Learn the Basics for Building a Killer Keyword List

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Yesterday, we discussed the pros and cons of the heavy hitter search engines. Today, as part of our PPC basics blog series, I’ll be covering the fundamentals to building a killer PPC keyword list. The goal of this article is to give new PPC managers some insight into building their initial keyword list.

I am sure that every PPC manager has their own technique/process for keyword research. So, this is just one approach to building your list. We’ll break the process down into 6 steps. Keep in mind, you should complete all 6 steps before you load your first keyword into your PPC campaign.

1. Identify your target audience

First, you need to determine who your PPC ads are targeting. From offline to online, your core customer probably isn’t going to change dramatically. But how you gain their attention and capture it long enough for their interest to be peaked is going to be different. You need to get into the mindset of your audience/customers. Here are some questions to ask:

  • How would you describe your company/product/service to someone in 100 words or less? This description is filled with keywords! Write them down.
  • What are the attributes and/or benefits of your product/service? People often don’t know exactly what they’re looking for, so they’ll use descriptors to search.
  • What would you type in to the search engines to find your site without using your name? That’s how people may be searching for you.

If you follow these steps you should have a handful of keywords.

2. Review your existing materials

You might be surprised that you already have keyword-rich materials just lying around your office. Review your printed/collateral materials and your existing website. Simply read through your sales letters, brochures, presentations, catalogs, trade show displays, press kits and just underline the keywords.

3. Review your website analytics

Your website analytics will provide a wealth of keywords that people are using to find your site organically. Why re-invent the wheel when you can already get some great insight as to how your audience is thinking and how they are finding you.

4. Review your competition

Make a list of your top competitors and review their websites. You can get an idea of what they are targeting, and you can also brainstorm on how you can set yourself apart and make your company/product/service unique.

5. Expand your list with multiple keyword research tools

With the previous 4 steps you should have a pretty healthy start on your keyword list. Now, you need to find the variations for all of these keywords. Here are some free keyword research tools that we recommend:

6. Sort your keywords

Now, you should have a very robust keyword list. Before you even put one keyword in your PPC campaign you need to break your keywords down into groups that should range from 5-20 keywords per group. This way your keyword groups are tightly themed and you can write relevant, targeted ad texts.

Following these steps to build you initial keyword list is a great way to build a killer keyword list. Remember, the sucess of every PPC campaign hinges on its keywords – so make them good!

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7 thoughts on “Learn the Basics for Building a Killer Keyword List

  1. Emil

    You have some great tips in this article.
    If I may I would add “check what you competitors are doing”
    Especially in a very competitive media such as PPC.
    Cheers, Emil

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    1. Bethany BeyBethany Bey

      Hi CMoon,

      Depending upon your budget I would think about bids from the beginning. If you use Google’s keyword tool it provides you with an estimated CPC for each keyword. If you have a small budget it might be best to focus on longer tail, lower cost keywords or bid on phrase and exact instead of broad match.

      Don’t let your budget limit your keyword research too much though. You won’t know the actual amount you’ll have to bid to place in a certain position until the keywords are in your account. Having a well structured account will improve quality score which could lead to a much lower CPC for keywords than Google estimates.

      Thanks for reading!

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