Using Google Adwords is always a great start to finding keywords and keyword suggestions. If you are expanding your research to include all variations of search terms visitors may use to find you, you will often find many hidden gems that your competitors have overlooked or have not dug deep enough to find themselves. In fact we always start our keyword research by plugging multiple keywords into AdWords to create an enormous possibilities list.
Adwords is also great for PPC campaigns as it will take your keywords and use them to bid against broad matching terms. It is also amazing at suggesting other keywords to consider as we mentioned above, however from a PPC perspective AdWords constantly suggests new terms, and opportunities that are definitely worth taking a further look into and possibly testing.
So what is wrong with only using Adwords to find SEO Keywords?
Well, SEO is a bit more specific than the PPC game. You may be picking keywords that have a ton of broad matches but no exact matches. This means that you may be ranking, or trying to rank, for keywords that no one is searching for.
Dare we say, when targeting keywords that exact match is the main AdWords metric that matters!
Another important step when defining a keyword list for SEO, is to determine the difficulty of an exact match keyword and then see if it’s worth the number of hits it can get for you. This is where we take our enormous list and start grinding it down to a manageable number for serious consideration and further analysis.
If you are as serious about SEO as us you will have a few tools. We personally love SEOMoz because it uses the Google Adwords API and it tells you how many monthly searches are for the exact keyword match. This comes in very handy for the purposes discusses in this blog post.
The SEOMoz Keyword Tool also tells you the difficulty to rank for a particular keyword.
Their difficulty to rank takes into account a ton of metrics for the top SERP competitors such as domain authority, page authority, linking root domains, and many other domain, page and social cues. It is worth plugging the top SERP competitors into Open Site Explorer to see if you ranking for a particular is a realistic goal given your time constraints and resources.
If you have another favourite can’t live without tool that you use please tell us in the comments below; especially if it’s free!
Evan White is one of the guys in charge at the Toronto SEO Company, NeuMarkets.