Mining the Right Keyword Mix for Successful SEM Campaigns

Keyword ResearchKeyword research is an integral part of developing a successful paid search marketing campaign. Finding the right mix of keywords can certainly be challenging, but once you’ve “cracked the code” and established an appropriate list of performing keywords, the results can be as exciting as they are profitable.

Here are some recommendations on how to get started amassing a keyword list that will work for you.

Finding Keywords

If you’re new to paid search marketing, or just getting started with a new account or campaign, the first thing you’ll want to do is compile a large list of potential keywords that you may want to incorporate into your account. Here’s a two-pronged approach to help you begin:

Step 1: Create an Organic Keyword List

Start by taking a look at the keywords you are employing for your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. What keywords are woven throughout your site? Which of these keywords are effectively driving traffic to your site and/or landing pages?

While related, SEO and PPC are different channels. Ultimately, the keyword strategy you use for each need to reflect that. However, for the purpose of getting started with an initial list, culling keywords from your organic list is perfectly acceptable.

Step 2: Keyword Discovery/Expansion

Once you have your initial list in place, you’ll want to flesh it out to make sure you capture the myriad of ways searchers might be looking for your services/products/content/etc. When it comes to keyword list expansion, some popular approaches to focus on include:

  • Synonyms and common misspellings.
  • Long tail (refined keyword phrases that often reflect a specific intention).
  • Seasonal trends in searcher behavior and intent (e.g., back to school or Valentine’s Day).
  • Commercial intent (e.g., phrases containing words like buy, fix, and cure).
  • Competitive intelligence (using the high performing keywords of your competitors).

Keyword Discovery Tools

This may seem like a daunting task at first, especially if you anticipate needing a large list of hundreds or even thousands of keywords. Fortunately, however, there are several tools available on the market to assist you – many of them quite inexpensive or even free.

This list will help you get started, but please know that it is by no means comprehensive – you should seek out and test various tools to find out which ones work best for you.

Getting Organized

The downfall of many a search marketing campaign is lack of organization.

Trying to understand and manage a list of thousands of keywords (some marketers are even dealing with upwards of a million keywords) can be overwhelming, to say the least. As a result, marketers often don’t take the time to fully think through their campaigns prior to launching, which can be a costly mistake.

You can do all the keyword research in the world, but if you don’t complement that effort with one to create sound campaign architecture, you may see your campaigns fall flat. So, once you have your keyword list in place, don’t forget to think about how best to structure your campaigns.

Whatever search engine or ad network you’re working with should offer you a number of targeting and ad grouping options to help you organize your keywords most effectively. Give yourself the best chance for success by taking advantage of the tools and expertise that are available to you before launching your campaigns.

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