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.

If you did not have solid prior conversion data, you’ll have to guess which query would yield good conversion rates.

3. Identify what Keyword Phrases Make an Impact for Your Competitors
Take a list of your top competitors, go to www.alexa.com and—if they are within the top 100,000 sites—you can confidently harvest both organic and paid search query data.

This is the B list: keywords that generate traffic to your competitors’ websites. (Although the PPC opportunities listed on Alexa have little value.)

Instant takeaway: While you’re there, read the summary for your competitors. Note the accurate bounce rate and compare it to that of your websites. This can give you clues on how to improve your homepage conversion rate.

4. Google Instant: Identify Opportunity Gaps and Position for the Future
You may have noticed that Google’s search box has become interactive. It now attempts to predict users’ search intentions by automatically suggesting search terms as they type.

Through Google Instant, search results are displayed in real-time and shift as the user types additional letters. Also, the additional space taken by the suggestion box cannibalizes space usually occupied by one to three results. What does this mean?

First, many users will settle for one of the proposed options if they’re close enough to what they have in mind, or will expand their initial search terms if they notice inadequate search results appearing. We expect a concentration around these keyword phrases to occur over time—a bit like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Imagine that someone types 10 keyword phrases indifferently with the same intent—the keyword phrase with the most volume, i.e. the longer keyword tail, will rise to the top of the bucket, just like cream in a pot of milk. The popular should only get more popular.

So what now? Seed the search box with the first word of the keyword phrases found in your A and B lists. Make a note of the suggestions surrounding your keywords and then decline the alphabet A to Z and copy down what appears to be Google’s most potent suggestion from each list. This is your C list.

5. Adword Search-Based Tools: Retrieve Volume, Costs and Set Everything in Motion
Now, you have a decent set of keyword phrase lists. By assembling AA, A, B and C, you find phrases that already generate business, some that likely generate business for your competitors, and others that show current and future potential.

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