In order to find out where your customers are in Google, you need to know exactly how they use Google whenever they are in need of your products and services. This process is called keyword research. And this post will teach you how to do keyword research, even if you’ve never heard of it before.
But in order to learn how to do effective keyword research, we first need to understand what keywords are.
What are Keywords?
Keywords are the exact words or phrases that users enter into search engines like Google in order to find what they are looking for, whether it be products, services or information.
For example: If you lived in Johannesburg and one of your bathroom pipes just burst. You would now need to call a plumber to come out and fix your burst pipe. So you get on your phone or computer, open up Google and enter any one of the following and hit search:
“plumber in Johannesburg”
“plumber near me”
“Emergency plumber Sandton”
You can probably think of at least a dozen more phrases that you could enter into Google when looking for a plumber in the Johannesburg region. All of these words and phrases are called keywords.
Now imagine a reversal of the above scenario. Instead of looking for a plumber, what if you owned a plumbing business in Johannesburg?
You would naturally want your business to show up whenever somebody in Johannesburg is searching for a plumber.
But, not all keywords are created equal. There are keywords that only get entered into Google once or twice a month, others that don’t get used at all and then there are keywords that get used hundreds, even thousands of times a month. These frequently used keywords are what you want to be focusing on as they are key to driving hordes of customers to your website, growing your business and increasing your revenue.
So is it possible to find out which keywords are frequently used by your customers?
Yes it is!
This is what is referred to as keyword research. And it’s something that you should be doing because it will allow you to:
- Gain a better understanding of what your customers are frequently searching for in Google.
- Gain a clear advantage over your competitors by implementing SEO to put your business on the first page of Google and directly in front of your customers when they are searching for your products or services.
- Allow you to setup profitable Google AdWords campaigns.
This steady flow of customers to your website results in an increase in sales and a thriving business.
How to do keyword research
There are 3 main ways to do keyword research.
- The Google Keyword Planner – This is a free tool provided by Google.
- Long Tail Pro (and other similar tools) – This is an excellent paid tool that finds a lot more relevant keywords that the Google Keyword Planner doesn’t show as well as providing a quick analysis of the websites that are ranking on the first page of Google for those keywords to show you how easy or difficult it would be to get your business on the first page of Google by implementing SEO.
- Have an expert do your keyword research – I offer a paid service where I conduct keyword research for your business. This frees up your time of having to do it yourself and I provide much more accurate search volume data than the other options. You can get more details on my done for you keyword research service here.
How to use the Google Keyword Planner for your keyword research
For this quick how to guide I will be using a live example of a website I created and own which currently holds the number 1 spot (depending on when you are reading this) in Google for a number of extremely profitable keywords. The website is ophthalmologists.co.za
What you will need: An email account, and some time. That’s all.
The first thing you need to do is to go to the Google Keyword Planner. You can copy and paste the following URL into your browser’s address bar: https://adwords.google.co.za/KeywordPlanner. Or simply do a search in Google for “Google Keyword Planner”.
You will see a screen that looks similar to this:
Click on the “Sign in to AdWords” button
You will then be asked to sign in using your email address or create a free Google AdWords account if it’s your first time
Next you will be taken to a Google AdWords welcome screen. Since we are only interested in researching keywords, we will skip the guided setup. But if you want, you can fill out the information requested.
Click on “skip the guided setup” then on the next screen enter in your email and click the “Save and continue button.
You should now be on the Google AdWords Campaign page. We are not going to be running a campaign, just looking for keywords. On the menu top menu bar find the tools category and then click on “Keyword Planner”.
Tools -> Keyword Planner
You will now be in the Keyword Planner. Click on the section that says “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category”. The tab will expand and look like the image below.
Click on the “search for new keywords tab”
You can now enter the words and phrases that you think your customers are searching for in Google to find your products and services under the section labelled ‘Your product or service’. You can enter the keywords one after the other, separated with a comma or just list them one beneath the other as seen in the image below. After some keywords, move down to the ‘Targeting’ section and click on the button that says ‘All locations’.
Enter your keywords and click on ‘All locations’
Once you’ve clicked on the ‘All locations’ button, it will bring up a locations section. Here you can type in South Africa (or whichever country you are targeting). You can even get more specific and enter a city, but I recommend leaving it set to a country. When Google brings up your desired country, click the ‘Add’ link.
Select your country and click ‘Add’
After clicking ‘Add’, your Keyword Planner should look similar to the one in the image below. Next click on the blue ‘Get ideas’ button.
