Search engine optimization is the practice of using keywords and keyword phrases in web content.  These terms tell search engines what the article, blog post, or other online content is about and match the webpage to user searches.

Properly optimized content ranks higher in organic searches.  Use these tips to find popular keywords and keyword phrases that are not saturated with content from other websites.

How to Use Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool to Find Popular Keywords


The Google Adwords Keyword Tool was designed for companies buying online advertising space; however, is it a great tool for online writers and web content creators, as well.

Type several words relevant to the article or webpage topic in the Keyword Tool search box.  Click on “Get Keyword Ideas” to begin searching for information on the keywords.  The tool will also suggest popular keywords related to the search terms, so a list of five keywords could generate fifty results or more.

Understanding Keyword Search Results

The default search tool settings show the following information about suggested keywords:

  • Advertiser Competition
  • Local Search Results for the previous month
  • Global Monthly Search Volume

A drop-down box above the results list allows you to access additional columns of information, including the average cost per click, volume trends, and estimated ad position.


Advertiser competition is not important unless you are trying to write content designed to attract high cost per click ads to generate AdSense revenue.  In that case, an empty advertiser competition box indicates a lack of advertiser interest in the topic.

Global monthly search volume is the most important criteria in keyword research for search engine optimization.

Comparing Search Volume and Results Volume

Click the title of the global monthly search volume column to sort the list so the most searched terms are at the top.  Working down the list, search each keyword and phrase in a regular Google search.

Look at the volume of results for each keyword or phrase.  A term that generates millions of results is highly competitive and it is unlikely that new content will rank near the top of the list.

Consider the quality of results, as well.  The goal is to find keywords and phrases that might propel the web content to the front page, or top ten, in a Google search.  Are the other top ten results from credible news sources, government or professional organizations, or large corporations?  There is little chance of ranking on the front page with this type of competition.

How to Choose the Right Keywords and Phrases

People have different criteria for keyword selection and look for a specific ratio of acceptable search volume vs. search results.

To develop a workable formula takes time and testing.  Start by finding a keyword or phrase with over 1,000 monthly searches and less than one million results.  Optimize the article by using the primary keyword phrase in the URL, if possible, and in the article headline, introductory paragraph, bolded subheadings, and throughout the body text.

Use four to six complementary keywords in the subtitle, introductory paragraph, bolded subheadings, and throughout the body text.  Do not simply repeat any one phrase throughout the article; it must read naturally to the reader.  Using a variety of related terms helps you write fluidly and indicates the webpage’s relevance on the topic to search engines.

Testing and Developing a Keyword Strategy

A number of variables affect how well a webpage ranks in organic searches and no one knows the exact formula used by popular search engines like Google.

A blog post on a blog hosted on a free platform such as Blogger, for example, may not rank as high as an article published on a popular online magazine’s website, for example, even if the blog post is better optimized.

Track the performance of several pieces based on keywords chosen for their search volume to search engine results ratio to find the winning formula for your blog posts, articles, or website content.

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