One of the first things I do when on-boarding a new client (or employee) is go through the exercise of building-out a keyword and media list.

Google surfaces most relevant content for any subject in the world; mapping the customer journey through keywords and then mining the results to build a media list is an amazing way to wrap your head around the most important outlets and writers for any category.

So how do you do it?

How to Build a Media List Using Google Search:

  1. Identify keywords that are relevant to your product
  2. Run a SERP Analysis of your keywords using Visably
  3. Export your brand results via Visably’s .CSV export
  4. Merge lists into a single spreadsheet
  5. Backfill writer’s names + emails
  6. Get at it!


Identify a list of non-branded keywords

Non-branded keywords are search queries that describe a product or service, but don’t include specific brand language. For instance, “Best Running Shoes” (non-branded) vs. “Nike Running Shoes” (branded). You’re not going to find many useful media results within branded keyword searches and furthermore you want to focus on customers that are brand agnostic, rather than brand loyal.

As you build the keyword list, reverse-engineer how a customer might find or discover your product within search. Think about questions your customer might ask or queries that refer to pain points, desired features / benefits, or comparison language. 

For example, if you’re a company that sells headlamps, you may zero-in on keywords like these:

  • Best rechargeable headlamp     
  • Camping headlamp review
  • No-bounce headlamp
  • Best performance headlamp   
  • Night hiking tips
  • What is the most powerful headlamp for hunting?
  • What is the best headlamp for spelunking?

Useful tips: How to generate keyword ideas
There are several tools to help you can mine additional ideas around which keywords to focus. Google itself provides keyword hints within Google Auto-Complete, and search results like “People Also Ask,” and “Searches related to…”

There are also several free keyword suggestion tools we recommend:

Sample Keyword List with PR-specific KPIs:


Run a SERP Analysis of your keywords using Visably

Once you have established a short list of the most relevant keywords, you’ll want to run a SERP analysis using Visably to identify which of these keywords lean toward “Informational”  in Search Engine Intent — that is, keywords with majority “Click to Learn” style content (as opposed to ecommerce or ‘Click to Buy’).

By focusing on keywords of “Informational” intent, you’re more likely to scoop up media results, reviews, and relevant publisher / blog content to add to your media list. It’s also okay if the intent is mixed 50/50 (Informational & Transactional) — you can use Visably’s Channel Identification Technology to filter out all the non-media results later. 

Visably PRO (coming soon) will allow you to do this kind of analysis in batches. However, with the free SERP Analysis Tool, you’ll need to collect this data one keyword at a time. While you’re doing this, Following each search be sure to “export the results” to CSV…


Export Results to CSV

At the bottom right of the SERP analysis, click the “Export CSV” button. A CSV file will automatically download to your computer, and you will receive a table like this:

Repeat the export process for all of the “Informational” SERPs you’ve identified.


Compile and Sort Results

Now it’s time to compile the data by merging the CSV exports together into a larger spreadsheet. Sort the spreadsheet by the CHANNEL column, select all the “informational” or “earned media” results and delete the rest.


Backfill Writer’s Names and Contact Information

Next, find and add the authors’ names and emails and add to the list. You can often grab these from the bylines within the search results, or author bio’s at the bottom of the page. If you have access to a PR database solution, this is a great time to use it. Otherwise, LinkedIn and good old-fashioned Google searching can get you a long way! 

Example Media List pulled from “Best Headlamp” Search Results:

What’s lovely about this process:

  1. Google does the hard work of finding all the world’s most relevant content within any category for you. Maybe you don’t agree with Google’s selection of sites? Well, sorry, but even if you don’t agree with Google, these writers’ work is being rewarded with thousands of high-quality customers / readers day in and day out as a consequence of their top search position.
  2. Visably does the hard work of exporting and sorting the earned media results from everything else.
  3. No Spamming. You’re only getting publishers and writers that are considered the top authorities on a subject.
  4. Using this list will improve the likelihood that your PR will show up at the top of search. By focusing on outlets that have a good track record with Google’s algorithms, you’re setting yourself up for search engine success.
  5. Although time-consuming, this list-build strategy provides a straightforward, ROI-focused, and nearly limitless roadmap (depending on how many keywords you choose to audit for media results) for any PR project.