Google's Search Based Keyword Tool: Monetize The Long Tail of Search

CurveEvery once in a long while you come across a tool that just gives you goose bumps, you are instantly infatuated.

The Search Based Keyword Tool (SbKT) was that for me. The data it brings together and the transparency it brings is just so. . . sexy.

Let's see if you feel that by the time you are done with this post. I can tell you know that you'll never think of Paid Search the same way!

[UPDATE: Recently Google has folded the Search Based Keyword Tool into the core AdWords Interface. You can now access the keyword tool from within AdWords by clicking the "Keyword Tool" link from the Opprotunities tab. You can also access the Keyword Tool outside of AdWords by clicking here.]

One of the most common phenomenon is the long tail of search. Yet precious few people understand this and even fewer actually are able to use it to their advantage.

A quick recap: The Search Long Tail.

If you have not had a chance please give my long tail of search post a quick review.

The essence of the phenomenon is that your website most likely has a “short head” (say ten or fifteen keywords that drive massive number of Visits) and usually a “long tail” (hundreds of thousands of key words and key phrases that drive five, ten, fifteen – few – Visits).


The really cool thing about the tail is that the thousands of queries in the tail are generic ("category") queries which tend to bring "impression virgins " to your site. People who are new to your franchise, people who have not made up their mind.

Find them first and you get first dibs on convincing them.

My Long Tail: The Story in Numbers.

Here's a real example, data for this blog:

87,861: # of Visits in the month of March.

40,662: # of Visits from Search (!!).

26,137: # of distinct keywords and key phrases that drove those 41k Visits!

Astonishing is that not? For a single topic blog! So what of the head and the tail?

13: # of search key words that brought 100 or more visits (the head).

26,124: # of search key words that brought 2 or 5 or 10 or a small number of visits each (the tail).

If you are not yet confused by all the numbers, please stick with me, here is another way to think about it.

13 head keywords brought 5,128 Visits to the site.

26,124 tail keywords brought 35,534 Visits to the site!
[This is the prime reason I tell Analysts, Marketers, CEO's, my children not to just obsess about the head!]

Clearly even a one topic (Analytics) blog can have a verrrrry long tail.

I can only imagine how long your tail is. You have a real business. You have thousands of pages. You have tons of products you sell, a diverse set of services and so on and so forth.

The Problem?

Despite the massively yummy opportunity, most people have a hard time monetizing the long tail because:

* All they know is their brand terms, so they take the easy way out.
I hate to say this but there is laziness involved, we rarely bother to look beyond the top 10 keywords.

* They think broad matching on their key terms will take care of the tail. The reality is the best broad matches will pick up 500 or a 1000 queries, the tail has hundreds of thousands.

* You can't possibly take every word in the text on your site and dump it into AdWords (or AdCenter or YSM).

Finding relevant long tail search queries is tough, and doing that intelligently is even harder.

The Solution?

The Search-based Keyword Tool (SbKT) from Google.

It uses two sources of data that Google has (both anonymous, non-PII) to help you identify long tail keywords that are being searched on that are relevant to your business.

The first source of the data are the logs that store the queries that are done by users on (logs that have this data in aggregate, not by individual histories – you'll see the latter is not necessary).

search queries google indexed page results

The second source of data are the logs from googlebot that indexes the world wide web and all the pages (and your site). These logs understand what your site is, what content is on it, what you sell, service, do on those pages.

SbKT simply brings these two sources together. When combined it provides you with:

A list of keywords and phrases in the search long tail that are relevant to your website (where relevance is defined by the content on your site).

It is a very simple idea, yet it is powerful because now you don't have to guess what the opportunity is for the long tail on

Google SbKT Reports & Analysis.

SbKT is a fairly easy to use tool, there really is not much to it.

This screen is what you'll see when you login. . . .

google search based keyword tool

You have several options but first thing you can try is to simply type the name of your website and hit enter.

In two seconds. . . . Bam!

skbt long tail search results

Ok so the color boxes won't be there. : )

Let me walk you through what you'll see.

The area inside the Red Box shows all the key results you need: key words and other data.

The Violet Box shows how many relevant keyword suggestions were returned, 65,863 for this site.

The data in the Blue Box allows you to filter the results by various product categories. Example, here, Apparel, Beauty & Personal Care, Sports & Fitness, Finance etc etc.

The Orange Box is the other way to filter the data, by specific product categories. Sony, Microsoft, HP, Samsung, Nokia etc in this case (so you can easily move away from the 66k results and focus just on results for Nokia, which in this case were 890).

Finally the Purple Box, at the very top, contains other filters (cost, competition, keywords etc etc).

Let's walk through the report itself.

Keywords, Monthly Searches, Competition.

The first column shows the specific keyword / key phrase that the tool recommends for your site. These are the long tail keywords identified after the analysis of Google's search query logs and the Googlebot log data.

The second column shows you how many searches were done for that keyword in the last month (+ or – 10%). It is important to know these are not match typed in any way, these are actual search queries of users.

keywords monthly searches competition skbt

Finally the third piece of data is how much competition there is for an ad for that term (in your country typically, so you can change and choose to get data just for a specific country).

Suggested Bids, Ad/Search Share, Your Webpage.

Sugg. bid is the price you can expect to pay for showing your ad in the top three position on the Google search results page.

suggested bids ad share extracted from page

Ad share is % of time an ad from your website shows up for the query (due to broad-match). Search Share (the second percentage) is the % of time your site shows up in the first page of the organic results!

Think of both numbers, for Paid and Organic, as akin to impression share (or to those of you in the Retail Industry: "Share of Shelf")

Finally column three shows which page on your website is relevant for that keyword.

