Keyword Discovery 101, Part 2

Our keyword discovery quest continues, with a focus on analyzing and refining your initial keyword list, which we began developing in Part 1. You should now have a sizable list of keywords and, preferably, have them organized in a spreadsheet. Our goal now is to analyze this list and begin a refining process to find the top performing keywords.

Fee-Based Keyword Tools

First, let’s look at some of the keyword tools on the Internet, some of which might help you with this process.

Keyword Discovery and Wordtracker are the two most popular fee-based keyword tools. These tools show you a keyword’s popularity, including the number of searches per keyword and search history.

One note: each of these tools has their own proprietary database that pulls information that represents the major search engines. You may get different results if you look up a keyword in both tools.

Free Keyword Tools

Google is an obvious choice with their set of free tools. Let’s start with their keyword tool. This will allow you to either point to a Web site or type in keywords and get a list of keywords with monthly stats.

Google Trends allows you to type in one or more keywords to view up to five years of trend data on searcher behavior. The Google Traffic Estimator toolprovides insight into the amount of traffic and predicted CPC for a given keyword.

Remember: all of Google’s tools only pull data from Google’s database. But they’re the biggest and free, so it’s a great place to start.

To generate local keywords, you might like‘s tool. If you like a tool that puts it all together, check out SEO Book’s Keyword Suggestion Tool, where you type in your keyword and get data from several sources at once with links to those sources.

Scoring Your Keywords

Now that you have access to some great keyword tools, let’s dive into the refining process. At this point, I recommend creating three columns in your spreadsheet next to your list of keywords. For your three titles, use “Relevance,” “Specificity,” and “Popularity.”

  • Relevance: Go through your list and score each keyword on how relevant that keyword is to your business. To make it simple, use a scale from 1-10, 10 being the highest. Don’t spend more than two seconds per keyword and give out 9s and 10s sparingly. You want to identify which keywords are most relevant to your business, your site, or a specific landing page depending on what kind of campaign you’re running.
  • Specificity: You’ll want to go through the same scoring process. What you’re looking for is how specific or how general each keyword is. Remember the long tail principle from Part 1. A keyword like “bike” for instance would score a 1 or a 2 where “Trek 2008 5.9 Madone” would score a 9 or 10.
  • Popularity: Use some of the tools mentioned above to get a feel for how many searches there are for each keyword and rank them accordingly.

Now that you have scores for each keyword, set up one more column, titled “Overall Score.” Average the scores for each keyword and then sort the keywords based on the overall score column. The keywords that will likely be your best performers will be near the top, while the keywords that will be your least performing will be near the bottom.

Test, Test, Test

Now it’s time to test your keywords for performance measurement. A PPC campaign will likely get you some quick performance results.

If you’re using these keywords for a SEO campaign, you don’t want to wait months to find out you’re using the wrong keywords. Set up a regular procedure to test performance and make course corrections along the way.

This process can definitely be expanded upon, but hopefully you can pick up the principles at work and use them in context to your specific needs. Feel free to ping me with questions or success stories.

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