The Sneaky Keyword Research Trick That Helped Boost Conversions Over 50%

by Adam Kreitman

Last updated on February 21st, 2018

Got some deep, dark secrets to share with you in this post.

But first a little background is in order.

When it comes to online marketing…particularly search engine marketing…keyword research is the foundation of success.

You simply can’t guess which keywords or phrases your prospects are typing into Google to find you…you have to know for sure.

Enter the keyword research tool

These tools, like the free one from Google, provide invaluable insights into the actual terms your prospects type into Google to find the products/services you offer.

And using them is pretty easy. Simply enter one or more keywords related to your business and, in a few seconds, the tool will spit back lots of helpful data including: related keywords/phrases, the number of people searching on those keywords/phrases, and the level of competition.

This data is enormously valuable and I use keywords research tools every day.

But (you saw that one coming)… keyword research tools aren’t perfect.

In fact, one of the key pieces of data you get from them – the number of searches done for a particular keyword – can be inaccurate, sometimes wildly so.

Which brings us back to the topic of my post last month …Google AdWords.

In that post, I wrote about how AdWords is about more than just driving traffic. Used strategically, it can be used to boost your overall marketing efforts in a number of ways.

That post ended with a bit of a teaser about my favorite “non-traffic generating” use of AdWords.

Well, that use is keyword research.

Using AdWords for Keyword Research

You get a plethora of data when running a Google AdWords campaign. One of the things you can see is the EXACT search terms people typed into Google before they clicked on one of your ads.

To truly understand how powerful this data is, I’d like to share a story with you…

One day I was looking through a Search Query report for a client’s account (this report shows the exact search terms people typed into Google to find your ads).

I can’t use the actual location and keyword for this client, so let’s just say this client offers underwater bowling lessons in Miami.

While digging through the search queries, I noticed there were a lot of people searching for underwater bowling lessons in Coral Gables (an affluent suburb of Miami).

In fact, over 200 people a month were looking for keywords related to underwater bowling lessons in Coral Gables (which is not an insignificant number of searches for a local keyword).

Now, here’s the eye-opener.

If you were to go to Google’s keyword research tool (or any other keyword research tool for that matter), guess how many searches it reports for underwater bowling classes in Coral Gables?

Not one.




But because of AdWords we now know that’s not true.

This is key information that very few of this client’s competitors have (even many of the ones using AdWords don’t even know it’s there).

So how’d we use this to increase conversions over 50%?

Well, once we knew there were around 200 people a month searching on that term, we set up a new landing page on the site specifically targeting underwater bowling classes in Coral Gables.

And that new landing page converts at a 54% higher rate than the previous page the traffic was going to.

This is because the closer you can match your messaging to what people are actually looking for, the better able you are to convert them into customers. So, in this case, people in Coral Gables are much more likely to respond to a page that mentions Coral Gables specifically instead of the Miami area in general.

What’s Your Keyword’s Story?

Every keyword has a story behind it. It represents a conversation your prospect has going on in their brain at the moment they’re typing that word into the search engine.

And one of the interesting things with keywords, that becomes crystal clear when running AdWords campaigns, is that seemingly very similar keywords represent very different conversations.

Even to the point that you may find the difference between the singular and plural versions of a keyword makes a huge difference in conversion rates. In fact, it’s not uncommon for me to see 3x-4x differences between the singular and plural versions of a keyword in AdWords campaigns.

Which brings us to a “Bonus” lesson…

After getting the real scoop on the keyword data from AdWords we also did search engine optimization SEO for “underwater bowling lessons in Coral Gables” related keywords…with the deck heavily stacked in our favor.

Think about what we had by that point because of AdWords…

  • A keyword we knew for a fact got around 200 searches a month (despite what the keyword tools were reporting).
  • A landing page we knew was converting well.

For a local business like this, that’s a recipe for SEO gold!

SEO is a great strategy to get traffic to your site. But it can cost a lot of time and money, plus there’s no guarantee of success.

So what if it turns out your best converting, most profitable keywords are not the ones you think they are?

What if that new landing page you set up and SEO’d doesn’t convert?

You can be $1000s and many months in the hole on an SEO project before finding these things out.

By using the search query data from Google AdWords, we eliminated that risk.

Using AdWords to gather more accurate keyword data than is available anywhere else is my favorite use of AdWords.

So the question I leave you with is this…how sure are you about your keywords?



