April 12, 2010

Keyword Research


Hostway Team

By Winmark Business Solutions

Keyword research is the process of selecting keywords and keyphrases to include in your search engine marketing (SEM) campaign.

The goal of keyword research is to identify as many keywords and keyphrases as possible and organize them into logical groups. The end result of keyword research is a "keyword portfolio" which can be used as the basis for all SEM campaigns.

To create your own keyword portfolio, begin by creating a keyword seed list of 30-50 keywords and keyphrases that describe the full range of your company's core products and services. For help in compiling your list, you can test keywords using the major search engines, or use free search engine optimization tools, such as those offered at bruceclay.com or other SEO sites. If the keywords you chose take you to your competitors' sites, you're on the right track.

Then, separate your seed list into categories. Categories should be specific enough (mutually exclusive) so that keywords don't overlap. They should also be general enough to allow for an unlimited number of groups within the category.

For example, a cafe that conducts business online and in three cities may begin with a seed list that includes the following terms:

coffeeshop, coffee shop, free wifi, free wireless Internet, café, lunch, dinner, breakfast, bakery, organic coffee, barista, latte, espresso, keurig, coffee roaster, coffee supplies, cappuccino, coffee supplies, coffee grinder, coffee press, espresso beans, coffee pods, Kuerig cups, coffee cups, bistro

The owner of the café might organize the seed list into the following mutually exclusive categories:

  • café
  • cafe
  • coffee shop
  • coffeeshop
  • bistro
  • barista
  • coffee roaster
  • Internet cafe


  • Organic coffee
  • Keurig
  • Keurig cups
  • coffee pods
  • coffee cups
  • coffee grinder
  • coffee press
  • espresso beans
  • coffee supplies


  • Latte
  • espresso
  • cappuccino
  • breakfast
  • lunch
  • dinner
  • bakery
  • free wifi
  • free wireless

Next, each category is divided further into groups. Keywords within the same group must be related closely enough to share the same text ad. In the example above, "coffee pods" and "coffee grinder" are different groups within the "supplies" category. Each keyword group required a unique text ad. People who seek coffee pods aren't seeking the same thing as individuals seeking a coffee grinder.

Once groups are established, you need to expand the keywords in each group to increase the size of your keyword portfolio. Although our coffee shop may begin with a seed list of 20-30 words, the number of keywords and phrases will grow based on iterations and combinations of different words. A typical coffee shop can easily end up with 500 to 1500 keywords.

Developing an effective search engine campaign is a lot like managing any investment portfolio: You want to save as much money as possible while simultaneously investing as much money as possible in areas likely to achieve results.

About the Author

Winmark Business Solutions (WBS) is a free Web site for small businesses and entrepreneurs containing over 6,000 pages of business-critical information and downloadable tools at www.WBSonline.com. WBS is a division of Winmark Corporation, a multi-brand franchisor with nearly 900 franchise locations in North America. With over 25 years working with small businesses, WBS draws upon years of experience to bring important small business articles, information, tools, forms, checklists, calculators and downloadable forms to the small business owner to help their business grow. WBS contains over 6000 pages of business-critical information all available at www.WBSonline.com.

Stay in the Loop

Join Our Newsletter

Stay ahead of the pack with the latest news, web design advice, and digital insights, delivered straight to your inbox.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
© Copyright 2021 Hostway. All rights reserved.