The New Face of Keyword Research
There was much excitement in the SEO world recently when some people noticed that Google was including search volume in its AdWords Keyword tool. At first this was thought to be a leak, but Google has now confirmed the change so it's official. The implications of this additional data are far reaching, but I think people are too busy looking up keyword data to have realized. Fortunately for me I commute to and from work on a train which means I've got plenty of time to ponder life's mysteries.
More Accurate Data
The current market leaders in the keyword research space (KeywordDiscovery and WordTracker) rely on data from ISPs. They then take this data and extrapolate numbers that are supposed to reflect the user base of the Internet (for the US). I think most people will agree that this data isn't particularly accurate. It's good for determining relative popularity of keywords, but the absolute values are largely useless. Assuming Google isn't massaging their data before we see it and that the data is otherwise accurate, we now no longer have to worry about inaccuracies from ISPs.
Better Upfront Planning
Search engine optimization efforts often run into issues in the planning phases when a business justification is needed. Without knowing how much volume there is for a keyword, it's difficult to put a value on obtaining a #1 ranking. Have the search volume data from Google now provides an additional data point for such calculations. For example, if a keyword has 10,000 searches a month you can backfill that number into a value per visitor calculation to help determine what it's worth spending to obtain top rankings for that keyword.
Click Through Rates for SERPs
Ever wonder what the click through rate is for a #1 ranking vs. a #2 ranking? As your site climbs up the rankings, you'll be able to calculate CTRs now by looking at the volume data from Google along with your rankings and visits. Gather enough data and you'll be able to determine whether the effort to move from position 2 to position 1 is worth the cost. Yeah usually it is, but now you can show the numbers to the bean counters to get budget approval.
Title and Description Testing
The PPC folks constantly tweak and test their titles and descriptions to squeeze out more clicks. They're able to do this because they can control things like ad position and are given impression data from Google. This data allows them to determine what copy is working best. On the SEO, such testing has been quite difficult because of things like changing search volume. Now that we can grab search volume from Google we can account for its impact on traffic allowing SEOs to play around with titles and descriptions to eke out more clicks without and change in rankings.
Improved PPC and SEO Synergies
PPC and SEO teams (at least the good ones) have often shared data to try and figure out the best way to make use of a limited budget. An expensive keyword on the PPC that doesn't have a positive ROI can become a good target for SEO. Likewise, an incredibly competitive SEO keyword could be targeted by the PPC campaign. This kind of collaboration just became easier since search volume and CPC data are now shown side-by-side in the AdWords Keyword tool. This means that both teams will be looking at the same date during their keyword research and can easily keep their eyes open for opportunities for the other team.
In the interest of a balanced view, check out Note: Michael VanDeMar's argument that the data from Google is in fact not accurate in part because of data from the Google's search network being included.