Expose hidden profits with Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Default view in the Keyword Research tool

Today I’m going to show you a very “untraditional” way to do keyword research.

In fact, in my web travels, I’ve not seen anywhere else showing this keyword research method.

It’s not even that it’s especially tricky really, just that it’s using many hidden features of Google AdWords’ free keyword tool that the average punter doesn’t know about.

So I’m going to shed some light on these hidden features and more importantly, show you how to get the information you need from them.

This is now my top trick of the trade for getting money-spinning keywords, before and particularly after you start a campaign. I get valuable (and hugely profitable) information from it that I don’t learn from anywhere else.

I recommend including this method in any keyword-based marketing you do, not just pay per click.

I’ll start by taking you through each section, with screenshots. At the end, I’ve also included a video that takes you through a very specific example. You’ll want to read the article in full first, so the video makes perfect sense.

So here goes:

Ideally if you’ve got a Google AdWords account, log-in first or if you don’t, you can still access the tool here.

(NB: There are some differences with the external tool so access it from within your account if you can)

Go to the Opportunities tab and then select Keyword Tool from the top of the tools list.

Google AdWords Account - Opportunities Tab

You'll find the Keyword Tool under Tools in the Opportunities tab.

You’ll be then be looking at a fresh instance of Google’s free keyword tool, which some of you may already be familiar with. If so, you’re about to take a fresh new look at it.

Now start by entering your web site URL into the web site field. It’s best if you use a URL for a site you’re already advertising.

Search Field of Google AdWords Keyword tool

Enter a word, search phrase and/or web site into the search fields.

Google presents you with the usual – keywords, competition, global monthly searches, local monthly searches and a trend graph like you see here:

Default view in the Keyword Research tool

Default view in Google's Keyword Research tool

Interesting data – but useful for anything but traffic estimates? Not really.

So let’s peel our eyes on this one.

Go to the Views button (you’ll see it on the top right of the screenshot above) and choose Customize Columns.

Customization of fields in the Keyword tool.

Choose and re-order columns in the Customize window.

I’m going to make this easy, tick “All Columns” – the first option. (Don’t forget to click save)

I also re-order it so that the four default fields that are ticked above are placed last. This gives me the most important information first.

What you’re now going to see is a wealth of data that if you know how to read right, could make a serious improvement to your bottom line.

Google Keyword tool - customized search results

Keyword results re-engineered to be more useful.

I’ll run through each piece of data so you can translate it into usable information for your own PPC campaigns and web site.

Extracted from Web Page

If applicable, this tells you which page of the web site Google extracted the data from. This can be very handy for both PPC and SEO purposes; it’ll tell you three things:

  1. What pages are strongest organically for particular keywords
  2. From this information, you may then need to strengthen other pages for that keyword, particularly if the search is bringing up a page that you weren’t intending to be a first landing page. Don’t just focus on your home page for keywords and calls to action. Any other page that the search engine could present on a SERP, should be geared for action.

  3. What your best PPC landing pages are for the highest quality score
  4. Handily, this field will also tell you which landing page is best matched with the keyword, so you can send your PPC traffic to the most relevant landing page. As well as higher conversions, this is also going to help your Quality Score, which will in turn help raise ad rank and lower bid costs.

    No more uncertainty (or manual research) on which page of your site to use for each keyword. Let Google tell you directly and then use SpeedPPC to automate the most targeted campaign based on real life research.

  5. Where the gaps or opportunities are
  6. What you may find is that some keyword ideas have no URL in the extracted from web page column.

    Extracted from Web page field

    PPC and SEO opportunity for this search term.

    This can highlight an opportunity for you to add that keyword to your website and PPC campaign, and bring in “lost” traffic that you’re missing out on by not covering that keyword.

    It’s a fantastic way to find new keywords for both SEO and PPC marketing campaigns.

Ad Share and Search Share

My two favorites are Ad Share and Search Share. Now for this, you do need to have [Exact] Match selected which is near the bottom left hand side of the page. It’s best to have all the match types ticked anyway so you can see the differences across all match types for that keyword. For example, you may find a keyword is being matched on exact match, but there’s even more opportunity with additional phrase matching.

