme like “Web Conferencing”. The “spokes” of the Wonder Wheel are potential ideas for Ad Groups. Clicking on the Ad Group ideas we then see long tail Keyword ideas. Check out this pic:

How to use Google's Wonder Wheel for keyword research.

How to use Google's Wonder Wheel for keyword research.

Notice how when we go from Campaign to Ad Group to Keyword the queries get longer: “web conferencing” -> “web conferencing software” -> “web conferencing software reviews” which represents the cascade from short head keywords to long tail keywords.

Plug in some campaign themes for your product or niche and give the Wonder Wheel a whirl. You might find some diamonds in the rough.

Suggested Searches

The process outlined for the Wonder Wheel can also be done linearly with Google’s Suggested Searches. First start with a campaign or ad group theme and follow the suggestions to get to long tail keywords. Check out this pic:

Using Google's Suggested Searches for keyword research.

Using Google's Suggested Searches for keyword research.

Suggested Search With Auto Complete

Another nifty way to get keyword ideas that is actually quite obvious is to manipulate Google’s auto complete on search queries. All you have to do is input a campaign or ad group theme and a letter of the alphabet. Input all the letters of the alphabet and record the gems you find. Check out this pic:

Google's Suggested Searches with auto complete shows you some keywords you've never seen before.

Google's Suggested Searches with auto complete shows you some keywords you've never seen before.

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Benefits

The upside of using Google’s Wonder Wheel and Suggested Searches for keyword research is that you’re virtually guaranteed that the new keywords you discover won’t get slapped with the “Low Search Volume” ineligibility to show ads. Only queries that receive a sufficient number of searches get indexed by Google’s Wonder Wheel and Suggested Search functions.

Another benefit is the opportunity to glean negative keywords from this process. If you find Wonder Wheel queries or Suggested Searches that don’t work well for your product or niche, record them and add them as negative keywords to your campaigns. The irrelevant searches might be semantically close enough to trigger your broad matched keywords and the fact that they are suggested searches means there’s a considerable amount of people searching on the irrelevant query. These are two good reasons to add irrelevant search suggestions as negative keywords to your campaigns.

The main benefit is that Google’s tools are FREE and intuitive!

Even though I wrote this tutorial from a PPC perspective, you can totally use these methods for SEO keyword research as well. Do you know any other free and nifty ways to research new keywords for your campaigns? Please let me know in the comments!

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