When Google Labs first came out with Google Sets, a lot of people first treated it just as a fun diversion: enter a few words in the starting page’s fields and Google generates either a small or large list (depending on your choice) of items related to the first keywords entered. While this might indeed be an enjoyable little distraction for others, it might also turn out to be the next popular tool in keyword research for Search Engine Optimisation professionals and website owners everywhere. After all, what Google Sets does is basically come up with a list of predictions that it thinks belong to the same group, using its own calculations to derive the often associated (linked) keywords to the original ones. This is pretty much what keyword research tools for SEO do.
So how do you use Google Sets for your keyword research? Very easily, as a matter of fact. Here are the steps according to the example we tested on the application:
The caveat is to remember that the predictions Google Sets makes are based on the search engine’s specific algorithms, and not necessarily a perfect predictor of the associations made by consumers or Internet users in general. Still, Google is arguably the most powerful or largest search engine at the moment, so the data must definitely count for something.
- Go to the Google Sets page and enter the keywords you want in the fields. The page is very cleanly designed, so you shall have no problems finding your way about. The example we tested used the keywords “herbal product”, “saw palmetto”, “bitter melon”, “fennel seeds” and “fenugreek”. The concept is to do research for a website on herbal items.
- Now, you may choose either of two options at the bottom. The first button gives you a Large Set, and the second gives you a Small Set (15 items or fewer). Choosing either one first does not really matter much because whichever one you select leads you to a results page that has a button at the bottom leading to the results page for the other set size option. For our purposes, we chose the Small Set option first.
- The Small Set shall be displayed. Our results were the last 3 keywords in the list of entered keywords above, plus the keywords “damiana”, “dandelion root”, “dong quai”, “blessed thistle”, and “wild yam”. How is this helpful, you might ask. Well, it may obviously serve as your primary keywords for expanding the hypothetical herbal website. If you need more results, you may always select the button for expanding (growing) the set.
- Growing the set gives you even more options that may serve as other, fresh primary keywords or perhaps as suggestions for secondary ones that you may relate to your website’s contents. In our case, it yielded the additions of “devils claw”, “dulse”, “feverfew”, “eucalyptus”, and nine other additional items in the set. These had fewer global web searches than the preceding keywords, but were not bad suggestions either. They are also less obvious, which often leads to lower competition for them in terms of the hypothetical herbal site offerings. Clicking on the keywords in the set results page also leads you the Google search results page for that keyword, which may give you some ideas on potential backlink resources from top-ranked sites.