Keyword Research – Drill Down & Expand

by Dave Curtis on 03/27/2011

in Every Day SEO, Search Engine Optimization

The first area of concern for any web site is and should always be keywords based on your site’s theme. The start of that process isn’t simply choosing a dozen or so keywords but brainstorming hundreds or thousands. Let’s say you’re a lawyer and your site is about the kinds of law your firm practices. You and your team will have to think of keywords based based not just on what sort of terms you would type into a search engine looking for your firm, but what the general public would type, the kind of things that those who have never studied law would call your particular services. You’ll also need to brainstorm the kinds of terms and phrases that law scholars would use so that you’re covering the entire spectrum of keywords referring to each of the areas of law your firm deals with. Get everyone you can involved in the process if possible. Your wives, college students, associates who are not lawyers, office workers, janitors, and in general as many different kinds of people as you can.

From there you’ll have to develop those terms to narrow them down precisely to specific areas of law that your firm practices. After generating a few thousand keywords, keyphrases and neighboring keyphrases (typically known as “long tail keywords”) you’ll want to remove the weakest ones. What you’re doing here besides covering what you’ve already decided are your areas of practice, but also looking for other areas you may not have thought of.

There are several tools to help drill down deeper and rather quickly locate new keywords, one of which is WordTracker at That process there requires taking each of your brainstormed keywords and keyphrases and running them through WordTracker. This will result in several hundred or more results, many of them not specifically related to your practice (or even to law) and many that you have already brainstormed. WordTracker also has a check-box that will allow you to search for synonyms (always a good idea), but many times the synonyms found are for words with different meanings than what you’re looking for. Nevertheless this option does provide valuable alternatives nobody had previously thought of using. From there you’ll take any new terms discovered which apply to your practice and add them to your list. Then you’ll go through this process all over again with the remaining keywords in your first list, always adding anything new and relevant to the bottom of your existing list.

This process takes some time to complete and at some point you’ll see that you’ve pretty much exhausted your list of keywords and phrases. At that point you can take this same list and run it through Google’s free keyword tool. Google’s keyword selection tool is actually there for working on Pay Per Click campaigns, so to get the most benefit from it you’re better off setting up an admin account.

The same process now takes place with the Google Keyword Tool and you’ll see all kinds of results there as well, hopefully some new terms and phrases you’ve overlooked that will be useful to you.
I’ve researched keywords and neighboring keywords for client who have demanded that they write all of the content for their own sites. Days of work go into the creation of these lists and the researched results provide a huge range of terms that are useful and applicable to your site’s theme.

Besides WordTracker’s paid (and free version) and Google’s keyword research tool there are pieces of professional software that run from the desktop (each with various capabilities and usually also connecting to the web to the developer’s server as well as to Google, Yahoo, Bing etc to help query the search engine data bases for more results.

So one of the areas hot today that should stay hot for just about ever as long as resources on this planet are getting scarce and we’re conscious of our environment is “going green” – sustainability and recycle-ability of resources. So we go with prefab modular homes and our initial research produces some basic areas:

A lot of our research turns up results that include USGBC or “USGBC: U.S. Green Building Council”

  1. usgbc
  2. prefabricated building forecast
  3. modular cabins
  4. prefabricated buildings
  5. modular cabin
  6. usgbc mission statement
  7. usgbc green rater
  8. modular cabin construction
  9. small modular cabins
  10. manufactured or modular cabins
  11. usgbc leed certification completed templates
  12. usgbc green build
  13. usgbc chapter steering committee functions
  14. usgbc chapter steering committee
  15. usgbc leed core and shell
  16. usgbc membership
  17. usgbc main office
  18. usgbc leed guide for new construction
  19. usgbc annual home starts
  20. modular cabins cottages vacation homes
  21. leed usgbc
  22. leed points for fuel cell installation usgbc
  23. green structures
  24. modular cabin plans
  25. prefabricated building finished
  26. steel usgbc
  27. steel recycled content usgbc
  28. prefabricated building systems
  29. usgbc 10 basic services

Not all of these are perfect but some of them are good for a start so we’ll go ahead with what looks most promising.

