When you are starting a keyword research project, the best method to gather lots of keywords that cover your subject, is to find lists of keywords.

I use a tree step approach:
1. Find the 10 most searched keywords for your subject
2. Search for lists by combining keywords used to describe the subject and keywords used in names of lists
3. Download and clean the lists

I could stop here, but there are many tips and workaround that is going to make your life much easier. So let’s take it step by step.

10 most searched keywords

Head over to Googles keyword tool and enter the keywords you have been gathering until now from ex. brainstorming, keywords searchers use to find you site and keywords users to search on your website, into the first box (Word or phrase (one per line)). If you haven’t gathered any keywords, just write the keywords that come into your mind about the subject. Try to use the most popular words to describe your subject.

Adjust the location and languages according to you target. If in doubt just leave it in: Locations: All, Languages: All. You don’t want to limit where the list comes from, but you might want to limit the languages it is in.

Hit search and let Google do her magic.

Click on “Global Monthly Searches” to get the most searched keyword first.

Write down the 10 most general keywords that you would expect someone to use in the name of a dictionary about your subject.

Find Lists

Now you have the 10 most used word used about your subject. Combine them with the 13 most used words in the name of lists:

1. Keyword List
2. Glossary
3. List
4. Dictionary
5. Terms
6. List all Terminology
7. Jargon
8. Word list
9. A-Z list
10. Official records
11. Records
12. Listing
13. Directory

When you search try to pick the most likely combinations. In most cases you don’t need to search for all the 130 combinations.

You almost never find a keywords list, that is already made ready to use, but if you are like me, you just have to make sure that there isn’t a list out there (it would be nice so you could stop the work here).

Download and clean the lists
This is the step where your skills show. I am not going to tell you how to browse and find the best results, but I am going to give you some tips that have made me more efficient.

When I find a relevant list I ask myself which of these categories it belongs to:

1. Easy to download
2. Takes effort to download

If it is easy to download, I download it right away. If it is difficult to download I keep the tab open until I can take a decision if the list is worth the effort.

I make my decision from these criteria:

1. Size
2. Time to download
3. Quality
4. Uniqueness
5. Language

One large list can cover you needs better than 10 list’s that is 80 % smaller, because most lists repeat many of the same keywords. The problem is that a bigger list usually has been formatted and has added navigation that makes it difficult to download.

If the quality impression is doubtful and everything looks half done, it might be because the list is in process and there might be another more complete list out there.

I love specialized lists because their keywords give access to market with few (if any) competitors, which result in low PPC prices and high conversion rates.

Usually you want to find lists in your own language, but if you are researching in a small language there might not be any. Therefore you be forced to find a list in ex. English and use Google Translator. It is not the best solution, because it might give some unnatural keywords.
In some industries there are a big different between the language the professional and customer are using. Depending on your target group you might prefer one to the other.

I usually download all the keyword lists that can be downloaded without to much effort. If there isn’t any big general keyword lists between, I use the time to download a big keyword list even it might take me an hour or two. I supply with specialized lists if they are relevant.

Tips to download keyword lists
If you can program, you can always make a script or use a web scraper for the hard to download lists, but that leave many keyword researchers behind. Therefore I will show how to solve many of the problems with only Notepad and Excel (faster than most programmers can make a script;-).

I use Notepad because of its ability to loss all the formatting and to “find and replace”.

I use MS Excel because of its text importing abilities, where I try to isolate the keywords in one column.

I will go though some examples of how to overcome some of the most common problems. When you understand the principal you can combined them to solve many more kinds of problems.

Seed list for used cars and spare parts
Let’s image that we want to make a keyword list for a website that sell used cars and spare parts.

Let’s start by searching for “car keyword list” at Google to see if we can find someone sharing a keyword list. One result look very promising but it is just a 75 mb. file with mixed keywords.

We continue with “Car Glossary” and find an “A-Z” list. It is not a problem to mark the keywords, copy and paste it into Notepad.

I move on and find a small list at a car site. The format is like:

Bonnet–British term for hood.
Boot–British term for trunk lid.

The keywords are split from the description with two hyphens(–) and we proceed to isolate the keywords in a column in a spread sheet. We do that by copying the whole list and paste it into Notepad.
In Notepad we replace (click Ctrl and H) “–“ with “¤” (we need ONE symbol to separate the keywords from the rest of the text and it is best that the symbol isn’t used in the keywords).

We copy it all and paste it into Excel. The small symbol in the bottom offers us the option to “Use text importer wizard….”. We use it and click “next”, unmark the “Space” under Delimiters, mark Other and write # in the test box and finish by clicking on “finish”. We can now copy column A and paste it into our main notepad (where we keep all our lists).

Don’t worry about empty lines and extra spaces they will automatically be removed and lines with irrelevant text are easy to remove if you are using our free keyword sorting tool.

Wikipedia and Code
Wikipedia is a very good source of lists and I often find myself go there to see if I can find some good lists. It even have a page with list of pages with lists of lists of…. The main problem with Wikipedia is that it can be difficult to download the lists.

It is therefore a good opportunity to show the most robust method to separate the keywords. You do that by working with the source code. It is much easier that it sound, even if you think HTML look like hieroglyphs.

Let’s look at a car brands list in Wikipedia that list cars in one to four columns (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cars). To find the source code you just right click on the page and choose source code (it is named different in the different browsers).

Select all, copy and paste it in Notepad. Search for the first keyword you are interested in, which is the famous car brand “Zhongji” from Angola ;-)

We note that the signs around our keyword look like this: “>Zhongji . We want a special sign in front and behind our keyword so we can separate it in the text wizard import in MS excel.

Therefore we replace “> and with the sign ¤ in out notepad document.

Thereafter we copy it and paste it into MS Excel, click on the Text Import Wizard icon, click next, unmark Space under Delimiters, mark Other and insert ¤ in the box and click on Finish.

In B125 we find Zhongji and if we mark the B-column down to B628 we have successful separated the car brands. We also got some extra code and some empty spaces, but that is really fast to overcome if we use the keyword tool to sort the keywords. The important is that the keywords are separated and we are’t left with extra signs (like: “Zhongji(/D”).

You always have to test if the list import well into MS excel. The List of automobile model nameplates with a discontinuous time-line might look like it will give you problem, but the only thing you need to do is to click Match Destination Formatting and you can copy the keywords from the first column in MS excel.

Finding and cleaning lists of keywords are an art. I have touched some of the methods that will help you master it. Now it is up to you to show what you are made of.