Google suggests: An overview of SEO

March 20th, 2014 by Search Influence Alumni

Three months ago I started working at Search Influence. I thought I knew a lot about SEO, boy was I wrong. After what seemed like a crash course in everything we do here, I thought I would put together an overview of what I’ve learned:


After 45 (!) trainings I know a lot more about SEO, but I also found out you are never done learning. SEO continuously evolves, and that’s because of Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team. To be honest, I only knew him from the 30 Day challenge he talked about at my favorite platform TED. He is the one that changes Google’s algorithm 600 times a year! Another honest confession, I thought this algorithm only changed 25 times a year. I was just a little off.

Keyword Research

One of my first trainings was on keyword research. This is a process in which we look at the historical online search behavior for a given product or service to determine what keywords we are going to focus on throughout a client’s campaign. This is an extremely important process and happens at the beginning of our partnership with a client.

Google Keyword Tool

For the keyword research we use Google’s keyword tool. After adding a long list of root terms and a list of geographic modifiers (the physical location of the client and/or their service areas) the tool shows the approximate number of search queries matching the keywords that were found on Google.

Google Keyword Tool

A brilliant tool, but not perfect as it provides search statistics based on traffic only. But of course, Google captures 72% of all search traffic so we feel better about relying heavily on their research. When needed, we utilize other things like Google Webmaster tools and Google Adwords Keyword tool.

Google Analytics Organic Keywords

Before I started working at Search Influence, keyword research was much easier. My colleagues logged into Google Analytics and could see which words people used when searching Google to find the designated website. In October 2013, however, Google stopped offering this information to provide additional privacy and security for its users.

Google Suggest

Last month a light bulb went on in the head of a Search Influencer. ‘Why didn’t we think of this earlier?!’ She was talking about Google Suggest, a feature that has been around for five years. Just enter a letter or a word in Google’s search field and you will see associated terms in a dropdown menu. Google describes Google Suggest as:

“Autocomplete predictions are algorithmically determined based on a number of factors, like popularity of search terms, without any human intervention. Just like the web, the search terms shown may include silly or strange or surprising terms and phrases.”

Although we benefit from Google Suggest, I agree the search terms shown are sometimes (very) silly or strange, just see for yourself:

After seeing this, I was curious what Google would suggest when entering ‘Search Influence’:

Google Suggest

Reasonable. Logical. But Google also suggested…

Google Suggest


So overall, Google Suggest can be helpful, but it can also make you laugh. (Or make you mad: over the past few years Google Suggest has been sued for racist search suggestions and defamatory language next to individual names or companies).

So what do I suggest? Use it, but

Google Suggest

Do you have any questions about SEO? Let us know in the comments!