This last part is very important because you don't want to buy keywords willy nilly, you don't want irrelevant ads or, worse, irrelevant landing pages. SbKT solves this problem by telling you exactly which page on your site is the optimal landing page for a given long tail keyword.

You can click on the Export button and save the resulting Excel file. There will be two bonus items in there: 1) SbKT will attempt to classify your keywords into logical Campaigns and 2) into logical Ad Groups, thus saving you some time.

Net, Net.

You know:

exactly which keywords to buy to grab all the impression virgins

how much share you have today of that traffic

how much you can expect to pay for a top 3 paid search listing

and exactly where to send this traffic so they have a relevant experience (which translates to a higher conversion rate)

Delightful. Data driven paid search campaigns!

SbKT Bonus Features / Analysis.

There are several deeper and cooler things you can do with SbKT.

Question: I want to have a post spring break sale on my GPS related inventory, how can I find the most relevant keywords and key phrases to purchase?

From the left navigation, in this example, click Consumer Electronics, then click GPS and do a merry dance. . . .

google sbkt gps long tail keywords

What you are looking at are the keywords related to the GPS category only and only the ones that are relevant to your business.

At the far left, not in the image above, you'll see the unique landing page on your site where you should send this traffic (in case you buy these keywords).

Question: I just saw a tweet that Olympus is going to out of business. How can I identify search keywords to unload all my Olympus inventory?

From the Categories choose Consumer Electronics, then Photo & Video and then Digital Cameras. From the Brands (bottom left) choose the brands Google has identified relevant to content on your site (Olympus).

category plus brand equals targetted keywords

There you go, a relevant list of keywords for you to consider.

Question: Budgets are really tight right now, can you help me find long tail keywords relevant for my business but that cost less than 30 cents?

In the top bar click on the plus sign next to Advanced Search. . .

sbkt advanced search

You'll see a bunch of lovely options, in this case you'll choose Suggested Bid and type in the amount that you are interested in. . . .

identifying low cost long tail search keywords

When you hit enter SbKT will take the 222,720 long tail key phrases it had identified for you and show you the 75,464 that are relevant for your business – all of whom have a Suggested Bid of under 30 cents for a top three search listing.

As you see above, you can control the amount of competition you want. If I choose Medium and High ("bring it on!" :)) I get a list of 35,486.

You can also use other filters productively.

Win – Win for Organic and Paid Search Marketers.

If you are a Paid Search Marketer (PPC) then use SbKT to identify relevant long tail keywords and their corresponding landing page. Use Suggested Bid to focus on maximizing your budget and give your CFO estimates of cost (rather than guesses that you probably do today).

electronics long tail keywords

If you are a Organic Search Marketer (SEO) then Google has just provided you with a list of landing pages on your site and the keywords that are relevant to those pages. If you are not getting enough Organic share (ps2 above) then you have your work cut out for you.

For either individual there is data now to work more efficiently to improve search share.

Who Can See What?

Before you get too excited let me rush to add that you can only see data for your company using SbKT, i.e. the adwords accounts you have access to.

For other sites your view will be limited to only the top 100 long tail terms. You can see 100 in All Categories or in any Sub Category.

Tips for Maximizing The Long Tail Value.

long tail orgasm
[Image Credit: Hugh MacLeod]

#1: Don't get hung up one or two or ten keywords. Remember you are dealing with thousands of keywords.

Focus on the criteria that is important to you (low cost, high competition, particular categories or brands, a cluster of products), then put 'em in ad groups and experiment.

#2: Don't spend time torturing every single keyword. You can't. Or you'll never go home.

You are aiming to capture two, ten, fifty visits. Maximize for the portfolio.

#3: Remember all rules of measuring success for Search campaigns apply to the long tail (it must produce bottom line impacting results).

But you have a chance to think in a more sophisticated way about measuring the long tail. Please see this post: Measuring Value of “Upper Funnel” (Long Tail) Keywords

#4: SbKT works most optimally for mid and large sized websites (lots of pages, lots of products, lots of lots).

Notice the irony in that? :)

Closing Thought.

The data you get through the Search Based Keyword Tool are actual search queries that are actually being typed by people using

The information from the tool should be used to create effective Organic and Paid search strategies to ensure you get your share of the relevant traffic.

Just because you don't show up does not mean that your competition won't.

Good luck!

Oh and in case you did not realize it, this is Web Analtyics baby!!

Ok your turn now.

Have you used Google's SbKT? What's your experience like? If you have not used it, do you think you'll find it to be of value?

Got any tips on monetizing the long tail? Got horror stories?

Please share your critique, feedback, cheers and boos. Thanks.

Couple other related posts you might find interesting:


  1. 1
    Alderaic says

    Very interesting, but the wakeup call was hard.

    We happen to run the SEM campaigns with an outside company.

    We manage all the details but then they run the daily operations.

    So no candy for me. I might get access to it someday, but with no access it isnt even the top 100 but the top 10 keywords, which makes it fairly useless!.

    Gotta get access to the adwords account now!

  2. 2

    First :-)

    Great post and interesting tool!

  3. 3

    Great post Avinash. You are right – this IS web analytics. SbKT seems like a great tool. I haven't used it much, but it can do a great job with keyword harvesting for the long tail search. Even more insightful than the Adwords portion in Google Analytics. I don't do any of the PPC at my corporation, but can definitely use this on my own site and with other clients. Keep up the quality posts!

  4. 4

    ARGH!, SKTool has recently switched from 100 to 10 keywords on non-associated sites. It took me two weeks to get a site associated with my account the last time I did a new one. Such a shame.

    One thing I've been trying to figure out is how to "reset" SKTool's perspective on sites. Currently, it won't show keywords that are already in the related AdWords account, even if those keywords are in Paused or Deleted campaigns/groups.

    Makes it tough to start over with a clean slate when an AdWords account is horrible but has a lot of related keywords already.

