Putting that SEO keyword list together is important part of any website optimization effort. Of course the keyword list, while forming the foundation for your SEO efforts is critical it should never be a static list. It should evolve and morph over time as you see ranking success (or no ranking success), measure keyword site traffic, or adjust to meet changing client products and solutions. That said you should obviously put your best foot forward, which isn’t always easy!
How do you begin? Certainly there are keyword tools that help you determine the number of searches and competition for any particular keyword, but these may not be as useful as they seem. What can be a great indicator of SEO keyword success can be the data that resides in your Adwords campaign reports – if you’re currently doing PPC. Take a look at your PPC keywords that show the best conversion, those that are generating a strong click-through-rate, and those with a decent Quality Score. These keywords, while likely competitive, can help you establish your ‘head’ keywords off of which you can build some medium to longer-tail keywords for SEO.
For example, you might have a strong click-through-rate, high Quality Score, and great conversion rate for the keyword ‘cloud computing’ but good luck ranking for it through SEO in any decent time frame (unless you’re Cisco, IBM, etc.). However, you can use ‘cloud computing’ as your head keyword and start to look at variations of it that are less competitive but are still driving traffic, such as ‘cloud computing infrastructure’ or ‘mobile cloud computing’ – if relevant to what you do.
If you (or your client) don’t have any Adwords data, it could be worth a few hundred dollars to run a test campaign. Create some ads around your keyword categories and add a bunch of variations. Do it right and within a month or two you’ll have some decent data, at least enough to make some informed decisions.
Also… I’m not suggesting that when building an SEO keyword list you shouldn’t include competitive keywords. Just be sure not to load your list full of them. Balance your competitive keywords with these less competitive variations so that your keyword list has a good mix of both. We like to address our clients’ keyword list every three to four months. Are we seeing any traction? If so where or if not where? Adjust, adjust, adjust…
Search engine optimization is a long-term effort; something that takes time if it’s to be done well. PPC on the other hand is, or can be, more short-term. Why not use that short-term “quick results” aspect of PPC to at least give your SEO a head start?