Welcome to day one of our week-long series on keyword research! Let me sum up the theme of our series: Keyword research is the foundation upon which you build your search marketing campaigns. Yes, I know, that’s the most obvious statement ever. Regardless, I’m going to keep banging away at this great analogy! What do you need to build anything from a dog house to a great marketing initiative or even your keyword research strategy? A plan, of course! Without a thoughtful plan in place, you are selling your keyword research short. Keep reading to learn how you can put a great keyword research strategy to use today.

Review Website Resources

The biggest kill-joy to successful keyword research is jumping straight into your keyword tool of choice. Once you get the go-ahead to begin keyword research for your own PPC account or for a client, start first with the basics. Review the website you’re going to advertise! Get to know the site, get to know the client (if it isn’t you!) and most importantly, get to know the product or service you’re going to promote.

  • Take notes on product/service names (brand names).
  • Pay careful attention to product/service descriptions. Record any words or phrases that are related to the product/service.
  • Take notes on how the products or services are broken down on the website. What themes are present?
  • Look for industry specific terms and more importantly, client specific details. How does the product/service fit within the given industry, and how does the client stand out?

Perform Preliminary Searches

Using the notes you compiled from the website, start performing searches on Google and Yahoo. This is your opportunity to role-play as a customer and scope out the search engine playing field!

  • Review the PPC ads. Look at the types of companies bidding on your search query. This will give you an idea of a few things like who are your direct competitors, how much competition is in your niche and a high-level idea of what kinds of terms you’ll be able to compete well for.
  • Review the organic results. For the same reasons as reviewing the paid ads, organic results are a great way to learn about your competition and if you’re on the right track with your keyword discovery.
  • The other great benefit of doing these preliminary searches is that it puts you in the customer’s shoes. You will quickly be able to refine your list of keyword notes by reviewing the actual SERPs. Be honest with yourself and ask, “What are these customers really looking for?”


After you’ve reviewed your website and refined your keyword notes based on actual search results, it’s time to segment your initial list of keywords! In the first review of the website, you should have taken notes on how the content is broken down. Now is the time to put that knowledge to use.

  • Based on your list of keywords, determine the predominant themes. Think of these themes as content silos so you can begin to plan on PPC landing pages (or which pages of your site these keywords will point to).
  • Segmenting your keyword ideas before delving into keyword tools will actually simplify the process of researching. You will be able to quickly input your initial keyword ideas and place the resulting related and long-tail keywords directly into their respective content silos.
  • The real benefit of segmentation in your keyword research strategy, however, is that you’ll be 90% on your way to having a great account structure prepared for your PPC accounts!

Once you’ve completed these steps, it’s time to dive into keyword research tools to find all of those highly related and long-tail keywords. But that’s a conversation for another day (Tuesday, actually!). Having a plan in place for your keyword research strategy will help you to organize your process and effectively transition from a research phase into the deployment phase. If you take the time to review your website, perform preliminary searches and segment your findings into content silos, you’ll be paid back with a strong foundation upon which you can build your PPC campaigns!