As time passes, many of the concepts of running a small business remain the same. You need to bring in new customers and maintain existing ones, regardless of what products or services you have to offer.
In the past, if you wanted to catch the attention of prospective customers that were looking for your products and services, you would often place an advertisement in the phone book. You might even purchase airtime on the radio and TV. And while some of these methods may still be a part of a company’s overall marketing plan, digital marketing has all but replaced traditional mediums like phonebook ads and newspaper ads. The foundation of solid digital marketing starts with optimizing your website for search engines (also known as search engine optimization, or SEO) by using relevant keywords.
While the process of identifying good keywords may seem daunting to some, the basics are actually quite simple. When keyword planning, your goal should be to rank highly on search engines like Google or Bing so that potential customers searching for specific topics that align with what your business offers are able to find you.
For example, let’s say you own a luxury consignment boutique in Seattle. Targeting keyword phrases like consignment boutique in Seattle and Seattle consignment store would make a lot of sense. By ranking near the top of the results on search engines, it increases the likelihood that whoever is conducting the search will probably visit your store.
Some businesses use broad keywords in their content, as well as more focused keywords. So, for example, if you have an ecommerce site that sells clothing, you may want to consider targeting a keyword phrase like fall fashion to cast a wider net, and then use fall fashion trends for women to target a smaller subset of potential new customers.
The rest of this guide is going to walk you through what goes into keyword planning, what the search engines actually look for when someone searches relevant keywords, and how to effectively target your keywords.
Check out The Small Business Guide to SEO
Why are keywords important for businesses?
People use Google 40,000 times every second to search for products, reviews, services, and answers to their questions. For most people, Google and other search engines like Bing or DuckDuckGo are the first places they go when they need to find something. In essence, search engines have become the new phonebooks. Instead of flipping through pages of services, people now browse pages of results for the search term they have entered.
If you don’t do proper keyword planning, you’re going to be working from a disadvantage.
If your competition appears first in the search results, then your website will receive less traffic from search engines. In fact, search results that appear on the first page of Google are estimated to earn as high as 92% of the clicks from the people who are conducting the search. That means as few as 8% of users take the time to click through to page two, and businesses that appear on later pages are competing for a much smaller pool of business.
But that’s not all. If you’re hoping to drive a lot of organic traffic to your website, you need to rank in one of the coveted top 3 spots. 62% of all clicks go to these top 3 search results. As such, it’s extremely important to optimize your website for search engines so that when people are conducting their searches, they can actually find you.
Proper keyword research is also important if you’re planning on running pay-per-click ads on Google, which are the listings that appear at the very top of the search results. After all, you probably don’t to be paying for ads that aren’t attracting people who are going to be interested in your products and/or services.
Are there different types of keywords?
Keywords can either be broad or targeted. A broad keyword is relevant to a number of different results and increases competition. This may seem like a negative at first but it’s important to note that broad keywords can be valuable. At the end of the day, you want to go where people are going, and if they are using broad search terms, then it’s imperative for you to target those terms.
An example of a broad keyword would be consignment boutique. Yes, ranking for such a broad term will be difficult, which is why you should use a combination of broad and targeted keywords in your strategy.
Targeted keywords are very specific to a product or service, and people who are using this particular keyword in their online searches have a very specific result that they are looking for. Targeted keywords have the benefit of less competition, as most businesses default to targeting broad search terms. One thing to keep in mind is that these targeted keywords also have much lower search volume. An example of a targeted keyword would be consignment store in Seattle, WA.
Search engine algorithms are improving daily, and are now able to piece together various terms to deliver more accurate and relevant search results, which is why using both broad and targeted keywords is so important.
There are also long-tail keywords and short-tail keywords. This simply has to do with the length of the search term you are targeting. A long-tail keyword tends to have 3 or more words, while a short tail keyword is very basic. An example of a short-tail keyword would be vintage Chanel handbag, while a long take keyword would be something like vintage black lambskin Chanel handbag.
See how much more specific the second one is?
Because it’s longer and very specific, the amount of search traffic it generates will be much lower. But, it will be easier to rank for, and the quality of traffic coming to your website as a result of such a specific search term will be of extremely high.
How do I identify good keywords for my business?
