How to Create A Keyword List: A Step-by-Step Guide

keyword list is a list of words that you want to target with your marketing.

You may be targeting these words so that you show up on search result pages when someone searches for this keyword, or the list may be words you want to use in your marketing because they resonate with your audience.

No matter what the ultimate goal of your keyword list, it is an important tool to have on hand.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to create a keyword list.

Step 1. Starting List

To create a keyword list, you will need a starting point.  There are lots of great tools to help you build a master keyword list, but those tools all require that you give them some information to get started.

I recommend creating a short list of starting words to kick off your keyword list work.  To create this list, ask yourself the following questions:

1. What industry & market am I targeting?

2. Who are my audience members (job titles, personas etc.)?

3. What offering am I providing this audience?

The answers to these 3 questions can act as your starting keyword list.


1. Information Technology (IT)

2. Chief Information Technology Officers (CIOs)

3. Software sales

We will use this starting keyword list in Step 3, so hold onto this for now.

 Step 2. Keyword Tool

Next we select the keyword tool we want to use to generate our list.  There are lots of tools available to you, but Google Adwords Keyword Planner is one of the most widely used (and my personal recommendation).

I’m going to walk you through how to create a keyword list with Google Adwords Keyword Planner, but there are a number of other great tools that you can use as well including:

Google Adwords Keyword Planner does require that you have an Adwords account to access the keyword planner, but it is free to set up an account and doesn’t require any commitment to purchase.

 Step 3. Generate Keyword List

Now that we’ve selected our tool, we’re going to generate our keyword list.  Again, I’m walking you through this exercise within Google’s tool, but the process is fairly similar for most sites. You enter the keywords from your starter list and the site generates suggestions.

So, we’ve logged into the Google tool, and you should see this screen:

Google Keyword List Tool Step 1

Start by clicking on the “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas” tab.

That will open up this input box:

Google Keyword list tool step 2

Enter your starting keyword list into the “product or service” box.

Next, input your landing page URL into the “your landing page” box.  If you don’t have a landing page, you can use your website’s homepage URL in this box.

Finally, enter your category into the “product category” box.

Using our example, it would look like this:

Google Keyword list tool step 4

If you want to customize your list even further, you can adjust the additional options below to target different languages, geographic areas, and adjust date ranges.

Once you’ve entered this data, hit the “Get Ideas” button.  You should get a list of both Ad Group Ideas and Keyword Ideas.

Remember, this tool is for Google Adwords, so they present the keywords in two forms, a straight list of keyword ideas and groups of ideas for ads.  In this case, you want to focus on the Keyword Ideas.  Click on the Keyword Ideas tab, and there you have your list of potential keywords.

Google will have pulled data for the search terms you entered (your starting list), along with keywords.  It should look like this:Google Keyword list tool step 5


Step 4. Sort & Export Keyword List

Now we’ve generated our keyword list within Google Adwords Keyword Planner.  But we want this list to be sorted and easily available to us.

We’re going to sort this keyword list within the Google planner.  The question is – how do we sort this list?  The answer depends on your needs.

You’ll notice Google tells us the average amount of monthly searches for the keyword and how much competition there is for the keyword.

Keep in mind that this data is based only on Google search, not any other search engine (like Bing or Yahoo), and the competition number is based on how many advertisers are bidding on this keyword within Google Adwords.  Google keyword list tool step 6

Now, are you trying to go after the keywords with the highest monthly searches?  Or are you looking to target keywords with low competition?  Perhaps you’re looking for a list of words with a good amount of searches, and a reasonable amount of competition.

Simply click on the header for the column by which you want to sort the list.  In this case we have sorted by Avg. monthly searches.

Keyword list step 8

We’ve sorted our list, now we want to download it into a spreadsheet so we don’t have to log into Google every time we view our list.

To download our list as a spreadsheet, just click the Download button in the header (next to Ad Group and Keyword Ideas).

Download keyword list button

You’ll get a pop-up box that asks you what format you prefer for your list.  We use Excel, so that is the format we are going to select.

Download keyword list as spreadsheet

Your file will download and you can open it up in your preferred format.  When we downloaded our Excel CSV, this is what we got:

Excel keyword list

From here we can clean up the spreadsheet to remove any information we don’t need like Currency and In Plan.


You’re Done

That’s it.  You’ve got a keyword list that you can use in your marketing efforts.  If you want to make your life even easier, repeat this process for multiple targeted keyword lists like the ones we discussed in this post.

In our organization we often refer to this list when we are trying to come up with new ideas for content posts.  If you subscribe to our Weekly Content Idea email, keep this list on-hand as you’ll use it every week.

If you aren’t yet subscribed, you can sign up here:

Signup to get a new content idea every Monday morning:




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *