How to do Keyword Research

In the beginners guide to digital marketing, we layout 10 (plus one bonus) points of how to get your digital marketing campaigns started.  How to do keyword research is a crucial part to getting your content ranked online.  In this post, we will walk through 5 simple steps on how to do keyword research.

To get our prospective customers to be able to find us on the search engines, we need to be able to “tell” google about our website, what it contains and who it would best serve.

Google’s main priority is great user experience.  When a user types in a search term into google search, google want to deliver the best user experience possible by serving up the most relevant and highest quality results.  This is determined by Google’s ever changing algorithm.

Over the years, people try to manipulate Google’s algorithms but they almost always lose out.  You are better off sticking to the idea that to rank highly in google, write great quality content that people want to link to and deliver a great user experience.

And this starts with keyword research

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is the process of researching what your prospective customers search for on google when they are searching for your product or service

This can include short tail keywords e.g. plumber or long tail keywords e.g female plumber in north bristol.  What you’ll find is it will be difficult to rank for shorter tail keywords as depending on your niche, they can be very competitive.  Particularly if they have a high search term.  So what you can do is research more longer tail keywords which may have less traffic but also have less competition so therefore will be much more achievable to rank for.

Long tail keywords can also include questions that your prospective customers type in to search online so we can use these in our blog posts on our websites, as titles or as focus keywords.  We’ll cover on page SEO strategy in a separate post.  So now, we’ll think about how to do keyword research.

STEP 1: Start with coming up with your root keywords for your home page and product/service pages

Lets use an example.  Dave Smith owns a plumbing company in Bristol, UK.  He has a website and wants to start appearing in searches when customers search for a plumber.  Now, he thinks that his customers are searching for "Plumber in Bristol" when they go to google.  Its a guess but a good place to start.  To come up with lots of keyword ideas, Dave heads to Keyword Sheeter and enters his best guess keyword in.

From this free tool, Dave will get hundreds of keyword ideas

Dave then heads to Wordstreams free keyword research tool to see what search volumes his keyword generate on a monthly basis

Here is what the search turns up...

Doing this initial search has turned up an interesting keyword.  "Emergency Plumber in Bristol" or "local plumber in Bristol" maybe good keywords to look to rank for a local plumbing business.

STEP 2: Research your product/service keywords

So Dave has settled on "Emergency Plumber in Bristol" for the root keyword so he'll optimise his home page to rank for that term.  But plumbing is not the only thing that Daves business does.  He also installs bathrooms and is also a gas engineer.  And he has pages on his website that promotes these services.  So he'll repeat that same process by starting off with a best guess like "(Product/Service) in (City)" and enter it into word stream.

You'll see he entered "Bathroom fitter Bristol" but people are actually searching for "Bathroom installers Bristol".  170 searches a month.  As Dave is a small business, that will provide him with a nice pipeline of business.

Now, gas engineers bristol came up on a previous search, with 210 monthly searches, so we can re-enter that into wordstream to see if we can get any more relevent keywords.  When we do that, this is what we get 

From this, we can get a good handle on the terms that we would like our products/services pages to rank for.  But it doesn't stop there.  Because customers aren't as well behaved as we'd like them to be.  They search for topics and services by asking questions and typing abstract search terms.  As we covered in the beginners guide to digital marketing customers search terms will be different if they are in the awareness, engagement, enquiry or acquisition phase.  So now we need to consider long tail keywords

STEP 3 - Check "People also ask" on google

Dave then types in one of his service page keywords in to google "Gas engineer bristol".  He scrolls about halfway down the page and finds a section that looks a little like this:

These are questions that Daves prospective customers are asking.  So Dave is going to consider putting an FAQ section of the service page, and/or an FAQ page that answers these questions.  These also make great blog/video/social media content too.

This is a good start, but Dave wants to know more, so he's using the free version of answer the public.  This is a social listening tool that gives you insight in what people are saying about the industry you are in.

This is then going to give Dave a visualisation of what kinds of questions his customers are asking online.  Some will be irrelevent but there will be so real opportunities in here too

Dave can take this data and form a content marketing strategy.  If his customers are already searching for this information, having content ranking for both short tail and long tail keywords will be beneficial for generating relevent site traffic.

STEP 4: Spy on your competitors and see what they rank for

Being a bit sneaky, Dave wants to know what his competitors are ranking for, so he heads to Ubersuggest (a free SEO tool) to find out.

He has googled "Emergency plumber bristol", scrolled past the ads and found the number one organically ranked site, copied the URL and pasted it into Ubersuggest search bar

This turns up some great results, here is what dave finds out what keywords this site ranks for...

So, we've learned what our top competitor is ranking for but we've also discovered some new keywords that we could create separate pages for.  Also Dave thought that "Plumber in Bristol" would be his top keyword whereas "Plumbers Bristol" generates a whopping 2900 monthly searches!  There are other factors at work here, site size, architecture, on page, technical and banklinks to name a few but by completing this step, Dave knows what he needs to beat.

STEP 5 - Get organised

Dave needs to create a spreadsheet with a list of the pages, page URL and the keywords he wants that page to rank for.  Once he has this ready, he can get started with his on page SEO campaign to start ranking for these keyword

Questions?  Leave us a comment below

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