Keyword research for PPC content-based advertising

Tue, Aug 4, 2009

Testing / Optimization, Traffic

It’s easy to get lazy when coming up with keywords to bid on for your PPC advertising, but you really miss out on a lot of opportunities by doing so. It’s best to have an organized, structured approach to keyword research to maximize the potential of your online advertising campaigns. Although it’s always tempting just to leap into things, keyword research is one area where it really pays off to think about what you’re doing and do the hard yards before spending your hard-earned dollars.

An Organized Approach to Keyword Research

So why research keywords? Why not just publish great content and expect that people will find it eventually anyway?

The problem is that if you just guess at what people want, you’ve got a great chance of being completely wrong–and it’s an unnecessary risk when even a little bit of keyword research can give you a great idea of exactly what people are looking for.

If you research your keywords the right way, not only will you be able to hugely improve your current content, but you’ll be able to easily tap into a huge database of new ideas—you may even discover great new niches to exploit for new product ideas. The bottom line is that keyword research will help you to make more money from what you’ve got, and let you optimize future content for greater profits going forward.

Here’s the approach we recommend for researching keywords.

Step 1: Get Yourself a Good List of Starting Keywords

Starting or “seed” keywords are the words you’ll use to start your keyword research project. Of themselves, they’re not going to be very useful, but they’ll help you to uncover rich sources of money-making keywords.

Suppose I’m researching keywords for an information site on family lawyers. ‘Custody’ might be a promising seed keyword, because it leads me to ‘custody disputes,’ ‘fighting for child custody,’ ‘custody court battles,’ and so on.

The more seed keywords you have at the start of a project, the more comprehensive your final list of results will be.

You’ll need to stimulate your creative muscles here to come up with a starter list. Different people will have different methods for doing this, but I like to go to the library and find material related to the niche I want to find keywords for. As I skim through books, magazines, and articles I jot down related ideas and concepts as I come across them and keep a record of what I think might be important related keywords.

Once I’ve done I usually have a long list of keywords, which I whittle down by asking myself what the real “core” keywords are. I try to reduce it down to a list of about 20 keywords, which I use as my “seeds.”

Step 2: Get Some Related Keywords

The two tools I like to use to expand my list and find “related” keywords are Wordtracker and Google Adwords Keyword Tool.

The keywords we’ll use these tools to find come in two basic groups. “Related” keywords and “Long tail” keywords.

  • Related keywords are words that are often used within a particular area of concern or niche. For example, related keywords for ‘foot pain’ would include ‘metatarsalgia’ and ‘hammertoe’; related keywords for ‘get money online’ might include ‘Internet business opportunites’ or ‘get paid for sending email’.
  • Long tail keywords for ‘foot pain’ would be ‘unbearable foot pain,’ and ‘foot pain suffering support’; long tail keywords for ‘get money online’ would include ‘get money online now,’ ‘tell me how to get money online,’ or ‘get money online today.’

Begin by taking your list of starter keywords and finding  ’related keywords’ for each in turn. You may be tempted to delve into fine details but you should resist the urge for now. Just concentrate on finding as many related concepts as possible.

And keep an eye out for  new niche opportunities. Keyword researching is one of the best ways to identify niche markets that others have missed.

At the end of this process you should have hundreds of related keywords. You can now use the aforementioned toold to test their popularity – to find out how often each word is searched for on average every day. These numbers, along with your own knowledge of your priorities and content offerings will allow you to prioritize your keyword lists.

Step 3: Map Out Your Online Content Structure

Now use the keywords to map out your site’s content. Group your content thematically, informed by your keywords. You should aim to have groups that reflect your products and services and that are clearly are targeted to specific markets. Start with 6 to 10 themes—you can build on this later.

Step 4: Find Your Long Tail Keywords

The keywords you’ve grouped thematically are your starting points for your long tail research. Take each of the keywords you have now and analyze how they’re used in longer search terms. Next, look at the daily search counts to get an idea of the relevant importance of each term. Using this technique, you can very quickly build up lists of hundreds, if not thousands of keywords and keyword phrases.

