Keyword Research: The Basics

keyword research

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, “keyword stuffing” would get you somewhere. You paid a poor, overworked copywriter a fraction of a penny per word to see exactly how many times they could insert the phrase “television repair in Tennessee” in a 500-word blog post and hope you landed somewhere near the top of Google search rankings.

News flash: That doesn’t work anymore. True keyword research matters.

As the internet continues to evolve, so does Google’s algorithms. And while none of us really know what those are on any given day, the fact remains that to get noticed, you have to use relevant, natural keywords — which brings us to keyword research.

Keyword research is the art and science of figuring out exactly which queries your would-be customers are using to find your small business. Here are the steps you need to take.

Keyword Research: 3 Quick Steps

Step 1: Brain Dump

To start your keyword research, ask yourself this:

If people wanted to find you, which search terms would they use? If they needed more information on one of your products or services, what keywords would they use to find it?

Make a list of everything your small business does. Broad topics are OK at this stage; we’ll narrow them down later.

If you own a lawn care service, for instance, your list might look something like this:

  • Hedging
  • Mowing
  • Topiaries
  • Stump removal
  • Sod installation
  • Weed removal

This is a great start. Unfortunately, there are thousands of other lawn care services which offer the same things, and Googling “stump removal” returns 26,200,000 results. So now, we need to refine our list.

Step 2: Trim It Down

Broad topics are fine and dandy sometimes. But if you’re hoping to get a spot above the fold in the search rankings, you’re going to have to be a bit more specific. So for the next step of keyword research, try to break down each topic you came up with during the first step into smaller, more precise pieces.

For example, the subtopic list for topiaries might include:

  • Best topiary plants
  • Interesting topiary shapes
  • Topiary pricing
  • DIY topiaries
  • Topiary care

Now we’re cooking with fire. It’s a lot easier to rank for a specific keyword or phrase than for a broad one.

Stuck on subtopics? Enter a broad search query and check out the related searches on Google for inspiration.

Step 3: See How Each Topic Is Performing

Now that you have a list of both broad and narrow keywords, it’s time to figure out how they stack up against the masses. To do this, you’ll need to employ a keyword research tool.

You might already have one included in your existing social media or marketing software. If not, free tools like Google Keyword Planner, BuzzSumo or UberSuggest will do the trick.

Keyword research tools will show you things like SEO difficulty, search volume, historical trends and other important insights on your topic. They also will provide alternate keywords or phrases and show you how they compare to yours.

While the inclination tends to be to flock toward the keywords with the most hits, there’s something to be said for the not-so-popular keywords, too: Namely, there’s less competition for them.

Once you have a few fantastic keywords picked out, you can craft your blog posts and paid ads around them — no keyword stuffing required!

It’s Time to Use Your Words!

If you want to be a conversation-starter, you have to speak the same language as your target audience — and keyword research is the best way to accomplish that goal!

Do you need some assistance finding the words that will have customers flocking to your door? Let Mischa Communications be your own personal thesaurus. How can we help?