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Google Changes Keyword Tool, Adds Local Search Volume

Google recently added a new “Local Search Volume” metric to their AdWords Keyword Tool that provides additional keyword search data for the country that you are targeting.  This is a great feature for determining keyword versions for geographic targeting of campaigns.

Google currently provides 2 different, but similar, keyword tools to use during research. The Original AdWords Keyword Tool is the tool that they made their recent changes to. Google’s Search-based Keyword Tool is a little different, but is useful when establishing a keyword list for a website early on in the keyword research phase.

The official explanation from Google AdWords Help section on the new feature of the AdWords Keyword Tool is:

“You can find search volume statistics in the Keyword Tool’s Local Search Volume: [Last Available Month] and Global Monthly Search Volume columns. These statistics show the approximate number of search queries matching your keywords that were performed on Google and the search network.”

“Location and language targeting: If you access the Keyword Tool from within an ad group, the Local Search Volume column will factor in your campaign’s country and language targeting (if you target a region or city, only the country will be reflected). If you use the standalone or external Keyword Tools, your country and language selections will influence this column. The Global Monthly Search Volume column always shows traffic in all countries and all languages.”

Optimization vs. Optimisation

There are many subtle character differences in English words that are used is different countries.  For instance, we use “Optimization” here in the US and it is more common to use “Optimisation” in the UK.  The use of one version over the other can be of great significance in the form of traffic volume as well as conversions, depending on where in the world your target audience is based.  If you ads and landing pages are tailored to one version, you will most likely see lower conversions for traffic from the other.  These conversion differences may be slight or substantial, but either way should not be taken lightly.

Based on Exact Match keyword research, Google is currently reporting 11 times the search volume for Search Engine Optimization for the United States audience as compared to Search Engine Optimisation, 90,500 vs. 8,100 respectively for March 2009.  The percentage of Global Search Volume is not as dramatic at almost 3 times the volume, with only 165,000 vs. 60,500 for March 2009.

Google Keyword Tool Results Tailored for English United States

Google Keyword Tool: Optimization vs. Optimisation for Exact Match

click for a larger screenshot

When I change the target country field from the United States to the United Kingdom, the volume ratio changes for each keyword.  Google now is reporting 2 times the search volume for Search Engine Optimisation for the UK audience as compared to Search Engine Optimization, 40,500 vs. 18,100 respectively for March 2009.  However, the Global Search Volume has stayed the same at 165,000 and 60,500.

Google Keyword Tool Results Tailored for English United Kingdom

Google Keyword Tool: Optimization vs. Optimisation for Exact Match UK Settingclick for a larger screenshot

What is surprising to me, and a great reason to further explore this feature on a campaign by campaign basis, is the fact that the UK volume between versions is not as large as I would have originally thought it would be.  Why is this?  Has it been a smaller than expected difference for a while?  Or has the Internet’s ability to allow people to easily see across the pond made a significant impact on the English vocabulary?

Now that Google is providing us with better data to base our keyword campaigns, there is no reason to guess as to which versions you should be using.  Based on the initial research I have done, it is entirely reasonable to target both Optimization and Optimisation versions for your SEO campaigns.  You just have to remember to track your goals and conversions as well as measure the activity that these produce on your site, such as page views and time on site that your analytics should provide.

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