  5. 5

    Interesting post! I tried to use this tool, but it doesn't work well in The Netherlands yet.
    Do you know when it becomes worldwide available?


  6. 6

    Great post, Avinash. We've been experimenting with this lately, especially for our ecom-centered clients – as you said, it really helps if they've got a sprawling, product-rich site…lots of good data on those. The search visibility percentage is great too – though it always poses a problem when you have to explain to your boss why you're ranking the highest on their LEAST profitable keyword!

    Also, I'm glad you pointed out the importance of moving past the first 2 pages of results on this tool – I've found that it's easy to get wrapped up in the high-volume, broader search terms that show up first. Convincing clients that they need to target visitors further along in the buying process is always a struggle – ie, explaining to a home builder that no, he does NOT want to optimize his homepage for the keyword "house". So any assistance I can get showing keyword data on existing pages is ALWAYS great.

    Cheers Avinash! Keep it up.

  7. 7
    Ned Kumar says

    I haven't used SbKt, but this post was a great primer. Based on what you said, this appears to be a wonderful tool to have in your suite.

    I do have a question :-). One of the key things about the long-tail is that it is long and cheap (meaning these are the thousands of words that drive a few visits and they are realtively a whole lot cheaper compared with the 'head-words'). However, if you are in a space with lots of competition (not an oligopoly) and everybody starts mining the long-tail (using SbKT or otherwise), wouldn't the supply-demand dynamics make the 'impressive virgins' less impressive? In fact, I am tempted to say that when it comes to the long-tail, there are 'first mover' advantages for folks who explore it first.

    Enjoyed the post.

  8. 8

    Great Post.

    I've used the SKTool before, and while there are some great keywords, most of the time, the landing page wasn't the best. You cannot always rely on the landing page the tool provides as being the most optimal destination.

    I guess I will give it another try after reading this post :)

  9. 9

    Hi Avinash ! Great introduction to a powerful tool. Does the Ad /Search share column provides insightful data to evaluate cannibalization between Organic and Paid Search keywords?

  10. 10

    What you write here is very true.
    Thank your for this post.
    Keyword Research is really hard.
    (and we must admit that)

  11. 11

    Great post, and an awesome tool. Unfortunately:

    "This tool isn't available yet in your country/territory. If your billing address is outside the U.S. or UK, you'll see a limited set of keyword ideas – regardless of whether you advertise for the website or not."

    :( :( :(

  12. 12

    Another great post! Thank you.

    I've had some success with longtail on my church technology site but this has given me more good ideas.

    This blog is insane!

  13. 13
    Daniel Shaw says

    A real tour de force Avinash!

    I am impressed at how much time you spend explaining the back story of the problem. So many people in our field just tell you measure this or measure that, rarely explaining why we should care about something.

    At my company we are bidding in approximately 38k keywords. We have struggled to figure out how to expand our keyword lists. Thanks to this post our job was just made a lot easier.

    Bless you.

  14. 14

    Alderaic: This can be confidential data hence the restriction on top 100 terms, I am sure you understand.

    But now you have all the more reason to badger your Agency to give you access to your own account (I suspect they are working for you, no? :)).

    Glenn: You should see 100, I just tried, without even logging in, for, I see 100. But of course 100 is not a long tail, at best it is a fat head!

    With regards to your "reset" thought, SbKT shows queries not in your AdWords campaign. If you have more questions please reach out to your AdWords Account Manager.

    Paul: Unfortunately I can't make forward looking statements. But fingers crossed. : )

    Jeremy: In those cases you should show them their version of "the long tail story in numbers", as I did at the top of this post. Those last two numbers should convince them of the value of what you are rightly preaching!

    Ned: There is some truth to that. But most businesses are unique and it would need lots of people selling the same thing at the same time to "lose" the benefit.

    In my humble experience this rarely tends to be a zero sum game (and there are more "impression virgins" each day!!).

    David: The core purpose of SbKT is to get you the keyword portfolio, competition, bids, and search share. If for your business the landing pages are not 100% correct then that is a issue, but hopefully not a big one because you know your site. Yes?

    Andres: It really does not. It just shows impression share (not click share) and it would be hard to read cannibalization into that – it would be a really huge leap of faith.

    Think of those two numbers as telling you how much "coverage" you have. If for all your tail you have 100% in both columns then perhaps maybe could be some overlap. But it’s a stretch to come to that conclusion.


  15. 15
    Johnson says

    Hi, Avinash. Very Helpful.

    But I still have a question.
    It's about the difference between SbKT and the Google AdWords' KeywordTool (

    I use a same website to find keywords from them both, and the results are totally different.

    I know they are two independent tools. But I still want to know why the results are different, and how can I combine the two results together (Or should I combine the results)?

  16. 16
    kadın diyet zayıflama ve oto kiralama r10seoogle says

    thank you

  17. 17

    Anyone tried this for a site with a fairly new and very limited Adwords campaign?

  18. 18
    Patrick says


    the problem might be the match type you choose. i think google sets it to broad match automatically, and if y ou dont change it to exact, it shows well the broad match volume.

    "The second column shows you how many searches were done for that keyword in the last month (+ or – 10%). It is important to know these are not match typed in any way, these are actual search queries of users."

    Where do you get the + – 10% from Avinash? I would (genuinely) love to know that?

    I remember when G started showing search volumes (not just green bars) a couple of months ago and I read a few positive SEO blogs about it that those volumes were fairly accruate ("hardly ever off by more than two-fold" – which is great data for an SEO, because we're used to inflated values from the former overture tool (if you got data from it you knew that the search volume would have to be in a range of – 10,000% and + 10,000% – on a good day ;-))

    …and extrapolations from the small sample size word tracker tool that prides itself in showing "clean" data (however does an extrapolation from meta search engine data (who in the world actually uses a meta search engine?)

