Picking up the right keyword for your SEM campaign in 5 steps

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Your potential customers are doing searches all the time, in all sorts of ways - full of questions, a few words or detailed phrases.

To do Search Engine Marketing (SEM), you just need to figure out which searches match your business and make sure your ads show up in the search results. That’s why picking the right keywords is so important.

So who’s the best person to choose keywords for your SEM campaign? You. Even if you have an agency doing your SEM (yes, we can help you on those keywords targeting if you want us to handle your SEM campaigns), you still know your business best.

A huge part of creating a keyword list is drawing from what you already know about your business, customers, and competitors.

Coming up with a SEM Keyword List

Imagine Linda provides mobile facial treatments. Where should she look for keyword ideas?

Linda can find keywords in places that are tightly tied to his business: lindafacialspa.com, questions her customers often ask her, and her competitors’ websites.

1. Start with “seed” keyword list

To start a keyword list, brainstorm 3 to 5 “seed” keywords first. After that, you can expand your list by researching your website, customers, and competitors.

For those first 3 to 5 keywords , it is important to start small and be specific. “facial treatment”, for example, is too broad of a keyword for Linda. She’d get a lot of search results competition from facial product sellers, facial equipment providers, and so forth.

Since 1 keyword can contain multiple words, choosing a short phrase instead of a single word will help you avoid falling into the broad and generic trap.

Instead of just “facial treatment”, Linda chooses “mobile facial spa”, “door to door facial treatment”, and “woman facial treatment”.

Notice that every single word in every single keyword is hardworking - no ifs, ands, or buts… literally. Linda chose “women facial treatment” not “a financial treatment for women”.

2. Grow your “seed” keyword list

Once you have your “seed” keyword list, it’s time to make it grow. that’s where your website, customers, and competitors come in.

Review your website for product lines, packages, bundles, and brands. These can all become keywords. For example, when Linda studies her site, she decides to make a popular product a keyword: “30 minutes facial treatment”.

3. Think like your customers

Next, think like your customers. Talk to them about your business and products, and look at what type of searches they’re making on your site.

Linda notices that a lot of people search his site for LED light facial and pores on face treatment. She adds “LED light facial” and “pores on face treatment” to her keywords.

4. Check your competitors’ websites

Finally, check out your competitors’ websites. One of Linda’s major competitors offers derma care packages for both housewives and weekend treatments. She adds the keywords “housewives facial treatment” and “weekend facial treatment” to her list.

5. Use Keyword Planner

To find even more keywords, you can use tools like Google Keyword Planner and Bing Keyword Research, as well as analytics tools like Google Analytics.

Keyword planner tools and analytics tools can give you ideas for keywords you haven’t thought of yet or might not come across in your own research.

Let’s look at keyword planner tools first. Different ones have different formats, but it generally works like this: You plug your best starter keywords into the tool and it gives you related words that you could turn into new keywords.

Woman doing facial treatment

While keyword planner tools are helpful, they’re unfortunately not psychic. Not every suggestion they give you will be right for your business and SEM campaign. Just go with your gut and use only what works.

Analytics tools, meanwhile, can tell you which keywords people have searched that have led them to your website. You can usually find that information in your search report.

When you look at these searched keywords, there’s a good chance a few will be more popular that the rest. These keywords are most likely good ones to invest in.

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