The tool will default to Broad, just make sure you choose Exact and Phrase as well.

Broad match, phrase match and exact match options

Choose all 3 match types for data on all keyword variations.

Here’s what each percentage figure tells you:

Ad Share – This tells you what percentage of the time you have a Google ad that shows for the keyword.

Search Share – This tells you what percentage of the time your organic web site ranking appeared on the first page of Google.

So these are all about new opportunities to make money.

Let me give you three useful examples:

  1. Your keyword has high ad share but low search share – PPC ads are showing a high percentage of the time for this keyword. However, the SEO for this keyword could be improved. In doing this, you’ll also improve your quality score for PPC because the landing page will match the keyword better. This is an easy way to reduce bid costs while improving ad position.
  2. Your keyword has high search share but low ad share – This keyword consistently puts your web site on the first page of Google’s search results, but it’s let down by having little or no presence in your PPC campaign. Add this keyword with different match types to your PPC campaign and raise your ad share for even more quality visitors.
  3. Your keyword has low ad share and low search share – If this is a keyword you definitely want in your arsenal, then you’ll need to get to work on adding it to your web site content for SEO improvement and to your PPC campaigns for paid traffic.
Google AdWords Keyword Tool - Ad Share Examples

Three examples of different ad share and search share

Estimated Avg CPC

As well as identifying opportunities, you also have a guide to how much it will cost you (emphasis on the ‘guide’).

I’ve found Google’s CPC estimates to be a very inaccurate guide quite honestly.

The good news is it tends to err on the side of higher bids than reality – usually.

Because of so many different variables, but mainly Quality Score, each advertiser’s bid prices for a keyword could be different. Those with poor quality score could be paying steep prices for every keyword, while those with high quality score are enjoying bid costs way below the estimate shown.

Using Google’s keyword tool combined with SpeedPPC gives you added transparency then the power to make positive changes to your quality score and your bank balance.

Advanced Search Filtering

In essence, filtering boosts your targeting ability so it’s well worth using the following filters. You’ll find them under “Advanced Search” when you enter your starting keywords or web site.

Advanced filtering options in Google's keyword tool

Advanced filtering targets your keyword results for better performance.

Geo-targeting – set the target region and language to get results specific to your target audience. Keywords, spellings, bid prices, search numbers could change dramatically based on “where” you’re looking.

Mobile Search – if you’re looking for the purposes of mobile advertising, then please make sure you tick this checkbox to find the results targeted for mobile ads, as opposed to broader search engine results.

All Keyword Ideas vs Ideas containing my search terms – Choosing all keyword ideas will give you a greater breadth of keywords, because you’re not limiting the search results. This can be useful if you need to overhaul your keywords, or are just starting out with your keyword research.

Choosing the second option is useful if you’ve already got certain keywords that are working well and you want to expand on them. Simply enter those keywords and Google will bring you back a list of other ideas that use those performing keywords. It’s also useful if you’re being conservative with your budget and you just want to increase your spend gradually, after finding out what works.

Drop down Filter results by local monthly searches, global monthly searches, competition, estimated average CPC, search share and ad share.

You can filter by all, some or none of these. It depends on what fact-finding mission you’re on.

For example:

  • If you want to find lower competition keywords, you can select competition and then tick the checkbox for low and medium.
  • If you want high traffic keywords, enter filters for searches and enter in a figure.
  • If you’re on a mission to improve your SEO – choose Search Share and enter in a less than (<) percentage figure.
  • If you’re looking for PPC opportunities – choose Ad Share and enter in a less than (<) percentage figure again.
  • You can add as many filters as you want, so make use of these to target the results to what you most need to know.


    As well as filtering, you can also sort your terms alphabetically or by the highest count, ie. How many search terms contain those keywords.

    Filtering by keywords contained in search phrases.

    Alphabetical and volume filtering by keywords contained.

    You’ll probably get the most mileage out of the highest count so you can add keywords with a strong volume. This will also help you organize your keywords in SpeedPPC to generate hundreds or thousands more long tail search terms.


