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Keyword Research: Finding Words to Target Your Ideal Customer
This is a process where you pinpoint what words and phrases (keywords) people are searching for and how many people are searching for these keywords.
The best solution is to hire someone to do keyword research for you who can tell you which keywords are popular in that area and their search volume. You can hire someone off Upwork or contact a local SEO agency for this. A professional will have access to a lot of expensive tools to research that are affordable for someone who manages a lot of clients but not the average person. A professional would also have the skills and knowledge to give you keywords that might be more difficult for the average person to uncover because of a lot of tools’ limitations.
However, if this isn’t in your budget, there’s a great overview of how to do it here.
Finding the Right Searches to Rank For
In general, we’re looking for two things: keywords that there’s a minimal amount of competition for and keywords that people who are ready to make a purchase are searching for. In general however, there are many types of keywords:
This is your brand name and any misspellings of it. Brand terms can also be related to your competition or competitors’ names.
For local businesses, it’s pretty easy to make some educated guesses about what people are searching for. Generally, they’ll need to know the location(s) you serve, the services you offer, and what your business does. Then, they might add modifiers like ‘cheap’ or ‘24 hour’.
So, their typical searches would look something like:
- [business type/product/service] in [location] (e.g. plumber in dallas)
- [business type/product/service] [location] (e.g. plumber dallas, drain cleaning dallas)
- [location] [business type/product/service] (e.g. dallas drain cleaning)
- [modifier] [business type/product/service] (e.g. cheap drain cleaning)
- [modifier] [business type/product/service] in [location] (e.g. best plumber in dallas)
Try using near if you want to target a city you’re close to, but not technically in:
- [business type/product/service] near [location] (e.g. pest control services near denver)
- Create a seed list of starting terms – intent based questions like “Where to find a plumber in Dallas?”
- Expand your list using keyword research tools
- Refine your list with competitive research
To pop up for these searches, work them naturally into the content on your important pages. For more information on that you can check out our full SEO Guide.
Advanced Keyword Research
Before you begin this section we recommend you download the Keyword Research Template so you can follow along as you begin filling out the Brainstorming section.
Download The Keyword Research Template
Step 1: Brainstorm
Locations: Make a list of locations you serve including your city, local area, region, and other terms that searchers might use to describe your area like cultural slang (e.g. Philly for Philadelphia, DFW for Dallas-Forth Worth).
Modifiers: Make a list of modifiers that might be added to searches, like special offerings (emergency, 24-hour) or qualities (best, cheap).
PRO-TIP: Google can also help you find which services, locations, and modifiers are most popular because it returns the most popular results for common searches people make. If you’re looking for PLUMBER ATLANTA, you can see it also suggests ATLANTA PLUMBER REPAIR, ATLANTA PLUMBER RATES, ATLANTA PLUMBER HOT WATER HEATER.
Step 2: Generate Keywords
Now you’re ready to create a big list of words and phrases you think your audience might be searching for by merging the list of services you offer, the locations you serve, and any modifiers.
To create a list:
- Go to Bulk Keyword Generator’s DIY Generator here.
- Select DIY Generator at the top of the page.
- Copy and paste all the locations under the Location tab under ‘Enter your locations’
- Copy and paste all your services under the Location tab under ‘Enter Your services’
- Copy and paste the list of keyword templates already provided under ‘Keyword Templates’.
It should look something like this:
Pro-Tip: Did you come up with additional modifiers that aren’t provided in the keyword templates? You can create your own template and SERVICE and LOCATION will be replaced by any service and location you have listed when you run the list through your SEO generator. So if you put Discount SERVICE in LOCATION, it would generate suggestions like discount plumbing in Dallas or discount drain cleaning in Fort Worth.
Then, select the blue GENERATE KEYWORDS button at the bottom of the screen. This will make a huge list of keywords you can by using the copy link next to “Keyword”.
Check Search Volume
While this is a good starting point, it generally doesn’t tell you how many people are searching for these keywords each month.
There are a few tools that can help with this:
Search Volume lets you paste 800 keywords at a time to see how many people search for this phrase on average a month.
Keyword Surfer is a free tool/browser extension that adds keyword volume and keyword suggestions directly to every Google search you make.
But we’re going to use Google’s free Keyword Planner, which is the most accurate way to search for keyword volume because it’s based on Google’s own data.
Setting Up Your Keyword Planner Account
Unfortunately, Google makes you jump through a couple of hoops in order to access their free Keyword Planner. You should be able to click here > select Submit > Explore Keyword Planner to access the tool for free.
But if you’re having trouble, try these steps:
- Select New Google Ads Account
- At the bottom of the page, select the incredibly small Switch To Expert Mode button.
- At the bottom of the next page, select create an account without a campaign
- When it says confirm your business information, select Submit. (Note: This service is free – you’re not running ads, just using a free tool.)
- Select Explore Your Account
- In the top right corner, select the gear icon with SETTINGS underneath and click Switch To Expert Mode
Now that you’re in the Keyword Planner, click “Get search volume and forecasts” at the top of the screen.
Now, we have to set up the page in a way that the data is useful.
Want to do a deeper dive into this subject? These resources will help:
- How to get local keyword volume
- Local Keywords: 3 Steps for Finding Keywords for Local Search
- Complete Google Keyword Planner Tutorial Step-By-Step
We’ve just covered a lot of information, so don’t worry if you still feel a bit overwhelmed. We promise that if you take the time to learn the information we’ve covered above, are willing to put in the effort, and are willing to be patient, you’ll be able to start getting the most out of your keywords in no time. Remember, keywords (falling under SEO) are a long term game, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. Want more information on how to tackle SEO? Head over to our SEO Playbook.
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