    So anyway..I was pretty (positively) surprised about what I heard of google shwoing somewhat accurate numbers (+-100%), but a few weeks ago I asked a couple of SEOs who said they thought the search volumes google now showed didnt seem to be indicative of anything.

    Where do you get the +-10% from? If it's anywhere near as accurate as that, I'll actually sign up for a google account just to use it (I'm serious :-))

  19. 19

    Overall, a very good post. However, there is a practical problem that I wish that you would address about how this relates to AdWords.

    AdWords, more times than not, does not display CPC ads for the long tail. Long tail queries, which by definition are "low-traffic keywords", are kept out of the results page because there is not enough volume of searches despite the fact that ads exist with an exact match on the same phrase, high quality scores, and decent bid amounts.

    See: for the official Google position.

    So unfortunately, if you really have a very very long tail (as our sites do…virtually all long tail with almost no head), you cannot use exact match for much of the strategy explained above in the post – forcing you into broad match.

    The argument made by the AdWords team is "This allows us to serve ads more efficiently and to reduce the volume of keywords in our system" yet they have no problem indexing virtually the entire internet for the organic listings. Sounds like a red herring to me. I doubt that it is just a coincidence that broad match keywords are more expensive than exact match.

    If the graph were a supersaurus,( ), it almost seems that we need to really aim for the waist to rear of the animal instead of the true tail.

    Ok, enough ranting…

    Avinash, could you please speak to this issue as it relates to this post?

    If a user searches for the phrase and there is an ad with a minimum bid for that phrase and it has a high enough quality score, shoudn't they see that ad?


  20. 20

    Thanks for bringing that up, Mike. I don't know if this is a problem for me but I know my long tails don't show up much in the SERP's. Keywords that work well for me rarely display ads when I qualify them further, sometimes when it seems impossible that they wouldn't. This post explains it if it is true.

    Check out my church technology site to see how targeted my audience is. I adjusted for the midrange and just accepted that level of success.

  21. 21

    Hi Avinash,

    I was working on a similar about 2 years back. Since then I got interested in some other projects but if you want to have a look here is an early version of my work

    If you want to chat about it please feel free to drop me a line.


  22. 22

    Johnson: The two tools share lots of data but run off different backends and with subtle variations on the computational algorithms (because if you think about it for a moment, they are trying to solve different problems). SbKT also uses the most comprehensive index of logs and index and, then, provides you with significantly more suggestions, which are deduped.

    Here's my guidance:
    If you are a small advertiser and new to AdWords then use the Keyword Tool.
    If you are a mid to large advertiser (especially with lots of product pages / content) then SbKT is your best bet.

    If that does not help you enough then let me rephrase it in the lingo of the post: Use the Adwords Keyword Tool for your head terms and use the Software based Keyword Tool for the tail terms. That's what each is really really good at.

    Hope this helps.

    Patrick: They are search queries on google + or – 10%. That information is from Google.

    Care is taken to only show material numbers to you. So the really really long tail of 2 or 4 queries won't be reported by the tool.

    Michael: With regards to your first point there is a minimum traffic threshold but the super really long tail of 2 or 4 searches in a month won't be suggested by SbKT.

    Now on to the philosophical point.

    The goal of the thresholds in AdWords for search ads is more geared towards ensuring that someone does not take all the 171,476 words in the english language and put together random key words / key phrases that will never get searched on.

    I think that is in the best interests of the Searcher, Advertiser and Google.

    SbKT on the other hand provides you with queries that people are *actually* searching on (and notice it shows the number of actual searches +/- 10%). That should help ensure if you run ads then that there is a high likelihood they will get shown.


  23. 23

    Your blog is really a great tool, a great reference. Keywords are really important.

  24. 24

    Personally I think this new tool is pretty rubbish. The suggestions are garbage and most the terms brought back are far from "long tail" (usually no more than 2-3 terms) which isn't "long tail" in this day and age.

  25. 25

    Great post Avinash<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  26. 26
    Vertical Return says

    Superb review, Avinash! Thanks

  27. 27


    The search based keyword tool is one of the tools which i highly recommended to be use when doing keyword research. Great post!

  28. 28

    Any thoughts on using paid keywords tools (Wordtrakker, etc.) or is Google as good as anyone?

  29. 29

    Excellent details here! I just wrote an article for my readers about using the long tail keywords but didn't go into providing details data as you did so it's really great. As I thought that this would be a great additional resource for my readers, I referred them to this article so you should also get a trackback anytime now!

  30. 30

    Prodigal: Google's AdWords Keyword Tool and Search based Keyword Tool each fill a unique niche and give you direct access to Google's data without having to pay or go to a third party (because they don't have direct access to the data, they would have to guess / scrape / infer etc).

    But Google is not the whole word.

    Tools like Wordtracker allow you to look at data from other search engines. Since your strategy should be to optimize for search across atleast the big three search engines you will find tools like Wordtracker to be useful.

    I also use HitWise and Compete to do competitive intelligence, but in those case I am trying to understand share of search (me vs my competitor) etc so those are helpful.

    Net net: It depends on what you are trying to do. If you are trying to research keyword behavior on google then Google's tools should work most optimally.


  31. 31

    Searchin on google and found your blog, this is greate post.

  32. 32

    Sexy for sure! I like to use the top 10 for the starting point and then also use the "Suggested search terms" in Google search to see what is relevant and also being searched to create variations.

    And don't forget about Google/trends

  33. 33

    Such a simple yet powerful tool! Thanks for doing a great tutorial on this subject, much appreciated!

  34. 34
    Jlbraaten says

    Great post as always. Thanks for the great info and enthusiasm!

