How to Scrub a Keyword List
Best practice dictates that site owners should only target 2-5 keywords on any one page of content on their site. Considering there could be 100s of keywords and keyword variations that could potentially be used to optimize your site, narrowing it down to 2-5 is not easy or quick task. I’ve found that most website owners fall into two camps when it comes to keyword research and keyword selection—they either don’t care at all and just pick their keywords out of thin air based on what they think is a good fit, or they spend weeks agonizing over every keyword, essentially stalling the onsite SEO process. Neither of these is very conducive to your SEO.
When it comes time for keyword research, it’s important that you do take the time to dig through a few hundred keywords to find the best ones for each page of content on your site. In order to narrow down from 100s to 2-5, you need to scrub your keyword lists as you work through the research stage, so when the time comes to select your new keywords you are only choosing from the best possible options.
Here is how you scrub a keyword list:
Start with one of your broad keywords (in this example “lead generation”), and plug it into the keyword research tool of your choice (I like to use the Google Keyword Research Tool.) The tool will churn out a list of all the possible keyword variations related to your seed keyword, as well as the average monthly search volume. Download this list into a spreadsheet so you can scrub it. Remember that you are going through this page by page. You are only looking for keywords that are perfect for that particular page. If you find a great keyword for another page of your site during the research process, put it in another document and save it for later.
Here is small sample of the keywords generated using “lead generation” as my seed if I was researching keywords for my homepage:
- lead generation
- online lead generation
- lead generation techniques
- lead generation services
- lead generation ideas
- lead generation companies
- lead generation company
- leads generation
- lead generation software
- lead generation websites
- lead generation advertising
- it lead generation
- lead generation solutions
- lead generation program
If my company sells offline lead generation services, right off the bat I can eliminate “online lead generation” and “lead generation websites” from my list of potential keywords. I can also remove “lead generation techniques” or “lead generation ideas” (I’m selling a service, not offering lead generation advice) and “lead generation companies” (I’m just one company, although “lead generation company” might be more appropriate on the About Us page). Even if I offer “IT lead generation” services, that keyword belongs on the IT lead generation services page, not my homepage. Once I am done scrubbing my keyword list, I’m left with the following keywords:
lead generation, lead generation services, leads generation , lead generation solutions, lead generation program
You repeat the same process a few more times, using a different keyword seed, to come up with a great list of keywords that you could target on each page. There is no “right” amount of options; it’s just what keywords make sense for your content. Any keywords your find that don’t make it onto your website are great keywords to target with your content marketing and on your business blog. You don’t want to limit your brand to just a few keywords. Even long tail keywords with only a few searches each month can land you new business.