I’d like to take a shot at answering your question. I have many years of experience with SEO and content marketing, so I think my insight can help you.
If you do keyword research right, the rest of your campaign becomes extremely, extremely streamlined.
On the other hand, if you skip keyword research, you’re probably going to end up setting your site up in a weird way.
It will not be optimized properly. Your URL structure will not be in tune. Your titles, keywords, and other stuff will be screwed up.
Now, at some point you could go back and fix it. In all honesty, that’s what most people have to end up doing anyway.
Most people dive right in when they first start a website. They want to get it up and running and hopefully making money someday.
If you take the time to focus on keyword research before building your website, you’ll have a significant advantage and save yourself a tremendous amount of time later on.
Since most people already have websites, they often have to go back and make these changes or start all over again from scratch.
Nobody wants to start over from the beginning!
Perform Keyword Research like it’s a Brand-New Site Even If Your Website Already Exists
Updating your website, doing 301 redirects, and trying to make it really good are important next steps.
Let’s assume that you are ready for keyword research at this point.
Identify the Goals of Your Outcome
There are a handful of goals to consider. A local business owner has to identify what his or her main service (the most important services that your business offers) keyword is, and if you have more than one main service, you need to discover the main keyword for all of these services.
Example: Medical Group
If you are a partner in a medical group that offers many different services, you’ll have to discover all of the main service keywords.
Some examples that immediately spring to mind include: primary care, gynecology, gastrointestinal, ear nose and throat, etc.
Each main service mentioned is its own unique category. And each area of care will have different specialists, different patients, so technically you are providing different services even though they all fall under the umbrella of a medical group.
Since each specialty is a different service, you’ll need a unique page for each one of them.
Continuing on with our local business example:
If you are a local business, you need to identify sub keywords for each one of those services.
If one of your main specialists is in the gastrointestinal field, a sub keyword could be IBS, or Crohn’s disease, or sub keywords based on other reasons why people would visit this type of doctor.
And if the specialty is primary care, some sub keywords could be yearly checkup, or yearly prostate exam, or blood test, or other reasons why your patients come to visit you.
Local keyword research is all about understanding the different ways of saying the same thing, when it comes to your industry, how each main service specialty connects together, and how to link these pages together in a way that makes sense to search engine robots as well as actual people.
As a local business, you need to keep this mindset when it comes to keyword research.
If you are a Jack of all trades like Amazon, be aware that you have your work cut out for you.
With e-commerce sites, we are talking about primary category and subcategory.
Example: Modern Appliances Company
Some of the products being sold on this site could be bathroom sinks, kitchen sinks, bathroom faucets and kitchen faucets as examples.
Ultimately, you have to identify your main product categories. And from this point, you have to decide how you want to set up the URL structure on your page.
You can have a “modern bathrooms” button on your website. And then have subcategories including sinks, faucets, toilets, and other subcategories that you’ve identified.
Now that you’ve gone through this initial thought process, you have a base that you can use to begin your keyword research.
If you have a software company, or provide services nationwide, you can follow a very similar keyword research structure.
First, you have to determine what your main service is and that’s what you’ll use as your focal point for the homepage.
But you may also have subcategories that you’d like to focus on as well, and in this case you’ll have to create a page around each group of topics.
Take a look at the examples that are already part of this answer to see what I mean.
Now that you have your foundation in place, you can begin using some good keyword research tools.
Keyword Research Tools
There are a bunch of different keyword research tools. Since each of these tools may vary with their data points, let’s take a look at some of my favorite tools now:
- Google keyword planner
- Google auto suggest
- Google related keywords
Personally, these are my five favorite keyword tools.
Google Keyword Planner
First off, if you aren’t paying for Google Adwords, you aren’t going to get all the data. So add five bucks to your account and spend it on a small campaign. This way you’ll open up full access to this keyword tool.
To get the most from this tool, you want to put in your general keywords.
As a plumber, you’re putting in the word plumbers.
Next, you click search. At this point, Google is going to give you two tabs.
The two tabs are: exact keywords and keyword groups.
Personally, I like looking at keyword groups.
Why? I like it because it gives variations and LSI keywords.
It will tell you that people search for plumber, plumbing repair, sewer repair, drain cleaning, gas pipe repair, clogged toilets and all of the other related keywords.
This valuable information will give you an idea of how to structure your page.
As a local plumber, you make the homepage relevant for plumber terms in whatever city you are located in.
And then you’ll create each service page.
You might have a sewer repair page, a page for 24/7 emergency services, a page for leak repairs, fixture replacements, and much more.
Each one of these pages should have unique content.
Under all of these sub keywords, you’ll find even more keywords.
Google Auto Suggest
On the Google search engine, type in the word plumber.
The search engine itself will provide you with results. You want to gather these results and use them as a starting point for your website.
Google suggests these keywords because they see other people typing them. So it makes sense to attempt to optimize your website for them since they are the keyword phrases that Google associates with plumbers.
Google Related Keywords
And at the bottom of the results on Google, you’ll see a section of keywords that people also might search for.
You’ll see some results like plumber near me, plumber reviews, plumber work, plumber job description etc.
You can keep clicking on each one of these searches and go as far down the rabbit hole as you can. This will amass a ton of keyword data that you can use to help develop the keyword plan for your upcoming or current website.
This keyword tool is a personal favorite of mine. I like it because it actually crawls through the web and it’s even its own rank tracker.
One of the best ways to use it is to Google your main keyword. We will stick with our plumbing example, so Google: plumber NJ.
On page 1, you’ll see three or four local competitor websites popping up in the results.
Copy the URLs of those competitors and paste them into Ahrefs in Site Explorer and then click on the area where it’s says keywords.
Interestingly, once you click on keywords you’ll see all of the keywords that your competitors ranking for. This is valuable data to mine since they are your direct competitors.
You’ll see their keywords, you’ll see the search volume, and now it’s your turn to decide whether or not you want to rank for those particular keyword phrases.
This keyword tool is very similar to Ahrefs.
You can do the same thing, put in your competitors, see where they rank and what keywords they rank for, and then use this data to make a list to build your plumber website around.
Combining All of Your Data
Now that you have all of this valuable keyword research data, you have to combine it all up and put it into an architecture like I had previously talked about.
Some of the keyword data will be used for your main service pages and landing pages. Other keywords are going to be used as topics for blog posts.
The biggest thing to remember is you have to focus on topics. Don’t try to make one article for every keyword. You want to make one big article for tightly related topics and sprinkle in multiple keywords throughout.
That’s about it for keyword tools and keyword research. I hope you found this information valuable and helpful.
Please use it the next time you have to build or fix a website.