How to develop an initial list of keywords

Last Updated: July 27, 2015

Read this article to learn how to construct your first list of keywords and to get pointers on the overall keywords strategy.

How to come up with an initial list of keywords

When you first start brainstorming keywords, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Your keywords strategy will evolve over time as you research various long-tail keywords, but here are a few questions that can help get you started:

  • What products or services do you offer? Come up with an initial list of the products or services that you offer to your leads and customers. Try to focus on long-tail keywords over broad keywords.  If your company sells shoes, you should create a list of keywords that includes all the different types of shoes you sell. It's the difference between "shoes" and "nike red running sneakers."
  • What problems do your leads have that your company can help solve? Create a list of keyword phrases that matches the problems for which potential leads search for solutions. If your company sells iPhone cases that make an iPhone waterproof, your leads would probably be searching using keyword phrases like "Waterproof cases for iPhone" or "How do I waterproof my iPhone?"
  • How would you describe your business to someone who has never heard of your company? Leads might not know all the industry keywords for your products or services. They will instead try searching using keywords that they are familiar with. Also keep in mind that various keywords may vary in different parts of the world. For example, the terms that describe what your company does can vary by region. What is "pop" in one part of the world might be "soda" or "cola" in another part of the world.
  • What common questions do your leads ask? When you read through the blog user guide, you'll learn that answering your lead's most common questions in blog posts is a great way to produce quality blog content. Any of your salespeople should be able to tell you what questions their leads ask. Once you identify what these questions are, create a list of keywords that match all the different ways these questions can be asked. Leads typically have questions about what your products or services cost, what features they have, how they can purchase them and what support your company offers.

Additional tips for generating keywords

Below are a few more tips for generating an initial list of keywords:  

  • You want your keywords to be what people are searching for; therefore, you shouldn't just focus on adding keywords that you think search engines will find easily (ie the exact name of your business). Think about how you would search for your own business. Also, come up with some keywords that you think someone who doesn't know your product would search. Someone wouldn't necessarily know to search for "Lyric snowboard 142" but they would search for "best affordable snowboards" if they were interested in buying a snowboard.
  • Make sure that your keywords are relevant to your content. People will read the keywords in a search and then determine whether they want to read the article, website, etc. You wouldn't want to mislead visitors and give them a false idea of your topic.
  • Have a strategy for your branding so that you can focus your keywords in the same direction. For example, if you constantly describe your business using different terminology on your site, your keywords will be less consistent. Consistency in your language on your site can help your site rank for keywords that you repeatedly use in your content.    
  • When coming up with long-tail keywords (see this article for an explanation of the different types of keywords), be specific to your company's products or services. You should also have some location-based keywords. For instance, instead of "bakery" you could use "cupcake shop Savannah GA."

Check out this blog post to find more ways to discover keywords.

Next Article: How to add keywords to the Keywords tool

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