The easiest way to start identifying keywords is to simply sit down and write a list of keywords that relate to your business. This exercise shouldn’t take long, and you should be able to generate 10 to 20 relevant keywords and search terms relatively quickly. Using both broad and targeted keywords is a smart strategy. Broad searches will drive more traffic to your website, while more targeted keyword phrases are typically easier to rank for. The same thing goes for long-tail and short-tail keywords. Also, take some time to analyze your competition and how they are marketing themselves online.
One of the best (and most affordable) ways to do keyword research is to enter search terms and phrases into the search engines to see the results. This will reveal a lot about the keyword in question, like search intent and competition. If a massive Fortune 500 company appears in the top results for certain keywords, then it may be unrealistic for a small business to compete for the top result on that same keyword, and it’s probably best to avoid it. Let’s say you have an ecommerce business that sells running shoes. It’s reasonable to expect that brands like Nike and Adidas are going to own the top organic search spots. As a small business, you simply can’t compete with the budget these brands bring to the table, which is why it’s important to conduct basic research so that you know what competition looks like for certain keywords.
Basic research like this can be very revealing and, best of all, it doesn’t cost a single penny. But this really only scratches the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the number of resources that are available to help you identify the best keywords for your business.
How do I conduct keyword research in Adwords?
Google AdWords is a platform that allows people to buy ad placements on Google and other websites. And included in this platform is the Google Keyword Planner. This free keyword research tool pulls data directly from the world’s most popular search engine. Simply input a keyword or phrase to see how popular the term is, how much competition there is, and even how much other businesses are paying to appear at the top of search results for that specific keyword. Since the data comes directly from Google, you can get a good sense of the keywords that may be ripe for targeting.
What free keyword research tools are available?
Google Keyword Planner is one of the best free tools available.
Answer the Public is another quality tool that can take a simple, broad keyword like handmade jewelry and suggest a number of other related search terms using various questions and propositions that might be used along with that keyword. This can help identify popular long tail search terms that you may not have already thought of.
Suggestion Keyword Finder uses Google’s auto-fill suggestions to help you find more relevant search terms that you can target in the future. Enter your keyword and the tool will populate the 10 most popular auto-fill suggestions for that specific keyword. Again, this is a very easy tool to use that pulls valuable information right from Google.
What paid keyword research tools are available?
Jaaxy is a fantastic keyword research tool. Simply input a keyword and Jaaxy will suggest a number of related keywords or phrases that are relevant. Then, scroll through the list of results to see which keywords are actively being targeted by other businesses. There’s also a free 30-day trial, so that you can “try it before you buy it.”
Serpstat offers a free plan, but an upgraded subscription is where you’ll get the most value. It crams in tons of features into a single user interface, including keyword suggestions, content marketing help, difficulty ratings for keyword rankings, search volume, and competition. If you’re someone who liked to dig deep into data, Serpstat has plenty of it.
And last, but certainly not least, is KWFinder, a fantastic all-around tool with plenty of options available for keyword research. Their metrics help businesses analyze keywords to determine which ones will perform best. Like other tools, KWFinder can also suggest auto-fill search terms and related keywords, as well as display competition. All of this is packed into an easy-to-use tool that makes keyword planning feel simple and intuitive.
What are Google snippets?
Google Snippets appear at the top of Google’s search results, and show a small preview of content on a website that quickly answers a question about a specific term or phrase that someone is searching for. This is a fantastic place to look for high-quality, high-traffic keyword phrases. On average, long-tail keywords are more suited for snippets positions since Google’s algorithms are better able to find clear answers to these search terms in comparison to broad, short-tail search terms that will likely have many results.
The other great thing about Google Snippets is that once you have identified a keyword or phrase that lends itself to a short paragraph answer, you can craft content on your website to make it suitable for such a coveted spot on Google’s search results.
What makes for a good keyword?
A good keyword is a keyword or search phrase that has a high volume of searches, a buying intent, and little competition. This doesn’t mean you should completely avoid keywords that don’t meet all 3 criteria perfectly, but it’s a good general rule-of-thumb to follow.
For example, if you own a gaming store, you could start with a broad keyword like gaming accessories. The term is broad enough that people doing very general searches will be reached. Unfortunately, however, this may be a tough keyword phrase to rank highly for, which is why incorporating more focused, long tail keywords is also important. In this example, using a search term like programmable wireless gaming mouse will result in more targeted traffic coming to your website.