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Adam Kreitman

Adam Kreitman coaches business owners on how to make their websites more compelling to their prospects.. and to Google. He owns Words That Click, a firm specializing in Conversion Optimization and managing Google AdWords campaigns for small businesses.Follow him on


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  1. November 10, 2013 at 12:28 am

    As they say, the best things in life are free so grab the opportunity that Google gives to research keywords. Thanks for sharing your dark secret.

  2. Adam Kreitman says:
    January 10, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Hi Adrian-

    Great questions!

    First, whether you use exact match vs broad match for research depends on what you’re trying to accomplish…there is no right or wrong answer.

    When you’re “fishing” to try to find more terms to target, then broad match is the way to go. Broad match will usually bring you a much lower CTR than exact match, but you’ll likely get more clicks and have a greater spend because your ad will show for many more search queries.

    Since the lower CTR could affect the Quality Score in your overall campaign, I’d recommend setting up a completely separate campaign for these tests.


  3. Adrian Cameron says:
    January 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm


    I found something similar in the art of seo book by Enge, Spencer, Fishkin and Stricchiola.

    I have a research campaign going where I have opted for exact match only for some keywords, on the basis that I wanted to return exact data on the number of times these phrases were searched for. However, having read your article, I am assuming I should have opted for broad, since I guess I will get the data I want, plus in addition a myriad of other information about searches I had not considered.

    My only concern is that by opting for broad search, my click through rate is likely to be greater and therefore more expensive over a period of time. Since these phrases are locally focused and I am purely using the campaign to get a better handle on traffic, what should I do…. I was thinking after 2 months maybe of switching to a broader search, just to mop up any of these additional keywords I may have missed?

  4. Will Hanke says:
    December 19, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Great post, Adam. Diligent keyword research can net you some great finds. And the one-two punch of PPC and SEO for the terms you find will definitely help any business grow!

  5. CruzinCostaRica says:
    December 16, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Adam, are you also a person we could contract for SEO, top of Page 1 Google, top 20 search terms?

  6. F F says:
    December 14, 2011 at 11:44 am

    I too appreciate the writing style and approach. Just to make sure I’m not missing something, are you gathering the search query data through Google Webmaster Tools?

    I’ve been looking to hone in more on my interpretation of analytics and related data to make informed decisions/recommendations for site advancement. I am a believer in running an AdWords Campaign to help with keyword research. Nice article!

    • Adam Kreitman says:
      December 19, 2011 at 10:42 am

      Actually I’m gathering the search query data from directly within the AdWords interface not through Google Webmaster Tools. In AdWords, you can run a search query report that shows the search query data.

      Hope this helps clarify things.


      • F F says:
        December 20, 2011 at 10:34 am

        I never knew this was possible through AdWords. Would you mind sharing how to find/create these reports via the new AdWords interface? I cannot seem to find anything related to queries.

        • Adam Kreitman says:
          December 20, 2011 at 1:45 pm

          Sure, it’s pretty simple…

          When you’re looking at one of your campaigns in AdWords, click on the “Keywords” tab. One of the options you’ll see below the graph is “See search terms”. You can either select individual keywords and see the search terms for them or select All and see the search terms for all your keywords.

          • F F says:
            December 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm

            Wow, I had no idea this was possible. This is a such a gem IMO. Thanks for explaining. I was looking at reports and never dove deeper into the options under each campaign.

            Thanks for this insightful post!

  7. Martin Armstrong says:
    December 12, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    I was amazed by these tricks. I can try performing your tricks. I am also a keyword researcher that is why I keep on finding information or updates for keyword research. Thankfully, I found this post.

    • Russ Henneberry says:
      December 19, 2011 at 8:09 am

      Glad you enjoyed it Martin! We will consider running more keyword research posts in the future.

  8. Adam Kreitman says:
    December 7, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Hi Charlie-

    Thanks for the comment and questions.

    You are correct that you have to be running an AdWords campaign to get this data (in fact, Google recently made some changes, in the name of privacy, that makes it harder to get good keyword data through Analytics which makes this AdWords data even more valuable).

    As far as how long you have to run a campaign, it depends on the market you’re in. For highly searched keywords with a national/international focus, it could take a few days or less to gather the data you need. For a local business in a specialized niche, however, it could take a few months to gather enough meaningful data.

    Hope this help – thanks!

  9. Charlie says:
    December 7, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Adam, First let me say that I really like your down to earth writing style and the way you explain things! I have a question, I am assuming that you have to have some running Adwords campaign’s in order to get these keyword results, is that correct? and if so how long would you have to run the campaign’s in order to gleam these insights?

    Thanks again.

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