June 3, 2010 – One of the methods we use to build a keyword list requires good, old-fashioned research. In the days of 4×6 notecards, library time was an essential first step. We recently learned about a shortcut that is rumored to be popular among some of the search engine optimization specialists. We wanted to share the process because it is a variation on some of the industrial-strength methods used by some firms that specialize in developing seed term lists.

The first step is to obtain a list of high traffic or important Web sites in a particular subject field. Most of the Web analytics firms publish these lists. We have seen them in the ClickZ newsletter. Then download a product called KeywordThief 3.0 from a shareware site like Brothersoft. (Note: we are not recommending this method. We want to call it to your attention. We are not making any guarantees about the method.)


Once the KeywordThief has been installed, it will go to each site on the seed list, locate the keywords, and output a list of these words. Among the claims made for the software, which costs about US $20, are that it:

  • Extracts the keywords from the Keyword Metatag, from the sites listed in the SERPs (search engine result pages) of Google, AltaVista, Open Directory or other search engines.
  • Calculates the occurrence number and percentage of every keyword found.
  • Sorts the keywords in frequency or alphabetic order
  • Exports keywords into plain text file.

The system generates an ASCII file of terms. The developer’s Web site is here.