A Simple Free Long Tail Keyword Generator Process

There are a number of keyword generator services available on the web these days -- from KeywordTool.io to AnswerTheAudience.com -- but all that these do is produce what SearchEngineLand's Nate Dame recently called "long lists of words and phrases ... that can dramatically increase nothing about an SEO strategy." (Source: Why You Should Never Do Keyword Research Again).

Using a keyword analysis tool like Keyword Planner helps, but even it cannot weed out the irrelevant as it is only really designed to tell you what you already suspect: some phrases have more volume than others.

In fact, keyword definition strategy needs to take account of many factors, including working out what keywords people actually use, and then evaluating them from there. Traditional methods like brainstorming just don't cut it any more, and generic one and two word phrases are too competitive to even think about targeting.

However, follow this five step keyword generator process, and you will at least start out on a reasonably solid base!

Step 1: Determine Your Root Keyword Phrase

This step is quite important, but needs to be fairly instinctive. The root keyword phrase has to sum up something that is a bit more narrow than just a niche word (diet, health, money, etc.) and yet not too narrow that you start to preclude possibly useful variations.

Step 2: Extract Search Suggestions

Having decided what it is you want to know about, you can then visit Google and type in your root keyword phrase. Put your blinkers on, and ignore all the results, and scroll down to the bottom of the page, where you'll find a list of suggestions.

Harvest these for the next step (highlight, hit Ctrl-C, open up Notepad, hit Ctrl-V, and you're done -- Mac, Chrome and Linux users will have to use their own equivalents!)

Step 3: Use a Keyword Analysis Tool

Open up the Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool, and select the "Get ideas" option. Copy and paste your list of suggested keyword phrases into the box, and set up your geographic, language, timescale, and most importantly, set the match to "Narrow" (and not "Broad").

Step 4: Select By Volume or Value

In the resulting list, click a column heading to either order the results by "Avg. Monthly Searches" or "Suggested Bid". More advanced users can download the results, and use a formula to created a weighted version of these numbers in order to add a little finesse to the filtering process.

Step 5: Maintain Your Keyword List!

Take the top 10 results, which ought to be fairly long tail (i.e. three to four words long) and specific, and use these either as-is, or as root keyword phrases. My own preference is to first use them, note them in a spreadsheet, and generate new phrases (which also go into the spreadsheet).

Once I have a list to maintain, I can see what keyword phrases attract traffic, and which ones don't. Then, it's back through the process from time to time to generate some more.

Refinements include: seasonality tests, analysis of landing pages (to check the right keywords are being picked up) and near constant observation of behaviour using Analytics and Search Console. But those processes are for another day.

(And yes, before you ask, this article was entirely created around its own process; no prizes for picking out the long tail keyword phrases that were generated along the way!)