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June 16, 2011


A Great Tool You’re Not Using: Wonder Wheel

by Anthony Verre

Google Wonder Wheel may be the best kept secret that very few search marketers are using. Or, maybe you all are, and I just don’t know it. Even Google doesn’t have much information on the tool.

At SMX Advanced there was a “Leveraging SEO Power Tools” session, and it was a very useful session, but I didn’t hear anyone speak about this tool. Frankly, I’m not sure that I would consider it a full-out SEO power tool; however, Wonder Wheel is a tool that can help you in three huge SEO tasks with a little bit of elbow grease.

What is Google Wonder Wheel and Where Do I Find It?

Wonder Wheel is Google’s attempt to help users simplify search by creating a mind-map of sorts, a map of user-related queries connected to the searcher’s original query. But don’t my word for it, here’s Adam from Google demonstrating Wonder Wheel.

Where You Find It and What It Looks Like

Looking Through a Glass Onion

Yet, if you peel back what Google says at face-value about this tool, infuse some SEO knowledge, you’ll see it’s more than just a related queries tool to help you simplify search discovery. Essentially Google is providing you with closely-linked semantic and temporal keywords that user’s use. And, by proxy, Google recognizes as closely-related temporally and semantically keywords and phrases to the original keyword phrase.

3 Big SEO Research Tasks Wonder Wheel Tackles

When you look at Wonder Wheel as an applied semantic and temporal database, the possibilities for how you can leverage this tool become endless. I use this tool daily for three tasks: competitive research and monitoring, on-site content keyword variations, and for link building efforts.

A note of caution here: from my own experience using this tool, this tool is very query dependent and market place dependent. That is to say, going beyond the second-level extension usually puts you too far out from the original query to be helpful, see the example below:
Be careful not to go too far on Wonder Wheel

Competitor Research and Monitoring

You can use Wonder Wheel to monitor and research competitors for closely related terms to your target term to find out just how dominant they are within the space. Remember that close semantic and temporal terms, while not being an exact match to the term, all support and relate to each other, providing Google clues to thematic structure. If you want more information on how I’m arriving at this (taking liberties and extrapolating a bit), I would suggest SEO By the Sea’s Semantic Closeness post and SEO is Undead Again Post.

Wonder Wheel may also provide you clues of what your client should really be targeting in the SERPs. For example, your client wanted to position themselves well for Term X, and through checking related terms Y and Z, you find more of their significant market place competitors reside in Z. You do your keyword research homework and find that indeed Z is more viable term than X, and will be more valuable to your client in the long-term.

On-site Content Variations for Target Terms

Sometimes there’s only so far you can stretch your target keyword term on a page. You’ve used different tenses and variations, but at the risk of stuffing and snuffing out the user experience, you need to find a new way. Wonder Wheel can help you there too (if you were thinking Panda, you’re on the right track).

Wonder Wheel can help you find semantic and temporal keyword phrases that can you can supplement in the content, helping spread its tentacles for more relevancy, “normalizing” it a bit, and helping it save the user experience not reading like keyword-stuffed set of AM/FM radio instructions.

Anchor Text Variations for Links

Think of Wonder Wheel as an ace up your sleeve for link anchor text variation. Exact match anchor is necessary and powerful, but nothing screams manipulation more than hundreds/thousands exact match anchor text to your site. Getting semantically and temporally close-related anchors plays a dual role: keeps thematic consistency within the link graph (i.e. keeps target term relevancy high) while also providing link graph variation and normalization to normalize it.

But it’s not just for inbound links, you can use this technique for internal linking schemes through body content. If you use your target term in a few spots, you can switch up that internal anchor text with one of these variations as well.

Wonder Wheel: An All Purpose ToolThe Bottom Line: A Versatile Tool

As you can see, Google Wonder Wheel is a rather versatile tool that can help you leverage the semantic and temporal web. These aren’t the only uses for Wonder Wheel, but some that you can start implementing into your routines today. Google has suggested Wonder Wheel be used for AdWords, creating ad group themes. However, since I’ve never used it for that purpose (yet), I can’t comment on how well it works. But if you have I’d love to hear about your experiences with it.

  1. Jun 16 2011

    Saw your site on Twitter. Nice post. Helpful information. Great to help with SEO brainstorming ideas.

  2. Jun 24 2011

    Wonder Wheel is definitely a handy tool for finding search terms, Tony. I’ve been using it for about a year, and more often than not, it’s helpful.That and Adwords are my two most-used. I can’t say that I’ve detected any evidence of temporal changes, but then, I really haven’t been looking for that, either. Maybe it’s time I start. 😉

  3. Anonymous
    Jun 28 2011

    Good example of just how much goes into a truly professional SEO effort.

  4. Jul 5 2011

    and now this tool is gone

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