    You’ll find all the categories the keyword ideas were drawn from highlighted in blue, while the others are grayed out. You can refine your categories further by clicking on the categories and selecting a sub category, particularly if your results are too broad or not in context.

    This category list is quite helpful for targeting content placements as well, because you’ll see the categories Google deems as most relevant to your URL or keywords.

    Google Insights

    Next to each keyword, you’ll see a magnifying glass, which is a shortcut to Google Insights so you can view the trends for that keyword.

    Google Insights link from the keyword tool

    Magnifying glass is a quick link to Google Insights to research keywords further.

    Click on the magnifying glass and you’ll be taken to a screen like this, where you can target your research even further using the filtering options. This is particularly useful for viewing seasonality and performance over time.

    Google Insights search page with filters

    Google Insights will appear with the search term pre-populated and filters ready.

    Google AdWords Keyword Tool Summary

    You can bet most Google AdWords advertisers don’t use this tool to its full potential. Who can blame them? Most of this is not common knowledge and some features are well hidden from view.

    But now you know how to use Google AdWords’ Keyword Tool to maximum effect – outputting targeted results and knowing how to interpret and use them.

    Make sure you include this keyword research method whether you’re creating a brand new campaign, fixing a poor performing campaign, or growing an existing campaign. It’s versatile for all of these purposes. You can even use it to look up a competitor URL, although Google isn’t kind enough to show you the ad share and search share for any accounts but your own. 🙂

    In the short video, you’ll see a real life example of Google’s Keyword Tool in use. This is a practical tour so you can see where all of the above options can be found to speed up your keyword research. Enjoy!


48 Comments on “Expose hidden profits with Google AdWords Keyword Tool”

  1. That was a nice post. I appreciate the detail that went into it. I think I have seen every screen that Google Adwords has to offer but I certainly don’t use them all. You showed or reminded us all that Google really does provide a lot of information if we are willing to look.

    Thanks for the post.


  2. Thanks guys,
    I love the new tool and don’t understand why people pay good money for ‘other’ tools that often just rearranges the information that you can get for free if you do a little bit of work.

    I think that there are too many tools trying to ‘automate’ IM. They rage through IM and create fluff that clutters up that beautiful thing that we call the web. SEO that ‘creates’ hundreds of ‘blogs’ etc is not proper marketing but manipulation of the machine!
    Stay well

  3. Hi

    Thanks for sharing. I really didn’t know about this and have been trying it out.

    I have ticked all the match types as indicated but there is no information in the ad share or search share columns. I’ve tried reordering it but still none. Any ideas why that would be?

    [Hi Christina! I did have this happen to me when experiementing and found that I’d put search terms in that I hadn’t optimized for or advertised on. If that might be the case, first try just your URL without any search terms and let Google supply those for your URL. Reena]

  4. Tried this, on a term we bid heavily on and rank #4 in organic – neither ad share nor search share contain any data.

    [Hi Steven, that’s weird. Just make sure you’re logged into that account when you do the search. Otherwise, Google won’t show all the details because it won’t recognise that you’re the owner of that account. It won’t show ad share or search share for privacy reasons, or we’d have a ball with it as a competitive intelligence tool 🙂 Reena]

  5. Very good information on the new Google tool setup.

    It’s a good thing they go to all this development to help the normal marketeer with the placement process.

    Great article, thanks a lot.

  6. Hi Reena and Jay,
    Thanks for sharing such useful and informative information. I had fiddled with the new tool but hadn’t taken any time to really look at it but by watching your very comprehensive video again, I know I understand much better what I should be looking for.

    Thanks again


  7. Wow! What a great presentation. You’ve answered many questions I had on how to best use this free tool.

  8. Wow … that’s an excellent tutorial! I’m currently doing some keyword research for a couple of sites and noticed that the Adwords interface had changed, so your post is very timely.

  9. Great info which I am sure many would be able to put to good use to improve their SEO. As for me I am kind of use to Keyword Elite 2.0 which I have been using for quite some time though. Nevertheless, the info over here is still great for those who wish to optimize their web pages

  10. Thanks for that excellent tutorial on the new Google keyword tool. I understand how to use it so much better now.

    One feature that the old keyword tool had that I cannot seem to find in this new one is the ability to download the keywords I’d selected in .txt format.