  35. 35

    I like your blog and good post, but here is my question/concern;

    Optimizing for a specific kw takes time and money. Let's use a simple example: If you spend 1 dollar on optimizing to rank for one keyword that brings in 2 dollars in revenues, you're a dollar ahead. If you spend a dollar each on a set of 100 long tail keywords that bring in let's say 40 dollars total, you're 60 dollars in the red zone. What are your thoughts on this? How would you make this profitable on a large scale if the *combined* revenues the long tail keywords bring in are good, but the optimization cost is high due to the large number of keywords?

  36. 36

    Does anyone know why zero keywords would come up for a query using SbKT, and more importantly, how to fix? I'm logged into our AdWords account, but a query with or without terms produces nothing. Google has one sentence to say on this:

  37. 37


    Try setting up Google Webmaster Tools, to check & be sure your site and Google are getting along well. I suspect you either haven't been spidered or have a robots.txt problem, but it's hard to be sure.

  38. 38

    Thanks, Glenn. Webmaster Tools and robots.txt are fine and been running for a few months. Site is well indexed and no Webmaster errors to speak of. Any other ideas?

  39. 39

    True the SKT does not go all of the way to the long tail but is a wonderful resource for identifying volume, suggested bid and ad competition. Finding KWP gold nuggets here can be combined with other related KWP gold nuggets also found here. Build content around the gold nuggets combined and long tail appears.

    Phrase A: word01 word02
    Phrase B: word02 word03
    Phrase C: word01 word04

    word 01 word02 word03 word04

    What do you think?

  40. 40

    Ok, maybe someone can help: I used the SbKT to find keywords, loaded them into Adwords, and got the following message:
    Ad showing?
    This keyword isn't triggering ads to appear on Google or the search network.

    For details on specific criteria for this test, click the following link.
    Details and recommendations »

    To match specific targeting conditions (like geographic region), use the
    Ads Diagnostic Tool.

    Quality Score:
    Poor (4/10)
    Details and recommendations »

    I see that other folks have brought this up, but my question is will my ad really not show up? I'm following the CPC that SbKT suggests, and the words in question get 25+ searches per month.

  41. 41

    Hi, Thanks for your help :)!

  42. 42


    Did you think that also could be using the tool to detect organic good search positions?

  43. 43

    Yes, you can use this tool to uncover good organice terms. See #52 above.

  44. 44

    Hello everybody!

    This is my first comment in this blog, but I've been following it for several months. I find it thrilling! It's giving me extra work almost every week!! So I'm very happy because I'm learning a lot!! :-)

    I've tried the tool but I see that is only available for USA and UK. When will it be available for the rest of Europe, etc.? (I'm based in Madrid, Spain)

    THANK YOU!!!


  45. 45

    Tim: It is possible I am not understanding your question correctly. I am assuming by "optimizing to rank" you are referring to organic search? With Paid Search you would bid and improve your quality score, both of which could be thought of as optimization, but usually are not.

    If you are thinking SEO, then of course you should invest to the point at which you reach diminishing margins of return.

    But remember you cannot "win" the long tail strategy using SEO – too much competition, too many keywords, how could you rank?

    With paid search you can win the long tail strategy. You should execute so it is profitable for you (not just what you spend but also what it cost you to build / create and sell stuff). It is often prudent though that your long tail search strategy be more like maximizing a portfolio rather than managing a individual keyword (you'll have so many that you simply can't scale).

    Jess: For very small website there might not be suggestions, as there usually might not be enough content on your site or in unique long tail keywords people search for relevant to you. In both cases you'll see zero.

    I had mentioned in the post that SbKT works best for mid to large sized websites (because of the kind of analysis it needs to identify the swath of keywords using your own content).

    Don: One of the wonderful things about SbKT is that it will find you pretty much any commercial search query that has anything more than a decent amount of attractable traffic. So yes you can absolutely do as you have kindly suggested, and that should get you into deep deep long tail (or the really thin long tail :)), but I would prioritize the words out of SbKT default first.

    Rob: As you know for very long tail terms the keyword volume will shift and it is possible that some ads will get disabled because the volume drops to very low. This does not happen a lot (as mentioned in the post SbKT looks back a year and then computes numbers). But the ad serving system will un-suspend the ads automatically.

    Since it does not cost anything to have the ads in the system (and your bid rules stay at what you have set, what you are comfortable with), there is little harm in have a broad set of relevant keywords recommended by SbKT in your AdWords portfolio.

    Adrian: There are so many tools that will give you organic search position, if you really want it.

    Typically I tend not to focus on rank because it means so little now. With Universal Search and Personal Search and Search Wiki and all that other stuff knowing rank has tended to have less value.

    What you can see in SbKT is your organic share from long tail searches. That is meaningful. You know the keyword, you know the page the Google SbKT algorithms are suggesting, now if the traffic potential is big enough you can go optimize that page and grab even more share of the traffic using organic search.

    So yes you can use SbKT to understand how to improve share using Organic Search results.


  46. 46

    Fantastic article. I have been using google adwords tool and couldn't make sense of the difference between it and the SBKT in this article. Now I get it. Ps~ your my mentor!

  47. 47

    In theory at least it should be possible to get all the URLs as the search is made. Store them in a database and then do your addition and other manipulations to obtain number of Unique Visitors.

  48. 48

    "google adwords keyword tool" is very nice tool to find long tail keywords, It will give you accurate results as month/year for your desire keyword/keywords

  49. 49

    Sorry if this isn't suitable category but it is related to keywords.

    I noticed our own data seeming a bit skewed over the last week or two, it seemed that certain search terms were bringing traffic onto unexpected landing pages.

    i.e a hotel search may usually would lead to a hotel page was now sending the searcher to team building page.

