Not Sure Where to Spend Your PPC Dollars? Try Google Insights for Search

Being a small business, especially one that is just trying to get started online, can take a lot of investment of both time and money. So many small businesses get involved in AdWords because they know it will bring them traffic. Perhaps they've heard of PPC working for others or maybe they received a $100 coupon from Google for AdWords Express.

Regardless of what convinced them to give it a try, most times these businesses only have a small budget for online advertising and want to stretch their ad dollars as far as possible.

While I've always been intrigued by the different and seemingly unending array of research tools that are available, I was recently drawn back to Google's Insights for Search since they released their snazzy Real-Time Insights Finder as part of their new Think Insights Trend & Research Hub.

Although Insights for Search definitely won't replace your Google Keyword Tool or Traffic Estimator, it does some things fairly quickly that can offer useful knowledge when feeling out a new topic for advertising.

How to Decide Where Your Dollars Would Best be Spent

But let's take a brief step back for a moment. Every Sunday night this fall, I've been turning off the football game and becoming addicted to.. err.. secretly watching the ABC show "PanAm". I know, I know, but cut me some slack! Apart from the ever gorgeous Christina Ricci, the show prominently features the vintage uniforms and luggage bags of the once beloved airline.

When I initially went searching to see if the blue Defiance bags were available to purchase or just props for the show, I found a lot of resellers were already cramming the AdWords market.

What if you're a reseller or affiliate that wants to sell a product based upon a recent pop culture topic but don't have a lot of capital to get going? Insights for Search could actually help you out quite a bit in deciding where your dollars would best be spent.

Insights for Search allows you to compare searches over time and filter down through its taxonomy of advertising categories by locale. For this example, I used searches on the brand name vs. items in the Apparel category.

Peak Interest

insight-brand-vs-item

This lets you know the percentages of overall searches for the keywords you enter that that belong to your category of choice and also lays a timeline of peak interest. This will give you that data as recently as 2 days prior.

While this might not be groundbreaking news and is information you can get from mining other sources, there is something appealing about the immediacy of the drop-down segmentation coupled with the way you can see the data as a trend without Excel.

Regional Interest

However, the Regional Interest that this toolset provides is what's most intriguing. Those of you who use Google's Keyword Tool exclusively know that you can only drop down to the country level for location info and while the Google Search Estimator lets you drill down further, unless you're looking up something very popular or very broad, you still don't get a clear view by region.

If, by chance, you're looking for traffic by location in Google Estimator, click "edit" by location under Advanced Options and Filters:

google-traffic-estimator-location-edit

Skip immediately to the Browse tab, deselect your country and start drilling down:

google-search-estimator-regions

Let's move back to Insights for Search. If you've been following along, then you'll notice from our previous "Pan Am" example that you're already seeing where the top lift in searches has been coming from:

pan-am-searches-by-interest 

If you think about it for more than 30 seconds, you're likely to come back with something akin to "Well, duh..", because these are highly populated areas in the U.S. and obviously likely to come back with more searches. But, would you have even been thinking that if you had solely been dealing with the Google Keyword Tool to craft your strategy?

If I was on a tight budget, at this point, I would likely start my campaigns being Geo-Targeted to just these primary levels of search interest.

Gain Local Traction With Geo-targeting

But what if you are on a much more local level and need to stretch your dollar even farther? Let's say you (or your client) are an up and coming fitness chain based out of Chicago who wants to not only understand your competition, but to hit them with advertising in a way that benefits you by allowing you to target where people are searching for your biggest competitor.

For this example we'll look at LA Fitness. They are a widely known brand that has been expanding into the Chicagoland area over the past few years.

For this search we just use their brand name and limit the results to Illinois. In addition to historic data, this also gives you a view into how Google thinks they will do in the coming months. This is evident by the forecast section of the timeline.

insights-by-region-la-fitness

Supposing your clubs can only serve the Chicago area and you're looking to focus your ad spend where your competition is already serving, you can drill down by City --> Region --> Metro area so that you understand where your dollars are going to get the most traction. Just look at where the majority of your competitions search volume is coming from:

neighborhood-search-data

Summary

Google's Insights for Search still is far from perfect and won't replace your other keyword research tools. However, the information provided by this tool is both easy to get at and can help you save a lot of money through AdWords when you are at a loss of historical analytical data.