1. Have a Solid Number in Mind
When you get started, have a number of keywords in mind to find. Many people start their research, find 1,000 phrases and then have no idea where to start narrowing them down. If you’re doing PPC, you’ll obviously need a lot, but if you’re simply optimizing a site, no more than 100 is best.
2. Have a List of Obvious Master Keywords
Create a list of master keywords. You should be able to brainstorm a few, but also use tools like Traffic Travis and Google AdWords Keyword Tool to generate additional ideas. You can then build on them from there with longtail phrases.
3. Check Your Current Rankings
Use Traffic Travis’s SEO analysis tool to check your website for which keywords you already rank for you. You can also get a list from Google in the Google Webmaster tools and can use Analytics to see which searches you’re actually getting.
Having this data in hand will make it much easier to either increase your production for keywords you’re almost ranking for, or to expand on those phrases because you already know you’re doing well in that area.
4. Check Your Competitors
Immediately after checking your own rankings, check the rankings of your competitors. You want to know where they are ranking and how high. The sooner you know what you’re up against, the easier it will be to adapt your strategies.
I like to use Traffic Travis to generate data about specific keywords and the top listing sites for each category. Often times, you’ll find that no single site on Page 1 of Google is well optimized for your target phrases.
5. Collect Data on Your Keywords
Go out and generate reports on your keywords. This means preparing lists of the current searches per month, the average competition, the AdWords competition, and related phrases. Having all of this data will make it easier to narrow your lists down later.
6. Run Your Keywords through Suggestion Tools
Once you’ve generated a list of phrases and ranked them by competition and volume, start running them through suggestion tools once more.
These tools will show you any phrases you may have missed or low competition longtails that might convert well.
7. Constantly Research and Adjust Your Keywords
Never stop researching your keywords. If you want to stay on top of the listings for your niche, you need to know which phrases remain at the top. Especially if you’re in a niche with constant new products or technology, you’ll need to adjust your keyword optimization regularly.
I like to check my keywording at least once a month, but sometimes even more often in hyper-competitive niches. The last thing you want to do is lose your spot because terms start shifting.
It’s not easy to sit down and come up with a master of keywords on the fly. But, if you do it right, you’ll be able to quickly generate a list that will support a website and help you get the right kind of traffic.
If you decide to turn your keyword lists into PPC ad groups, make sure to expand those lists as much as possible, using long tails to develop a list that will translate over time into great conversion rates and solid returns on investment.
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