Today’s guest article is written by my long-time friend and colleague,
Lorelle Smith, “The Keywordsmith.” Lorelle is the reason why you’ll rarely
spot a typo or grammar mistake in this newsletter, as she’s been
proofreading it for me since its inception in 2002. She’s also my go-to
person for keyword research when we don’t have the time or inclination to do
it in-house. Simply put, Lorelle knows words better than anyone else I
This is the first installment of her 2-part article about keyword research
for PPC and SEO campaigns. Enjoy! - Jill
“Wide-net” Keyword Research for PPC & SEO (Part 1 of 2)
Chances are you’ve heard this one before:
“Do you want it fast, good, or cheap? Pick any 2.”
Ask new clients this question and you’ll instantly know what their
priorities are. (If they thought you would provide all 3, you can nip THAT
expectation in the bud!)
Optimizing a website to be found in the search engines is a prime example.
It’s cheap to do and provides good results – but it’s definitely not fast.
Usually months go by before you’ll start to see the fruits of your labor.
Luckily there’s a “fast & good” shortcut, and that’s pay-per-click
advertising, or PPC for short. It’s so fast that you could have
well-targeted traffic to your website within minutes of activating your
campaign, and if you’ve carefully crafted your landing pages to convert
that traffic into paying customers, there’s no doubt PPC can lead to a VERY
The underlying foundation for both SEO and PPC is keyword research.
Since Jill is always stressing the importance of keyword research, you
hopefully use the reputable services like KeywordDiscovery (KD) and
WordTracker (WT) rather than rely strictly on the free keyword suggestion
tools like Overture, and you would *never* simply guess at the best keyword
phrases to use. Right?
For strictly SEO, you don’t need to cast as wide a net when you go trolling
through KD and/or WT for keywords. After all, you’re going to have to be
able to actually *use* them on the site itself. They must each be relevant
to a page on your website.
PPC campaigns, on the other hand, need lots of long-tail keywords (longer,
uncompetitive phrases not searched on as much) unless you want to spend a
fortune bidding on all the two-word core phrases your competitors are
bidding on. So when doing keyword research for PPC campaigns you’ll need to
scoop up a ton of keywords.
I think it’s wise to do keyword research with PPC in mind even if you
*think* you’ll be sticking with organic SEO, because it can help expand
your mental horizons, make you think outside the box, get more familiar with
your target customer, and avoid tunnel vision. And of course you’ll be
ready to launch your PPC at a moment’s notice if you grow weary of waiting
for your SEO efforts to pay off.
How To Do Keyword Research for PPC
For PPC keyword research you have to have an entirely different mindset than
when researching keywords for SEO.
I start out with a single keyword so as not to miss anything. Don’t be
afraid to cast a really wide net in the beginning. First I make a note of
the main inappropriate word pairings and immediately do a second search to
weed them out. Let me give you a real-world example.
I have a retail client who imports silk bedding, clothing, and accessories.
Like so many brick-and-mortar store owners, it’s not possible for him to
sell his entire, constantly shifting inventory on the website, so some
triage is necessary.
As his keyword specialist, that’s where I can help. My research will tell
him which silk products are in highest demand by shoppers querying the
I start out in KD by bringing up the entire list for “silk” and making a
note of the top words to eliminate. Next I use syntax that tells the system
to exclude those words like this: silk -stalkings -road -flower -screen
-screening. That gives me a much cleaner list. (Since both KD and WT have
1,000-result limits this is highly desirable.) When the list is this clean,
I can skip the step of adding each selection to a project. After simply
exporting the list to Excel it’s ready for organizing into categories.
Now my client can zero in on the high-demand silk products that he needs to
consider adding to his website and optimizing for. I saved quite a bit of
time by casting such a wide net in my keyword research, and now I know just
about every word that might be used in combination with “silk.” That’s
important for compiling your list of “negative” words for PPC. I’ll explain
more about that in Part 2, and also give you my 5 best PPC research tips.
Now I must get back to helping Jill’s newsletter to be the best it can be!
Lorelle Smith, The Keywordsmith
Professional Keyword Research & Analysis Consultant