Part 1: The Small Business Owner’s Step-by-Step Keyword Research Guide

How to do keyword research to ramp up your content creation

This is part 1 of a 2-part series that will cover the importance of keyword research for a small business and how it feeds the content creation process and provides new content ideas for your business.

In part 2 I’ll show you how keyword research informs your editorial calendar and how to transform keyword ideas into relevant content pieces that your audience is searching for.

Whether we want to buy something, find out more about a particular topic, compare products and providers, find the best solution to our problem, or seek validation or assurance, the first thing we do is turn to Google.

I bet that you’ve told Google things that you haven’t told anyone else.

On top of that, Google is the gatekeeper of some of the most unusual searches you’ve ever seen:

  • Could God be an alien?
  • I think I might be a werewolf
  • Who would win a fight between a grilled cheese and a taco?
  • Why does the moon keep following me?

Truth is we cannot live without Google.

According to Internet live stats, Google processes over 40,000 search queries in an average second, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.

It’s.pretty.impressive.

That means that besides you and me, your potential customers are out there too, performing searches based on their needs, curiosities, problems, and challenges.

As a business owner or a marketer, you want 2 things:

  1. Be present with your brand on the Google Search page when your potential customers are searching for answers.
  2. Leverage search insight (all the keywords and phrases that people are searching on Google) and start creating content around what people are searching for.

In this blog post we’ll explore the second point, as I’ll walk you through a method of researching what people are searching for that is both systematic and resourceful.

Let’s dive right in!

Why should you do a keyword research for your business?

The advantages are plentiful. I’ll list the most important ones here:

  • Keyword research is an entry point into the mind of your potential customers – you get access to what they think, want, need, their biases, challenges, questions, wishes as it relates to your industry or niche, or even to your specific product or service.
  • It complements your insights and opinions about your industry and business and the way people are buying, looking for, consuming, and interacting with your type of product or service. It either reinforces or contradicts the way you perceive your business space, which oftentimes can be overly subjective and biased.
  • It highlights which themes and topics you need to concentrate your efforts on in your business, because people are overly interested in them—could be a new topic for a content piece that you haven’t thought about, or a new feature you could add to your product or service that you overlooked or simply you didn’t know that people were interested in.
  • It provides you with the foundation for all your SEO and content initiatives.

In short, people won’t stop searching, so if you aren’t the one who offers them a piece of relevant content or information the moment they look for it, they’ll go to your competitors to get what they need.

As an entrepreneur nowadays, no matter what business you're in, you must leverage online marketing tools and strategies if you want to spread your ideas and get your business in front of potential customers.

It’s that simple.

Before going into the keyword research process, you need to understand the keyword types and also the intent behind every search someone does on Google.

Firstly, let’s clarify something about keywords.

There are 2 types of keywords:

  1. Broad keywords. Also known as “head terms” or “short-tail”; 1-2 words long; tend to be more general and vague; usually have a high search volume; most of them are already taken by other/big brands; they are highly competitive and it's very hard to rank in Google for them; e.g., plumber, coaching, Italian cuisine
  2. Long-tail keywords. 3-5 words long; detailed and specific; lower competition and higher buying intent being so specific; less search volume than the broad ones; e.g., plumbing system in building, workplace coaching scenarios, Italian cuisine desserts

The secret is to go after long-tail keywords that are more specific and more conversion oriented.

Despite the search volume for this type of keyword being much lower, the traffic from long-tail keywords is usually more relevant making people more likely to convert, as they are more intentional with their searches.

Also, given the fact that head terms don’t have a clear intent behind them (You wouldn’t know what someone who is searching for “coaching” wants. Could be that she wants to know what coaching is, or maybe she wants to find a coach online. But what kind of coach?) and that they’re very competitive, you should definitely concentrate your efforts on long tails.

And now let’s clarify a thing or two about searcher’s intent and what it means.

Search intent or keyword intent tells us why someone is conducting a specific search.

Why are they searching? Are they searching because they want to buy something? Or maybe they have a question and want an answer to that question?

When we choose which keywords to go after, there is the tendency to go after those with the highest number of searches, but much more important than the keyword’s search volume is the intent behind it.

