sustainable words

It’s a war of words out there, even in the green world. We all know that search engine optimization (or SEO) is a hot topic  these days, with everyone competing to get their sites onto page one of a Google search. So what are people searching for when it comes to all things green and sustainable? For an insight into this I turned to Google Adwords, the on-line auction of pay-per-click search terms. There is a great tool on Google Adwords that lets you see at a glance what the average number of monthly searches are made for certain terms, and the amount of advertiser interest (willingness to bid) on these valued words. With this it is possible to judge the effectiveness of potential keywords, to use them in website copy or purchase them through Google.
In my usual unscientific-and-yet-not-quite-random way, I entered various ‘green’ terms and tabled them to see if there were any trends worthy of note. I ended up with a list of 85 terms, which I categorized into four groups:
1. Search words that were hugely popular with both Googlers and advertisers (I usually recommend against clients trying to break into this territory, as the cost per click would be very high)
2. Words that have high search numbers, but are not yet completely overrun by bidder popularity (These words are worth including in your web copy to rank well in searches)
3. Words that have high search numbers but for some reason have not reached advertiser popularity (This is the gold. Fill your site with these and you’ll probably rank well on a purely organic search, or bid low on these key words for an affordable pay-per-click campaign)
4. Words that are dogs – they seem like they should be popular but are not. Stay away.

Below are some highlights from the findings. E-mail me if you’d like a PDF of the whole set.

Organic is hot. The term ‘organic’ by itself was number two on my list with almost 4.1 million monthly searches. ‘Organic Products’ netted 74,000 monthly searches, , while ‘Eco Products’  garnered 18,100 and ‘Environmentally-Friendly Products’ only rated 5,400. ‘Organic Baby’ was at 165,000 searches,  ‘Eco Baby’ only attracted 5400, while ‘Environmentally Friendly Baby’ rated only 520. I didn’t look up ‘Green Baby’, because that was just too freaky.

Green Shopping vs Green Shop. The term ‘green shopping’ was searched an average of  22,200 times a month, and had an advertiser interest level of about 80%. Probably fairly expensive territory. Interestingly, the term ‘green shop’ had higher results (27,100) but lower advertiser interest (55%) A bit more homework reveals the terms ‘Shopping Green’ (22,200) and Green Store (27,100) as even better keyword bargains with 0% advertiser interest listed. Buy now!

The Battle of the Products. The term ‘Natural Products’ rated best by far in my test, with 201,000 monthly searches. ‘Green Products’ was a distant second at 74,000, ‘Eco Products’ at 18,100,  ‘Earth Friendly Products’ at 9,900,  ‘Environmentally Friendly Products’ at 5,400 and ‘Ethical Products’ at 2,400.

Green is still Big. ‘Green Home’ was searched 201,000 times a month (and I can’t imagine that’s for a paint colour) ‘Green Energy was searched 74,000 times, ‘Green Design’ 49,000 and  ‘Green Business’ and ‘Green Market’ at 31,000 each. A huge spike came for ‘Green Hotels’, at 301,000 searches a month. Yet advertiser interest was only 50% for this term. Which says to me that there is a major consumer demand here that is not being filled.

The Future Looks Bright… or not. It appears lots of people are Googling ‘Climate Change’… averaging about 301,000 a month. ‘Sustainable Development’ ranked even higher at 450,000. When it came to some more specific issues around the environment, however, the search tallies seemed dismally low. ‘Green Economy’ was only searched an average of 3600 times monthly, ‘Low Carbon Economy’, Low Carbon Society’ and ‘Low Carbon Future’ all netted less than 500 average searches each. Compare this to the search for ‘Shoes Green’ at 110,000.  This could be interpreted as the mainstream only being interested in the issues at a surface level of understanding.

Obviously this is a big topic. And it could be studied to death. So take what you will from it, and tweak your site and search terms accordingly. Just remember there are other interests out there besides the environment. 823,000 people a month are searching for Green Tea.

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