How to do Keyword Research – Part 3

by Brook Lenox on April 5, 2009

orangesThis is post 3 of 3 on how to do keyword research.  In post #1, we discussed organizing keyword groups.  Post #2 was all about creating small groups of keywords to test. Good news. The 24 words we created in post #2, have been tested (please use your imagination), and done very well.  Now we want to expand our keyword list.  So why the colored oranges?  Well, the new keywords we generate will be slices of our originals, but with new and different colors.

Expanding Keyword Groups

So, how do you turn your 24 keywords for 49ers football tickets, into 500?

Here are the steps you take to grow your keyword list:

  1. Create more words from your original list
  2. “Excel” in Excel
  3. Add verbs, adverbs, and adjectives
  4. Use tools to help expand even more

Create More Words From Your Original List

The first step in growing a keyword list is simply finding variations of each of the words that make up a keyword phrase.

For example, if one of our phrases was “San Francisco 49ers football ticket”, we’d want to find all the “colors” of each of those words.  The final phrase is broken down into 3 parts, “San Francisco 49ers”, “football, and “ticket”.


NOTE: The column labeled S above stands for “space”.  We’ve left a single space in that column to use in the concatenate formula that I shared about in post #2.

Here are just a couple of the possible areas to brainstorm.

  1. Synonyms
  2. Slang
  3. Abbreviations
  4. Misspellings

So for “San Francisco 49ers”, possible synonyms could include:

  • San Francisco Forty Niners
  • 49ers

Some slang terms:

  • 9er
  • San Fran

Abbreviation possibilities:

  • SF
  • S.F.

Finally some potential misspellings:

  • Fortie Niner
  • Fordee Niner

So in just a few minutes, we’ve created 8 new keywords for our 1st column.

Excel in Excel

If you had a pen and lots of paper, it’d be very tough to write down hundreds of words and keep them straight. With Excel we can do all the heavy lifting. It’s a life saver.

Here are some keyword short cuts you’ll want to learn:

  • SHIFT+SPACE – if you are in any cell, it will select the whole row
  • CTRL+SPACE – if you are in any cell, it will select the whole column
  • SHIFT+CTRL+Plus(+/= key) – adds rows when you have a row or column selected
  • SHIFT+Minus(_/-) key – deletes rows or columns
  • CTRL+C – copies contents of a selected cell or row to the clip board
  • CTRL+X – cuts contents of a selected cell or row
  • CTRL+V – pastes what you cut or copied into the selected area
  • CTRL+D – fills down the contents of the top cells to cells below

If you don’t know how to use the concatenate formula, see post #2.  It’s invaluable.

Let’s walk through a simple example of how these shortcuts can help. 

You’ve got two keyword phrases in Excel in rows 2 and 3 below.


You’ve come up with phrases to enter under Word #1 in addition to “San Francisco 49ers”.  You want to add 8 variations to the first column, so you need 8 more rows.  You select the row directly below where you want to add the rows.  You do this by clicking on any of the cells in the 3rd row (like the cell with the “NFL” keyword), and then press SHIFT+SPACE BAR.  The whole row will be gray if it is selected, as you see below.


Now while holding down the SHIFT and CTRL keys, press the Plus key (+/=) 8 times. You’ll have 8 more rows created.  Next type in your keywords.  We’ll use those we came up with above. This is what you’ll see.

You’ll want to fill in the blank spaces to the right of the words you entered, to complete your keyword phrases. You can do so following these steps:

  1. Select the cell with the word football in it.
  2. Hold the SHIFT key down, while pressing the right arrow key 3 times to also select the next 3 rows to the right.
  3. Use SHIFT + CTRL plus the down arrow key once.  That will select down to the next words.
  4. Then click the arrow key up once.

You should see the following:

Then while pressing CTRL, press D, and you’ll see:

You end up with 8 more keywords, by simply coming up with some new variations for column 1.  You can do the same for columns 2 and 3, replacing “football” for “NFL” and “ticket” with “seat” and many other words.  Those keyword shortcuts will come in handy.  You can quickly expand to hundreds and hundreds of keywords.

Add Verbs, Adverbs, and Adjectives

Another way to increase your keyword list is by adding verbs, adverbs, and adjectives. These longer words will have less search volume, but typically convert better, because they are so targeted.

Here are possible words you could add:

Verb = Buy
Adjective = Cheap
Adverb = Cheaply

A phrase like: San Francisco 49er Football Ticket can quickly become:

Buy San Francisco 49er Football Ticket
Cheap San Francisco 49er Football Ticket
Buy San Francisco 49er Football Ticket Cheaply

Make sense? The possibilities are almost endless.

Use Tools to Expand Even More

Finally, a couple of tools that can help expand your keyword list even more. 

Keyword Tumbler

People type phrases into search engines in all sorts of orders.  Instead of “San Francisco 49ers football ticket”, they may type in “ticket San Francisco 49ers football”.  This online tool has several features, but we’re interested in the 3rd one on the page.  This simple keyword tumbler tool makes all those different phrases for you.  Here is a screen shot of my tumbling “San Francisco 49er Football Ticket”.

There are more robust tumbling tools out there, but this one is simple and free.


I type typoss (get it? :)) all the time.  Do all the search engines pick up typos?  This keyword typo generator can take a word like “San Francisco 49ers football ticket” and come up with 243 typos.  Try it for yourself.










NOTE: Google will do some of the tumbling and typo catching for you, but I think it’s better to cover your bases, especially if you are using multiple search engines.  Keyword tumbling can be handled by Google’s keyword matching options.  Feel free to read up on that.

In Conclusion

In the last 3 posts, I’ve shared a lot about how to go about doing keyword research.  I hope you’ve found it helpful and that it leads you to huge lists of keywords that work for you!


Photo credit, iChaz

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary April 7, 2009 at 6:16 am

And what do you propose we do with the 500 keywords / key phrases that have just been generated?

Brook Lenox April 7, 2009 at 2:26 pm


GREAT question. Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough in this post. Since in post #2 we tested our initial keyword list and it drove traffic and sales and “worked”, we want to add these keywords to our Google Adwords account (or whatever search engine we’re using) and hopefully drive more clicks and sales.

Gary April 8, 2009 at 1:11 am

Ah, so not adding it them to a meta tag on the page itself. That’s fine then :)

Brook Lenox April 8, 2009 at 7:59 am

There are actually lots of ways to use your keywords depending on what your working on. Could be your blog or website, could be a pay per click campaign, etc. If you are researching keywords for your blog or website then, yes, they should be added to meta tags, built into the title of your page and the sub topics of that page…you are correct. Perhaps I’ll add those various uses to the end of the post.

Gary April 8, 2009 at 8:02 am

Would it not be better to just ensure that the set of keywords, the top 5-10 say, are included in the title and feature prominently in the body of the content itself? Written in such a way that it appeals to human readers and search engines alike?
I struggle to see how 500 phrases are worth anyone’s time – surely keeping an undiluted 5-10 would be better?

Brook Lenox April 8, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Agree completely. When you are working with your website or blog, a smaller, more focused group of keywords is preferred. In my example for my 3 posts, I was doing research for a pay per click campaign. Those campaigns can be thousands or even hundreds of thousands of words.

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