What's my favorite keyword research tool out there?  Google's Keyword ToolWordTracker? WordStream?  Actually, none of them.

My favorite keyword research tool is a broad match keyword in a PPC account.  Huh?  Doesn't everyone say that broad match is extremely dangerous and you should only approach them with the utmost respect and gentleness?  Well, yes that's true, but that doesn't mean you abandon them!

OK, so why do I say this is the case?  Because broad match keywords are like scouts for you.  They go out and evaluate all of the possible "players" in the game and come back to you and let you know which ones are worthy of playing on your team and which ones aren't.

When you just use phrase and exact match, it's like you're only scouting the most prestigious college-level players; all the D-I teams in the major conferences.

And when you just use the pre-campaign keyword research tools, they are like scouts that just tell you that the player played at a big time school.  But, they don't tell you how fast they can run, how high they can jump or if they're likely to end up in jail by the end of their first season!

If you use just the pre-campaign tools, you'll definitely end up with some good players and it is the place to start, but what about the guy from East Southwestern Triway Junior Community College that was a late bloomer and that most others are looking over that will eventually become an all-star?  That guy's gonna be your best value.   Well, the only way you'll find him is if you look at everybody.  And the only way to look at everybody is to use broad match keywords.

If I have a website that sells dress shoes, it would be a mistake to leave out the broad match keyword "shoes."  Why?  Because you want him out there looking for keyword phrases that that the pre-campaign tools aren't showing or that you may have failed to look for that will be valuable for you. 

But, you know what would also be a mistake?  To bid the same amount and spend the same amount of your budget on "shoes."  Remember, he's your scout that you pay like a hundred grand, not your franchise quarterback you're giving millions.  So, you just throw him in a separate campaign with a lower budget and lower bids and use your ad to communicate what it is you specifically offer (since you'll get lower CTRs and conversion rates).

So, every so often you take a look at your Search Query Report and find what your "scout" is reporting to you.  You'll inevitably find phrases, maybe like "shoes for prom" or "blue suede shoes" that will stand out from the crowd.  Let your scout inform you of what picks to make and who to cut. (What targeted keywords and content to put on your site.)

(Search Engine Guide's affiliate links used in this article: WordStream and WordTracker)

Mike Fleming specializes in Analytics and Paid Search for Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @SEMFlem. Mike enjoys playing, writing and recording music along with playing basketball to get his workout in. He resides in Canton, Ohio with a girl who threw a snowball at him one day…then married him.

Mike and the team at Pole Position are available to help clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Contact them via their site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

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Search Engine Guide > Mike Fleming > Scouting Keywords That Will Become Your All-Star Players