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by Dr. Ty Belknap
What is SEO?
Google is constantly changing the way they index the internet (algorithm updates for you techy-nerds). And now they are starting to concentrate on local search results . This update means it is even more important to do one specific thing: Keyword research.
Yes, the need is more important, but the way you do keyword research for SEO hasn’t changed luckily.
What is SEO Keyword Research?
Using keywords was a lot easier (and easier to hack) back in 2002 when Google first came out. If a person were good enough, they could get a web site to the top of the search engines for any keyword, even if it had nothing to do with the web site. This was also what’s known as a “black-hat” technique.
Today, the process of researching keywords is more sophisticated and more difficult. . . in some ways. But it’s actually easier in other ways. The term “keyword research” is simply how you would find and evaluate what people put into a search bar when they are looking for your products or services.
You can develop your entire content or marketing strategy off what you learn from your keyword research.
Why is keyword research important?
SEO has evolved a great deal over the last 25 years, but so has the Internet. It’s wasn’t as difficult to get found when there were only one hundred thousand web sites around the world. Today there are over a Billion web sites and it grows every day and many of these web sites are competing for the same keywords.
So, the more you can define the keywords for your business or organization, the more likely you will get onto page one of the search engines for those keywords.
But it’s not just the keywords, it’s the content of the web site that makes the biggest difference. Keyword research is step one. It tells you what your audience is looking for and how many people are looking for it. You may have a keyword you want, but is it worth taking the time to develop it if only 10 people per month look for it? Maybe, if you have an architect company but probably not if you sell bubble gum.
Hopefully now you see the importance of keyword research. It’s different for every Tacoma organization and every type of Tacoma company.
For instance, Boeing sells airplanes and they are a Puget Sound company. They employ many people in the area. Would they want to research small plane keywords for hobbyists? As far as I know, they mostly make very large airplanes for the major airlines. Cesna may want to market the leisure flying crowd, but Boeing would want to market airlines.
You want to look at several criteria when researching keywords, such as:
- Search volume
- Cost per click
Search volume will tell you how many people search for that particular keyword each month. As I mentioned above, you may not want a keyword that only has 10 people looking for it each month if you sell bubble gum. But Boeing would go gangbusters if they got 10 new clients per month.
Cost per click (CPC) is an indication of how popular the term is. A keyword could have a high search volume, but not be popular as far as paid advertising. CPC for a search term like “android” may be $3, but “android find my phone” could be less than 20 cents (even though over 60,000 people look for this keyword each month).
Competition will tell you how difficult it may be to get your web site to the top of the search engines with that keyword. The more competition, the more difficult (and possibly expensive) it could be.
Intent can be the easiest or more difficult. Maybe a personal experience will help show this. I wanted to be at the top of search engines for the keyword “SEO” and that sounds right, doesn’t it? But most people that just type “SEO” are looking for help to do it themselves. The keyword intent was wrong. I figured out a better keyword would be “SEO company” after doing the proper research.
How is keyword research affected by intent?
As I showed above, intent can make a big difference in keyword research. It not only will help you rank better in the search engines, but it will more likely get you in front of people that most likely want your products and services.
Don’t just use keywords you think your customers would use. You are working in your business every day, day in and day out. They keywords you would think of may not be the keywords your customers really use. Or, they may be keywords that worked in the past but are not as effective today. For instance, 10 years ago people would more likely look for a “Tacoma attorney.” Today, “Tacoma lawyer” is more popular. One small change could put you in front of hundreds or thousands of more likely prospects.
Below is a process you can use to better research keywords. This will help you with your keyword and marketing strategy.
How to research proper SEO keywords for marketing stragegy
Step 1: What topics are your business about?
What topics define your business? A plumber may have topics like:
- Plumber (300,000)
- Water heater (135,000)
- Sump pump (110,000)
- Water leak repair (9,900)
- Toilet repair (6,600)
- Toilet clog (22,000)
- Drain cleaning (40,500)
The numbers in parenthesis are how many times that keyword is searched for each month (called monthly search volume). There is a big difference in search volume among these first keywords. That information can tell you how popular a search term is, but don’t automatically go for the largest keyword. A keyword with a smaller search volume could help you more (I’ll explain in a bit).
Think of each of these as a main topic.
Step 2: Create sub-topics for each main topic (refine your keywords).
Think of each of these first keywords as a main topic and come up with sub-topics for each.
