Published: 10/9/13 12:00 AM

There is a tendency in the marketing world to look at the most successful competitor in your industry and simply copy what they are doing. In the old days of keyword meta tags, an agency could simply look at the competitor's tags and then build pages on a client's site to copy them. Whoever had the best pages and backlinks won.

Now, with the recent Google white papers and algorhythm updates regarding unique content, it just doesn't work. Not to mention the fact that in the old methods you were always playing catch-up with a competitor that already had a foothold in the industry.

So what do we do now? At Insider SEO, we tend to watch our client's sites for a bit before jumping into a campaign. We tend to start with Pay Per Click because it gives us the best reporting capabilites. We might start with several broad match keywords just to get some measurable traffic and to start generating some data in our Matched Search Query reports and Keyword Detail reports. Matched Search tells us the exact phrase a visitor typed in order to find our client's web site. From there, we can start to build out our keyword lists.

Let's look at a real world example from a client called Arch Crown that sells tags and labels for the optical and jewelry industries. We initially built their campaign with two Modified Match keyphrases +optical +tags and +jewelry +tags. Needless to say we had a high bounce rate but it was only for a few days. We then review the query data using the Adwords Keyword Detail repot. In that report, we found things like 'how to make jewelry tags', 'Avery jewelry tags', 'stainless steel jewelry tags' and lots of misspellings and alternate terms for the tags. For example, some people refer to string tags (those little paper tags that come tied to a watch) as 'rattail tags'. So, we only pay for what the user clicks so our agents add 'Rattail Tags' to the keyword list. We also start to identify negatives in this phase. We figure that if you spell Jewelry wrong, you're probably not in the jewelry industry. So we add 'jewellery' to the campaign negatives list. We also add words like 'clothing' because these types of tags are used specifically for jewelry and optical (although the client is now considering adding a clothing tag line because of the queries we've identified).

We then take our core list of 10 or 15 words and start to duplicate those words in order to add long-tail keywords and other match types.
+jewelry +sample +tags expands to "jewelry sample tags" and {jewelry sample tags}
+jewelry +hang +tags expands to also include "jewelry hang tags", "hang tags for jewelry", "hanging tags for jewelry", etc.

Then repeat this process EVERY DAY until your campaign is returning results and you're rolling in sales, and then you can skip a day once in a while.

A few more tips:

We never leave anything up to Google or Bing. Given the chance they'll match your keyword Jewelry Tags to someone searching for last nights baseball scores. So every keyword in your list should be part of an exact or phrase match OR have a plus sign in front of it.

Think about every keyword you have. What other ways can it be written? Also, like our misspelling example above, do you really want that keyword?

You're not punished for having large campaigns. We have clients with $5,000 monthly budgets that have 60,000 keywords because we want to go after long-tail (cheaper!) phrases and match types.

We're going to write a lot about Quality Scores later but for now, just know that they are the most important thing in the world. If yours are low, rewrite your ad text, add longer tail keyphrases, and adjust your destination URLs.
If you're lost, hire us :)