It seems now, more than ever, individuals and businesses are turning to the web in hopes of generating new business. While many tools have made basic website creation a breeze, the larger question remains; how do I drive traffic to my website? Whether you are looking to begin optimizing your website for search engines or begin running pay per click campaigns, you must find out which keywords you want to target. One resource that I have found to be extremely valuable is the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. This tool is great for conducting general keyword research and can also be used in conjunction with your Google AdWords account when running PPC campaigns. As with many free tools, there are pros as well as cons.


  • It is free

  • Easy to Use

  • Shows a variety of different information (ad position, average CPC, advertiser competition, search volume for the previous month, average search volume over 12 months, search volume trends over 12 months, and finally the month with the highest search volume)

  • Displays related keywords as well as additional keywords to consider

  • You can tie in the keyword tool with your Google AdWords account to assist with PPC campaigns

  • Allows the user to export their keyword list

  • Displays different search volumes when stop words are used. For example, ‘hotel San Diego’ shows a significant difference in search volume when compared to ‘hotel in San Diego.’ Google is believed to ignore stop words, but the extent to which they are ignored is somewhat unknown. This high level of information can be extremely useful for marketers when conducting keyword research.


  • Only Google data is taken into account. Data for other popular search engines including Yahoo and MSN may be quite different from that displayed by Google AdWords Keyword Tool.

  • Search volume numbers are only estimates and not precise numbers. You will notice many larger search volume numbers are simply rounded while smaller numbers will be “exact.” If Google can report that ‘airport hotel in San Diego’ gets specifically 73 searches per month on average, then why is ‘hotel in San Diego’ simply rounded to 40,500. It is hard to say how accurate these numbers actually are.

Other Thoughts:

  • Google’s keyword tool allows the user to enter a specific web address in which case keywords will be pulled directly from the site entered. This can be a great way to get keyword ideas from your own content if you are initially unsure what you want to target. Another valuable use for this tool is to use it to analyze your competition and find out what keywords they are targeting.

  • The ability to view the search volume trends over the previous 12 months is an extremely valuable option that some people might not be taking advantage of. Many keywords will have different search volumes throughout the year. When conducting keyword research for PPC campaigns, it is especially important to take this into consideration. It may be beneficial to target slightly different keywords during different months or seasons throughout the year.

Google AdWords Keyword Tool is a highly useful and free resource that simply shouldn’t be ignored when conducting keyword research. I consider it to be one of the most valuable free tools currently available. With that said, it is important to use a variety of different tools when conducting keyword research. There are additional resources listed in this article about keyword research tools. You should not just rely on one source of information to decide on the most beneficial keywords for your specific site or campaign. It is important to remember that while Google is the dominating search engine, many people do use Yahoo, MSN, Ask, and other search engines. Be sure to compile data from multiple sources as well as multiple search engines in order to develop the best possible list of high value keywords.


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G Web • 10 years ago

I often search and there are 1000's of results displayed in the Approx Avg Search Volume column yet the data from the previous month is "Insufficient Data". This does not make logical senses to me as how can there be no search volume (Insufficient data) during previous months if there are 1000's on an average month. Do you know why.

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Ryan Frank • 10 years ago

Yes, I notice this quite a bit as well. I honestly cannot find a reasonable answer to this question. I notice that it usually happens to keywords with monthly search volumes of a few thousand or less, but cannot pinpoint anything else that seems to trigger the 'Insufficient Data' result. It happens even more frequently when you get into search volumes lower than about 200. With search volumes this low, it is hard to say how accurate any of this data really is.

On a similar note, I tend not to use the "Approx Search Volume" for the previous month statistic. Instead of going by the search volume for the previous month, I use the “Average Search Volume” number in addition to the "Search Volume Trends" graph, which is an optional column to display. This is a small bar graph (shown below) that will give you a general idea of the monthly trends for this keyword.  You can see which months are stronger than others as well as any recent drops in search volume.

Google Keywords Trends

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Jacob • 10 years ago

Something people need to be weary of. The search results shown in the Google AdWords Keyword tool are not accurate. I have been told by the "Googlers" at AdWords support that these numbers are relative to only the number of people that have clicked on AdWords ads, not organic search results.

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Elliott • 10 years ago

From what I have been told from the powers that be at Google, the results you are talking about are only the clicks on adwords ads. I could be wrong but I think this explains the issues others are talking about.

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