    Running a random search today that we were competitive on but not no1 (in my browser) I noticed what probably is the answer.

    We were the second site listed but third n the results. The top site has results one and 2 and the link to 'more results from'

    Then is our site and with it there are the 'sitelinks' to 3 other 'important pages' on our website therefore giving the searcher more specific (or spontaneous) links in some cases.

    (incidentaly this gives us in third place 4 clickable links as oppose to the top ranking websites 3 clickable links including their 'more results' link)

    It seems that this is a recent phenomenon and explains some of the unusual clickpaths.

    I am aware of sitelinks but i am now of course referring to them appearing further down the rankings.

    I suspect this is going to throw a spanner into some of our works in respect of 'grouping'

  50. 50

    "AdWords, more times than not, does not display CPC ads for the long tail."
    – Michael

    "I think that is in the best interests of the Searcher, Advertiser and Google."
    – Av

    Michael makes a really great point here, and I have to disagree that it's anyone's interest but Google's. Advertisers would benefit from more tail terms. I would argue this is how you find the tail, let those terms run. If they get no searches, no one is hurt. If they do, you've earned a "virgin."

    I'd bring up a related point – "other" terms in the Search Query report. If you run that report, it's not uncommon to see that 10-70% of your traffic (and sales, etc.) is labeled "other" in terms of the search query that drove it. With more KWs in your account, (a longer tail) you can identify some of those mysterious "other" search queries. As Google blocks a longer tail more of that data remains a mystery, I can't learn from it, I can't optimize "other" very well.

    "Optimizing for a specific kw takes time and money. Let’s use a simple example: …you’re 60 dollars in the red zone. What are your thoughts on this?"
    — Tim B

    This is a great point about "risk adversity" and "test design." Complicated tests (more KWs) can yield a higher % of potential customers, but cost more to run.

    This tool provides "KW gambles" for you to experiment on. To Avinash's point, you can optimize these new terms along the way. However, you are very right that you stand to bare some cost (some new "waste") whenever you launch something new. This is an investment, sometimes a gamble, that can lead you to new customers segments. Hard to grow if you can't take any risks…

    Great discussion!

  51. 51

    Thanks a lot! That's very useful. I am going to use this tool from now on for my Adwords Campaign. However, it is not very clear in the organic search how I should proceed after I am already up for some specific longtails. How can I turn to single words? I know that for small and medium companies, long tails are preferable for SEO, but after some time, I reckon it's useful to change to more general keywords, isn't it?

  52. 52

    Bogdan: I am not sure I completely understand the question Bogdan, my apologies.

    But let me try to guess.

    What I do with the organic data from SbKT is I get a list of actual keywords people are searching on, I get a list of relevant pages from the tool. Now if I want to I can go and optimize those pages for those keywords. :)


  53. 53

    I do believe that many SEO campaign and PPC campaign is achieved on its base keyword and research on this….This is some good idea and articles about similar format

  54. 54

    Long tails keywords are equally important as primary and secondary keywords. This is where Analysts who can analyze and evaluate the 'Analytics' data, have their importance. Thanks for a great, detailed and informational article!

  55. 55
    Shivraj says

    Great Avinash…we have been using this strategy (Branded + Long Tail) since 2005 and have been harvesting 30%-40% of conversions consistently from the Tail at a 20%-25% lower CPA…

    Even today it is not easy to convince SEM users of the power of the long tail…not withstanding the proven validity of Zipf's law. Maybe creating and maintaining a sharp messaging focus on thousands of keywords is a deterrent.

  56. 56

    Great post Avinash,

    I've been using this strategy with great success. Targeting long-tail searches can achieve significantly better results than chasing after the generic, short-tail searches.

    I recently did some research on searches containing different numbers of words (i.e. short, medium and long-tail searches), and found that not only are long-tails cheaper and get higher rankings, but they also tend to have a higher conversion rate as long-tail searchers are often more motivated to buy.

    I also found that since people making long-tail searches are typically more specific in their needs, long-tails present a great opportunity to write highly targeted and tailored ads and achieve a strong CTR.

    Completely agree that long-tail research and management can be time consuming, so any technique to help simplify the process is much appreciated.

    Thanks for an informative post.


  57. 57

    Very articulate post. Don't forget about Google's Wonder Wheel :)

  58. 58

    Dear Avinash,

    There is one thing I am not sure is very clear though and has to do with the second column (how many searches were done):

    "The second column shows you how many searches were done for that keyword in the last month (+ or – 10%). It is important to know these are not match typed in any way, these are actual search queries of users."

    1. What does it mean that these are not matched typed in any way?
    2. What about none users, say ? Could we still rely on those figures or not? Is there any alternative?



  59. 59

    Hi Avinash,

    Thank you for this really great post. I am relieved to finally understand the long tail. All other explanations I have previously read were confusing and misleading. I truly appreciate you sharing your expansive knowledge.

  60. 60

    Thanks a million Avinash!
    SbKT is cool now thanks to your explanation :-) Have a small sized website and perhaps SbKT might not be all that useful, I mean when one compares the comparative advantage versus a medium or large sized website. But it sure provides `the long tail', and that's worth every bite even for a small website owner like me! I love `the long tail' and thanks for sharing these gems of analytics:-)
    Its a privilege to be among your company!

  61. 61

    Thanks for the great detail Avinash. I am a digital editor at an ad agency, having recently made the transition from media. My focus is content creation and I need to know what kinds of data the web and social media analytics teams can provide to improve my output. What are the most important details that will improve content strategy for the web? KC

  62. 62

    i was trying out the SBKT tool, and no matter what website I try the Ad/Search share is blank. Do I have to turn on something to be able to see that?