If you own a sporting goods store, you may want to target softball equipment as a broad keyword, along with a related long tail keyword like top softball gloves under $50.
Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to come up with broad terms and then build out lists of long-tail search terms based on the original broad keyword.
How do I choose the right keywords for my business?
Once a list of potential keywords has been identified, it’s time to vet it. To start, you’ll want to consider the search volume of the keywords you have identified. High search volume terms means people are frequently using those keywords in their searches. Often, high volume indicates more than 100,000 searches per month.
Low search volume means the term is not very popular amongst search engine users and will see very little searches per month. If very few people are actually searching for a specific word or phrase, some experts feel that there’s very little value to it since it won’t drive much traffic to your website. They argue that focusing on a keyword with low search volume is the equivalent to buying a billboard in the middle of nowhere. Others will tell you that using keywords with low search volume is an excellent strategy, since these keywords are easier to rank for and competition is lower, which means it’s easier to maintain a high ranking. The main caveat with this strategy is that you will need to target a lot of these low volume keywords to drive any respectable amount of traffic to your website.
Some keywords may surprise you when it comes to their search volume, and some that you would expect to be highly searched may not be popular, while more obscure keywords could actually prove to be quite popular.
You also need to understand the intent of the search. Let’s take a home improvement retailer, for example. New faucet installation is a specific keyword that focuses on a specific area of home improvement. What’s important to identify is what people are actually looking for when they use this search term. Luckily, this can easily be done by entering the term into Google and then seeing what types of results come back. Perhaps new faucet installation returns a large number of results for instructional videos and blogs, rather than products or services. This could indicate that people using this specific search term aren’t actually looking for a new faucet for their home, but instead want to learn how to do the installation themselves. These would not be the ideal people for you to target as they are unlikely to spend any money.
So, what are the best keywords to use?
The best keywords provide you with the best opportunity to rank near the top of search results with little competition to push you lower. Appearing as a result with an included snippet is another ideal quality to look for.
Here’s a good example. Let’s say that you own a golf pro shop, and your broad search term is golf apparel. After conducting a little research, you find that what to look for in good golf apparel is a great long-tail keyword phrase since it has good search volume and low competition. Plus, since it’s a question, there’s always the possibility of your answer being featured as a Google Snippet.
Identifying good keywords is only the first step in the process. Step 2 is your content.
How do I incorporate keywords into my content?
Now that you have identified good keywords for your business, it’s time to actually incorporate those keywords into your marketing strategy.
In order to rank well with the search engines, you’re going to need to create quality content. Web copy is the most basic form of content, and what people see on your homepage, as well as your products and/or services pages. Whenwriting the contentfor your website, be sure to incorporate keywords into your web copy to help your website rank highly for those keywords. As Google’s bots scrape the web to archive information, they will keep tabs on the terms used on your website and, if the your content is properly optimized for a specific search term that someone searches for, your website will rank higher in the results.
TIP: Don’t go overboard with jamming in your keyword as many times as possible. Simply incorporating the keyword three or four times per 500 words on a page should be sufficient. Write naturally and conversationally rather than trying to shoehorn content around your keyword.
You’ll also want to incorporate your keywords into blog articles that you write. Blogging is a great way to build trust and credibility, while simultaneously adding new pages to your website, which Google bots look upon favorably. No one truly knows exactly how Google’s algorithm works, but it currently tends to favor longer content. Paragraphs should be short and easily scannable, verses long blocks of text. Most importantly, content must be original and unique to your website.
Some experts say that creating engaging social media content can help you rank well in the search engines for certain keywords. More important than this, however, is the fact that popular social media sites like Facebook or Twitter use their own search algorithms to return the most relevant results to users. Naturally incorporating keywords into your social media content will make it easier for people to find you.
So, if you own a sports shop, and know that best baseball bats for teens is a popular search term, you may want to consider incorporating it upcoming social media posts. A good example post would be something like:
What are the best baseball bats for teens? Our reviewers put the hottest models of the season to the test!
A link to a relevant article on your website would help provide even more value to readers, and indicate to search engines that there is relevant content the original searcher may be interested in.
What are bad keyword strategies?
