When starting a search engine optimization (SEO) project, or a pay-per-click (PPC) project, keyword lists are often exchanged from agency to client, as well as from client to agency. In some cases, the agency and client both treat keyword lists with more credit than they are due. Understanding the origin of the document can help in understanding both the validity and value of the information contained within, as well as how it should be used. The simple answer is that neither list should be treated as a completely trustable document. Whether you are a agency project manager or a SEO or PPC client, the success of the project relies on analyzing the list through your own eyes while considering the view of the author.
Please consider the example of handing over a keyword list from an agency to a client. The agency has spent many hours researching a large amount of data and bulk keyword lists. They have studied the client and their market. They have formed a list, to the best of their knowledge, that will help make the client’s website a success. However, no matter how much research the agency has done, the client will always have additional insight into what types of words their audiences use. They’ll know the slang of their industry and how it is used. These words can be invaluable in reaching the project’s goals.
The only problem with the scenario above is that it’s not the complete story. Please consider the other example of handing over a keyword list from a client to an agency. The client has collected a keyword list that best describes their products or services. It probably contains slang and industry words mentioned above. It may even contain words that are nowhere on their site. “Sure, that’s _________, but no one ever calls it that,” can often be heard when a client discusses their list with the agency. The agency has the keyword research tools and knowledge to analyze the client keyword list to know what is really being used and what isn’t. Does the client’s audience use slang on the web or do you use the proper terminology? What about similar words that a user logically searches for without knowing what the product or service is actually called? The agency is able to complement the client’s list with new opportunities and keep the list retained to only keywords that will actually benefit the project.
If you a client or an agency project manager, please consider the rhetorical view of your counterpart when reviewing keyword lists. Their insight and expertise can be invaluable, but the best approach is to trust your own insight and expertise, as well.