  63. 63

    Do you have any idea when this will be rolled out to Google Adwords users around the world? Currently Google is only supporting this tool for Google adwords advertisers in: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, The Netherlands, U.S., and UK.
    I would love to try this, but am only getting limited results because I am not in one of the supported countries.

  64. 64
    BM Models says

    Great article!

    I've come across you article explaining the long tail a few months ago, and in fact after we optimised our modelling agency site for the long tail (added a blog for user generated content) we've seen our traffic going up significantly. It's amazing what people can type as key phrases and how relatively easy it is to end up to our site. We've reached the point that long tail queries generate more traffic rather that our typically branded keywords.

    Thank you so much Avinash!

  65. 65

    Nice article outlining the benefits of these tools.

    However, AdWords now deactivates keywords that have low search query… this means that on Adwords, well, long tail is *almost* dead. Sucks for all parties involved.

  66. 66

    @ Eloi

    I recently found that a large number 'low search volume' keywords are actually quite high in search volume – up to 573 searches/month in some cases.

    I think deactivating low search volume keywords is a blunt move by Google move advertisers away from these cheaper keywords. As search engines evolve and users demand a more specialised and personalised experience from search engines, this is surely a step backwards by Google? Surely they should be encouranging people to provide highly-relevant ads for small niches?

  67. 67

    Nice post Alan… It's a problem they need to address.

  68. 68

    Alan: Showing ads for every search result would only result in higher profit for Google.

    But there is a tough balance between controlling spam/relevance/all factors that go into auction dynamics and showing ads on search results. Where the balance is met you'll see ads on search results, where it is not you won't see ads.

    This is something the team at Google is constantly tweaking, while erring on the side of caution so the customer experience on for every search query is the best it can be.

    Disclaimer: I currently work at Google so I could be biased.


    • 69

      Avinash, I know this article was written a long time ago, but I am hoping you might still see and respond.

      I have been doing google adwords a little while and recently learned about long tail searches. I created several long tail key word ads, quite specific (ie – location, rental cabins + 'long tail phrases' such as 'with hot tub'). I see that my 'location, rental cabins', which are 'head' phrases for my business, are still get impressions and clicks. And when I search my long tail phrase (ie – the hot tub one above), I am seeing my ads for my head phrases, but not my ads for my long tail phrases.

      My thinking is that if google has lots of bidders at higher cpc for the head phrase, why would they want to show my long tail phrase for which there are fewer bidders and lower cpc? To enhance the search experience of the user would be the answer, but it seems like google would make less profit in the short run. Maybe that is the balance you refer to in response to Alan's post? Google is telling me that these are low volume. Sounds from post above like google may not even be considering giving these ads any impressions. If so, then that's my problem and I am on the wrong side of that 'balance' referred to.

      Not complaining or saying not fair, just trying to understand. Any thoughts? Thanks for the article!

      • 70

        John: Google's ad platform (for better or for worse) is quite sophisticated and the choices you make in setting up in your ad determines when and where your ad shows up. So it is very hard for me, or anyone, to opine with any confidence why a specific query works one way or the other in the ad system. It depends on you. :)

        But I want to point out that there are two things that matter. 1. Your ad settings (including bid) and 2. Quality Score. The latter ensures that high quality and hyper relevant ads are shown in AdWords. What this means is that the person with the highest money (but a low quality ad or landing page experience) won't always show up higher.

        Here's a helpful link:

        ~ What is the AdWords "Quality Score" and how is it calculated?


  69. 71

    Hi Avinash,

    That makes sense, and agree it's in Google's best interests to find a balance between maximising customer experience versus providing advertisers with niches. Just hope their caution doesn't take away opportunities for highly-specialised long-tail keyword targeting, which can be extremely profitable for small businesses who can't afford to compete with the generic masses.

    Loved your Web Analytics 2.0 book by the way, especially the stuff on segmentation and social media optimisation.


  70. 72
    Shivam Dhawan says

    I was I was searching for applications of Zipf'z law and if google uses any such law to validate the content of a website while indexing. The search results led me to your page's comment by Shivraj (not that this is my first visit, I am a web analyst from India and have subscribed to your blog)

    Not sure if I got the answer from your blog but it really helped understanding the theory of Zipf's law with web content. I didn't get any refference to Shivraj but would really like to connect with him to understand the implications of the law and how is it used.

  71. 73

    Exactly what i was looking for. I do the organic seo for our company and i needed to get more relevant keyword strings.

  72. 74
    Daniel Lofton says

    Wow this is a very nice way to find these long tail keywords. I think long tail keywords are very valuable in terms of bringing in targeted visitors. Another benefit is that they bring in very targeted traffic with little work.

  73. 75

    Good way to bring new visitors to the business!

  74. 76

    Thanks for this post, this gave me exactly what I was looking for, certainly going to help me.


  75. 77

    Exactly. I've been worked with the Google keyword tool, and I found my blog get raise from time to time.

    But your explanation is definetely clear to me about how to use it well. and I love part of the "long tail" high desperation keywords …


  76. 78

    Thanks for pointing this post out to me Avanish.

    Coincidentally, i found the 'opportunities' tab earlier this month and have already seen some beenfits coming back.


  77. 79

    Nice read and still relevant today. Looks like the sktool has merged into the kwtool.

  78. 80
    Neeraj Dhiman says

    I think your long tail approach is good.

    I believe it applies to more ecommerce websites rather than service based websites although all websites can benefit from this approach.

  79. 81

    Hi Avinash,
    Very useful post.
    I've two questions:
    1. I typed a website address as per your suggestion, but I'm getting 20-25 keyword ideas only for that website. (It's not my website)
    2. I want to write posts using long tail keywords for organic searches. Do you have any suggestions?


    • 82

      Avadhut: If you are not the owner of the website, as identified inside AdWords, then you will only see a limited amount of data about your competitors.