There are a few things things you’ll want to completely avoid when incorporating keywords into your content.
Many businesses make the mistake of doing something called “keyword stuffing.” What this means is that once they’ve identified a good keyword, they will use that keyword as much as possible to try and rank higher. This results in content that’s unnatural to read, which Google frowns upon since it makes for a terrible end reader experience. Google’s algorithm has advanced to the point where it can recognize keyword stuffing, and will flag content as spam, which can hurt search engine rankings. In some instances, it can result in the website being completely de-indexed, which means it will never show up in search results.
TIP: use keywords naturally and sparingly, as if you were having a regular discussion with someone in real life.
Always create original and unique content. Plagiarism isn’t just unethical, it can get your website penalized when it comes to search engine results, which can have long-standing effects on how your website ranks.
Set forth on your SEO journey
Keywords are the foundation of a good SEO strategy, which is why it’s important to use targeted words and phrases that will help people who are interested in the products and services you have to offer actually find your business. By following the strategies outlined above, you’ll be able to identify these keywords, as well as incorporate them into your digital marketing strategy for maximum effect.
Is Google keyword Planner free? ›
You can use this free tool to discover new keywords related to your business and see estimates of the searches they receive and the cost to target them. Keyword Planner also provides another way to create Search campaigns that's centered around in-depth keyword research.Why SEO is important for small business? ›
SEO is important because it helps you establish yourself as an expert in your field and drives traffic to your website, while also helping you organically promote your business for free. If you're unsure about the importance of SEO, you're not alone. Only 36% of small businesses actually have an SEO strategy.How important is SEO? ›
In short, SEO is crucial because it makes your website more visible, and that means more traffic and more opportunities to convert prospects into customers.How many keywords should I use for SEO? ›
It's much more likely that you'll want to target two or three keywords per page, even if they're just close variations. Any more than four is a bit crowded; after all, each page only has one title tag and meta description.How do I create SEO keywords? ›
- Step 1: Make a list of important, relevant topics based on what you know about your business. ...
- Step 2: Fill in those topic buckets with keywords. ...
- Step 3: Understand How Intent Affects Keyword Research and Analyze Accordingly. ...
- Step 4: Research related search terms. ...
- Step 5: Use keyword research tools to your advantage.
Google Keyword Planner is 100% free to use. You need not spend a penny on AdWords ads to gain access. You just need a Google account.How do I find my competitors keywords for free? ›
- The HTML Page Source of Your Competitor's Website. In your Internet browser, go to your competitor's website and choose a page to look for keywords in. ...
- Screaming Frog Spider. ...
- Google Keyword Planner Tool. ...
- SEMRush. ...
If you are hiring a top-level SEO company to execute a local campaign, expect to pay $500.00+ per month. A national or international campaign will require a minimum budget of $2,500 to $5,000 a month. Some firms offer a “trial package” at a lower price, with no contract.Is SEO worth it for small businesses? ›
Local SEO pays because people have a higher buying intent when it comes to local search, so the traffic is more likely to convert to sales. Many local business services have relatively high average customer value as well, so it makes generating an ROI from SEO more likely.Why SEO is essential for your small business in 2022? ›
SEO is important to marketing because it helps you reach your target audience online. It's also a great way to improve your brand awareness and build trust with customers. SEO can also be a great way to improve your website's conversion rate.
How can I learn SEO? ›
- Understand the goal of SEO. ...
- Master keyword research. ...
- Know the difference between on-page and off-page SEO. ...
- Learn to identify UX signals. ...
- Embrace SEO-friendly content creation. ...
- Start link building.
How they determine the “best” result is based on an algorithm that takes into account authority, relevancy to that query, loading speed, and more. (For example, Google has over 200 ranking factors in their algorithm.) In most cases, when people think “search engine optimization”, they think “Google SEO”.How much does keyword research cost? ›
How much does Keyword Research Cost? A keyword research tool on its own costs about $200–$500 per month, depending on the number of queries you need. Then, the cost is in the time of doing the analysis and prioritizing keywords/topics to create SEO campaigns for.Which is the best tool for keyword research for SEO in 2022? ›
The best free keyword research tool for advanced SEO
Semrush offers a broad range of keyword research tools, too, from the standard traffic and search volume data to content-driven keyword research and competitive keyword gap analysis.
