Using Google’s suggested search for keyword research

Forgive me but this week I’m going to have a ‘me, me, me’ moment and take you through a case study to do with my own (personal) online eCommerce business, which has effectively helped double sales and revenue in the last few months.

It’s a bit embarrassing really, because my online business is a really small, but I do like to use it as my ‘lab’. Anyway, hopefully you’ll get something out of this story.

When Google rolled out suggested search earlier this year, I started looking at it from a keyword research perspective. One thing that worries me (and still does) about Google’s free keyword research tool is its accuracy. As an agency, we’ve been stung in the past optimising various keywords which Google’s keyword research tool has reported as being popular.

When we’ve managed to get a clients’ page to the top of Google for supposedly high trafficked keywords, there’s sometimes been very little in the way of traffic flowing our client’s way. Grrr…

My business sells a sleep mask which I invented years ago that blocks light, but also muffles sounds. That’s it. That’s the USP.

In August, using Google’s suggested search, I started playing around with some head terms to see what Google was reporting as popular. I tried ‘ear muffs’ – simply because it has a distant, but possibly relevant relationship to my product.

Here’s what came back…


I got a bit excited, so then I checked Google AdWords keyword research tool to see what it said about “ear muffs for sleeping”. Here are the results:


The above research is on phrase match, so normally you’d think the numbers there would be about right (somewhere in between broad match and exact match). The numbers were a bit low and part of me said, ‘Don’t bother’ and the other part (which is less lazy) said, ‘Let’s investigate!’

So I ran a Google AdWords Campaign and here are the results for October:


Google’s keyword research tool is a fair way out – there are almost three times the search volumes going on for that key phrase than its reporting, as you can see from the impression rates above (how many times the Ads were displayed when people typed in those key phrases). By the way, this is effectively a global campaign; it’s currently live in Australia, US, Canada, UK and most other “western” countries.

I also still wonder what you need to do to get a 10/10 quality score sometimes when you’ve got click through rates like those! And there really shouldn’t be any problems with the landing page as you’re about to discover.

Anyway, luckily the key phrase and a few variations around it have proved very profitable and have enjoyed very strong conversion rates.

The next obvious step was SEO. If that key phrase is working in AdWords then it’s sure going to work organically, so definitely worth the effort.

I grabbed the “About Us” page and optimised it for, you guessed right, “ear muffs for sleeping”. Not exactly the best page to use, but for now it’s working okay.

A couple of weeks later and few inbound links, and ‘hey presto’, a number two global rank.

Now things were really humming…

Here are the analytics results for all search engine key word traffic including PPC and SEO in October:


Okay, so not exactly setting the world on fire compared to bigger sites, but it definitely shows that if you pick your SEO battles carefully and use Google’s new suggested search feature you can definitely achieve much better online sales.

I think it also demonstrates that the more targeted and relevant the search term, the higher the conversion rate will be on your site. And that’s always worth doing if the conversion rate, especially if there’s reasonable volume.

I just wished I’d found out about ‘ear muffs for sleeping’ 10 years ago when I started!

PS: After seven years with the same outdated design, I’ve finally bitten the bullet and am having the site redesigned and rebuilt. I know its sounds weird but the existing site works really well and I’ve been too scared to change it. Will let you know how conversion rates go when the new ‘professional’ design goes live. Fingers crossed – even better that they are now. If I can sort out the high bounce rate, I should be able to get people to product pages more effectively.

For more Online Sales expert advice, click here.

Chris Thomas heads up Reseo, a search engine optimisation  company which specialises in creating and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.


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