Building a Better Keyword List for SEM

The key to success for a winning search engine marketing (or SEM) campaign starts with using well-researched keywords. Connecting with prospective customers becomes much more difficult when you don't utilize the proper keywords in your SEM campaign. How can you create a better keyword list for your SEM efforts? Without a strong keyword list, your advertising campaign might be doomed from the start. If you want to win with Google organic search, you've got to do your keyword research. Fortunately, developing a strong keyword list isn't as difficult as you may think. You'll need a Google AdWords account, a good starting list of keywords associated with your business or brand, and a sense of how to best position these keywords in an online ad campaign.

Keyword Tools

There are a number of online tools to help you get started creating a great keyword list. Here are the key ones:

Google Keyword Planner is one of the most popular. Since many online advertisers already have AdWords accounts, KeyWord Planner becomes another tool in your overall Google ad campaign setup. Keyword Planner lets you analyze the frequency of keywords being searched, who's searching for them, and how often these keywords are being searched.

SEMRush promises to be your online partner for the right selection of competitive keywords for search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. Many advertisers swear by its top-rated industry status, with over one million users and 800 million keywords. SEMRush has just announced a keyword database refresh to stay current and help customers find better keyword phrase matches and long-tail keywords.

Keyword Tool is another fine keyword research tool, one that offers a free alternative to Keyword Planner and others. Keyword Tool can help you strengthen your existing keyword inventory with related suggestions.

There are additional, helpful tools for keyword research, including Moz Keyword Explorer and KW Finder.

Building Your Keyword List

To get started with building your keyword list, you'll have to know your business or brand, how your products and services can help a customer, and which keywords are being searched for competitors in your industry. Here are some questions to ask your team when getting started:

  • What keywords align with your products and services?

    Depending on the business you're in, you'll have to research those keywords that customers are searching for in your industry. Focus on those long-tail and product keywords, rather than overly generic category keywords like "cars" or "insurance." Using more detailed keywords can help your company get found more in granular searches.

  • What keyword phrases can you utilize that showcase your company's strengths?

    Does your product or service offer a solution to industry issues? What keyword phrases can you use to solve the problem? For example, do you sell inexpensive Bluetooth speakers? Then maybe your ideal keyword phrases might include "Best Bluetooth speakers" or "What are the best cheap Bluetooth speakers?"

  • What are your related keywords?

    Try the keyword tools listed above to find related keywords that you might not have thought of using. There may be a substantial amount of searches being done that you can take advantage of in choosing related keywords. Also, different keywords might take on different meanings in other parts of the country, or in other global markets that you operate in. Keep those variations in mind as well.

  • Do your keywords relate to our website content?

    Don't just use different keywords for the sake of competition — use them if they are directly related to your website content. Using non-related keywords can mislead your site visitors.

The ways that keywords work in ad campaigns are always evolving. Google tends to lead the changes, too. Click over to Google AdWords for other basic tips on building a keyword list.

Within AdWords, Google offers a variety of keyword matching options to supplement your original keyword lists. You can use search to build out even deeper keyword databases. These keywords will offer close variations for a broad match modifier, phrase match, and exact matches. Another option for building up good keywords comes with tools such as Merge Words, which merges your existing keywords into new keyword phrases to use in PPC campaigns.

Keep experimenting with your keyword lists until you find the right mix of original and modified lists to help drive your conversions higher.