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And YES I realize best strategy is to try and come up high for both. I was just wondering if either is used substantially more.
I would say, use the available keyword resources to research which one comes up higher -> use adwords tool, to see which has the higher cost per click.
Assuming a relatively full market, the cost per click should let you know quickly which is the more valuable of a phrase.
This is just a thought, but I would think a lot would depend on what “widget” was. If it were an important purchase like a house, boat, car, or pet then I think the “sales” one would be the most frequently searched. If it were something small like a book, CD, or pen then I think the “buy” would be the most frequently searched.
Of course you can always look at actual data from Wordtracker, Overture tool, etc. but to really settle the score you could use Adwords and make sure both words are always on the first page of Google. Then the one with the most impressions wins – maybe you could even see which one converts better while you are at it.
Perhaps I should rephrase that to include this was all just a dream, and it never really happened. ;)
From the replies I see here, it looks like "buy" is commonly used. Personally, this makes no sense to me. When you use a SE, the idea is to find pages that match the query. If I want to buy a widget, then I want a page that sells them. To me the search "buy widgets" would be looking for a page where someone was looking to purchase second hand widgets or such. However, from seeing actual logs real people search in weird ways. Thus, covering all likely possibilities makes sense.
I think you have it the wrong way round.
When you design a page, the idea is to match the potential query. As many have pointed out, the buyer wants to buy a widget. He does not really give a damn that you are , in fact, trying to sell it. He wants to buy.
If it were an important purchase like a house, boat, car, or pet then I think the “sales” one would be the most frequently searched.
This is right in line with some research I'd done for some high ticket items on both Google and Overture.
Depending on the items, you might also get searches for just plain "widgets," "adjective widgets," or "widgets for sale."
Funny... it would never occur to me to search with the word "buy," which isn't to argue that others don't.
It seems to me that something like "buy" or "sales" could also be fickle because really they mean the same thing.
Like what others have suggested in the post, online I'd do the following:
1) overture/webtracker search results for previous months.
2) Adwords on the two terms
**These two should give you a good indication of which is the more popular term currently
3) I'd also check what competitors are using. Maybe "buy" is more searched but "sales" is underexploited and would be an easy target.
4) Also what you can do is look at what offline advertising mediums such as magazines, tv, radio etc. are currently using. If someone has just listened to a radio advertisement to "Buy xyz widgets from companyx now cheaper than ever!", guess which term they are more likely to search out.