One of the major foundations of SEO services is keyword research. It encompasses a good portion of every SEO professional’s time. To the untrained eye, you may think “What’s the big deal? I already know the keywords I need for my website.” The truth is that’s never enough. You have to be able to evaluate potential keywords in order to determine which ones are the best fit for your SEO strategy. Learn how to find keywords for your business website by learning the evaluation process that’s involved.
It’s a detailed process but when you understand the rationale and purpose, it becomes easier to understand the methodology. This article provides a glimpse into the process for uncovering new keywords and is performed on a daily basis for our clients.
Primary goals are established
There are a few different ways how to find keywords for your website and business. The bottom line for any keyword selection is that hits all points in the following criteria:
The keyword must present value to your business
This aspect of keyword selection could mean that your keyword serves a purpose on one of three levels:
- The keyword is being used to find businesses like yours by potential customers
- The keyword is being searched by existing clients to help them further understand your product or service.
- The keyword represents searches being made by users in a specific stage of the buyer’s journey.
When a business is first starting SEO or the website is fairly new, we focus on keywords closer to the point where clients are ready to make a decision. We develop service/product pages that convert so whenever someone lands on your website, the core pages are guiding them to making a call or filling out a contact form. It should be the primary goal of every website, but also the top priority in your timeline.
From here, we develop more content that expands the sales funnel. Depending on your business, we might move up the funnel and develop content that targets buyers with intent. See the image above for the type of content assets used at this stage.
Some business models may require us to develop content that maintains your current clients. These are the most valuable assets to your business since you have already gained their trust.
Are you wondering how to find keywords that serve this purpose? Developing a website that addresses their questions and concerns makes their experience with your brand more enjoyable. This in turn makes them more likely to stay loyal and make repeat purchases or return to use your services.
By establishing your goals and the timeline of managed expectations, we formulate your SEO strategy. It all starts with your keyword strategy.
How do we find the best keywords for your business?
The process of digging up the best keywords is done in a number of ways. We have brainstorming sessions, use software, and spy on your competition to get a good sense of what search phrases to target.
It begins with you
You may be surprised to learn that some of the best clues to keywords are given by simply talking to you, the client. Through conversations about the business, your clients, how your system works, the challenges faced and so forth, we get a better understanding of how to target your ideal audience.
A deeper understanding of your business and industry gives us more insight to find those who are a) specifically looking for your business (buyer in the decision phase) and b) those that are looking but have no idea that they’re looking for you! (those in the awareness phase of the buyer’s journey).
With a more intimate knowledge of how your client searches and the common problems they face, we develop targeted content that they are searching for specifically.
We generate hundreds of options
Common sense will naturally dictate a quick list of what we call “seed keywords.” Based on our discussions we will plug keywords into a keyword tool to generate hundreds, if not thousands of keywords.
We sort the results and prioritize selections based on the following technical criteria:
- Adequate search volume
- Commercial value (cost per click)
- Keyword difficulty
It’s not uncommon to scan through a thousand keywords by filtering the results and plucking the very best out of the pile. Eventually, we develop a list of the crème de la crème and move on to the next step.
Establish true search intent
Basing keyword selection strictly on technical data is a common rookie mistake. Whenever you find a good keyword, you have to search for it on Google to establish the true search intent. This is the true test of finalizing a search phrase once they’ve passed the technical requirements.
User intent or search intent is what the user wants to see as their final destination. Here is a good example of the subtle change in intent between two keywords.
For example, when you type “repair my water heater” in Google the results in the top 5 positions are blog posts on extremely high authority websites (would take years to beat them), followed by videos on “how to repair a water heater”
The intent of this search phrase is obviously informational.
By adjusting the search phrase to “water heater repair Plano”, the results now show commercial intent. This keyword represents bottom-of-the-funnel users searching for a company to repair their water heater in Plano.
The first indicator is that the local 3-pack shows up. This automatically means there are businesses offering water heater repair services.
The second indicator is that organic results are filled with the same. There are directories with lists of companies who offer water heater repair as well as local companies whose websites are ranking for the term water heater repair Plano.
If you’re in the HVAC or plumbing business, this keyword is going to land you some new clients who have broken water heaters and NOT callers that are looking to learn HOW to repair broken water heaters. You can click here for more on HVAC SEO for contractors.
We spy on your competition
Have you heard that SEOs spy on your competition before? It’s one of the best ways how to find keywords that are already working for successful websites. Once we’ve established a target keyword, we analyze the top 10 websites that rank on the first page of Google. For every website we find, we evaluate its content, backlinks, on-page optimization, and site structure to produce a page that outperforms that at every level.
If you haven’t read it yet, the two most important ranking factors in SEO are content and backlinks. You can rank any page to the top of Google if you have better content and higher quality backlinks than your competitors (on-page counts for a great deal but good content will automatically suggest target keywords to Google).
This is why we spend so much time evaluating keywords. For every keyword we target, we have to be sure that we can acquire the same quality and quantity of backlinks.
We also need to make sure that if a page is ranking with a 2000-word service page, we have something comparable to beat it with. If your current service page is 300 words, Google is looking at two very different pages.
In this situation, we need to increase the depth of detail being used to make your page more meaningful.
If your page doesn’t rank on the first page-we adopt whatever is working for other websites to get you there.
Keyword research is the foundation of SEO
Many clients think that once we’ve got a few keywords figured out, that’s it. The truth is, we are evaluating keywords ALL THE TIME!
We’re looking at new search terms to bring in more visitors that are at a specific stage of the buyer’s journey.
We’re evaluating the competition to see what pages are ranking for them.
- Where are they making their money?
- How are they funneling in potential clients?
- What websites are linking to them to give them their first-page appearance?
The process is ongoing. As long as you want to keep growing your business, we will keep researching new ways to bring you more clients.
It is our hope that you now how a fuller understanding of how to find keywords for your website. If you have questions, leave us a message via the form below. You can also call us anytime to see what keyword opportunities are waiting for you!
Christian Carere heads the SEO team here at Austin Bryant Consulting. After building an SEO agency in Toronto (Digital Ducats Inc.) Christian was hired by founder Keith Hunn who has created a full-service digital marketing agency in Plano, TX. Christian has been published on Search Engine Watch, Venngage, Small Biz Daily, Grasshopper, Data Box, Socialnomics, and Mention.