It sound very easy for people that have never sorted keywords, but when you start thinking about what a keyword like “Puma” means, for the average searcher, it become difficult. Is “Puma” the German shoe and sportswear company, the animal, the Italian, German or Israeli military vehicle or another of the hundreds of meanings?

There is no general rule. Only the rules of thumb that my fellow keyword researchers and I have gather while sorting millions of keywords.

The question
You need to ask yourself if a keyword belong in your keyword list. For that a good tool is a question. A question could be:

Is this keyword used to search for “subject of keyword list”?

If you can answer yes it belongs in the keyword list.

It would be easy if life was so easy. It is not the clear yes/no-keywords that makes you think, but the maybe-keywords.

It is important that you are fairly organized before you start to sort your keywords, because you want to know which keyword lists you are marking, so you can group a keyword into the right list.

It is perfectly all right if you don’t know which keyword lists/groups you will be splitting the keywords into. Because you can just make a general keyword list, which cover you industry/website, and split the keyword list into several lists later.

Let’s analyze some problems you will be facing if you haven’t done it already.

Ambiguous meaning
Hot dog;-)The same keywords can be used to search for different subjects. It is not always easy to imagine that searchers are looking for other things than your subject. But if you suspect it, it is time to consider if the keyword should be included in your keyword list.

If ex. someone is searching for: Sun. When the searcher could be looking for: The sun (that shines on us), sun servers, the newspaper or the searcher want to travel too a place with more sunshine etc.

Another example is abbreviations which different people think is equal obvious what it stand for, but they don’t always agree about it meaning (many time Wikipedia give more than 10 meanings of an abbreviation).

So how do you decided?
I use a number of ways to decided:

– If more than 50% of searcher would be interested in your site it is good keyword (changes the percent to fit)
– If it makes sense to use it in Adwords for your product, it is probably a good keyword (if you are selling a teddy bear for 1 USD which is called hosting, it doesn’t make much sense to compete against the hosting companies for the keyword “Hosting”).
– Gut feeling (If you feel it is a good or negative keyword it probably is).
– Go and search on Google to see what they think is relevant or use the keyword research page.
– Analyze what searchers add after the mainstream keyword.

What helps you to make a keyword decision?

NB: I think app. 75% of people that search for “Puma” are looking for the German shoe and sportswear company and 20% for the animal. I would have guessed that a person searching for “AMD Puma” where looking for a shoe and not a mobile computing platform.