Long tail keywords are long (usually 4+ word) terms that searchers use in Google and other search engines. And they tend to have a lower keyword difficulty compared to 1-3 word “head terms”. So for people that are new to SEO, long tails are usually the best keywords to start with.Should I use the same keywords on every page? ›
Having the same keyword targeted on multiple pages of a website doesn't make a search engine thinks your site is more relevant for that term. When multiple web pages seem to be too similar, it can actually send out negative signals.How do I optimize keywords? ›
- Audit Your Current On-Page SEO.
- Find Keywords for Your Site.
- Map Your Keywords.
- Add Keywords to Your Site.
- Avoid Keyword Stuffing.
- Don't Forget Your Target Audience.
Keywords are the words and phrases that people type into search engines to find what they're looking for. For example, if you were looking to buy a new jacket, you might type something like “mens leather jacket” into Google. Even though that phrase consists of more than one word, it's still a keyword.How do I create a keyword chart? ›
- Step 1: Find your top pages. ...
- Step 2: Find your seed keyword. ...
- Step 3: Expand your seed keyword. ...
- Step 4: Build your keyword map. ...
- Step 5: Create an on-page optimisation roadmap.
You can get a complete list of all of the keywords your site ranks for using Google Search Console. Just open Google Search Console, click the performance tab, and scroll down to see your list of queries.
Why did Google Ads charge me $50? ›
Your monthly spend is less than your payment threshold (the balance amount that triggers a charge), such as in the following circumstances: Your last payment date was on August 1st. Your payment threshold is $50. Your monthly spend for August is $49.What is the difference between keywords and AdWords? ›
These terms are the most relevant to your business. And the keywords are the search terms that you instruct Google AdWords to show your ads on. This is key: Your AdWords account allows you to view the exact search terms that triggered your ads.How do I get my website at the top of Google search? ›
- Determine the Words You Want to Compete For. ...
- Optimize Your Website for Your Focus Keywords. ...
- Develop an Ongoing Website Content Strategy. ...
- Implement a Blog Strategy. ...
- Sign Up for Google Authorship. ...
- Go After Quality Links. ...
- Analyze, Refine, and Repeat.
That is why, to calculate Keyword Difficulty, we analyze the search results for a keyword and look at the number of referring domains the top 10 ranking pages have. In simple terms, the more referring domains across the top ranking pages, the higher the Keyword Difficulty.How do I spy on competitors keywords? ›
- Subscribe to Newsletter and Social Media. This is where you should start. ...
- Track Brands. ...
- Find out What Technologies They Use. ...
- Check Popularity. ...
- Check Paid Keywords. ...
- Check SEO. ...
- Check Display Ads. ...
- Check Backlinks.
Evaluate competition by looking at search engine results (SERPs) to determine how many sites are competing for the exact keyword phrase and if these sites are well optimized and have link authority. In Google, search for the keyword phrase in quotes to find the number of indexed pages for the exact phrase.Can I do SEO on my own? ›
You can absolutely do SEO yourself or DIY SEO (Do It Yourself SEO). With some research and lots of practice, anyone can learn how to do SEO for their business. A quick way to get started with SEO is to enter your URL here and then focus your SEO efforts on the recommended action items.How much is SEO per month? ›
Average SEO costs are $100-$250 an hour for US SEO agencies. SEO costs often range from $2,500 – $10,000 per month for US agencies. The average SEO plan costs $2819 per month (per Ahrefs) Overseas SEO companies may charge $10-$50 an hour.How fast can I learn SEO? ›
It takes 1-3 months to learn the basics of SEO. The basics of search engine optimization can be understood and learnt within 3 months, however, the more advanced concepts can take anywhere from 6-18 months. This is provided you are consuming knowledge daily and learning from experts.How much does SEO cost for a small business? ›
How much does SEO cost for small businesses? The average cost of SEO for small businesses is $750 to $2000 per month or $5000 to $30,000 for one-time projects. Smaller companies that invest in SEO consulting services can expect to pay $80 to $200 per hour.
