Explode Your Keyword List Right – Part 1

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.

Top Relevant Keywords Export - Google Webmaster Tools

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

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  1. David DeMille says

    Awesome post! Most people just look at Google Adwords traffic and go with keywords based off of search volume, but with panda updates and such a heavy shift in focus on content, it's a much better idea to choose keywords that you're already considered somewhat relevant for and going after your missed opportunities. Can't wait for the next post.

  2. Ben Beck says

    Great post on getting more keywords  by leveraging Web Master Tools to see what keywords your site is optimized for. Also If the client knows what keywords they want to rank for, and are not showing up using this method. You can explain to them how they need to create or change their site content for those keywords.
    Looking forward to the rest of the posts!

  3. Gary says

    Thanks Preston
    So true what you say: "The idea here is to take those terms Google has already identified as highly relevant, locate missed opportunities and build upon them …"
    Looking forward to your next three posts.

  4. CharlesDaniels says

    People pay me to do this kind of stuff.  Hah!  Very clear and concise.  Looking forward to the next three installments.  Curious to see your take on building variations.

  5. Eliseo V says

    I like the idea of banking on terms (via GWT) that you are already relevant for and branching out with them as the main stem. What I didn’t see in this post is any comment on the competition already present of the new keywords you will be targeting. Shouldn’t you factor that into your method so as to see which ones can be grabbed easily and which ones will take more effort?
    Looking forward to the next installments on this topic!

  6. Aussie says

    Good stuff mate, keyword analysis is such an extremely important task to perform, if you don’t get it right and miss you might even miss important keywords that can bring in some good traffic

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