• Content

SEO 101: Building Keyword Lists

As Google continues to influence business growth through search, the need for a strong organic search strategy becomes more relevant every day. If you read my previous blog on the three digital marketing activities you should be doing right now, you'll already know your starting point: keywords. Keywords are at the core of all SEO strategies and there are several components that make up a strong keyword list. SEO starts with keywords, and their strength (and your ability to refine and test) will determine a successful SEO project.


Make sure you are using an online tool like SEMRush to aid in your research. Pair it with Google’s keyword planner and your own research and expertise to really arm yourself with the best keywords.


As we begin an SEO project, we will sit with the client and collect as much information on their audience as possible, making sure to get as specific as possible. Using audience groups like "mothers" or "teens" is too general. Where do they live? What kind of educational background do they have? These demographics will influence keyword selection and help bring in the right customers. Be selective and have an honest discussion about your audience.

Initial List

After this discussion, start building your keyword list and write everything down. Collect every potential keyword, search phrase, conversation piece—all the chunks of language that your audience might use. Doing this will really uncover some great findings and maybe take you towards keywords you may not have thought about. Then, run that long list through keyword planner and your SEO platform to see what terms are actually searched.

Search Realities

The way you believe people will search your business is not necessarily how it will actually get searched. There needs to be a moment where you "real world" your search keywords. We would use competitive research, current articles, Facebook searches and ranking data to see how your audience is talking about your business type. Look at reviews as well and see the language people are using to describe services or experiences they had. Add those terms as well, discuss them and see where the discussion takes you.

Refined List

Take that long list, armed with your cost, search volume, and competitive intel, and now start being harsh with each keyword. Start investigating if those keywords are relevant throughout the search community, and if there is a lot of competition for those keywords, start getting picky and refine your list significantly.

Keywords Throughout

The clean, refined list you have created should now guide all the technical SEO work (page descriptions, titles, etc.) and especially your content. It can also now influence your Google Ads development, social advertising, organic social content, and even the tags you use on your YouTube videos. Ensure you watch your analytics and talk to your customers to know if your keywords are correct and hitting the mark. If you are finding some you thought would match with your customer searches are not, note that for future campaigns and content development.

Does the keyword process sound a little too daunting? We can do it for you - just give us a call.

Back to Top Arrow Up