An Insider’s Look At Google’s Search Based Keyword Tool

Google’s free search based keyword tool has given advertisers access to Google’s data to help leverage the relationship between organic and paid search campaigns. Last year, before the release of Google’s search-based keyword tool, my Google rep sent me a very insightful report on one of my clients. It compared, side by side, the keywords that had high organic rankings alongside the keywords in the client’s AdWords campaign. All in all, it gave me a couple hundred new terms to consider adding to the AdWords account which already had around ten thousand keywords. It seemed pretty clear that a good Quality Score should be easy to attain with these new suggested keywords as the landing page relevance for the keywords was already established. “Great tool,” I said. “I wish Google would release it to the public.”

A few months later, they did just that.

Although it’s been out for a while, I thought it only right to dig more into this tool and get an insider’s view.

Q&A with Baris Gultekin, Google Product Manager

Q. Tell us about this great resource.

Baris: The search-based keyword tool compares the content of an advertiser’s website against actual Google search queries to provide a list of highly relevant keywords on which the advertiser is not already running ads. This new tool helps businesses grow and innovate on their keyword choices by taking the guesswork out of the process. Rather than blindly adding keywords to an ad campaign based on what one thinks a user might search on, this tool enables advertisers to manage their keywords based on what they know users are searching on.

Along with each new keyword suggestion, the tool also displays other data points to help marketers make informed keyword decisions. These include the average monthly search traffic, the level of competition for that particular term, the estimated bid needed for your ad to appear in the top three positions on the page, the ad and search share for the term, and the page on the advertiser’s website to which the term is most closely related.

With this insight into the precise keywords that potential customers use to look for products and services online, advertisers can more effectively reach their target audiences and drive incremental traffic to their site. To illustrate this concept, consider a housewares retailer that runs on the term “cake mold,” but discovers through our tool that hundreds of searches occur each month on the more nuanced, hard-to-guess terms “train cake pan” and “car shaped pan.” Similarly, a department store that runs on keywords in a multitude of categories might not realize until using our tool that audiences are searching for the slang term “designer kicks” as well as the generic terms “footwear” and “shoes.”

To try this free tool, advertisers can visit and sign in to their AdWords account. They then simply enter their website URL and click “Find Keywords” to generate a list of new keyword ideas. Any keywords already included in an advertiser’s AdWords account are automatically filtered and removed, so every single keyword represents a new opportunity.

Through a robust set of powerful filters, the tool also enables advertisers to explore keywords by categories such as apparel, health, home & garden, travel and more.

Q. What are the key benefits of the tool?

Baris: The online marketplace is a dynamic one, so there’s always room for improvement and an endless array of unexpected queries that users might search on to find what they’re looking for online. Any advertiser who has ever felt challenged or overwhelmed by the task of choosing the right keywords to attract potential customers can now take advantage of relevant, previously missed marketing opportunities that they didn’t even know existed. When asking themselves, “What other keywords should I run on? What are people actually searching on to get to my site?” they can easily and quickly find out the answers.

In particular, large advertisers with thousands of product pages and regularly changing inventory can use this tool to ensure that they’re scaling their keyword lists and capturing traffic for the products they carry that are often sought online. Through this tool, advertisers can better identify either groups of long tail terms they weren’t aware of or specific general terms they may have missed. However, like any generic terms added to a keyword list, the performance of these popular terms should be carefully selected, monitored and optimized accordingly.

In addition to helping advertisers create more comprehensive keyword lists, the search-based keyword tool can also serve as a useful guide for new campaigns not yet being advertised. For example, a budding camera shop owner can use the data from the tool to evaluate search trends and anticipate demand for certain products. He might realize that consumers are looking for cameras with a certain number of megapixels, specific types of lenses, or special touch screen interfaces, and that knowledge can inform his decisions about the types of products he should stock in his store.

Q. How is the search based keyword tool different than other keyword suggestion tools?

Baris: Most keyword tools use a common framework: they ask advertisers to plug in a keyword that they believe to be relevant to their website, and then the tool produces a list of similar, closely-related keyword variations. However, this method begins with a guessing game on the part of the advertiser.