Search intent falls into 3 categories:

  1. Transactional. The user wants to take a specific action, e.g., buy something, download something, sign up, register, etc. They usually contain words such as “download”, “buy”, or are time-sensitive and imply immediate or near future action, e.g., “quick fix for burst pipe” 
  2. Informational. The user is looking for specific information. They usually contain question words like “where”, “how”, “why” 
  3. Navigational. The user is looking to reach a particular website and types in a specific company or a brand name 

Google defined and segmented the 3 types of intent into 3 categories:

  1. DO (Something the users want to do). These are the transactional keywords.
  2. KNOW (Something they want to know). These are the informational queries.
  3. GO (Someplace the users want to go). These are the navigational keywords.

Keyword intent is usually overlooked when we produce content, as we are focusing all our energy on trying to rank for a particular keyword.

But the content we produce has to not only be relevant but also satisfy the user intent.

That’s why it’s critical to ensure that the content you’re creating is built around both the keywords people are searching for, as well as the search intent of your audience.

Make sure your blog post or website page is informational if your audience is searching for information.

But direct people to your sales pages if they are likely to be interested in buying one of your products or services.

The step-by-step keyword research process

As mentioned earlier, keyword research is the central method you need to make use of to discover content ideas that you can later transform into valuable content assets for your business.

Content that people are actually searching for and are interested in.

There are multiple ways you can do keyword research, and most people are using only one method.

What I recommend is combining as many methods as possible.

The secret lies in using multiple sources to get your keyword suggestions.

Here’s the process I recommend:

Use multiple sources to get keyword suggestions for content

1. Keywords Everywhere

Install the Keywords Everywhere extension on your browser (works for Chrome and Firefox).

It’s a free keyword tool and it saves you a lot of time, as it shows you keyword suggestions, search volume (the monthly number of searches aka the demand) for each keyword, related keywords and much more directly when you type your keyword into the Google search.

Let’s say you’re a restaurant specialized in vegetarian dishes and you want to find new ideas for your content.

You install the Keywords Everywhere extension on your browser and go to Google to search for “vegetarian dishes”—a main keyword in your business.

The second you enter your keyword in Google Search, Keywords Everywhere will show you the monthly search volume for the keyword right underneath the search box, as well as a list of related keywords and a list of keywords and phrases that people also search for.

 

As you go through the list of related keywords, you start noticing several keywords for which you didn’t know there was such a high interest and demand, ex. “Indian vegetarian dinner recipes” or “winter vegetarian recipes.”

Maybe this will drive you to consider including Indian vegetarian dishes in your restaurant menu, given that it has a lot of search interest.

As you scroll down to the “People also search for” section, you see a lot of suggestions that you could turn into great pieces of content: “vegetarian main meals”, “healthy vegetarian recipes for weight loss”, “vegetarian party finger food”, “easy vegetarian recipes for beginners” and so much more!

Recommendation: Don’t get hung up on search volume! Take the volume these tools are giving you with a grain of salt.

Some tools will show very low search volume for certain keywords (0-100 searches/month).
But if you search that keyword on Google, you’ll sometimes notice that it shows up among the first suggestions when you start typing in your keyword.

The very fact that these more long-tail keywords are being automatically suggested as searches by Google when people type proves that sometimes the search data provided by keyword tools is not as accurate.

Now open up this spreadsheet and copy all the terms and phrases that caught your attention.

Repeat your search with other keywords related to your business.

 

2. Google Suggest

Go to Google and type in your keyword in the search box followed by all the letters of the alphabet to uncover even more keywords and phrases that hadn’t crossed your mind before.

Recommendation: Type in something your audience would type if they were looking for an answer to what they want.

Type it like THEY would type it, not as a person who already knows the ins and outs of your industry or business.

Don’t use inside language or jargon. People search for things in different ways, so try out different variations.

Choose the ones that piques your interest, put them into the Google spreadsheet and move on to the next method.

 

3. Searches related to

Go to Google, type in your keyword and then scroll to the bottom of the search results page where you’ll see the “Searches related to [your keyword]” section.

 



Search for different types of keywords, go through the related searches and pick the ones that you find most interesting and that could be transformed into relevant pieces of content for your audience.

Copy them into your Google Sheet with their respective metrics.

Let’s move on to method number 4.

 

4. Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest is a free keyword tool that lets you type in your keyword then spits out a multitude of keyword ideas based on your phrase.

It also gives you the search volume for each keyword.

 

 

Scroll down the page and click on the button that says “View all keyword ideas.”

