Using AdWords Data to Inform Your Content Strategy

Update: As of August 28th, 2013 Keyword Planner has replaced Keyword Tool

Website content in the form of blogs, infographics, whitepapers, webinars, etc… is widely heralded as the prime ingredient to attracting links, social shares and if you play your cards right – search engine rankings.

These rankings (depending on the keyword) leads to more visitors and if the page is optimized correctly, an increase in conversions. This concept works well as long as you’ve selected your keywords correctly. Unfortunately, a large percentage of initial keyword selection is off target by writers who are not versed in on-page SEO.

This only becomes obvious after substantial time and effort has already been spent creating and promoting the content. Changing the keyword focus for a content item after the fact may not be as effective as it would have been if you would have optimized it correctly when it first went live.

Get More Strategic With Your Content Using AdWords Data

So how can you develop a successful content strategy while avoiding the costly trial and error inherent in random keyword selection? The answer is twofold:

  • Determine in advance which will be your highest converting keywords.
  • Artificially speed up the process so your results are statistically significant sooner.

You basically want to simulate organic results, but as accurately and as quickly as possible. That’s where Google’s Pay Per Click Advertising platform AdWords steps in.

User queries within search engines do not initially differentiate between organic or PPC results. The query is the question while the organic or PPC result is the answer. As such, user interest in any given keyword can be determined by studying the number of queries the keyword may have.

Yes, this information is also found in many keyword search tools, but they indicate total market interest, yet only a percentage of that traffic will actually be interested in your site. You need to forecast that traffic percentage as closely as possible.

Give It Some Time

The solution is to create a PPC campaign for the keywords which you are considering and studying the results after a prudent (statistically significant) period of time. The PPC campaign will target a micro-site you will build, which mimics as faithfully as possible your finished site. Key factors you must include:

  • The same domain name.
  • The same page titles on the landing pages.
  • One or two articles of the same type of content on the landing pages.

The PPC campaign itself must be as relevant as possible to the micro-site. This means:

  • Group similar keywords within an Ad Group.
  • Create one or two relevant landing pages for each Ad Group.
  • Create specific ads for each Ad Group. The keywords must be included within the title of the ad, the content and the destination URL.

Make sure you run the campaign(s) long enough to account for discrepancies in weekdays versus weekends, holidays, etc. Analyze not only the Click Through Rate (CTR), but impressions as well. Impressions are a great indicator of what the search engine thinks is a good fit for your content.

Clicks are much more indicative of the quality of the ad itself. Lastly, analyze visitor behavior within the site. Determine which visitors bounce, which view more pages, and which spend more time on the site. Of course, you must know the keyword which drove each visitor to the site.

The results will probably surprise you. Keywords you may have considered probable under performers will shine, and vice versa. As usual, about 20% of your keywords will be driving 80% of the traffic. Within that 20% you can perform further data analysis to mine out your absolute top performing keywords.

AdWords Data Is Not an Editorial Strategy

Find that sweet spot of content your target audience really values and then align that content with the keywords and search queries that those people actually use. Don’t simply go after the keywords with the largest search volume. Based on your testing, go after the keyword terms your audience is most likely going to use to find your content.

If that happens to be a keyword with a lot of searches, great! If that keyword volume is low but it looks like it will convert higher in your audience segment, you are headed down the right road. Of course, your site content will attract additional related organic results which you had not forecasted, but those will simply generate very welcome additional traffic.


Whatever conclusion you arrive at, your content strategy will be much more scientific than mere gut feeling and your new (or improved) site will be optimized for keywords you KNOW perform well. Let me underscore the fact that the Google AdWords Keyword Planner should not dictate your editorial strategy.

Do avoid trying to rank for a dozen keywords on one category. Instead, concentrate on optimizing one keyword per category (or product) and you’ll eventually rank well overall. Each page is a site unto itself.

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Analytics & AdWords certified growth engineer with over a decade experience in making businesses successful. I own and operate AXZM and often speak at top national industry conferences on the topics of strategy, design and marketing technology. Work with me or learn more about me here. Follow me @nawlready

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You must be pretty smart because you're here. We like your style. You can have all of our latest tools, tactics and growth strategies FREE, in your inbox, every month or so. 

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