- Plumber (your city name)
- Residential plumber
- Commercial plumber
- Water heater repair
- Water heater service
- Water heater replacement
You get the idea. Think of this as a sort of brain dump. It’s not meant for you to come up with your final keywords (although you may find some), it’s just to get the juices flowing.
Trick 1: Ubersuggest. Ubersuggest is a great free tool to find and refine keywords. Go to www.ubersuggest.com and type in a keyword. You may first see this screen. Click on “Keyword ideas” if you do.
HINT: You can also use Ubersuggest to find out what keywords your web site is currently getting found for. This will help if you are getting a high bounce rate (a lot of people come to your site but leave before taking any action). A high bounce rate means that people could be finding you for the wrong keywords.
Instead of a keyword, type your URL (www.tacomaseo.com , or your companies web site if you prefer) into Ubersuggest and it will show you all the keywords for which you are currently showing up in Google.
Rinse and repeat this process for all the keywords you find to see which would be best to use. And, if all else fails, contact current or past clients. Ask them what they would type in to find your product or service. If their keywords are different from yours, throw yours away. They are the client and your target market.
Step 3: Do some research on similar terms.
You may have already thought of this, but no biggie if you didn’t. There is a lot to go through. Here’s another hint: Type your keywords into Google. You should find something like “people also ask” or “related searches” on the page, like this:
Next, click on those to see their related search terms, but don’t go down the rabbit hole too far or you might get lost.
Step 4: Check for a mix in the length of keywords (or keyphrases).
A keyword was one word in the past, but not so much anymore. Longer keywords are sometimes called keyphrases or long-tail keywords. But some people just call them keywords. A Keyphrase or long-tail keyword is a keyword that usually has 3 or more words in it. For instance, instead of Plumber, “Tacoma Residential Plumber” would be a long-tail keyword or keyphrase.
Keywords with just one word (like plumber) and generally more difficult for search engine optimization. But you may not want to rank for a keyword like that anyway. If you are a plumber in Tacoma, WA, would you want someone from Panama City, Florida to contact you? That would be a long drive to clean a drain.
Even national companies can do better with keyphrases than keywords. A company selling backpacks could sell them across the world, but it would be a big advantage to start locally with people who know, like and trust you.
And it’s easier to get your web site to the top of the search engines (good SEO) with keyphrases than it is keywords because there’s less competition. This could get you customers quicker. But here’s the real kicker. If you were to try to get to the top of the search engines with “Tacoma SEO company,” that keyphrase will automatically also be seen as “SEO company” by the search engines. So, you are “coding” for the longer and shorter keywords at the same time.
Step 5: Check the competition
Ubersuggest (do you get the feeling that I really like this? It is very robust for a free tool) will show you the same things about your competition as it does for you. Instead of your company URL, type the competitions into Ubersuggest and find out what keywords they are ranking for. Not sure who your competition is? Want to guess what tool to use to find out? Type a keyphrase (like “Tacoma residential plumber”) into Ubersuggest. Then click on the Keyword Ideas tab and look on the right side. Like magic, there’s your competition. Click on their name, scroll down a bit, and you should see what keywords they rank for.
But don’t assume your competition is smart. Don’t just copy their keywords and paste them to your site. Do your homework to make sure they are keywords you want to use. This list can help you, but it can also help you see how well your competition is doing.
The best keywords are those that are already on your list and are also on your competition’s list. But there could be great keywords your competition just doesn’t know about, and those are gold for you.
Step 6: Use Ubersuggest to trim your keyword list.
Yep, Ubersuggest can even do this. It was much more difficult, and cost a whole lot more money, to do all this before Ubersuggest. Neil Patel (my new best friend, even though he doesn’t know I exist) recently gave this tool to the world, and we are better off for it.
I’ve already shown you how to use Ubersuggest to look up your company and keywords. You don’t need much more than that to trim you list. But here are some quick tips for the Keyword Ideas page:
- Look at SD. The right column of the Keyword Ideas area shows the SD (SEO Difficulty). This is how difficult it would be to get that keyword onto page one. Any keyword above 25 would be difficult for a novice (but remember, you can always contact us for help).
- Check Est Visits. On the left side, where your competition is, you will find Est. Visits. This is the estimated volume of people that visit your competitors for this keyword. You want to find as low of an SD score along with as high of an Est. Visits score that you can.
Guess what ... You're done!
That wasn’t quite as bad as having teeth pulled, was it? If it was, contact the Tacoma SEO company of Port Bell, we will be happy to help you in any way we can.
Take care and have a fantastic day!