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How to find out what Search engine users are really asking.

SEO digest

As the SEOmoz team have been away at Pubcon I've been asked to fill in with a blog post. I'm Richard Cotton and I work for Distilled as their Paid Search marketer.
One of my colleagues sent me a link to a fun little tool that he had been using from Wordtracker Labs, the people who brought you the fantastic keyword suggestion tool. You type in a word and it tells you what questions people have been asking on their partner search engines within the last 140 days containing that word. A lot of people have been talking about the benefits for SEO work that a tool like this can provide, and there is no doubt that that is the case, but there is also one massive benefit for anyone running a Paid Search account. For PPC this is a great source of potential negative keywords, particularly for those broad match terms that you can’t switch off but you know produce unspecified quantities of irrelevant traffic. After all most of these will never click on your ad so will not show up in the Search Query Report and allow you to easily eliminate them with negative keywords.

If you are running a PPC campaign for an online bed shop, for example, typing in ‘bed’ gets you 100 results that immediately produce potential negative keywords. Some you will no doubt have already thought of but there are always new (and ridiculous) questions for you to create negatives from. In this list of 100 questions about ‘bed’ only 1 was about someone wishing to purchase an item and that was for a pillow. The list of potential negatives includes the usual internet preoccupation with sex;

            •           how to last longer in bed

            •           how to please a man in bed

            •           what to say when talking dirty in bed

Domestic advice

            •           how to get rid of bed bugs

            •           how to build a bed

            •           how to get cat from under bed


            •          how long was brian wilson in bed

            •          how do people lay on a bed of nails

            •          how can i wet the bed on purpose

and also the downright wrong (and yes, “wetting the bed on purpose” guy is quirky compared to these – read on)

            •           how to get your sister in bed

            •           how should i get my mom into bed with me

The point of listing these is to show you the lengths you have to go to eliminate the huge host of irrelevant searches. Albert Einstein once said “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former”. Protect yourself from the boundless depths of human stupidity (and depravity), find out what people are really looking for and stop them from lowering your clickthrough rate and, even worse, clicking and costing you money that will never convert. Cutting out the bed-wetters alone will not make a huge impact but each of these negatives together, time after time, will allow you to make a real difference to the quality of search traffic you are putting your adverts in front of.

published @ November 17, 2008

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