Search Engine Opitimzation Basics – Creating a Master Keyword Phrase List

How to build your keyword list?

Oftentimes, we talk with clients who absolutely know what keyword phrases that they want their website to be ranked for in the search engines.

This can be an awkward place to start with a new client. I am a firm believer that individual business owners, marketing folks, communications people, etc within an organization and industry know their marketplace better than we do as the web design, development, and optimization firm. However, we too often spend resources, time and money optimizing a website for keyword phrases that just don’t get searched for by web surfers.

As a search engine optimziation firm, it becomes very easy for us to get good rankings for a keyword phrase that is not searched on very much. Clients love us because we meet and exceed their expectations. But we wish that we were focused on the best keyword phrases for a company based on search statistics which we as a firm have access to.

But again, most companies know their industry better than their web design and development firm will.

Therefore, we always ask our clients to create what they consider their master keyword list (see my last post entitled “Keywords versus Keyword Phrases – how are they different?” for the difference between a keyword and a keyword phrase). First, we ask that they start with individual keywords (for example, vermont, web, page, design, development, programming, etc). Then we ask them to use these keywords to create keyword phrases based on those keywords.

Using the client’s keyword and keyword phrase list, we then create a “master keyword list” which contains all the keyword phrases that might be possibly and logically be combined for search engine purposes. A keyword phrase list based on a keyword list might contain: vermont web design, vermont programming, VT web development, vermont web page development, vt webpage development, etc…

But it is critical that you do not stop there. You then need to take that keyword phrase master list and make sure that people are in fact using those keyword phrases in the search engines. We do this “keyword analysis” for most clients and find out how many times each of the keyword phrases are searched in a given month. And then we use some of the keyword phrase search engine tools such as Word Tracker (Wordtracker Free Trial) to expand the master keyword phrase list to include keyword phrases that the compnay not have thought of and that do get searched on the major search engines.

Using these search counts, we can then pare down the master list to only include keyword phrases that have solid search traffic counts, and that are attainable (we are not going to go after the keyword “jumbo mortgage” for a local vermont mortgage company as it is too broad and too expensive to go after, but we will go after “vermont jumbo mortgage”).

If you are having trouble generating your keyword list on your own, do some searching yourself and the sites that do rank well on the first 1 or 2 pages of Google. Use keyword phrases that you are sure would be used by your potential customers. Start simple like “vermont web design” in our case.

Then look at the “source code” for the page (most browsers, there is a View, Source combination to view the HTML coding for a page) and see what keyword phrases the page is built with (once the source code is opened, do a search for the word “keyword” and you should find the META tag for keywords. It is usally at the top of the page and very plain to see if the code is clean and tight). You can use your competitor’s sites and sites that already rank well to target the keywords that will be helpful for your site.

After doing your keyword initial research, combine the keywords into keyword phrases that your potential visitors/customers would use to find your website.

There are many different ways to do this keyword analysis yourself or to use a service or a firm. If you use a service, just make sure that you know what you getting for the money and certainly double check their work using the tools i suggest through these articles.

If content is king…keyword phrases fill the king’s coffers.