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Building Your Master SEO Keyword List

We help businesses with figuring out what's the best way to select your master keywords
Don't Compete Where You'll Lose

Building a Master SEO Keyword List

So how do you stack up or compete for organic search results? Roughly 68% of all search result clicks go to the Top 3 organic results. That's what you need to shoot for. Time after time I see our clients optimize their entire site around what the marketing and management teams say that their company is and does. We had one client who spent $20k trying to optimize their online store for "ink cartridge replacement." Of course they had no success, but had no idea why. Well, the easy answer is that Canon, Epson, HP and the like are spending hundreds of millions each year to own that space. No matter how much my client wanted to spend, that was a keyword that they were never going to win. We've got dozens of clients in the "financial planning," "medical care," and other keyword industries that are in the same boat.

Setting You Up to Compete

Steps to Defining Your Keywords to Success

So how do you win? That may be an easy question, but the answer isn't so easy. However, we'll not only answer that question, we'll show you the basics on how to win.

*NOTE: This article only covers the building of the keyword list. There is still a ton of work to build out the champions, supporting articles, content strategy, link building, etc. Those are topics covered in other articles, or you can request a free consultation with one of our SEO experts read more on our SEO services.

Step 1

  • Gather Your Basic Thoughts

You and your team know better than anyone, who your company is, what your strengths are and what you think your products and services are that you're marketing. Gather those core ideas and come up with the basic keyword terms or phrases that you think represent how you'd market those today. We have to start somewhere. It may even be the keywords that you've been using and losing with, and you want to find out how to improve upon them. Great, build that starting list.

Step 2

  • The Keyword Planner

So now that you've got your list. Let's see how likely you are to "win" with those keywords. Launch your Adwords console. If you don't do any PPC, then you can create a free Adwords account. Go to Google and type, "keyword planner tool" and find the Google Adwords link. Create an account. Once you're into Adwords, in the top-right navigation, you'll see "TOOLS & SETTINGS." Click that option. The drop-down menu, far-left, under PLANNING, click on "Keyword Planner." Select "Discover new keywords" and paste in your first key word term or phrase.

Step 3

  • Analyzing Your Keyword Results

In the graphic above, I pasted in a search term "manufacturing medical devices." The resulting page gives me everything I need to know to find the keywords I can win. However, that doesn't mean that my landing pages, content, champions, supporting articles are optimized for the keywords I will select. The first bit of good news with my search is that there are 1,600 searches each month in Google that type in that keyword and it looks like consistent search volume month to month, with Medium competition. So if I really want to win at that keyword, with medium competition, I probably can. However, if it was High competition, then I probably couldn't. So next, I look at the Competition column. I may even click the word Competition (column heading) twice to sort the results in descending order, which will bring all of the keyword variations of my keyword with low competition to the top. Now I can look at the Average Monthly Searches column and see how many people are searching for that less competitive keyword. I then pick the top 4 results with low competition that have the most searches and the closest match to my original keyword. Those are now my keyword and 3 variations that I will use for the strategy to "win" that keyword. Repeat this process for every keyword that you had in your original list until you have a spreadsheet with a bunch of rows (i.e. Original keyword, New Keyword, # searches, 1st variation, # searches....).

In case you're a little confused, if you look at the image above, it shows the Search Volume Trend (blue-red bar chart), which shows the average number of searches each month for my keyword (total searches, and those from a mobile device in red), if it's trending up or down, or stable. Below that is the "keyword you provided" or my keyword I typed in, with the results that I'm analyzing to the right of my keyword. The next section down the page is titled, "keyword ideas." This is where the keyword planner shows us a ton of other keyword variations, similar to the one we entered, and it's associated monthly traffic and competition. In other words, if we can't win with our keyword, here are a bunch of other similar keywords that people are searching for every month, that you may be able to win with.

Now the Hard Word Starts

Build Out Your Content

This section could be 25 pages long, and not the purpose of the article. The article was to help you find and build a list of keywords that you CAN win with. But I don't want to leave you hanging, so below is the short list of the full strategy:

  • Define your Champion pages and their content
  • Optimize your Champions for your 4 new keywords AND your CRO strategy
  • Find all your Supporting pages for each Champion (i.e. articles, blogs, news items, videos, etc.)
  • Edit every supporting item, linking the 4 keyword variations to the appropriate Champion
  • Verify every URL in your sitemap.xml and make sure it's registered with Google, Bing, etc.
  • Build out your Media content map
  • Monitor in Moz to see how your Champions are doing
  • Never stop promoting (if you're not writing a champion, then it's a supporter!)
  • Support, monitor, support some more to get and then keep a Top 3 position for each keyword

Happy writing! If you need any help on building out your SEO, CRO, PPC or Content strategy, feel free to reach out. We'd love to help!

This article was written by our Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Ron Halversen.

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