 

 

This will take you to a list of other keyword ideas based on the keyword that you typed in.

 

Repeat the process as many times as you need and once you have found enough ideas, copy them to your Google Sheet along with their search volume and the intent you think was behind those respective searches.

 

5. YouTube

Just as you did in Google Search, go to YouTube and type in your business-related keyword.

As you start typing your keyword, YouTube will load a list of keyword suggestions.

 

A nice perk is that because you have the Keywords Everywhere extension installed, now you get search volume metrics for the keywords you type into YouTube as well, so you won’t have to look up the search volume with a separate tool.

Make a list with the keywords and questions you like and add them to your Google Sheet with their corresponding metrics.

 

6. What questions is my audience asking?

Answering questions you know people are asking about a certain subject is a resourceful and lucrative way to plan your blogging schedule.

Questions are a huge opportunity for business owners who are looking to position their brand as an expert and trustworthy voice in their field.

Users are reaching out to you, someone who has experience in their field, to teach them something new or show them how to solve their problem.

That is gold.

Each of these questions is an opportunity for a business like yours to help someone in need, give them the best possible answer and start building a relationship, which nurtured, could lead to a sale.

Let’s look at some ways you can collect valuable questions that you can then answer through a nice piece of content.

Quora & Reddit

Quora and Reddit are two of the biggest question and answer communities out there.

You can find topics and discussions related to any topic you could think of, and they also have built-in communities around those topics where people are asking questions and receiving answers.

It’s a great place to make a list with all the questions people are asking about your industry, product, or service.

 

 

 

Pick a community and go through the questions people are asking.

 

Select the ones that you find relevant, then go to the Google Sheet tab called “Questions people are asking” and copy your questions there.

People Also Ask

Go to Google, type in your keyword in the search box, hit enter and scroll to the middle of the results page where you’ll see the “People also ask” area.

 



These are questions that people are asking as it relates to your keyword of choice.

It’s a great way to uncover potential questions that you can answer through a rich piece of content.

As you start clicking on the questions to expand the answer, other questions are starting to pop up below the initial questions.

 

 

Repeat the process with different types of keywords.

When you are happy with your questions, copy them into your Google Sheet with their corresponding metrics.

Note: For the questions from “People also ask” section in Google you’ll most likely find search volume and metrics.

For the questions on Quora, Reddit and other question-based platforms you most likely won’t find search volume.

Fill in your Google spreadsheet with the search volume for the questions that have it available.

To find the search volume, type in your question in Google and Keywords Everywhere will suggest the search volume right underneath your search.

Or use Ubersuggest or any other keyword tool and check to see if there is a search volume available for your selected question.

AnswerThePublic

Answerthepublic.com is the biggest aggregator of questions based on Google’s search data.

When you enter a search term into AnswerThePublic it generates a whole list of related searches, organized by:

  • Questions. Will, can, where, which, who, what, when, why, how, are
  • Prepositions. Without, with, to, near, for, can, is
  • Comparisons. Like, and, or, versus, vs

It also lists searches that are generated by inputting your keyword plus each letter of the alphabet.

It does so, having scraped Google and Bing for all the different suggestions the search engines have made when people have completed searches in recent weeks.

The keyword you input here needs to be a bit more general, so search using generic phrases and not sentences containing multiple prepositions or long-tail keywords because you’ll limit the output.

Let’s look at a few examples:

 

 

 

 

 

What’s nice is that when you have the Keyword Everywhere extension installed on your browser, it shows search volume for each keyword in the AnswerThePublic platform.

 

Without it, AnswerThePublic wouldn’t provide search volume for their keywords and phrases.

With the free version you have a limited number of searches per day, though.

If you choose the paid plan, you get unlimited searches and you can also filter your results by language and location.

Now make a list with all the questions and keywords that you find relevant and copy them into your Google Sheet.

This tool is a real gem for everybody that creates or is planning to create content for their business.

That’s it—the complete process for discovering relevant keywords and questions in your industry that you can then revamp into amazing content pieces that will attract the perfect people for your product or service.

Watch out for part 2 of this mini-series that will come out next week.

I’ll show you how to interpret the data you gathered and transform your questions and keyword ideas into relevant content pieces.

I promise I’ll inspire you with a ton of different types of content that you could create.

Don’t miss out!

 

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