6 Free Steps to Practical SEM Keyword Development

Step One: Set up a remarketing audience in AdWords, says SEO Samba's Michel Leconte.

Step Two, Part A: Go to the webmasters' tools account/search queries, select a market, sort by position and highlight keywords.

Step Two, Part B: Focus SEO and PPC efforts on these keywords, especially those with rankings between three and 15.

Step Three: Go to Alexa.com and find your competitor's top keywords.

Step Four: One way to optimize for real-time search results is to experiment in Google Instant.

As marketing channels evolve, so does a marketer’s job. An increasing number of marketing professionals are tasked with developing lists of potent keyword phrases to drive search engine optimization strategies (SEO) and power pay-per-click search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns. Inevitably, questions emerge as to what best practices can be established to drive success for this critical step. Here is a practical approach to how marketers can most effectively approach keyword development.

Relying on a flawed keyword list is akin to building a house on a poor foundation: It jeopardizes the return on investment of your PPC campaigns, wastes a significant part of your SEO budget and is a bad omen for your job prospects. Keyword development can become rapidly overwhelming, but a little bit of organization and setting aside a chunk of uninterrupted time help a great deal.

1. List What Works Right Now
Leverage all data pertaining to sales origin, conversion, keywords, CRM, Web analytics and Adwords. This is the part you can rely on; you control it. Congratulate yourself if you have been tracking lead origins, because these are about to become a valuable part of the process. Place the keywords you know convert into sales within the first sheet of your spreadsheet—that’s the A list. Place the high volume terms triggering no conversion onto another sheet.

  • Instant Takeaway: If you don’t do anything else today, start by setting goals in Google analytics and Adwords.
  • Bonus Takeaway: Set up a remarketing audience in Google AdWords with 540 days of cookie length, and ask your webmaster to add both the conversions code of your successful URL and remarketing code of your website (or at least cover the homepage).

2. Google Webmasters Tools: Do More of What Works Right Now
Go to your webmasters’ tools account/search queries. Select your market and see all queries in the filter settings. Sort by average position and highlight keywords from your A list within that table. Download the data to CSV, or comma-separated values. You can get some great ROI by focusing your efforts there; especially if you rank anywhere between No. 3 and No. 15 for some of these keywords. That’s the priority AA list for your organic efforts, and you’ll double down by setting broad PPC bids around these later on.

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