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!