“What Do You Publish?”

Using the Google Keyword Tool to determine audience interest

Gail and I just moved into a new house in a new neighborhood. We’re only about a mile from our old house, and still in the town that we’ve lived in since 1987. Still, everyone I meet is new to me. Once or twice a day, I’ve been having the new neighbor conversation. Most of the time, it includes the question “what do you do for a living?”

Now those of you who know me well won’t be surprised to know that my answer is not always the same. Sometimes I say, “I work in publishing.” Other times, I might say, “I’m a publisher.” And sometimes I say, “I’m a publishing consultant.” Each of my answers is, of course, true. And regardless of the answer I give, the next question is almost always, “what kind of publishing?”

Now I don’t always give the same answer to this question, either. Given the large sample size I have to work with in my new neighborhood, I decided to be consistent with my answer to all my new neighbors. I tell them, in some variation, “website publishing.”

Almost without variation, I can sense some small disappointment. This has caused me to wonder what kind of publisher they had hoped I would be. After all, I could have said I was a book publisher, magazine publisher, newsletter publisher, blog publisher or an email publisher. I’m pretty sure the last two are not what they were hoping for.

Over the coming months and years, I plan to do follow-up research to discover just what my new neighbors had been hoping I did for a living, publishing wise.

In the interim, I thought I’d do a little keyword research to discover what types of publishing are most popular with the average American. Now I could’ve gone to the Google Keyword Tool, and typed in “publishing” and look to see all the two, three, four, and five-word phrases that came back in the idea report. This is our best practice for discovering which keyword phrases an audience is most likely to use to enhance a root phrase. But it is Monday, and it’s much easier to type in a limited number of two-word phrases and get the popularity for this more limited data set. The chart below details the results of my efforts.

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Apparently, my neighbors were hoping I was a book publisher. No doubt many of them are unpublished authors looking to sell their first blockbuster. It’s also possible that some of them are published authors and were looking to compare notes. And it might just be that book publishing is still seen by most Americans as the most trusted form of journalism, and thus, they were hoping to meet someone associated with that medium. As we all know, the Google Keyword Tool doesn’t tell us why a term is popular; it just tells us that it is.

So the next time you’re in need of a little audience development research or market insight, consider using the Google keyword tool to find out what’s really popular in your neighborhood.


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