Reprinted with permission from the Lyris.com blog archives.
By: Dane Christensen

In the first installment of this series I focused on the concept of keyword permutation as a method for generating long-tail keywords for your pay per click (PPC) campaigns. It’s a great way to cover a wide range and pick up a lot of long-tail keywords that get very few searches individually, but that can really add up to big numbers.

Keyword permutations can yield massive lists of structured keyword phrases like:

  • movie featuring harrison ford
  • dvd with russell crowe
  • flick starring keanu reaves
  • flick with harrison ford

But keyword permutation will miss a lot of the idiosyncratic and colloquial terms that real people search on, like:

  • what was harrison fords last movie
  • harrison ford imdb
  • clint eastwood and harrison ford together
  • harrison ford movie list
  • very old harrison ford
  • harrison ford in the 90’s

All of these long tail keywords, each of which received a handful of searches, were not generated programmatically but were the result of search engine query analysis.

Search Engine Query Analysis

Search engine query analysis involves harvesting the search results from search engines to find out what people are actually typing into the search engine. One way to do this is with the Keyword Discovery tool in Lyris HQ. You enter the basic keyword, like “harrison ford”, and it will show you all the other related keyword phrases and the number of searches on those terms. To get these words, the tool mines query data from over 200 search engines world-wide, compiling nearly 38 billion searches (at the time of writing this post).

This tool (as well as others like it) displays the approximate number of actual searches for any given phrase. When you look at the results you’ll clearly see the “big head” of 5-10 keyword phrases that quickly trail off into the long-tail. With most such tools you can also drill into specific keywords to branch off into even finer threads of keyword concepts.

The tool allows you to easily pull these long tail keywords into your PPC campaigns. That’s important because you will usually find hundreds or even thousands of phrases to capture, and it’s just too much for cutting and pasting. Even with this handy feature, the process of gathering relevant keywords and filtering out the garbage (and yes, you will see garbage words scattered throughout the lists) can be time consuming.

But the beauty of building your keyword list through search engine query analysis is that you know exactly what you’re getting. With each keyword you pull into your PPC account, it’s basically the equivalent of pulling in actual visitors. And that can be a very satisfying and rewarding activity.

In the third part of this series we’ll turn our focus to the topic of “competitive intelligence“.