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How freelance journalists and writers can use Google’s Keyword Tool to get work

I’ve already blogged about Google’s Keyword Tool now displaying absolute search volumes. I thought it would be worth looking at a practical example. I keep hearing from various freelance journalist and writer friends that it is tough finding commissions these days – not just journalistic work but also PR and general copywriting. It occurred to me that perhaps they could put their writing talents to good effect by testing the water with some PPC advertising (this presumes of course that they have a blog or website – and that it is properly set up to capture and convert traffic).

Here’s a quick look at some fairly obvious keyword terms – the first figure shows the search volume in the UK for June 2008 and the second figure the expected cost per click for a 1 – 3 ad position.

Copywriting 33,100 £1.29
Copywriter 14,800 £1.02
Media training 8,100 £2.01
SEO copywriting 1300 £2.76
Web copywriting 1,000 £1.85

Clearly not all of these searches will be from people seeking paid-for copywriting work – but surely some of them will be. Even gaining a tiny percentage of response from some of the more popular terms would hopefully convert into work that would justify the ad spend (I’d certainly suggest setting a nominal initial budget and test from there).

The media training result was also interesting. I know a number of journalists offer media training services – over 8000 searches in the UK last month suggests there is clearly a lot of interest in it – and surely a percentage of that must come from people seeking to buy media training?

On a different tack, I looked at a few phrases containing “How to start a (insert company type)”

The results below are the searches for last month along with the trend:

How to start a publishing company (73) Falling
How to start a record company (46) Falling
How to start a clothing company (36) Rising

I wonder who those 73 people are out there dreaming of starting their own publishing company? I wonder how many journalists are in that number? However, it would seem the current trend is down – as is starting a record company (no surprise there I guess). Though rag trade interest seems to be rising – albeit from a very small base.

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Google reveals keyword search volumes – and why you should care

Don’t know how I missed this one, but last week – and without much fanfare – Google announced that it would now reveal approximate search volumes from within its Keyword Tool.

The excellent Jason Baer at the Convince and Convert blog makes some very good observations as to why this is going to have a big impact on digital marketing. In particular when he says:

“If Google makes the marketing and advertising business as transparent as travel planning and stock purchases, the only agencies that will be able to survive are those that can add real value in messaging, creative, and integrating data into actionable tactics.”

I would of course include PR in the above too. So why should the availability of search volumes bother the PR community? (Or at least the tech/B-to-B world?).

If you accept that 95pc of B-to-B purchase decisions involve search, then you can now put a real figure on just how many people are actually searching on terms that you believe they find important – and are relevant to your business.

Let’s take an imaginary example. The Borked Corporation makes dilithium consoles. Av. profit on a console is $20. The company is aiming to make an additional $1m in profit over the next 12 months. That means selling an extra 50,000 consoles – or just over 4000 consoles a month. All marketing to date has been based around the key term “dilithium consoles”. The company has invested a lot in PR-ing the term dilithium console. Their digital agency has persuaded them to invest heavily in PPC. As of last week, Borked Corporation can see actual search volumes on “dilithium console” – a mere 1000 for the month and an average of 1500 for the last 6 months. It doesn’t take much to work out that Borked needs to answer some major questions – what terms ARE our potential purchasers searching on? How we can understand and influence the non-line buying process and incorporate the most relevant and impactful content at the appropriate juncture? Or more fundamental, is there a big enough market for our products at the current price/profit point?

Let’s not forget that Google’s Keyword Tool can be segmented by geography. For example, here’s the results for the UK last month on the terms digital PR and online PR.

It makes for interesting reading. For example, the keyword term digital PR was searched for in the UK 480 times last month. Online PR got 2400. Exactly 5 times the volume. Or thought of another way, a total of 2880 searches for combined digital/online PR. Or around 100 times a day. And how many of those searches are from people looking to buy digital/online PR services? This is the kind of thinking that helps to bring a forceful clarity to all PR and marketing activity.

Why not see how many times your company/product name was searched on last month? The results may surprise you.