Today’s post is by Account Associate Bailey Lau, who is always looking for new keywords to describe her favorite Bay Area sports teams.

Keyword expansion generally falls into two buckets: 1) a massive, block-and-tackle effort to help new accounts get off the ground, and 2) a more refined, optimized approach for older accounts that have already been built out over time.

Each of the buckets requires different strategies for keyword expansion. Here’s how we tackle them at PPC Associates:

1. For the quick start: use Google Keyword Tool + Site/Brand Head Terms. The Keyword Tool is a great starting point to gather ideas for a new account or campaign. You can enter in your main home page or new product page into the Keyword Tool, and the tool will spit out keywords related to your home page. Unfortunately, if you’ve ever used the Keyword Tool, you know that the keyword ideas that get spit back at you are very broad. The tool is great to get a lot of keyword ideas, but you need to carefully go through the ideas and sift out the keywords that will be too broad to bid on.

sifting through keywords

“Dog” and “cat” are too broad to be of much use.

Some simple tinkering with the Keyword Tool settings will help you cut down on the number of irrelevant keyword ideas. “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms” is a great box to check when you want only the most relevant ideas. You will get fewer keyword ideas overall, but the keywords will be more relevant to your product.

keyword expansion refine

There are also a number of ways to filter down by industry and category type available.

(Note: if you’re dealing with an international client, be sure to change the language/country settings accordingly. People in different countries search in different ways, and this will affect the keyword ideas that Google gives you.)

2. For continual expansion: use Alpha SKAG + Beta builds. This strategy stems from our Alpha-Beta model of isolating our high-value keywords in Alpha campaigns in exact match and negative exact matching in the Beta campaigns to ensure controlled query mapping.

Alpha SKAGs are an important part of account optimization. You ensure you’re capturing the converting queries and graduating them to the Alpha campaign. This is not only important for query mapping, but it allows for a great opportunity to expand your keywords.

When you add in an Alpha keyword as an exact match in the Alpha campaign, add the same keyword in the Beta campaign using BMM (broad match modifier). For example, if we find create the Alpha [buy dog collar], we would add +buy +dog +collar in the Beta campaigns as well.

We’re still capturing the valuable traffic of the exact query [buy dog collar] to the Alpha campaigns, but we’re also capturing the queries closely related to [buy dog collar]. By adding in Alpha SKAGs into the Alpha AND Beta campaigns, we are not only expanding our keyword volume, we are also expanding our reach on valuable queries and potential Alpha keywords.

This is just meant to help give you a springboard into keyword expansion; there are many other tools and tips out there. Leave a comment with some of your favorites!

– Bailey Lau, Account Associate – Search

1 Comment

  1. Ivan June 6th, 2013

    Thanks for the quick tips. I will reasearch the Alpha-Beta model a little bit more to see if it will work for my sites.

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Bailey Lau
Bailey joined 3Q Digital in September of 2012 after interning at Internet Marketing Inc. in San Diego. Bailey graduated from UC San Diego in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in Sociology. She loves finding new places to eat, watching sports, and playing softball and football. She currently works for Macys.com.