We are trying a new, fundamentally different approach to keyword generation. Based on all of your specific website pages, all of your accounts and real user search queries, the search based keyword tool provides new and relevant keyword possibilities that you’ve unfortunately been missing.

Think of it this way: for keyword searching, the Google search engine starts with the searches conducted by users and helps them find relevant web pages. But for keyword advertising, the search based keyword tool goes in the opposite direction by starting with your web pages and identifying keywords that potential customers are searching on to find your products or services. It’s like an “inverse search engine.”

Additionally, this new tool provides insightful share of voice data. By showing advertisers both the ad share and search share of a given keyword suggestion, they can determine how to use their natural search listings and AdWords ads in a complementary, strategic way. For example, if an advertiser’s website URL doesn’t appear on the first page of natural search results for a specific keyword, the advertiser might consider adding that keyword to their AdWords campaign so that they’re eligible to appear as a sponsored link on that page instead.

Q. Can you take us on a walk-thru of the tool?

Baris: The first step is going to and signing in to your AdWords account. Then, just enter your website URL into the designated field, and click “Find keywords” at the bottom of the page.

Below is a visual of a page of results returned by the tool. In this example, you can see on the top of the page that I entered “” as my website URL and specified that I only wanted to see suggestions with the word “google.”


Based on real search data, I can see that the term “google mini” is searched for 8,200 times monthly. However, since that phrase is not included in my current keyword list, my ad doesn’t show alongside those searches and I’ve lost the opportunity to attract those potential customers who are actively looking for my product! Seeing that it may not be too competitive for my ad to appear on the page and using the tool’s suggested bid recommendation, I will add “google mini” to my AdWords keyword list and ensure that my ad directs users to the web page on my site about enterprise solutions. In almost real time, I can begin capturing previously missed traffic!


Alternatively, rather than entering in your specific website URL, you can also view the tool’s keyword suggestions by category, or vertical. From the search based keyword tool page, click the link at the bottom of the page that says “Or see top keywords across all categories.” As seen below on the left hand side of the page, you can view all the numerous categories and drill down based on your specific sub-categories and interests like an advertiser’s Zeitgeist.


Q. What has been the industry feedback on the tool?

Baris: Since making the Search-based Keyword Tool available to all advertisers in the US and UK last November, we’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback from beta testers.

Particularly for large companies with an array of products and web pages in their inventory, the tool has identified relevant keywords that fill the gaps between different categories and product lines that would’ve been impossible to generate manually. For small businesses, the tool has been crucial for both helping entrepreneurs establish healthy, relevant keyword lists from the start and providing additional suggestions as they grow their businesses and product offerings.

Our initial research shows that when compared to other keywords in the same ad groups, the keywords suggested by our tool, in aggregate, result in more than double the conversions at 30 percent less expensive cost. The time it saves marketers in brainstorming potential keywords is also a major win, as the tool takes only seconds to return its suggestions. Finally, as the internet and search advertising become increasingly measurable and data-driven, the keywords’ detailed search data before they’re entered into an advertiser’s account and the detailed performance data once they begin accruing metrics are invaluable to any savvy marketer looking to reach incremental, targeted audiences.

Q. Thanks for your time. I really like this tool!

I recommend every SEM pro go check this tool out. As always, Google would love to hear what you think about it and Boris let me know you can send in feedback here. For more information on the tool, check out Google’s support site.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Search Marketing Toolbox


About The Author: has been a search marketer since 2003 with a focus on SEM technology. As a media technologist fluent in the use of leading industry systems, Josh stays abreast of cutting edge digital marketing and measurement tools to maximize the effect of digital media on business goals. He has a deep passion to monitor the constantly evolving intersection between marketing and technology. You can follow him on Twitter at @mediatechguy.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • gcrocker

    Great intro to SKTool. I’ve found that building campaigns this way helps immensely, particularly on Quality Score. One client went from very negative AdWords ROI to very positive immediately.

    What better way to have a high QS than to have Google tell us which pages to link to and with which phrases? Write great ads to match, and you’re aligned for very low click prices!


  • GeminiFilms_Owen_Sound

    Fantastic Article. Realy helped me feel comfortable with the results I have been finding. Before reading this I kinda felt like it was all happy mistakes. You breed security. Thanks!


Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide