Using Google for marketing research with keyword searching to yield a treasure trove of information.

Using Google couldn’t be easier for keyword searching–just enter a few keywords to find what you’re looking for. But if you put some thought to the keywords you use, and the way you use Google, you’ll get better, more accurate results, faster and more often.

For example searching by a two-word phrase or even a three word phrase, often called long tail words, entered within quotation marks, generates more accurate search results than entering the same two words without quotes, because Google finds only those sites that contain the entire phrase, instead of the number of sites that contain either of the two individual keywords.

Also, you can often learn new keywords, such as technical terms or product names, by scanning the first few pages of your initial Google search results. Then entering these found terms as new keywords in subsequent searches, to help you zero in on the exact information you’re searching for.

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If you ever been involved with content marketing, then you will know how important it is to select your keywords. You can use tools like MOZ and SEMrush but they come with a price. Start with Google Keyword Planner and Google semantic search terms. These will give you a great start for a more in-depth marketing research project.

Google’s Search platform is great for gathering secondary data, secondary sources, and secondary information as you conduct your primary and secondary marketing research project.

So let’s get started.

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How to develop keywords for your Google search

The quality of the results you get from any Google search depends on the quality of the keywords or phrases you use in your searches.

Using keywords that are too general yields too many unwanted search results, and using keywords that are too specific in your initial Google search may cause you to miss some critical information. So, think about the keywords you need to use in your search, and the best keywords to use first.

Here are a few examples to help you with your Google search and marketing research

Step 1: Ask a question

The quickest, easiest way to generate keywords for your search is to ask a question:

  • What are the top venture capital firms in Colorado?
  • What is the size of the US market for marketing automation technology systems?
  • Who are the digital marketing agencies based in Denver, Colorado?
  • What privately held manufacturing producers are involved in the development of functional foods?
  • Where can I learn about industrial design used in iPads?
  • Where can I make a reservation for a hotel in Boulder, Colorado?

Step 2:  Enter the question, or find and enter just the keywords

Once you frame your search in the form of a question, you can begin your search by typing your question into Google search.

However, more effective ways to pull the keyword phrases and nouns add a request them and enter each two or three-word phrase within question marks, followed by one, the single keyword (or another two-word phrase)  to further narrow the information you’re searching.

Here are the relevant keywords and search phrases, pulled out from each of the previous questions, and ready to enter into Google’s search window:

  • “venture capital firms” “colorado”
  • “US market” “marketing automation” “technology systems”
  • “digital marketing agencies” “Denver, Colorado”
  • “manufacturing producers” “functional foods” development
  • “industrial design” “iPads”
  • “hotel reservation” “Boulder, Colorado”

A keyword phrase within quotes increases search accuracy

Compared to the entry of a single keyword, entering an exact phrase within quotation marks is a more specific way to search, and results in a smaller number of search results since Google will return only those websites matching the exact phrase you’ve entered.

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Adding  a single keyword or phrase narrows your search results even further

Adding a single keyword to the two or three-word phrases within quotes, as shown in the previous example, helps you to triangulate your search by adding this third keyword or phrase.

General keywords and phrases produce less relevant search results

For example, entering to general phrases, like “sales data” or  “SaaS software”, or “real estate” retrieves far more–but far less relevant–results than using a more specific search phrase.

Too-General Phrase

  • “sales data”
  • “SaaS software”
  • “real estate’
  • “Denver colorado”

Better Search Phases

  • “ market share”
  • “SaaS software platforms”
  • “real estate broker”
  • “Downtown Denver Colorado”

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Step 3:  Reading your keyword search results

After you enter keywords, and keyword phrases, and click the Google search button, Google generates a list of the search results at it finds, ranking each web page by its relevancy–the number of other websites that link to it.

If you structure your first keyword search, using keyword phrases specific enough to the topics you’re searching, you will often find the answer to your question among the first you search results returned by Google, and often in the first, second, or third result at the top of the first page of results.

Scanning the first page of Google search results

Scan the titles and abstracts on your first page of search results on Google. Train yourself to filter the results you are seeing, before clicking on every search result. By looking at the title, the meta description, and the web URL, ask yourself:  does the source of the retrieved information appear to be credible?

Trust your instincts when scanning titles and abstracts

On the internet, where information comes from, and how it got there, is almost as important as the information itself. For example, you’re searching for time-sensitive information, like current market size data for industry, chances are a search result from an industry, or a corporate website, would be less relevant or credible than a more recently published article from my business news publication or newspaper website.

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Location is important

A Google search usually generates a list of search results from websites all around the world, but search results from sites outside of the US would be less timely or credible if, say, you were searching for information on a topic related specifically to a US-based business market.

If you’re doing some business research on a telecommunications industry in Switzerland, a search result from a Swiss-based website may be more timely or relevant than search results from websites based elsewhere.

Contacts add to the relevance

Observe the context of the information in your search results. Pay close attention to who’s behind the link, and the descriptiveness of the information shown in the two lines Google abstract for each search result.

For example, if you’re searching for information on a specific electronic product, a search result from the manufacturer of that product is more relevant than a passing reference to that product found on a dealer’s website.

Check the dates on the pages you’re reading

For fast-changing business and marketing permission, the more timely the search result, the better the information. Pay close attention to these dates shown in Google search results, and on the web pages, you’re reading from these Google searches.

They’re many ghost websites that haven’t been updated since the .com bust, so if you’re looking at the sales contact information on a website having the last update of June 17th, 1999 line on the bottom of the page, it’s probably out of date.

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The two-page rule: If it’s not on the first two pages of your Google search, search again

Your average Google search could generate 500, 4,000, or 4.5 million search volumes across dozens or thousands of pages, but this doesn’t mean you must look at every page.

Because of Google’s page ranking technology, it’s a safe bet that the information you’re looking for will appear somewhere within the first two pages of your Google search results, and usually on the very first page if you used the right keywords.

Step 4: Search and learn, and then search again

Your first keyword searches often will lead you to another search: Keyword searching is equal parts of art and skill. It’s often in imprecise, “Hit or Miss” process. One of the secrets to successful keyword searching is accepting the fact it may take two, three, four, or more search attempts to find the answer to your question.

Keyword searching is a reiterative learning process: because each search reveals new pieces of information and gives you new keywords to use for your next search, the results you see from your first, second, or subsequent keyword searches gives you important feedback for your next search.

And each new search reveals even better, more relevant, keywords and phrases. The information you see on search results pages, even if it’s not what you’re looking for, often provide you with the clues you need for the next search.

Wrap-up on Keyword Research

Searching the internet is like taking a picture with a camera. There are many ways to photograph a single saying that’s in front of you. You can walk closer to take a picture of a person or object in your view, or you can walk away back to capture the entire landscape. Or, you can step to either to take the same picture from a different angle.

Think of the internet as a vast landscape of information. The number, type, in quality of keywords you use helps you move closer to the most relevant and specific information available in your search. Or, using more generalized keywords, it moves you further away, which helps you to get a sense of the context of the information you found.

The sense of context is an important aspect of all your internet searches. When starting a keyword search, it’s best to start general–it is, using the keywords or phrases you think to give you a sense of the big picture of the topic you’re searching before you begin to narrow your search by adding more keywords or phrases. To narrow the search.

Exceptions to the rule always exist. For example, if you’re searching for tomorrow’s Boulder, Colorado’s weather forecast, you want to do a keyword search that is quick and as precise as possible. In most cases, however, this is general to specific rule ensures that you won’t miss any important information that can help your search along the way.

This will also work in reverse. If you’re too specific search yields to few results, you can always remove a keyword, or search buy more general keywords to retrieve more information on your topic.

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