Creating an effective list of keywords

Paul Boag

I was creating a list of keywords yesterday for a google adwords campaign and thought it was worth sharing some of the techniques I used.

I don’t know about you but creating a list of keywords for apay per click advertising campaign or for META tags can be a mind numbing process. After a while its hard to come up with anything new. However I have picked up a few tricks that make it more bearable:

Actually read your own web site

I know its obvious but its surprising how often you make the assumption you know all the keywords in your site. Systematically work through your site a page at a time trying to spot key phases and names which you use. As you find them copy and paste them out into an excel document.

Check your keyword density

Although manually checking your site for keywords is by far the most effective method it is also worth using this handy tool to confirm you haven’t missed anything. You can enter a web site address and it will read the page and work out what keywords and phrases it contains and how often they are used.

Check the competition

Once you have checked your own site it is now time to turn to the competition. Repeat the two stages outlined above on their sites. However also check the sites source code to see what keywords they have added to their meta tags. In Internet explorer you do this by visiting the competitions home page and right clicking on the screen. Then select view sources. Somewhere near the top of the page you should see a piece of code that looks something like this:
meta name="keywords" content="usability, accessibility, web accessibility, online marketing, emarketing, e-marketing, web design"
Check all of the keywords listed for any that you might have missed.

Add typos

Users often mistype words when they search. It is therefore a good idea to include as many misspelled versions of your keywords as you can think of. Few people take the time to do this stage and so you often find misspelled words can be added to your pay per click campaigns for a fraction of the cost of correctly spelt words. However adding misspellings is a time consuming process so I would recommend you focus on the most popular of your keywords. You can also make the process less painful by using this tool which automatically generates the misspellings for you.

Bulking out your keyword list

Once you have your final list it is time to bulk it out with the myriad of variations and phrases people use which you would never think of. There are a number of tools that will help you do this however by far the best is a site called Wordtracker. You enter your list of keywords and it will return all of the variations that have been entered over the last three months. It will also “think laterally” creating entirely new keywords you might not have thought of. The big advantage Wordtracker has over the google or overture keyword suggestion tools is that Wordtracker allows you to enter multiple keywords at a time. The downside is that although Wordtracker has a free trial it is a pay for service.

Cleaning your keyword list

The final step that I like to perform (although it isn’t entirely necessary) is to clean the list you have just created to remove any duplicates. The reason I like to do this is because when i organise my keywords into different ad groups I don’t like having to categorise a keyword twice because it is duplicated. Cleaning your list is a painless process and can be done if two minutes using another handy tool.