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So I started writing a post titled 4 Ways to a Worthwhile Keyword List and quickly realized it was far too lengthy. Thus, you are now embarking on post one of a four-part series. Each post will discuss different processes to locate valuable keywords and how to lay them out in a way that allows you to decide which are most worth incorporating. The final post will be a behemouth of a process discussing some of the most innovative ways to prioritize a large keyword list for big SEO campaigns.

Let’s get started.

One of the best ways to make a decision about which keywords to target is to look at high performing (revenue, visits, relevance) phrases for your site that are under performing (low ranking) in the search engines. Ideally, you should gather a fairly large number of keywords and correlative metrics to make these comparisons, and come to a final target list. This first process focuses on relevance as a value indicator.

Top Relevant Keywords

Your first step is to dive into Google Webmaster Tools and retrieve your top relevant keywords. This can be done by clicking on Your site on the web > Keywords as shown here.


Download the table and it will appear similar to this image:

Illustration of how keywords export from webmaster tools

Now take these keywords and begin filtering. Those at the top are to be considered the most relevant. What I like to do is grab a list of 10 to 20 top terms not used in your current SEO campaign. This list is suprisingly ideal for identifying terms that don’t necessarily come to mind in a typical keyword research process. For this particular campaign, a few terms not yet incorporated were “system,” “new” and “company.”



Once you have those keywords selected, it’s time to single them out and create a cluster of relevant terms for each. Do this by going to Google Adwords Keyword Tool. Include your most common keywords along with the new term.

Google Adwords Keyword Tool Search Example





This will give you a healthy list to filter through. In this case, once you have the document exported, to get rid of keywords you aren’t looking for, filter out any phrase not using main keywords like “system” or “gaming.” I prefer to keep these lists focused into groups of closely related keywords, so I filter down to between 10 and 20 phrases.

Keyword Filtering Process Results Example

With this process, you will end up with a much narrower list than with the options we will cover in future posts.

The idea here is to take those terms Google has already identified as highly relevant, locate missed opportunities, and build upon them through common phrases related to your product or services.

This is one of the quickest ways I’ve found to expand a targeted keyword list for increased diversity.


Once you have established a cluster for each subject, it’s important to gather some type of correlative metrics. We already have the estimated search volume from the Adwords Keyword Tool. In addition, I would recommend gathering at least your current rankings for each term in order to determine which are most worth targeting. A few common tools for doing this will be Authority Labs, Raven Tools, Advanced Web Ranking or Rank Checker.

Remember this process is based first on relevance as a factor. With this understanding we need not question whether the keyword is right for the website under review.

The next question to ask is which terms have the greatest potential for increase in rankings, traffic and revenue—and should be a point of focus in strategy. To do this use your ranking data. Sort your file to show those keywords ranking low but high in potential search volume and start making some decisions for your upcoming months content strategy.

This process is ideal when you are looking to build upon phrases already involved in regular strategy providing support to prior efforts through a diverse approach in both link building and content on-page.

Up Next In The Series:

Post 2 – Using Google Analytics for Long Tail Identification & Quick Wins

Post 3 – Using Google Webmaster Tools To Locate New Terms & Build Strong Variations

Post 4 – An Enterprise Approach To Keyword Prioritization & Targeting