Keyword Fun with Google's Wonder Wheel

by | Jan 31, 2011

Have you ever used the Wonder Wheel? It’s been around for a while, but it still comes in handy.

Introduced by Google in 2009 (and probably named for the famous Ferris wheel in Coney Island), Wonder Wheel:

provides the user with a flash based interface having the searched query in the middle and the related queries at its branches. The text based results are still available but shifted rightwards. As the user clicks on the related query, the wonder wheel expands and the results at the right hand side of the page changes. The main aim of the wonder wheel is to guide the user to reach to the relevant resource in an intuitive manner. (Wikipedia)

But what Wonder Wheel really is (and as Google intended, or they wouldn’t have called it that, would they?) is a keyword discovery gadget. It encourages both discovery and wonder. Here’s a Wonder Wheel representation of one of my basic keywords, “book layout”:

Google Wonder Wheel

Ask the One Who Knows

About half the traffic on my blog comes from Google search. If I want to find the people searching for specific words, it makes sense to go to the source, doesn’t it? That’s another thing I like about Wonder Wheel.

Besides being fast and visual, it implicitly shows the relationships that Google thinks are important between related keywords. It also reports instantly on the how much competition there is for each search term. Google reports it in small type just under the search box on the search engine results page.

The query above, “book layout,” had 59,900,000 hits, or possible results that Google would show for this search term. Here’s what happens when I click on one of the choices, in this case another of my long-tail keyword targets, “book page layout”:

Google Wonder Wheel 2

Isn’t this fun? This query has 9,260,000 hits. You can see that at this level of detail the keywords have not come into focus yet. Let’s try instead the selection for “ebook layout”, which gets us 11,300,000 hits:

Google Wonder Wheel 2

With a 2-word keyword, there’s too much spread to get a focused look at a niche. Let’s go one more step down by picking “ebook layout template” which yields a huge 72,700,000 hits, meaning there are lots of sites out there trying to attract attention for this search term:

Google Wonder Wheel 4

This is paydirt. Here you have a rich set of focused, niche-specific long-tail keywords. And the next level down will be even better. Try it, you’ll see.

The Wonder Wheel makes this type of exploration and discovery fun and intuitive.

How do you find the Wonder Wheel? It may not show when you do a Google search, but look in the left sidebar on any Google search results page and you’ll see a selection that says “More search tools.” Click on that for Wonder Wheel and several other Google search enhancements.

Google Wonder Wheel 5

Happy (keyword) hunting.

Photo by Tony The Misfit

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Eileen

    Thanks Joel and Chris,
    I’ve signed in and am having a look now. Do you use the keywords with low competition and high search rate results ? Is that how you utilize this tool for free?


  2. Chris Fah

    @ Eileen: I’m sorry, I did not find anything like wonderwheel. Perhaps you check keyword suggest tool from Google Adwords.
    best regards, Chris

  3. Eileen


    I’m just setting up my website and want to get relevant keywords into my site name, blurbs and blog. Its 2 years since you wrote this – are there any other tools available?

  4. Jocelyn Rish

    I had no idea about the existence of the Wonder Wheel – thank you for sharing! Although I can already picture many hours wasted playing with it, hopefully it will pay off with improved traffic.

    • Jocelyn Rish

      How sad – I got all excited about this only to find out it’s now gone. :-(

  5. James


    Google’s doing a user experience redesign, and for now the Wonder Wheel doesn’t exist anymore–it often caused Google (amd some users) fits. It may return, but I doubt it–Google’s been quietly removing real-time search capabilities.

    • Authorhouse

      How sad. Any other application like Wonder Wheel?

  6. linda

    Hey Joel,
    You are a constant source of useful facts – your blog is an inspiration!
    Keep it up

  7. chris Fah

    Hi there, does anyone know, if there is an API available for requesting these wonderwheel results, equal to Googles standard requests via API ???

    Best regards, Chris

  8. Freya

    Thanks for this Joel…

    I’m surprised at myself that I have not seen this before. Just tried Wonder Wheel and I love it. Off to play…

    Thanks again.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Same here, Freya, that’s why I wanted to write about it.

  9. Michael Lipsey

    Tried it and now I’m going to kill myself. My thing, “epigram book,” comes up fifth on Google. With Wonderwheel it shows 1.2M hits. And points to “aphorism book,” which gets twice as many hits. Which points to “sayings book,” which gets 180 times as many hits. The hits for epigram book line up nicely with my shitty rankings on Amazon for my two books. My wife has been telling me for the last three years to not publish any more books using the word epigram. As usual, she is right.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Oooo, that hurts. The wife part, not the keywords. Perhaps re-writing the descriptions of the book using “sayings” or “aphorisms” would help? In any event, this shows why authors need to be savvy about keywords in their titles and subtitles, and why I keep writing about it. Thanks for adding to the discussion.



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