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How to Find New Keywords

August 18th, 2008 No comments

[As an aside, yes, sorry, I know I haven’t really posted in awhile, blame work!]

I was telling my boss the other day that I was going to spend some time adding new keywords to our paid search accounts. I’ve been doing that for nigh on three years now, and we’re hitting the 65K keyword mark, so quite reasonably she asked where the heck am I getting more keywords from? And is it worth my time?

There are lots of ways to get new keywords, but I am but one person with limited time, so really I want to focus on adding higher value keywords, ones that I am sure are worth the time and effort (or at least a test).

Here’s my top 5 places to find new keywords:

1. Paid Search Analytics Reports:

Whether you run Omniture (like I do) or Google Analytics or something else, you likely have a search report available that will show all the paid search keywords and their revenue (not a campaign one where you’ve specified the keyword, but one similar to the unpaid search report). In that report you’ll be able to see all the paid search keywords generating revenue that you may not have specified for purchase. Broad match in Google and Yahoo has gotten very broad indeed and you’ll likely dig up a ton of keywords that aren’t in your account, but should be.

One might think, if these are in the paid search report, then I don’t need to add them, we’re covered. For the moment that’s true, but with the vagaries of competition and the ever changing search side algorithms, I think its good to actually add these keywords to your account. Then you guarantee their continued performance, and can better specify a bid for them commensurate with their value. Leaving it up to broad match may inadvertently have you over or under bidding for the term, and if it falls off the radar somehow you’re unlikely to see that keyword is a cause of performance declines (or improvements).

2. Natural Search Analytics Reports:

Even better is to run the same report as above, but for natural search keywords that are revenue generators. Natural search captures something like 60-75% of the clicks versus paid, which is great, but still are you going to let that paid 25-40% go just because you’re doing well with a keyword in natural? Add these keywords, I guarantee your competition will. Never in my experience has it been cannibalizing to add paid where natural is doing well, and anecdotally I’ve heard that having both paid and natural in strong positions has greater brand impact and lifts performance overall for both channels.

3. Google’s Search Query Report:

Less good but still useful, because in my case I’m not tracking revenue through Google, is to run Google’s search query report. If you are running Google revenue tracking then this is just like #1 for you. In my case, its nice to see all the queries matching broadly and to add good keywords or add negative matching for bad keywords.

4. Internal Search Reports:

Mine your company’s search logs for their site search. We’ve got a search box on Viator.com and log all the searches and revenue associated with those searches. I regularly run reports for revenue generating internal search terms, many of those are good for us to test out in paid as well. However, because these searches are happening only on our site, sometimes they can lean towards the overly broad (you know the only results are going to come from Viator.com, so why not be broader?). For example, “discount” is a big revenue driving internal search term for Viator, but I wouldn’t buy it in paid search.

5. Ask the Search Engines to Send You Some:

Funnily enough, if you say to your account manager, hey, I’d like to add some more keywords, send me some ideas, they will. I’ve even said specifically, send me some ideas about the Vatican, or Rome or some other specific guidance, and generally, since its means more money for them, the search engines are more than happy to make some suggestions. Like internal search, take these with several grains of salt, they might be way too broad or off topic, but I am sure you’ll find some gems as well. If you don’t have an account manager, you can often request optimizations or other help that will often lead to additional keyword suggestions.

My number one friend in the world of adding keywords is Excel. I download everything in Excel, including the master list of current keywords I maintain, and de-duplicate all the reports versus the master keyword list using vlookups. Clearing out anything I already have is always the first step before organizing and adding the new keywords. You can use Google Spreadsheets or another vlookup enabled spreadsheet program, but I need a lot more rows than what most other programs are capable of supporting.

(I can’t believe I just endorsed a Microsoft product, but I do love Excel, I can’t help it)

Searchers are ever evolving in their queries and so are the search engines, so there’s never a time to sit on your laurels, keep testing and adding new keywords!