5 Steps to Effective Keyword Research by John Gents Read more in Duct Tape Marketing
If you want to rank well in search results, you have to do keyword research. It is the process of researching the search terms that users actually enter into search engines.
The way you think about a solution for your business may differ from the way a potential person thinks about their problem they want to solve. This disconnect can lead you down the wrong keyword path and prevent you from finding the prospects that interest you the most.
That’s why keyword research is so important. It gives you real-world knowledge, empowering you to show up in the right searches. Not sure where to start? Here are my five steps to effective keyword research.
1. Brainstorm Yourself
Any good research project based on the scientific method begins with listing your hypotheses. Brainstorm a list of words, terms, and questions that you think people are looking for when they are looking for your business or the solution you have to offer.
These can be words that relate to what you do or sell, they can be based on your location, or they can be questions people may have about your area of expertise.
Let’s say you are an electrician in the New York metropolitan area. What Kinds of Things Can People Who Need an Electrician Find? One question they may have is, “How do I install a hanging light fixture?” They can find your services more directly by using the phrase “electrician near me”. Or maybe it’s something more specific to the service you provide, like, “Same Day Service Electrician NYC.”
Once you’ve made your list, ask your team to think about it too. They may have a different perspective that opens you up to conditions that you wouldn’t hit on your own.
2. Start Googling!
Next, you want to open things up to the wider world. You can start to understand how people actually search by going to Google and seeing how it autocompletes your terms.
Sometimes you find something interesting or unexpected. Going back to the electrician’s example, let’s say you type “lighting installation” into Google. As you start typing in a search term, you’ll find two suggestions about the lights inside the cabinet. Perhaps you were thinking of this as a specific request, but it actually sounds like a very popular search term. If it’s a service you provide, you might want to think more deeply about trying to rank for that position.
You should also check what search terms you already rank for using Google Search Console. This will help you identify the terms that are working for you and how you can further improve them.
3. Minimize It
Now that you have a healthy list of possible words, you want to build your short list. Ideally, these are about five basic phrases and eight to ten long tail phrases.
Basic phrases speak from the heart about your business. These are the keywords you want to link to your home page and specific landing pages related to your most popular offerings or areas of expertise.
How you choose the basic keywords should be strategic. They may not be too narrow (that’s what long-tail keywords are for), but being too general means it will be hard to rank for that term. Returning to the example of electrician, “electrician” is likely too broad, but “electrician specializing in kitchen appliance installation with quick turnaround times in NYC” is likely to be too narrow. It’s best to aim for something like “same day NYC electrician” in between the two.
Long tail keywords are about intent. The person who googles “NYC electrician” has a different intention than the person who googles “how to install a recessed light”. With long-tail keywords, you want to target another type of search, one with a clear intent and specific problem. These keywords will connect to the broad, relatable content on your website. In the example above, it could be a blog post or an explainer video explaining the work involved and the costs associated with installing overhead lighting.
4. Use Google’s Keyword Planner
Now that you have a list of 15 or so search terms, you want to run them through Google Keyword Planner. It’s a free tool that allows you to check the popularity of keywords on your list, find new keywords, and get bid estimates.
At this point in your process, nothing should be set in stone. You may find that a keyword on your list is highly competitive (and therefore expensive), so it may fall back on the drawing board. Alternatively, you may be on to a great keyword that you didn’t think of yourself—don’t hesitate to put it in the mix.
The thing about keyword research is that it is an ever-evolving process. Once you’ve selected your final keywords, you should visit your Google Search Console once a month to see how things are going. If you find that one of your keywords fails month after month, replace it with something else.
5. Aligning Your Keywords With Content
As I said earlier, these keywords are page specific. While you want to use your broadest keywords on your homepage, you can find more detailed information on other pages of your website.
That being said, you want to make sure that the content of the page aligns with the keywords you choose. For example, if you’re an electrician and you have the long-tail keyword “how to install recessed lighting” for one of your web pages, you’d better make sure that page has recessed lighting front-end- There is detailed information about the center! If someone clicks on the search result and finds information about equipment installation at the top of the page, they are going to be confused and disappointed. This is not what they were looking for, so they will be back on the SERP immediately.
Broadly speaking, you want to make sure that this content is the voice of your strategy. Yes, the keywords and content should line up, but the content should also convey your larger strategic goals. If your business doesn’t make much money installing recessed lighting, and you’re trying to get away from offering those services, don’t include those keywords and content as a focus on your site, even if it’s one. be a popular search term. Or, if it’s a popular search term, perhaps you have a way to reorganize your pricing and offerings to make that service more profitable for you so that you can meet market demand.
As with all things in marketing, keyword research is actually a lot bigger than just selecting a few search terms. An effective approach to process will take into account your larger strategic goals and help you reach your broader business objectives. By being organized about your keyword research approach, you can find the terms that give you the best shot at ranking with the prospects who most need the products or services your business offers.
If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to SEO.