    Do you know of a way to do this with the new keyword tool?

    Thanks again I really enjoyed your post and video.

    1. Hi Chris

      Yes thankfully it’s still there! Just a bit re-arranged 🙂

      You’ll find it under the “Keyword Ideas” heading. There’s 3 buttons on the left – Add Keywords, Download and Estimate Search Traffic, so the second button will give you the option to download all or just the ones you’ve selected.


  11. a very interesting and useful post in fact i have printed it off to study how to do it
    however on point i often put a website address into the google adwords tool bar but many times it wont return any keywords for that site simply saying unable to locate keywords or words to that effect
    any ideas
    peter mcgrath

    1. Hi Peter, that’s possibly a concern because it could mean that Google can’t read off any keywords from that site. Just check the textual content is not all in images or javascript. Reena

  12. Reena

    Again you hit right on the head with this information. I really like this information because it gives me more power to design a perfect PPC campaign using Speed PPC. It’s amazing the stuff that we don’t see with our naked eye but you definitely did it again. Thanks a million!!

  13. Great article. This is all new to me. I am willing to learn. And you teach so well. Will pass link on to my partner who looks after this side of the business.

    The video was excellent. Love the voice, tone and clarity of the tutorial. Thanks for sharing your gems with me.

  14. Search Share — This tells you what percentage of the time your organic web site ranking appeared on the first page of Google.

    Are you sure about this statement? Not working for my sites – does not show our page 1 keywords

  15. This was perfect and saved me doing the ‘trial and error’ step:0). Use this tool 99.9% of the time and now it saves me a step…I’m definitely using this information today.

    Thanks for the tip.

  16. It’ll take me a time to fully digest, but thanks for sharing this. The level of detail you extend keyword research to is impressive

  17. Thanks Reena for this wonderful post. Although I am familiar with the Google keyword tool, yet now I know that there is a lot of information that I tend to overlook. The level of detail in your post is amazing.
    Thanks again

  18. Awesome explanation, the tool is getting a lot better. I believe is due to the decrease in advertisers on google, this has push them to provide and enhanced their keyword tool search. Thank you for sharing this article and video.

  19. Hi Guys,

    Awesome and very in depth detail on the new tool.

    Many thanks for the additional video.
    I will certainly be checking all the new features out when I launch my next campaign .
    Thank you again for a great article.


  20. Hi Reena,

    Thanks for this tutorial. I’m just beginning to play around with it.

    Question: In order for any data to show up in the ad share and search share columns, do we actually have to have an Adwords campaign going? I’ve never set up an Adwords campaign before.

    Right now, following your instructions, and at the same time being signed in to my Adwords account (which I just successfully created), no data is appearing in either of those two columns. My search was done on my website: http://www.im-cafe.com



    1. Hi Karen, initially there’ll be no ad share until you set-up an account and the ads are live. Then it can tell you how often your ads show for the keywords listed. For the Search side of things, it may mean that your page is not ranked on the first page yet for those search terms listed – particularly if it’s new and not optimized for those keywords. As a test, just take a keyword and search for it on Google. The Search share tells you what percentage of the time your ad appears on the first search page, so even if it’s a few pages in, you won’t actually know from this stat.

  21. Thank you for the advice! You’re right, I haven’t seen this info anywhere else…and even if it is, I’m sure it’s not as complete as what you have laid out here.

    I’m going to give it a try!


  22. Brilliant explanation – didn’t know half of it!
    Makes me start to wonder how much time and money I have been wasting on trying out paid programs, good as they are.
    will definitely start using Keywords Tool from now on.

  23. WOW! That is truly amazing. And to think I (and many others most likely) have been using this tool to what probably amounts to only a minute percentage of what it is capable of. Thanks for sharing – this will definitely improve my campaigns.

  24. This is great information.ive used this tool with my adwords account but not to this level.

    Thanks for the great info and video.
    Im going to use it your way right now after watching the video.Im setting up 2 new sites.

    Ive also bookmarked your site for future reference.
    Anything this good has to be saved.

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