Can SEO make you rich? ›
Yes, SEO can make you rich if you earn, save, and invest.Can you make money from SEO? ›
So, how much can you make doing SEO? As of September 2021, most SEO experts can earn between $113,518 and $131,590. Salaries depend on many factors including education, certifications, work experience and additional skills.What is an SEO strategy? ›
An SEO strategy is the process of organizing a website's content by topic to improve the likelihood of appearing in search results. Essentially, it is the process you follow in order to maximize the opportunity to gain organic traffic from search engines.Does every website need SEO? ›
Every website has different needs, when it comes to SEO. But it's rarely the business or industry that determines those needs. It's typically factors like: The website's stage in the growth process.How do I get Google keyword planner? ›
To open Google Keyword Planner, click Tools & Settings on the right top corner. And then from the drop-down menu, select Keyword Planner listed under Planning. You'll then see two options: Discover new keywords – This option gives you new keyword ideas that you can use to increase your website traffic.How do I use Google keyword planner without creating 2022? ›
- Sign into your Google Account. ...
- Go to the Google Ads website. ...
- Create a new Google Ads account. ...
- Switch to Expert Mode. ...
- Confirm your business information. ...
- Explore your account. ...
- Go to your Google Ads Dashboard. ...
- Go to Tools and Settings.
Using Google Keyword Planner for SEO. Despite this specific keyword tool being intended, at least as far as Google themselves are concerned, as one aimed primarily at those running Google Ads, it is a powerful SEO tool and a resource that is perfect for helping you identify the keywords you need to be ranking for.How do I use Google keyword planner for Youtube? ›
- Step #1: Access the Google Keyword Planner.
- Step #2: Choose Your Tool.
- Step #3: Filter and Sort the Results.
- Step #4: Analyze the Keyword Ideas Section.
- Step #5: Choose a Keyword.
- Bonus Step #1: Get Exact Keyword Search Volume Data.
- Bonus Step #2: The GKP Hack.
These terms are the most relevant to your business. And the keywords are the search terms that you instruct Google AdWords to show your ads on. This is key: Your AdWords account allows you to view the exact search terms that triggered your ads.How do I find my popular keywords? ›
Using Google Trends. Go to https://trends.google.com in a web browser. Google Trends is one of the most reliable tools for up-to-date information on what the world is searching for. You can use several tools on the site to find popular keywords.
What are the differences between SEO and SEM? ›
The difference between search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) is that SEO focuses on getting traffic from organic search, whereas SEM focuses on getting traffic from organic and paid search. Both SEO and PPC are ways to market your business in search engines.How do I bid on Google keywords? ›
- Sign in to your Google Ads account.
- Click Campaigns.
- Click Ad groups. Select the ad group with the keyword whose bid you want to change.
- Click Keywords. ...
- Click Edit. ...
- In the page that opens, you may set a new bid, increase your bid, or decrease your bid. ...
- Click APPLY.
When someone searches on Google, your ad could be eligible to appear based on the similarity of your keywords to the person's search terms, as well as your keyword match types. Keywords are also used to match your ad to sites in the Google Network that are related to your keywords and ads.How do you refine keywords? ›
By refining keywords, you can group together ideas based on the attributes of your product or service–like color, size, and more. For example, let's say that you're looking for keywords related to “dry skin.” In the past, you would've had to sort through thousands of keyword ideas.What words are searched most on Google? ›
Use Google Trends to find the most searched keywords on Google. Go to https://trends.google.com to find the most popular searches around the world. Google Trends also helps you find trending searches for each day, week, month, and year for thousands of keywords and topics.How do I find competitors keywords? ›
- WordStream's Free Keyword Tool.
- Google Auction Insights.
- Seed Keywords.
- Tag Clouds.
Now, depending on who you ask, you'll hear a different response for the age-old question: “How many keywords should I have in my Google Ads account?” When it comes to ad groups, the typical answer is somewhere in the 20-25 keyword range, and definitely no more than 30 keywords per ad group.Does YouTube have a keyword tool? ›
The YouTube keyword tool is pretty straightforward – simply choose your language and tailored countries, insert a keyword or phrase, and click “Get keyword ideas.” Some of those keyword suggestions (heck, maybe a lot of them) will make no sense whatsoever.What is keyword research tool? ›
Our keyword research tool gives you insight into how often certain words are searched and how those searches have changed over time. This can help you narrow your keyword list down to the ones you really want.