Advanced Keyword Research for SEO

this is advanced seo stuff. Requires dollarsOK, so what exactly makes keyword research advanced? Here’s the two methods I use when doing the advanced stuff:

  1. You combine two different data points to generate a keyword list
  2. You spend money on PPC to validate your list

The amount of time and money you can save by investing a little money into some advanced keyword research techniques upfront is astonishing.

I’ve had SEO friends that for years worked on a specific keyword, only to find out that once they ranked high for it, it’s actually traffic value was minimal. Bummer. Don’t let that happen to you.

1. Generate large lists of potential keywords

Our first step is to generate a large list of potential keywords we eventually want to build a content and SEO strategy around. But, the advanced part here is we don’t just want a list of 10,000 keywords, we want to cut that list down by combining multiple data sources to save money when we validate the list with PPC share impression data.

There are tons of strategies and tools to generate keyword ideas:

Free Keyword Tools for SEO

Paid Keyword Research Tools

There are a half-dozen decent paid keyword tools to generate ideas. Here’s some of my favorite:

  • SEMRush
  • WordStream
  • WordTracker
  • SpyFu
  • Keyword Discovery

Use to get Google Suggest lists

advanced keyword research with google suggest lists
Using Google Suggest lists to generate keyword ideas is a great way to cut down a large list into more commonly searched phrases. Using, you can input any base keyword and get a list of the words Google will suggest. You can even drill down into the suggestions to get their suggestions. It can be quite the rabbit hole, don’t go too many levels deep!

Once you have a few lists of keywords, it’s time to see what the true volume of searches is for those keywords using PPC.

2. Use paid search to validate keyword lists

This is an old SEO trick that has been around for ages, yet I’m still shocked at how underutilized it is considering the data you get from it.

PPC is hands down the most accurate way to narrow down or prioritize a large list of potential keywords.

What you do is create an Adwords (Google) or Adcenter campaign (for Yahoo!/Bing) and setup each potential keyword as it’s own adgroup. You don’t need to write a unique ad for each adgroup, as long as the keywords are somewhat related a generic good ad will be fine. We aren’t going to run this campaign long term, and the goal isn’t clicks, it’s just to measure impressions.

Key steps:

  • Put each keyword in it’s own adgroup, so you can get an impression share report
  • Only test keywords in exact match [] or phrase match mode
  • Run your tests for at least a week to get a sense of weekend/weekday traffic patterns
  • Use Google Adwords Editor to build your campaigns quickly, or in AdCenter import via a spreadsheet

Run impression share reports

Impression share is the percentage of impressions you received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive. – Google Support Definition

Once you’ve run your keyword lists as adgroups for a few days, run “Impression Share” reports in Adwords and Adcenter. Adwords just recently added these to the adgroup level reports.

How to run an impression share report in Adcenter

To run a report like this in adcenter, click “Reports” then run a new report.

Select “Ad Group Performance” and then by “Day” and the time frame.

adcenter report settings

Then click “change columns and layout” to select the impression share metrics to be shown in the report.

picking impression share columns in report

Your report then shows the % of impressions that your ad didn’t receive for one reason or the other. Goldmine!

See exact impressions that you lost!

Now you have truly accurate keyword data to bring to your boss or client that you can use to build a killer SEO content strategy.

3 responses to “Advanced Keyword Research for SEO

  1. Scott:
    I have used this technique for over 2 years, but not as comprehensively as you have so elegantly suggested. For me. The takeaways from your post are:
    1. Use the Adwords Editor Tool, to speed up the whole process.
    2. Go ahead and do this for a large number of exact match phrases.
    3. The Impression Share report, is what gives the insight based on more accurate data than I have been working with.

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