Ask any passionate SEO about Adwords and you’ll hear the same answer: ‘it’s a great service, but why pay for traffic that you can get for free?’


The search engine optimization world is, quite understandably, interested in traffic that doesn’t have a dollar sign attached to it. While this focus on free traffic leads to some fantastic returns for businesses, it ignores one of the greatest short-term SEO tools on the planet: Google’s own Adwords paid advertising service.


Arguably the most important part of any SEO campaign isn’t just getting traffic, but getting customers. As such, it’s essential to craft your SEO efforts around keywords that bring in both customers instead of mindless, uninterested web surfers.


Unfortunately, many SEOs build their campaigns around keywords that they think will work instead of keywords that they know will work. This mistake can be very costly, largely due to the huge amount of time that’s wasted on poor keywords.


Before you start any SEO campaign, spend a few hundred dollars on paid Adwords search advertising to work out which keywords bring in customers, which bring in window shoppers, and which bring in tire kickers.


You’ll often find that the keywords you thought would work are actually duds, and that the keywords you never expected to work are lucrative goldmines. Any skilled search advertiser will tell you that the money is in the data, not in the assumptions.


Apply the same rigorous data-driven approach to your SEO campaigns that search advertisers apply to their PPC campaigns and you’ll see a far greater return on the amount of time you spend doing SEO. From hidden opportunities with ultra-high conversion rates to lucrative keywords with no competition, using Adwords as a ‘testing ground’ for SEO campaigns will help you spot great new search keywords.