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Using Google Sets for SEO Keyword Research

January 6th, 2009 | | Search Behavior, SEO Keyword Research

In a previous post of mine, I talked about how you could use Google Trends to spot how popular a certain keyword was becoming or diminishing.  One task of SEO is, of course, defining your service in a small set of popular keywords.

I have spent many a roundtable in discussing with clients the “key phrases” that would boil down their business into bitsize words that weren’t vague.  Solutions, Programs, Product, Tool and Service were all words that made me want to scream.  When someone would proudly state “solution” I always wanted to say back “a complex liquid of various ingredients?” But proffesionalism limits me to say “I see, but what need is your solution fulfilling?”

These round tables are a routine that do offer some insights, but also tend to be overtly short-sighted.  I have found that most businesses tend to learn a new language or churn their language into some sort of office lingo that starts to really disconnect with the customer.

In one of my experiences, the keywords given to me from a third party search consultant were rejected by the Higher Corporate office because they did not want those words in the “marketing.”  There wasn’t anything profane about them, they just wanted to grind the keywords through a thick wall of lawyers and marketing firms and spit out the one or two words that could be used.  The numbers possible and opportunity was missed.

Keywords lead to opportunity.  I state all this lengthy prose to lead up to Google Sets - A nifty tool found in Google Labs that actually can help you spot some missed opportunities during your keyword research.  By simply entering a few example terms, Google then brings words associated with your given words.  There is some speculation on how Google puts these sets together, but one thing I like is that it seems to make sense.

For example, I put in muffler and alternator as some example words.  The set generated for me is muffler, alternator, radiator, water pump, shocks, air filter, brake rotors, fuel pump, headlight, brakes, brake pads, oxygen sensor, car cover, floor mats, and headers.

A couple things I noticed about this are:

1. They aren’t alphabetical
2. They include similar items, but those items aren’t grouped next to each other

There is something peculiar about this Google Generated list that I might want to pay attention to if I want to find some really powerful keywords. 

Aside from a niche of “auto repair,” using Google sets to see trends can also give a peak into what is popular and what you might be missing out on if you happen to run a gossip site.  Typing in a couple celebrity names could round out a set that might be worth looking into for your next column.

Using Google Sets for SEO is a great way to generate some keyword ideas as a start.  However, remember to test those words in a tool such as WordTracker to see how effective they are.  Combining Google Sets with Google Trends can further filter down the keywords you want to build your site and landing pages around.

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