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Keyword Research for Small Businesses

Posted by Christian Stack on Monday, March, 20th, 2017 at 2:07 pm

How To Perform Effective Keyword Research

Keyword research is an important part of any online marketing campaign, whether it’s PPC advertising or SEO efforts for your site. Doing effective keyword research is essential, and is something that any business owner should have some knowledge of.  Today I’m going to detail some tactics and tools to use while doing keyword research for your local business.

Tools For Keyword Research

There are a lot of tools out there to use when doing your keyword research, and some of them are better than others for sure.  They all basically offer the same features. At the very basic, they provide you with search volume (how many people are searching for a keyword every month on average) and some will also give you a competitiveness score based on how competitive keywords are for a PPC campaign. This competitive score doesn’t directly apply to how competitive a keyword would be for SEO campaigns, but it can give you some idea.  Some tools you just put in your list of keywords and they generate this info for you. Some other tools give this option but will also generate suggestions of other keywords with the above info provided as well.  This can be very helpful when you know what type of keyword you want to target but are having trouble brainstorming a full list.  I am going to discuss a couple of my favorite tools to use.

Google Adwords Keyword Planner

This is the old standby and is still arguably the best keyword planner tool available. In the summer of 2016, Google made access to this a little harder.  To use this tool, you have to now have an AdWords account, which is free to sign up for, but you don’t have to actually spend money on ads or run any ads with Google. Since this info is coming directly from the source (Google) I still think it’s one of the best to use. This tool give you both options of putting your list in alone, or putting a list in and getting suggestions provided as well.

This is a great completely free tool. It’s pulling the same info that that Google’s planner provides, and also gives you a list of suggested keywords to work with. For free tools that require no account, this is the best one I’ve found.

Keyword  Search Volume

The main thing you’re looking for when researching what keywords to target for your business is volume. Volume is important because it gives you an indication of what potential traffic a keyword can bring your site. It’s pretty simple… the more people searching for a term means more people that will potentially reach your site if you’re ranking for that term.

Another thing to consider about volume is how populated your area is as well as how computer savvy your customer base in your area is. If you’re in a major metropolitan area, like New York City or Los Angeles, you’re going to see a much higher search volume for your keywords than a more rural or less populated area. That being said, a keyword with higher search volume is still better than one with little to none, even if it’s less than a more populated area would have.

Variations of Keywords

When doing keyword research, it’s important to look at different variations of keywords. For example, “Denver plumber” might have different search volume than “plumber Denver” and so on, so it’s very important to make sure you’re looking at all different ways someone might search for your service. This is where the keyword suggestion portion of the tools can come in very handy as there might be different variations that you didn’t think of that they suggest.

Keyword Intent

This is also in the same vein as keyword variations. You want to make sure that you’re targeting keywords that have the right intent behind them. For example, someone searching “bathroom plumbing” or “fix my toilet” could very likely just be a DIY type person that wants to learn how to fix their plumbing or their toilet.  However if someone is searching for “bathroom plumber” or “toilet repair plumber” they are much more likely to actually be looking for someone to come work on their plumbing or toilet and are therefore more likely to pick up the phone and pay for your services.


When doing keyword research, you also want to make sure to look at different geo-modifiers. A geo-modifier is simply adding a location or city name to a keyword. So for example, “plumbing services” with a geo-modifier would be “plumbing services Denver”.  You are much more likely to get people in your area if you’re using your area in the keyword you’re targeting. Often, keywords with a geo-modifier get lower search volume, but since they are targeted to your area it is higher quality search traffic. One other thing to consider when using a geo-modifier is what people in your area call the area around. An example would be Orange County in California. As well as using town names, people do search for keywords with “Orange County” in them as well.

What The Outcome Should Be

If you’ve done your keyword research correctly, you will end up with a list of targeted keywords with the right intent and the higher available search volume. Coming up with a list of 100+ keywords is typically something you would do for a PPC campaign. For SEO, you want to make sure that you’re using a more streamlined list. Shooting for roughly 30-40 keywords is typically sufficient for most local service area businesses. The best keywords to target again are the ones with higher search volume, the right intent and targeted to your area.

Check out the Flip Chart Friday for This Topic!

Now that you know what to look for and how to perform your keyword research, go forth and conquer!  If you have any questions about keyword research or how to use any of these tools, feel free to email me at [email protected] or fill out our contact form!



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