Building a great PPC keyword list

Yield Software · March 19, 2010 · Short URL:

A four-step process to get you on your way

stepping stones to successA great pay-per-click (PPC) keyword strategy is central to any campaign’s success, so getting your list right is absolutely critical. Once your campaign is live, the Yield Web Marketing Suite works every day to make recommendations to you about new keywords you might consider together with negative keyword recommendations. This guide, then, will help you create a great keyword list in advance of launching a new campaign in four easy steps: 1) Questions; 2) Keyword Tools; 3) Variations; and 4) Assembly.

1) Questions.

Use the following question categories to start making your list. As you go through and answer these questions, keep your thoughts organized into the different buckets – we’ll keep using these categories in future steps. Throughout this guide we’ll use an example of a restaurant for you to get a feel for how it works.

Names: What are all the names of the products or services that you sell? (i.e., restaurant, dining, dinner, bar, grill, happy hour, brunch, buffet, steak joint)

Adjectives: What are common adjectives used to describe those products? (i.e., steak, fine, fancy, all you can eat, affordable, 5 star, best)

Attributes: What attributes does your product have? (i.e., fireplace, live music, bands, entertainment, lounge, full bar, gift cards lakeside, lakeshore, shore, on the water, views)

Searcher Desires: What actions does the searcher want to take with your product? (i.e., eat, takeout, drink, dance, walking distance)

Website Actions: What are the actions you want people to take on your site? (i.e., reserve, reservations, order)

Website Information: What types of information do you offer on your site? (i.e., reviews, specials, pictures, menu)

Location: Where are you located? (i.e., San Mateo, San Mateo, CA, San Mateo, California, Bay Area, South of San Francisco, Close to town, in town, by town, around town, near town, local)

Emotions: How are your searchers feeling, or what do they want to feel? (i.e., hungry, romantic, casual, low-key, cozy)

Events: Under what circumstances does the searcher need you? (i.e., special occasion, group party, valentines, anniversary, thanksgiving, girls night out)

2) Keyword Tools.

Now that you’ve got a starter list, let’s expand it beyond the terms that you naturally think of. Following are some great tools you can use to expand your keyword list. As you find related terms through these following keyword sources, put them into the buckets you started to use above. It will make building your actual keyword list later on much easier. Also, as you go along and see words that you don’t want your ads to appear for, and make note of those for your negative keywords list. Enter your words from above and jot down all the applicable terms for saying the same thing. Their visual thesaurus can is a great way to see the data. Jot down antonyms that you wouldn’t want your ads to appear for as negative keywords. Enter some of your key product phrases from above. Click on items that are related to you to see more ideas appear. Be sure to read through the results on the right-hand side of the page for even more ideas.

Google Search: Wow, this one seems boring, eh? But, it’s a great tool. Enter you basic keywords – as you are entering pay attention to the related searches that Google displays as you type. Then after you click search take some time to read through the ad copy, the organic listings and check out some of the websites. You’ll be surprised how many variations on your keywords you’ll discover here.

Google WonderWheel: As long as you’ve got Google open, click on the Show Options link at the top. Then on the left-hand side click on the Wonder Wheel option. This works in a similar way to Quintura. Just click around the wheel to find related terms.

Google Related Searches: One more option inside of Google is the Related Searches. Click on the Related Searches link (you’ll see this right above the Wonder Wheel option). Click on any of the related searches at the top to view their results and scan through the page for great terms.

Competitor Websites: One of those few times your competitors actually have some value to offer you! Visit your competitor’s websites and look at the terms they use to describe their product and make sure you’ve got those covered as well. This is also great insight into the keywords they are likely using in their pay per click campaigns.

Google Alerts: Sign up for a comprehensive Google Alert pertaining to your product. This is a fantastic source to find out how people are talking about your product and what they are looking for. It’s also one of the best sources to develop a robust set of negative keywords.

TweetBeeb: Keep track of what people are saying about your product type, industry or location on Twitter. Similar to a Google Alert, but based on Tweets.

Yahoo Answers: Do a search for your product or industry and look for the terms that people are using to talk about it and what they are typically seeking.

3) Variations.

You should now have a pretty hearty list of categorized words and also a great start at a list of negatives. Now it’s time for just a few finishing touches to the words that you have identified so far.

Singulars / Plurals: Make sure to include the singular and plural version of all of your keywords.

Hyphen, Non-Hyphen, 2 words, 1 word versions of the word: web site, website, web-site,

Apostrophe and non-apostrophe versions of words: San Mateo’s, San Mateos

4) Assembly.

Drum roll please… all that’s left is to assemble your keyword research! Here’s how to put your keyword phrases together:

Names + Adjectives (lakeshore restaurant, fine dining restaurant)
Names + Attributes (restaurant with live music, byob restaurants)
Names + Searcher Desires (eat at bar restaurant, Chinese takeout)
Names + Website Actions (restaurant reservations, order restaurant gift card)
Names + Website Information (restaurant reviews, restaurant menus)
Names + Location (restaurants in san mateo, local breakfast buffet)
Names + Emotions (romantic restaurant, cozy steak joint)
Names + Events (restaurant for valentines, thanksgiving brunch)

To branch into longer-tail keywords, just use combos of three categories at a time. For example: Event + Name + Location (i.e., “special occasion restaurant in the bay area”).

Now you are off to the races. If you don’t have a big enough budget to support your fantastic list, start small and slowly introduce more as you find the keyword niches that bring you customers.

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