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How to find what people interested in a specific topic - like Maine Tourism - search for in January

22 January 2018

Do you know what your prospective customers tend to be searching for in each month?

Here's a quick-and-dirty way to find out.

The numbers here are specific to Maine tourism businesses - but the method has wide applicability to search marketing and advertising.

Simple steps:

  1. Log in to your Google account and open the Keyword Planner Tool.
  2. Ask it to Search for new keywords.
  3. Tell it to start with the URL of your website - or maybe better, if you're not a powerhouse in your industry and region, with the URL of the biggest player in your market.
  4. Tell the Keyword Planner to sort results by month.
  5. The Keyword Planner will generate a downloadable (CSV) list of keywords, associated with the website URL you gave it, for the previous year, sorted by month.
  6. For each keyword, the output file will show (along with other data):
    • the number of monthly Searches
    • Google's estimate of Competition, expressed as a decimal quantity between 0 and 1:
      • Weak <.33
      • Medium .33-.66
      • High >.66

Making actionable sense of that is where quick-and-dirty comes in.

On the theory that many searches and little competition are a desirable combination, I created in the spreadsheet a simple metric Searches/Competition, calculated just as that says: number of searches divided by competition (0-1). That makes the result directly proportional to Searches and inversely proportional to Competition. And I'm willing to assume that rank-ordering the results of that calc will tend to put the most promising keywords near the top of the list.

Here's the top of my list, arbitrarily cut off at Searches/Competition = 1000:

Please note: This list is greatly simplified so as not to get caught up in details. I have excluded searches that don't specify Maine, searches on names of specific hotels (etc.), searches containing "near me", and searches that include seasons other than winter.

That doesn't mean those searches are of no value. They reveal searches for your own business, for your competitors' businesses, done on smartphones, or by people looking ahead to summer. I just wanted a simpler list for purposes of example.

Of course, if you operate a tourism business in e.g. Boothbay Harbor, you would eliminate keywords like "sunday river maine", "kennebunk beach", etc. and concentrate on those relevant to you.

There are a lot of useful data in that Keyword Planner output. And it's free to use, except for your time.

If you want the complete CSV file, just click the Newsletter link at top right of this page, subscribe, and say you want the Keyword Spreadsheet. I'll send it along.


If you found this article helpful and would like to see more like it, please share it via the Share This Article link, below.

And if you have questions or comments, you can easily send them to me with the Quick Reply form, below, or send me an e-mail.

David Boggs    - David
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