Creating A Keyword List That Returns Your Best RFP Matches

RFP team creating RFP keywords
Think Like a Buyer with your RFP Keywords

Keywords play an essential role in growing your business. They impact your visibility, discoverability and even your bottom line. It’s common knowledge from a marketing perspective that keywords affect how customers find your business. So, if you want customers to find your business, you’ll need to think like a buyer to find the right keywords. Yet, this isn’t the only way keywords help propel your company’s growth. You may not realize that when it comes to RFPs, they’re also essential to how your business finds RFP and bidding opportunities

In an ideal world, every government procurement office would utilize a standardized list of keyword descriptors for purchasing everything they need. If that were the case, your business could simply query its category in Google to easily see all the open RFPs that match your strategy. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. There are hundreds of databases, portals and search functions that make finding and returning RFPs no easy task. If it was, more businesses would be competing for public bidding opportunities.

This is why we created Bid Banana, a fun, easy-to-use RFP database. From finding the right bid to favoriting the most strategic opportunities, Bid Banana makes searching for available RFPs easier so you have greater access to the right RFP to grow your business. With Bid Banana, you can search for bids by state to quickly view bids in your area. Want a more specific search? You can enter as few as three characters and search multiple RFPs across the nation. Bid Banana was designed to make RFPs (even government ones) easily accessible from a centralized location so you can spend less time searching and more time bidding. 

While it can be beneficial to cast a wide net, creating a targeted keyword list can help you find the RFP that best suits your needs. In this article, we share tips to help you think like a buyer. This will help you create and define a targeted RFP keyword list and grow your business in the public sector. 

Hone In On What Best Describes Your Offering

Like finding a needle in a haystack, the broader your keyword search, the harder it will be to find RFPs that align with your strategy. Many times, if you were to describe your company, the first descriptors that come to mind are typically umbrella terms that don’t speak to specific capabilities. In the same way, avoid using keywords that are too general. That’s because they tend to return a large number of irrelevant results. 

For example, an IT business might begin their RFP search in a government database with “IT support.” This keyword is too broad and, in this case, returns over 2,000 results.

As you can see, determining a set of focused keywords that describe the RFPs you want to bid on is essential to not only your time but your brainpower as well! For this reason, it’s important to pinpoint those keywords that align with your business bidding strategy. 

Ask The Right Questions To Better Position Your Business

As an initial step, a brainstorming session is a worthwhile task to create a focused list. Here are some questions to get you thinking about your target keywords and help you narrow down your search return:

  • What does your business specialize in? Keyword descriptors should be specific to the services or products you directly provide. As an example, the above IT business could specialize in “cybersecurity,” “penetration testing,” or “java programming.” 

As shown above, when entering “penetration testing” in the search field, the results quickly narrow from over 2,000 to only 15. The more you concentrate on what it is you specialize in, the fewer RFPs you’ll have to sift through to find potential matching opportunities.

  • Use your small business designation to help narrow your search. The federal government designates 23% of prime contracting dollars for small businesses. This includes businesses that qualify in categories including veteran, women, and minority-owned, among others. Utilizing these designations will limit competition on certain contracts to only the small businesses that qualify. This, in turn, sifts out the larger contracts for which your business isn’t eligible. 

Learn about the Small Disadvantaged Business designation and how to register here.

  • What area(s) does your business serve? You want to find RFP opportunities in areas where you can logistically provide your product or service. Therefore, location is an important factor to consider when searching for RFPs. Noting the locality, state or region in your keyword list will focus your RFP search to only areas you service or want to serve in the future. This is especially important when searching for local contracts. 

Utilize The “Related Searches” Function To Refine Your Keyword List

While we don’t suggest using Google as your primary RFP resource, there’s a benefit it offers that can help you refine your keywords. 

Sometimes, instead of using those overly general descriptors mentioned above, the opposite can happen: We get tunnel vision when creating a list of keywords that describe our business. This can limit the available opportunities as the list may be too narrow and focus on a single field. Find inspiration by utilizing Google’s ‘Related Searches’ function to help you extend your keyword list and search for other related broad topics. 

For example, if your service provides “family education programs,” the function returns high-level results that can provide guidance to add to or refine your list. 

Think Like A Buyer And Research RFPs Similar To Your Specialty

At the time an offeror issues an RFP, they have an understanding of their project and what it takes to fulfill it. This information can sometimes come from requesting information prior to the RFP via RFIs.  But, the buyer is typically not the Subject Matter Expert. In this way, their RFP title may not always indicate the solution they actually need. So, you’ll never predict with 100% accuracy the keywords buyers have in mind when building the RFP. This is why it’s important to cast a little wider net and expand your opportunities. In other words, think like a buyer.  

For instance, a “water utility software” company may utilize those exact keywords in their search query. But, that may return very few RFP opportunities. Yet, after researching an RFP for “water system maintenance,” they find the buyer is actually seeking a new software system. As it turns out, the RFP presents a good opportunity for their response. For this reason, expanding your RFP keyword search and researching other RFPs similar to your offering may result in unexpected surprises that benefit your company.

Treat Your Keyword List As A “Living Document”

Your keyword list is an integral part of your RFP search strategy and process, and it should evolve over time. When you find RFPs that align with your goals, take note of which RFP keywords the agency uses to seek your service(s). Or, if certain keywords are not returning relevant RFPs, choose to refine or eliminate them to produce more fruitful search returns. Furthermore, as your business innovates its offering, so should your list. You’ll find that if you stay on top of curating your list, over time your RFP keywords will present great opportunities, thus eliminating the wasted effort of reading RFPs that don’t align with your strategy.

At The Bid Lab, we not only assist our clients in finding RFPs that strategically align with their business needs, but we also help manage their responses to ensure their submission is on time, on point and on the shortlist. Schedule a free consultation with us today! You can also call us at 1-844-4BIDLAB or email us at Let us help you fulfill your search for the perfect RFP for your business.