Step 5: Create Your Content Plan

Now it’s time to start mining for specific content ideas. A good formula for creating content ideas s this:

Topic issue + Popular keywords = Title of Content

If, for example, you know that working with passport officials is a hot issue, you could combine this with the keyword ‘travelling abroad” to create the content title:

‘Working with Passport Officials when Travelling Abroad”

And don’t be scared off using highly competitive terms in your content. Include them even if you have no immediate chance of ranking for them in search results — you’re laying a foundation for the future.

A prime benefit of solid keyword research is that it will assist you in mapping out a relevant  content plan. This means that you won’t waste time producing irrelevant content, but will focus on highly relevant content ideas that will bring the traffic you’re after and please your surfers.

What Comes After Your Keyword Research is Complete?

Now that you’ve established your focus through keyword research, you’re ready to start creating content. But don’t forget that keyword research needs to be an ongoing process. Once you’ve published your pages, the idea is to continue to monitor your performance, and make adjustments accordingly; eventually you want to begin systematically expanding the keywords that you rank well for–but those are topics for future articles!

How do you do keyword research? What sort of successes and failures have you had? Let us know in the comments!

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20 Responses to “Keyword research for PPC content-based advertising”

  1. Cory Says:

    To me I always use meta tags with sites that I’m doing. So far, I’m getting good results.

    Reply

  2. Josh Zehtabchi Says:

    Also, one thing I would suggest is looking into your competition websites. I have never used PPC, though… it kind of seems not worth the money to me.

    @ Cory – meta tags are a great way to start, but now, with this new SEO fad, everybody and their mother is doing the basics, rendering it pretty much useless…. IMHO.
    .-= Josh Zehtabchi´s last blog ..About V2interactive: =-.

    Reply

  3. Carlo Says:

    Yes meta tags are for starters, not doing much really but at least helpful.

    Reply

  4. anton Says:

    this is interesting..id like to know some more..meta tags for starters..hmm related keywords? that helps too

    Reply

  5. Wakey Says:

    Meta tags are so 90s. Wake up! Interesting post by the way.

    Reply

  6. Jonas Says:

    PPC ftw

    Reply

  7. geld verdienen Says:

    I think meta tags are still pretty good, if you arrange them with the keywords in your website text.

    Reply

  8. Fan Says:

    Steps are noted and followed. Thanks for sharing this up. This is very useful!

    Reply

  9. Vanessa Says:

    Thank you for bring this up! This is very useful.

    Reply

  10. Zaib Says:

    Hi,

    first time to vsit your blog and read a wonderful post. I use only wordtracker for my keyword combinations but now i also realised the importance of Google Keywords tool.

    Thanx for the great share!
    .-= Zaib´s last blog ..Make Money Online Through Blogging =-.

    Reply

  11. Myar Says:

    I think meta tags are helpful also and wouldn’t underestimate them. Useful entry!

    Reply

  12. Raghu Says:

    Yes, I Agree Meta Tags plays a vital role & very important for SEO where as in PPC we don’t require the page rank but we need to improve keyword research…

    Reply

  13. Sandra@Darlehensrechner Says:

    Just a question to step 4: How d you find – out of all options – the best long tail searches? Where do you get the “daily search counts” from? Wordtracker as well?
    .-= Sandra@Darlehensrechner´s last blog ..Tilgungsplan Rechner =-.

    Reply

    • Mogul Says:

      You can get daily search counts from Google’s keyword tool. Coming up with (known) long tail queries is a bit of a black art, though there are certainly some good sources. We’ll cover it in a future article. Thanks for your comment!

      Reply

  14. Money-Era Says:

    Good article, giving a fresh look at the things I know from a different perspective: first keywords, then content. So far I have been utilizing the latter approach (first content, then keywords – create good article and find keywords to describe it), but the one you are describing guarantees better focus when writing articles for the blog. Good job!
    .-= Money-Era´s last blog ..How much does 1 million e-mail addresses cost? =-.

    Reply

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