Online marketers intimately understand the importance of keyword research. There are any number of reasons to build keyword lists, including for SEO and PPC, but we are not going to dive into those reasons here. This is a guide to help you build a keyword list for any project you have been assigned. These six down and dirty techniques and tools will help you find new keywords as well as important themes within the keywords.
Looking for the latest digital strategies for iconic branding? Attend the iMedia Brand Summit, Feb. 5-8. Request your invitation today
This is typically the starting point in creating keyword lists. Allow creative juices to flow by listing elements rather than every possible combination of keywords -- creativity can be stifled when list building becomes too mundane and mechanical. Use Excel to list relevant, yet different keyword types into columns. For example: City names, product categories, adjectives, etc. This list will create the seed list and can be expanded later.
Competitor sites are a great place to look when generating keyword lists. Gather keywords from title tags, Meta descriptions, keyword tags, and on-page content. Consider both direct and indirect competitors -- most importantly, consider those sites competing in the search results.
There are a number of tools available that will help speed this process up, including Xenu Link Sleuth (free) and Screaming Frog (paid subscription). Both tools crawl a site and gather title tags and meta descriptions for the site's pages. The nice thing about Screaming Frog is that it also gives details on header tags, which typically contain keywords. Run either tool on a competitor's site and export the results into Excel. Hide unnecessary columns so that you focus on the title (the page title tag) and description (the meta description tag) columns. Then sort the title and meta description columns so that it is easier to sort through the content.
Finding keywords from competitor's pages using Xenu Link Sleuth (free tool)
Source: Data from Xenu crawl on www.unitedvanlines.com
In addition to keyword ideas, title tags provide a sign of the relative importance competitors have assigned keywords, especially if they have an SEO program. You can identify this by which keywords are in the title tag, usually the most important keyword will be listed.
When you find a row in the Xenu export that looks interesting, then go to the web page (the URL is in the address column). Look at the page for additional keyword ideas in the body copy. A tool such as SEO Quake's Keyword Density Tool is sometimes useful for drawing out interesting new keywords in longer bodies of text. (However, you have to sift through a lot of junk to find a few gems in the keyword density list. Plus, since most keyword density tools strip words such as "the," "and," and "if," the terms can sometimes be confusing and not reflect the actual terms used.) Some marketers find it easier to manually skim the body content and look for interesting keywords. Give SEO quake a try and if it doesn't work for you, then do a manual review of pages.