Keyword research is one of the foundational elements to any successful SEO campaign.
Whether you are working with Pay Per Click (PPC) ads or organic SEO, keywords are important. Understanding what your audience is searching for allows you the opportunity to get your website, products, or services. in front of them.
For me personally, keyword research is the first step of the process for any new client I am either working with or consulting for. I need to have an understanding of what they are “optimizing” for. Sometimes I have a good idea what they should rank for based on previous experience. For example, I’ve worked with a number of dentists on their SEO, so I have a general understanding of what they should rank for.
How does keyword research work?
If you read across the web, there are thousands of articles that explain to you how to do keyword research. Some claim that they offer the “the ultimate guide to keyword research” or “the best keyword research guide ever.” While some of these titles may be relevant (and true), getting started with keyword research doesn’t need to be that difficult. My biggest concern is for people to get overwhelmed with the process and never get started.
I have read hundreds of articles around keyword research and even taken courses from some of the most well-known SEOs in the world. You can make keyword research as challenging and intense as you want. In this article, I want to teach you how to get started with keyword research.
Learn from your competition
The first step for me with any client is to identify who their main competitors are. I don’t need too many examples, just the top 2-3 competitors. From here, I am able to gather a lot of very valuable information from these existing websites. From them, I can find out what is currently working and where we are falling short. Let me give you an example.
Simple keyword research example
Let’s say my new client wants to compete for SEO in Charlotte, NC. The first thing I would do is get an idea of who their main competitors are. If, for some reason, they didn’t know who their competition was, I would need to gather some additional information.
I may ask them “What would someone search for if they were trying to find you online?”. From there, I am able to go to Google myself and search for the term(s) and find out who their competitors are.
So, here we go….
If you enlarge the picture, you can see who the top 3-5 firms are for the term “seo charlotte”. This is showing me who my competition is.
Okay, great! So now what?
Woah, slow your horses! I will show you what to do.
First, I am going to click on that top search result, Charlotte SEO Firm. All I want to do is copy and URL and go to SEMRush.com. This is an amazing paid tool that allows you to discover a lot of very valuable SEO information. The good news is that they also allow you to see some information for free. In this case, that is what I am doing to do.
After clicking “Start Now” you will be redirected to a new page with a lot of information. Yes, it can be overwhelming, but I am going to show you what to do next. We are going to look along the left side of the screen and find “Organic Research”.
After clicking that it will take you to another page which displays only organic SEO/research. This is what we want to focus on in this specific scenario. If you look at the middle of the screen, there is some very valuable information here.
What this is telling me (for free) is the top 10 keywords that this website is currently ranking for.
Wait, are you kidding me? I can do all of that for free?!!!
Yes, that is right. You can do all of that for free.
From looking at this list, I can see that these are some keyword phrases that I want to focus on:
- charlotte seo
- charlotte seo company
- seo charlotte
- seo company charlotte nc
- charlotte seo servivces
- charlotte seo firm
With this list I can see that there are a lot of consistencies here. Every single search term is related to “seo charlotte”. That makes complete sense, because this is what we searched for and this is what this website ranks for.
What that tells me is that there are a good number of people that search for SEO services and companies in Charlotte, NC. In fact, if you look a bit closer, you will see that the FREE search actually gives you some estimates as to the volume of searches per month.
Now, these numbers are not exact, however, they will give you a general idea of the number of searches per month for these specific keywords. This is pure gold, and you can get this all for free!
What to do next
From looking at the list, I know that the best phrase I can rank for from this list is “charlotte seo”. That is obviously a very competitive term, however, it still gives me some foundation to get started with.
In the next article I am going to talk about some additional keyword research tools and also implementing these keywords onto your website.