Click on ‘Get ideas’
The Keyword Planner will now bring up data for your keywords as well as numerous other keywords that are related as in the image below. For the purposes of basic keyword research, you want to only focus on the keywords column and the average monthly searches column. You can safely ignore the competition and suggested bid column as these are specifically related to people who are running paid ads with Google AdWords. It’s important to note that the competition column directly relates to the number of advertisers bidding on the keyword to run ads and NOT how easy or difficult it will be to rank your website on the first page of Google.
The average monthly searches column shows the average number of users that are using the keyword in a Google search each month over the last 12 months. This is extremely important for market research as well as finding out which keywords to optimise your website for so that your business is found by your customers when they do a Google search.
Unfortunately Google implemented a change to the Keyword Planner around July 2016. Instead of showing more drilled down search volumes (eg. 170), they now show a broader range (eg. 100 – 1000).
You also want to go through the list of other keywords that the Keyword Planner has pulled up as it’s a great way to discover more keywords that your customers are using.
Make a note of the keywords that interest you as well as their respective search volumes
You want to dig deeper into your keyword research, don’t just stop at 1 search. Keep researching additional keywords.
- Try to list as many variations of the keyword as possible.
Eg. ophthalmologist Johannesburg – Johannesburg ophthalmologist – ophthalmologist in Johannesburg
- Don’t forget to include the singular and plural forms of the keyword.
Eg. Johannesburg ophthalmologist – Johannesburg ophthalmologists
- Research common misspellings of your keywords, these often have good search volumes and are easier to rank for.
Eg. ophthalmologist Johannesburg – opthamologist Johannesburg
In the image below you will see the keyword results for some variations of the phrase ‘Johannesburg ophthalmologist’.
There are a few things to note here:
- Opthamologist Johannesburg – Is a misspelled keyword. As you can see this incorrect spelling gets used between 10 – 100 times each month. If you were to rank on the first page for this misspelling, that would mean an additional 10 – 100 potential clients seeing your business every month.
- Johannesburg ophthalmologist – Doesn’t show a monthly search volume. This does not mean it gets 0 searches. It just means that there are no advertisers bidding and running ads to that particular keyword.
Always look through the related keywords below, you will often find great keywords you may have overlooked.
You should now be able to comfortably use the Google Keyword Planner to find out exactly what your customer base is searching for when looking for your products and services.
Long Tail Pro – Paid Keyword Research Tool
I won’t be going over how to use Long Tail Pro in this guide as it’s very similar to using the Google Keyword Planner. I will however show you a quick example of a search using Long Tail Pro. If you want more information on Long Tail Pro you can go to their website here.
The main benefits of investing in Long Tail Pro (Please note: Long Tail Pro is definitely not required, you can use the free Google Keyword Planner and still get great results):
- You will find a lot more keywords than using the Google Keyword Planner, giving you the edge over your competitors and saving you a lot of time.
Long Tail Pro brings up all the websites ranking on the first page of Google for each keyword and scores them on how easy or difficult it would be to rank your own website above theirs.
Here is proof showing you exactly how important keyword research and search engine optimisation (SEO) is for your business.
The image below shows how many visitors have been to ophthalmologists.co.za in the past 28 days (August 26 – September 22, 2016). I have done no advertising on the site. It’s 100% from ranking highly in Google.
As you can see 490 visits in the past 28 days. That’s 490 potential new patients for an ophthalmologist in less than a month. From a business point of view, imagine if you are an ophthalmologist. Now let’s say only 20% of those 490 visitors actually picked up the phone and booked an appointment with you. That would result in 98 additional patients acquired in 28 days. Considering the average value of 1 new patient, what would that mean to your revenue?
I like to compare SEO and Google AdWords to rugby. The All Blacks are currently the most dominant team in the world, why? They have formulated a plan and implemented it throughout their systems. From a school boy level, coaches, administrators, players and their local and provincial clubs. The results speak for themselves, unlike with Springbok rugby currently. We have the players, but we don’t have a plan in place that is being rolled out throughout our rugby structures which is why our team is underperforming, our results are inconsistent and we are all left frustrated.
Keyword research forms the foundation of that plan. You can continue to kick aimless up-and-unders and hope for the best. An outdated tactic which worked years ago, or you can formulate a plan to dominate your competitors in Google and take your business to the next level. Because if you don’t, they will.
If you do require assistance, make sure you check out my available services which are focused on growing your business online by getting you more leads, sales and customers.