“How can a site rank in a search engine without keywords? How will people know what to search for, and how will sites know which terms to optimise?”
It used to be hard to argue against that train of thought, but as we’ve seen over the past year or so, it was a practice that spawned keyword stuffing, link spam, and many other questionable forms of SEO.
Google wasn’t happy about this. Google stopped it.
I see the question being asked a lot online and when I discuss search marketing with existing and potential clients. They ask ‘how do we optimise for keywords now?’
To me keywords will always have a place, but where that place lies is still subject to debate. Are metas becoming more important? Should a specific density of keywords still be on-page somewhere? How large a role does content play?
And, in a recent blow to marketers that were still hanging onto the old-style of SEO, Google has killed off its Keyword Tool and replaced it with what appears to be a more PPC-centric Keyword Planner.
Why PPC-centric? Well, now marketers need to log into an AdWords account just to access the Keyword Planner.
A number of marketers aren’t too happy about that, feeling it’s the search giant’s way of encouraging people to invest in PPC.
People also appear to be unhappy at the loss of a number of key instruments that aren’t present in Planner.
Match type data for search volumes has been sacrificed along with device targeting, local vs. global monthly searches, the ‘closely related’ search filter and more.
But it’s not all bad…
The all-new Keyword Planner combines the best parts of the old Keyword Tool and the AdWords Traffic Estimator making it a brilliant instrument for the all-round online marketer to use.
New features also include a geographic regions tool which lets local marketers get to a ‘city level’ of keyword search volume data – perfect for local SEO practitioners. This is part of the overall geographic segmentation ability.
Up to 10,000 keywords can be uploaded from users’ own lists to gauge performance data, while Planner also shows search volumes according to ad groups, landing pages and any other custom option. The ‘closely related’ feature is also set for a return in the near future.
“In general, you’ll notice that the average search volume data is higher in Keyword Planner as compared to the exact match search volume data you got with Keyword Tool,” explains Google.
“That’s because we’ll show you the average number of searches for a keyword idea on all devices (desktop and laptop computers, tablets, and mobile phones).
“With Keyword Tool, we showed you average search volume for desktop and laptop computers by default.”
Using the Planner practically
Google is looking to make campaign management more accessible than ever before by integrating keyword selection, analysis, grouping, filtering and more into Planner.
So, how do you use it? First you’ll be asked to either:
• Search for keyword/ad group ideas
• Enter or upload keywords to get estimates
• Multiply keyword lists to get estimates
Planner’s interface is great for generating new ideas. Users can research relevant phrases and words to their site (as was familiar in the Keyword Tool), by landing page or by product category.
By putting a landing page into Planner it will scan and produce keywords that are most relevant to that page. This is also a great way to research competitors and their particular landing pages.
Planner also has thousands of pre-defined keywords that users can choose from if they enter their product category.
PPC buffs will also be happy with the huge depth of filtering options on offer to them. Marketers can filter keywords according to their average Cost Per Click (CPC), the keyword’s competition, its estimated search volume and much more besides.
Deeper research, reviews and estimates
Keyword Planner also lets you target language, network, countries and more to make sure your keywords are relevant to both your website and target audience.
Planner also saves keywords to the ‘Your Plan’ section whilst you’re looking at other keywords instead of the old method of saving results in the Keyword Tool and pasting them into Traffic Estimator.
Keyword Planner also allows marketers to get detailed custom estimates for their AdWords campaigns. A number of factors determine the costs of a PPC campaign and the CPC of keywords including your bid, location, budget and more.
Keyword Planner can give daily estimates for impressions, clicks, average ad positions and more, before giving marketers the option to download their plans in a number of different formats.
It’s also easy for marketers to upload previous keyword lists if they have masses of data available from previous campaigns. Marketers can also get estimates for these campaigns, whether old or new.
Multiplying keyword lists is also a fantastic option in Keyword Planner, especially for retail sites that have a number of products to sell.
Three keyword lists can be moulded together to cover as many keyword options as possible, although this option may not be as accurate as previous options.
So, for example, List 1 can contain genders, List 2 can be keywords based on colours and List 3 can focus on items of clothing (kids blue jackets, for instance) giving a huge breadth of keyword research options.
The Webpresence verdict
Change is never easy, but change should always be expected and embraced when it comes to online marketing and SEO.
From our initial play with Planner we enjoy it and can see what Google is trying to achieve and how its new features can potentially really enhance an overall search campaign.
But it’ll also take some getting used to (thanks in part to Google’s habit of updating things at short notice). Overall I think it’s a positive step in the right direction not just for SEO in general, but for marketers serious about making a real difference for client campaigns.
To find out more about keywords and how a positive search campaign can help your website contact us today!
(Images: Searchenginejournal, Wordstream)