How to do Keyword Research – Part 1

by Brook Lenox on March 21, 2009

magnifying-glassFirst, what is keyword research and why do you need to do it?

Keyword research is uncovering the relevant keywords and keyword phrases that people are searching for, so that you can focus your website or blog or PPC (pay per click) campaigns on the right words.  For example, if your website is built around the phrase “National Football League”, but everyone is searching for “NFL football”, you’ve missed an opportunity.  I know you “gurus” will say it’s more complex than that, but were talking about the basics here.

So how do you do keyword research?

Creating large, targeted groups of keywords is a lot of work, but can be a lot of fun as well.  In the next 3 posts, I’ll explain how I go about doing keyword research.  It’ll make it easier to follow if I use a real world example.  Let’s say you’re building out a list of NFL football keywords to promote Stubhub’s affiliate program with pay per click advertising on Google.

There are three steps to my process:

  1. Organizing Keyword Groups
  2. Creating Small Keyword Groups & Testing
  3. Expanding Keyword Groups

Step #1 – Organize Keyword Groups

This step is crucial, but can be done fairly quickly.  If you get this first step wrong, you could have a huge mess on your hands.  In a pay per click campaign, it’s going to be about return on investment, so it’s very important to create buckets of similar keywords.  That way, you can track not only how a particular keyword is performing, but also a category of keywords.

Example: 10,000 NFL Keywords

Here are some of those keywords:

  • NFL football tickets
  • 49er football tickets
  • Superbowl football tickets
  • Preseason football tickets
  • Cheap football tickets

What if you ran 10,000 NFL keywords on Google with no consideration for categories?

That would cause several problems:

  • Turning on/off for times of year – you want to turn off all the preseason ticket keywords but where are they?
  • Differing ads – if Vikings and 49er tickets are in the same ad group, how can you create specific ads?
  • Differing bids based on competition and ROI – if you want to bid higher on certain word groups, where do you find them?

Here are some of the keyword categories you might create:

  • Broad
  • Team Specific
  • Playoff
  • Superbowl
  • Preseason

These could end up being your campaigns in Google Adwords.

Now that I’m done with this step, I can go on to Step #2

Any thoughts? Questions?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

shona monroe November 4, 2009 at 9:57 am

Need help in maine was doing well with website and now we aren’t. We are on the first page but went from #1 down to 8 and 9. If there is any help for us you can have anything we have on our web sight for free.

Brook Lenox November 5, 2009 at 8:00 pm


You’ve asked a very complex question. I can’t give an answer without knowing a lot more about your website. If you are trying to rank high in Google, you’ll need GREAT content and lots of strong incoming links to your website. Please subscribe to my RSS…hopefully my articles will help!


joel June 26, 2010 at 9:25 pm


I’m currently developing an iphone app and finding your information very helpful. I am reading your ebook “how to market iphone apps” and it says that keywords cannot be changed except in updates. Does this mean I should plan on just packing all 100 characters into the keywords and don’t bother tracking how each keyword performs individually?


Brook Lenox July 2, 2010 at 12:21 pm

@ Joel – not 100% sure I understand your question. I suggest you do your keyword research, enter your keywords “keyword1,keyword2,etc”, AND track them based on how they rank in search. You can test new keywords each time you submit. Hopes that helps.

Sofie March 31, 2011 at 2:30 am

I’m a student and i’m doing research about iPhone & iPad apps. I’ve read in one of your articles that it’s not necessary to include your app title in your keywords. However, someone told me that if you want to be found on Google with your title, you should include your app title in the keywords… Could you help me out? :)


Brook Lenox April 1, 2011 at 2:55 pm

@ Sofie – My suggest would be to include it “if” it is a valuable keyword and you have room. I don’t think it will help your iTunes search, but it could very well help your Google search results.

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