Let’s take a single one of those keyphrases above and use Modular Cabins as an example. Using the  methods of drilling down and then expanding outward described looking for industry competition websites and synonyms that one single term will result in the following list of keywords and keyphrases:

  1. cabin
  2. cabins
  3. modular
  4. mobile homes
  5. log cabin
  6. modular homes
  7. log homes
  8. prefab
  9. manufactured homes
  10. log home
  11. log cabins
  12. modular home
  13. steel buildings
  14. timber frame
  15. portable buildings
  16. modular buildings
  17. modular building
  18. prefab homes
  19. prefabricated buildings
  20. modular office
  21. prefabricated homes
  22. mobile offices
  23. modular construction
  24. modular offices
  25. prefabricated building
  26. cabin plans
  27. manufactured housing
  28. prefab buildings
  29. prefab home
  30. prefab building
  31. modular home builder
  32. cabin kits
  33. modular home builders
  34. prefab houses
  35. modular house
  36. modular home prices
  37. modular housing
  38. modular houses
  39. prefabricated home
  40. prefabricated house
  41. portable offices
  42. modular home manufacturer
  43. modular classrooms
  44. modular office building
  45. modular home plans
  46. prefab house
  47. prefabricated houses
  48. modular house plans
  49. modular office buildings
  50. portable cabins
  51. modular homes prices
  52. panelized home
  53. modular log home
  54. modular additions
  55. modular building systems
  56. modular builders
  57. modular log homes
  58. prefab cabins
  59. custom modular homes
  60. prefabricated cabins
  61. prefab cabin
  62. modular manufactured homes
  63. modular structures
  64. manufactured cabins
  65. modular garages
  66. manufactured cabin
  67. prefabricated cabin
  68. modular commercial buildings
  69. modular prices
  70. modular floor plans
  71. modern prefab homes
  72. pre fab cabin
  73. modular containers
  74. building cabin
  75. mobile cabin
  76. modern modular homes
  77. modern modular
  78. modular builder
  79. modular plans
  80. modular manufacturers
  81. modular frame
  82. steel cabin
  83. modular shelters
  84. modular dealers
  85. modular prefabricated
  86. modular custom
  87. modular cost
  88. builders cabin
  89. modular manufactured
  90. steel modular
  91. modular prefab
  92. built cabin
  93. modular wood
  94. modular designs
  95. modern cabin
  96. modular build
  97. modular manufacturer
  98. modular trailer
  99. custom cabin
  100. modular cottage
  101. modular cottages
  102. manufactured home modular
  103. modular trailers
  104. manufactured homes cabin
  105. modular container
  106. modular rental
  107. panelized cabin
  108. modular panelized
  109. pre fabricated cabin
  110. pre fabricated modular
  111. modular kits
  112. modular pre fab
  113. factory built cabin
  114. modular packages
  115. modular directory
  116. modular post and beam
  117. modular built
  118. modular nationwide
  119. manufactured cottage
  120. modular cedar
  121. manufactured home cabin
  122. modular quality
  123. modular sales
  124. modular style
  125. modular log
  126. rustic prefab
  127. container cabin
  128. relocatable cabin
  129. modular for sale
  130. temporary cabin
  131. post and beam cabin

Along with that research however you’re not simply getting keywords (when this research is done correctly) but also information like their Estimated Ad Position for Pay Per Click advertising, the estimated avg. cost per click, relavancy, the approximate search volume for each month of the year, the approximate average search volume for each keyphrase by month and information on the highest volume month of the year.

As you can see I’ve rooted out 131 keywords and phrases by doing just a bit of research – many more can be found by repeating the same amount of research using each phrase and then removing the duplicates and those that don’t fit. At that point there will be many that will (and some that won’t) squeeze into the category “Modular Cabin” in some way shape or form depending on the types of modular cabins that the business manufacturing those cabins produces. But taking such a list to work with definitely makes it easier to write a great number of pages and not have to continually repeat any one keyphrase over and over again. Next you’ll want to research and audit your industry website competition.

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