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What ‘30 Rock’ and Lexicons Can Teach You About Keyword Research

White Shark Media

10 years ago



Lexicons are a list of words/ phrases that correspond to someone’s specific dialect. Certain regions, genders, ethnicities etc modify language through personal experiences, creating their own words and meanings. For example in the US depending on where you’re from you say one one of the following phrases to address a group of two or more people:

  • you guys
  • you
  • y’all
  • you all

Identifying these subtle differences and applying them into your writing can have huge effects on the person(s) reading.

Tina Fey is notorious for creating and using multiple Lexicons to help her adjust 30 Rock Episodes to the different viewers the show attracts. She will often revisit a subject several times throughout an episode each time catering the joke to a different chunk of the audience.

The way specific objects and products like tennis shoes, soda, and sandwiches are named or even pronounced is based on factors like age, where you grew up, ethnicity, education level Etc and catering your content with this in mind can have many lasting effects.

How Lexicons Can Improve Your Keyword Research

Lexicons can be used to discover new keyword opportunities you may have missed just because you’re not part of a particular age group or region. If you’re only catering to national versions of a word or phrase for your keyword research you’re probably missing out on a ton of relevant searchers.

Lexicons also do something special that is often overlooked in ad copy. It humanizes the content and creates a bond with the person reading it. For example if you’re optimizing a Tennis Shoe company’s website for the word “tennis shoes” in an area where the common term is “Sneakers” the shoppers who read your ads will automatically assume you’re not from the area and in some cases are less likely to give you their business. Inversely if you use the right words or phrases, you can establish a subconscious bond with the searcher which might just lead to a shopper.

The Blueprint for Developing Effective Keyword Lists Using Lexicons

To build a lexicon you want to create a bio, one bio for each type of audience you’re targeting. I’ve built two bios below as examples but remember there are more variables you can add so tailor yours to your needs.


Bio 1

  • Age: 40
  • Gender: Male
  • Region: New York
  • Religion: Many
  • Ethnicity: Many
  • Profession: Banker
  • Favorite Books: The Da Vinci Code
  • TV shows: Suits, Breaking Bad
  • Movies: The Bourne Series
  • Education Level: College grad


Bio 2

  • Age: 40
  • Gender: Male
  • Region: Vermont
  • Religion: Many
  • Ethnicity: Many
  • Profession: Banker
  • Favorite Books: The Da Vinci Code
  • TV shows: Suits, Breaking Bad
  • Movies: The Bourne Series
  • Education Level: College grad

Once you have the bio created try to put yourself in that person’s shoes. What do they like? Who do they care about? Who did they grow up listening to? Empathize then search for and build a list of words that they would use or encounter in everyday life. Now if I were a deli sandwich shop with stores in New York and Vermont these similar bios above would these Lexicons.

That would make my ads look something like this:


  • Bio 1 New York Banker: “Voted Best Hero in NYC”.
  • Bio 2 Vermont Banker: “Huge Grinders, Huge Taste”.

As you can see the ad and the experience is completely different while the product remains the same.

Building Lexicons you’ll notice very quickly that differences in just a few of these variables can have a big effects on dialects. Understanding the audience you’re after makes all the difference. Once you have some lexicons built and know who you want to target all you have left to do is sprinkle those words into your ads and copy (discretely).

I suggest testing different phrases in a Keyword Planner and conducting your own searches modified to replicate the audience you are trying to reach. You’ll find some queries with good volume and practically no competition to take advantage of. Remember getting there first is half the battle because it’s just a matter of time before your competition wises up.

Already using Lexicons? Let us know how they are working for you! If you have a case study or campaign you’ve run we’d love to hear about it.