Step 1: list a few core keywords
For this example we will cover hosting...so our core word list could be something like...
- web hosting
- web host
This need not be perfect or exhaustive, as this is just a seeding list to pull deeper keywords.
Step 2: Google's Search-based Keyword Tool
Use the Google Search-based keyword tool. Make sure you are not logged into your Google Account, or they might show partial matches based on your sites.
Since hosting is a high value field we can build a list of keywords that are selling for $1 or more by using the advanced filters. For lower value fields there is no need to use a price filter.
Enter each keyword here and export the top 800 keywords from each list. If Google shows less than 800 keywords you only need to export 1 list.
If they allow you to export exactly 800 keywords you can use the keyword competition level as another filter to allow you to break the list down into two smaller lists that can be exported. Using negative keywords (ie: hosting - web) can also help you dig deeper.
If some services (like fax servers and email hosting) do not fit your business model then you can add them as negative words to help the tool return fewer irrelevant keywords and more relevant keywords.
Step 3: In Excel Combine & Sort Data
Delete the unneeded columns (everything but keyword, click price, and search volume - optionally you may want to keep keyword competition level as well).
- Copy and paste all the lists into 1 Excel spreadsheet.
- Once you have that list add a column that uses the equation click price * estimated monthly search volume.
- Sort your list by keyword value
- Use the de-duplication tool to remove duplicate data.
- Filter irrelevant keywords by hand, and/or remove rows containing x (ie: where x is the word free, or email, or some type of hosting/server you have no interest in providing).
- Cut off the bottom of the combined list. Decide to set a lower threshold based on how large of a site you want to build, how rapidly the keyword values fall off.
As an example, here is a list of ~ 4,000 hosting related keywords, but please note I did not filter out the various irrelevant stuff like free, because for some hosting business models maybe they rely on pitching free hosting and then selling upgrades.
Step 4: Map Out Keywords Against Your Site Structure
Essentially you want to cluster relevant keyword groups together and try to map them out against your site structure, planning out page titles, URLs, on page H1 headings, meta description tags, and internal anchor text.
We have an example of how to do this inside the site architecture section of our training program.
Visualize the Process
There are other tools similar to the Google Search-based keyword tool (like Microsoft Ad Intelligence). You may want to watch these videos if you need help visualizing the process.
Disclaimer: The above strategy relies on pulling keywords from an ad network. It will thus have a commercial focus and a bias toward high search volume keywords. If you want non-commercial keywords then using a variety of keyword tools and/or focus the above method on grabbing some keywords with low bid prices as well.
Here are 7 quick ways to expand your keyword strategy
- If you have an established website with significant web traffic you can look at your analytics data for additional keywords and keyword modifier ideas.
- Track industry news, blogs, and forums to see what people are talking about. Conversation creates search demand.
- Use keyword suggestion tools built into browsers and search toolbars, and visual keyword cloud tools like Quintura to come up with additional keyword ideas.
- Put competing sites through SEM Rush (and other competitive research tools if you like) to find additional valuable keywords competing sites rank for.
- If you are creating an affiliate or review site make sure to hunt down leading brands to review. Much of this word can be done through choosing good competing sites to draw keywords from in competitive research tools.
- Find category based keywords using Microsoft Ad Intelligence.
- If you are advertising on AdWords you can login to your Google account then use the Google Search-based Keyword Tool and they will show you a list of up to thousands of additional keywords they think you should advertise for (one list a friend showed me had over 6,000 keywords in it).
Bonus keyword tip: read the kick ass keyword strategies guide. At $39, it will probably be your highest ROI marketing spend in 2009.[Update: here is a follow up thread for paying subscribers]
Gain a Competitive Advantage Today
Your top competitors have been investing into their marketing strategy for years.
Now you can know exactly where they rank, pick off their best keywords, and track new opportunities as they emerge.
Explore the ranking profile of your competitors in Google and Bing today using SEMrush.
Enter a competing URL below to quickly gain access to their organic & paid search performance history - for free.
See where they rank & beat them!
- Comprehensive competitive data: research performance across organic search, AdWords, Bing ads, video, display ads, and more.
- Compare Across Channels: use someone's AdWords strategy to drive your SEO growth, or use their SEO strategy to invest in paid search.
- Global footprint: Tracks Google results for 120+ million keywords in many languages across 28 markets
- Historical data: since 2009, before Panda and Penguin existed, so you can look for historical penalties and other potential ranking issues.
- Risk-free: Free trial & low price.