      I'm afraid I'm not sure what to recommend for your second question. My apologies.


  80. 83


    Has any of this information changed significantly now that Google has replaced the Keyword Tool with the Keyword Planner? Thanks for all of the great info you share.


  81. 85
    Adnaan Nagarwala says

    I prefer using the Adwords option as it gives a surety of providing some worthy and definite results in the SEO practices.


  1. […] [The Latest At Occam's Razor] […]

  2. […]
    Today I learned of a Google product called Search Based Keyword Tool (SBKT) that does exactly that. Over at Occam’s Razor there is an extended description of the tool and how you can make the most of it. I can’t overstate how important this tool can be: If building keyword lists for AdWords campaigns is one of your concerns, this article is a must read.

  3. […]
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  4. […] Google's Search-based Keyword Tool: Monetize The Long Tail of Search | Occam's Razor by Av… (tags: seo google tools analytics ecommerce search marketing web) […]

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  7. […] Avinash Kaushik is going a little SEO with monetizing the longtail of search. Not quite analytics, not quite PPC, not quite SEO, but a fantastic read for anyone in any of those fields. […]

  8. […] And they have decided to share a lot of it with advertisers via their Search-based Keyword Tool and Ad Planner. Avinash Kaushik recently reviewed the tool, and Danny Sullivan reviewed the ad planner when it came out. […]

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    All you need to do is to identify the right keywords that can offer you better conversion rate and niche visitors. Focus on these keywords and identify specific page for each set of keywords. (Do not target all your keywords on the home page unless you have a one page website.) Look for long tail keywords that are performing well or got chances to perform well under favorable conditions. And this is where you can actually outgrow your competitors as far as return on investment is concerned.

    What if your site is not old enough to offer you enough data on long tail keywords? You may think about using the Search-based Keyword Tool from Google. Avinash Kaushik has written a great post on it.

  10. […]
    For this main reason we must choose keyword research tool that are highly functional, highly effective and comfortable to use. Below are several keyword research tools that you can use:

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  14. The Long Tail Is Where It's At…

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    All you need to do is to identify the right keywords that can offer you better conversion rate and niche visitors. Focus on these keywords and identify specific page for each set of keywords. (Do not target all your keywords on the home page unless you have a one page website.) Look for long tail keywords that are performing well or got chances to perform well under favorable conditions. And this is where you can actually outgrow your competitors as far as return on investment is concerned.

    What if your site is not old enough to offer you enough data on long tail keywords? You may think about using the Search-based Keyword Tool from Google. Avinash Kaushik has written a great post on it.

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    To get some really good ideas on how you can utilize this tool, I recommend you read Google’s Search Based Keyword Tool: Monetize The Long Tail of Search by Avinash Kaushik before you go any further in this article.
    That article is what inspired this post which is a follow-up to it or my thoughts on the tool as an SEO as opposed to a Pay-Pay-Click (PPC) manager.

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    I totally agree with Danny’s comments and that it is more important that before to make sure you get to your users before your competitors. Along with making sure that the website is optimally optimised to users and search engine standards, it would be very useful to analyse the often neglected long tail search terms and optimising website to rank highly for such search terms. Avinash kaushik covers the topic quite well with analytics data.

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    The much touted concept of the “Long Tail of search” is an important concept for search marketers and merchants in particular. As the oft put perspective goes- the “head” of customer search volume represent a great deal of traffic and competition for these very general, broad “head” product keywords. Fewer in number larger in volume. On the other end of the spectrum is the vaulted “Long Tail” of search consisting of a much greater quantity of specific keywords albeit with a much smaller audience per keyword.

  27. […]
    For instance, here's numbers 1 and 2 from the list, to whet your appetite:

    1. Update your wishlist:
    Use the Search-based Keyword Tool to find keywords that you never thought of incorporating into your campaign for the holidays. (Here is a how-to guide for how best to use the tool: Monetize The Long Tail of Search).

  28. […] Avinash's Blog: How to Monetize The Value of The Long Tail. […]

  29. […]
    Affiliates haben hier leider weniger Handlungsspielraum. Ich habe jedoch die Erfahrung gemacht, dass es immer noch eine Möglichkeit gibt – seien es nun Long-Tail-SEO-Maßnahmen o.ä. –, als Affiliate trotz extrem kundenorientierter Merchants irgendwie aus der Masse herauszustechen. Man muss diese Möglichkeiten nur entdecken, bevor die anderen Affiliates es tun. Letzteres ist oft leichter gesagt als getan.

  30. […]
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  31. […] Google's Search-based Keyword Tool: Monetize The Long Tail of Search | Occam's Razor by … […]

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    Sometimes you can use a paid search campaign for research and get quick data. Great idea. Another news flash: Google Webmaster Tools account data changed yesterday. Check your reports now! Click-through rate is now on your reports. Hurray! He shows a neat tool for visualizing keyphrase relationships– Google’s search-based keyword tool (SbKT) that Avinash writes about in his blog. Use your PPC data to guide your organic campaigns. Consider promoting content outside of your primary site (3rd-party sites) that has positive comments about your site.

  33. […]
    Buying keywords from a search engine (via AdWords, AdCenter or any other like service) ensures that, when a user enters these words or phrases into a search, an ad for your site is automatically included on the search results page. Buying keywords is a competitive, auction-based affair, which means you need to understand what you want to achieve before you end up breaking the bank.

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  34. […]
    Correlate what you find with Google’s Search-Based Keyword Tool. Enter each of the keywords you’ve chosen to find out just how many people actually look for them; sometimes the numbers are staggeringly low. That’s a good indicator that you might need new keywords – if no one is looking, your content won’t be found. However, if you’re on to something fresh and trendy that you know people will soon start looking for you should forge ahead anyway!

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