How to Build a Smart Powerful Keyword List

Keyword research can be a daunting task, but it forms the basis for paid and non-paid campaigns. Many people make the mistake of:

  • Only targeting their product names as keywords;
  • Using only a handful of keywords in optimization and PPC; or,
  • Targeting the wrong keywords altogether!

It is necessary to target the right keywords from the very beginning of your search marketing strategy, in order to get more clicks for your paid ads and to rank higher in SERPs.

The process of research begins with brainstorming. Try to think what customers or potential clients would actually type in to find your products/services. Sit down with your friends, colleagues or customers to come up with some terms. Try to avoid very generic terms, like ‘jeans’ for example, if you are not a very well established website with very high domain authority.  These extremely competitive phrases are very difficult to rank well organically if you are just in the beginning phases of website development/website optimization, and are often very expensive in pay-per-click.  During this stage, you might want to check your competitors’ websites and ads just to get an idea of what they are banking on. After this initial stage, you should have a list of at least 15-20 relevant keywords.

There are many keyword tools available in the market, but would suggest using“The Google Keyword Tool”.  As of this week, this tool (which replaces the former Google keyword tools) is out of beta testing.  Enter your shortlisted keywords in the keyword tool to find out different variations of the keywords you came up with during your brainstorming and research. Along with finding keyword variations, you will get an idea of how often the keyword is searched for, as well as how many other online advertisers are trying to get traffic on the phrase.  After this stage, you will have a better idea of which keywords you should and shouldn’t be targeting.

I also take advantage of two other cool Google tools in keyword research. The first is the Google Suggest, which ‘suggests’ different phrases as we type in the search box. This feature suggests queries that have previously been entered by users, so you might want to add the relevant ones to your list. Again for jeans, I get these suggestions:

The second are the ‘related’ queries that are displayed by Google at the bottom of the page. For example, if I search for jeans, I get these related terms that I might want to consider:

When all is said and done, it is important to have a list of keywords that exactly define what your product or service is, does, and the benefits of using it.   Don’t be afraid to be too exact or precise in the keywords you target.  Your optimization efforts will pay off by driving very qualified traffic to your site if you build a smart keyword list.  To use the jeans example one last time, if you only sell men’s designer jeans, why would you even want to put a lot of effort toward ranking well/advertising on the term ‘jeans’?  The people coming to your site on the term ‘jeans’ could be looking for women’s jeans, children’s jeans, work jeans, you get the idea.  Hope this post helps you build a powerful keyword list. Do let us know of any other techniques you use to research keywords.


Nikhil Inamdar, Search Engine Marketing Specialist, 451 Marketing @NikhilInamdar

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