Let’s face it. Your biggest competitor has one huge advantage over you: budget.

If you want the number one spot in Google Ads or on the search results page, you usually have to pay more or work harder than that huge company with the huge budget. 

With Google Ads (formerly Adwords), you run the risk of paying top-dollar for low-quality leads unless you have the experience to craft the best ad campaigns. 

And if you want the number one spot in Google organic search, you’re going to have to get more reach with your blog, more strategic PR publicity, more social media shares than they get. 

Keyword strategy is one way around the advertising and organic reach issues. But you may end up winning for “long tail” keywords that very few people search. IF YOU manage to get on page one of Google for a long multiword keyword phrase, you’re still up against low-cost competitors who are happy to wear down your margins all day long.

It wasn’t always like this. When Google and Google Ads first came out, you could be on page one of Google for just about any keyword term you wanted. Over time, you’d get so much traffic, you just stayed there naturally. And if you had the vision to start your search marketing back then, you wouldn’t be reading this because you’d be retired.

So can you get back to the good old days?

Your industry has just as many new innovations and trademarks that nobody’s heard of yet.

To find these new low competition, early adopter keywords, you’re going to need to do more than “keyword research.” You’ll need to do some “keyword forecasting.” 

Start With Google’s Keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Planner is a free online keyword research tool that can be used for both PPC and SEO. It will help with keyword forecasting, though you do need a Google Ads account to access the tool.

Because you’re able to input URLs straight into the tool, you can input your competitor’s URL to see what keywords they’re bidding on. You can then decide if keyword’s they’re bidding on are worth adding into your own SEO and PPC efforts.

Google presents you with two options: the “Find new keywords” section and “Get search volume and forecasts.

The “Get Search Volume And Forecasts” tool offers an estimated performance for keywords you input based on specific dates. Metrics include the number of conversions, avg. CPA, clicks, impressions, cost, avg. CPC, and avg. position.

Remember, these are general results; Google still must evaluate your site’s quality score. It’s possible that your performance may be better or worse based on other quality score factors.

Keyword Forecasting with Historical Data

If you have access to historical PPC data, keyword forecasting is easier. In other words, using past campaign data can help you determine your future approach. Data points to consider include:

Monthly Ad Spend: This is the maximum amount that you or your clients have to spend on PPC.

Conversion Rate (CVR): This will tell you how well your ads have performed in the past and give you an idea of how your landing pages are converting.

Cost Per Click (CPC): This will tell you how much you’re spending per keyword.

Competitor Data: Don’t forget to factor in things like competitive keyword research and keyword auction data.

Industry Trends: Optimize your PPC and SEO campaigns based on current trends and seasonality.

Four Types of Search Terms

Before you can perform keyword forecasting, you must understand the “four types of searches”:

Informational searchers: Informational search terms yield low conversion rates. This is when people want to know a specific answer. Once their question is answered, they move on.

Research intent searchers: These are searchers wanting to make an informed decision. Conversion rates are a bit higher than with informational searches.

Purchase intent searchers: These “shoppers” are ready to buy and therefore, conversion rates are high and worth targeting for product sales and lead gen. Search phrases may contain modifiers like buy, for sale, etc. And people with purchase intent search for the exact name of the product, part number and things that specifically describe that service/product, often without a modifier.

Navigational intent searchers: These folks are using Google the way people used to use the Yellow Pages. They simply want to find your site. Conversion rates are very high and your brands should always rank #1.

Using Google Trends

After you’ve identified the keywords you want to target, Google Trends can help you get a sense of what terms will be the most valuable to your business in the months to come.

Google Trends works by reporting query indexes based on a topic’s popularity in specific regions and time periods. You could search Google Trends to find areas in the country (or the world) that are most interested in your target keywords and create content that appeals to individuals in these regions. You could also browse related queries to find frequently asked questions from online searchers.

Here’s a little more info about how to use Google Trends for keyword forecasting with your PPC and SEO campaigns

Symphonic Can Help You Find Your Competitive Edge

Google Trends and Keyword Planner are free to use, but they are merely the tip of the iceberg when performing keyword research. If you’re not a digital marketing professional, you probably don’t have the tools to automate the process and scan the internet the way a trained professional would. You can try it manually, but this is where the help of an expert can be valuable to your efforts.