Keyword Research 101: The Basics

Hey. Good morning, Internet fans. It’s Ryan Perry with Simple Biz Support. It is Thursday, the 16th. That means it’s Internet Marketing Thursday, and as usually, I have Virginie Dorn from Business Website Center, down in Petaluma, California on the other side. Good morning, Virginie, and how are you?

Virginie Dorn: Doing very great, Ryan. How are you?

RP: I’m doing good. The last couple days, it’s been a little bit of a technology challenge doing these live broadcasts. I lost my Internet about 15 minutes ago, and I’m crossing my fingers that it holds through through the broadcast. But that’s not what we want to talk about today. We’re going to talk… It’s a little bit of a continuation from last week about keywords and really…

RP: I learned a cool trick yesterday while I was working with Sarah Giometti with ICT Marketing about how you can make the feed live on your YouTube and Twitter page and so I made it live and forgot that I need to turn the play button off, so that it doesn’t play in the background. So I apologize.

VD: It’s okay.

RP: Let’s talk about something else about beside Internet marketing or Internet mechanical failures, problems that I’m having the last couple of days. What are we talking about? We’re talking about keyword research.

VD: Yes.

RP: And there’s a ton of tools out there. It’s amazing how many different websites and companies offer keyword research, and we were talking a little bit before the broadcast started that, and I totally agree with you, as far as I’m concerned, if Google owns the Internet search market… Approximately seven out of 10 searches are done through Google, why not just go directly to Google to actually do your search? And I don’t know if a lot of people realize that. So, that’s what we’re going to talk about today. So, why don’t you tell us, how do we get to Google, and why would a business owner want to do keyword research?

VD: Yes, so there is a balance between what Google tells you, of course, and what your visitors or the type of clients you want to have. So, you have to first think about your business, what type of target audience you have and what do you feel they’ll be looking for. Once you get an idea of what you think they’ll be looking for, then you go to Google and see if that’s very true. Because you don’t want to assume and people are looking for the word, “Attorney,” instead of, “Lawyers,” ’cause sometimes it’s slightly different, especially based on what state you’re located. So, first, we start with you, who you are, what you offer, and what your clients look like. Then you go to Google. So, the first step is truly… You can go to Google Trends. It’s a free product, very easy, and it has some limited information, and perhaps I could do a screen shot. Let’s see.

RP: Okay. And if people want to actually get to Google Trends, would they just do

VD: It’s that simple.

RP: Okay.

VD: So, I’m not sure if you see my screen now.

RP: Yes, you’re up.

VD: So, this is, like you said, and we could actually look for… Let me see…

VD: And it’s going to provide some type of research. So, it shows you kind of different variation, but then you can compare it to family law… ‘Cause there’s a difference. So, for instance, in that particular comparison, you can see then attorney is far greater than lawyer. Now, that’s a generality based on the US. But you can go deeper and see if, for instance, you’re in California, like we are. You could pick California, and it will tell you that in California, indeed, the variation is even greater.

VD: So, like we know, you and I, that attorney is very much a west coast term, while lawyer is more of an East Coast term. So, here it’s very evident… Now, this is from Google, themself, so they have the pure data they are willing to share with us, and that’s based on different years. You can even do it the last three months, perhaps. Maybe there is some trending keywords you’re trying to target your audience for. And you can say, “Well, it’s only been happening the last three months, perhaps because of a movie or something in the news.” You can go just to the last 90 days, and it will tell you what keywords. And you can continue, they only allow a few, but you could do, “Family law firm,” perhaps, ’cause that’s what you fill in. You can see that’s definitely not very strong, but that’s just a rough ID. But it’s a very good start. So, it makes the site owners comfortable with doing keyword searches.

RP: Yeah, and the one thing that you… People really need to be careful about is that, as a business owner, we tend to be very narrow-minded, where we’re just thinking about our business and the terminology that we use. A lot of times, what you think a good keyword is also relevant to something else that you didn’t even know existed, in another industry they use the same term. So, what we’re talking about here is very general, very broad strokes, and ultimately, if you’re not sure, if you just do a Google keyword search for that term, then it’s a good way to find out if it’s also relevant to another business or something else.

VD: Yes. You and I had a client, they liked the word, “HVAC,” which is very common in their industry among their peers, but people are looking for heaters and water tanks, they don’t look for HVAC services. But also, be careful. A lawyer attorney, therapy, therapist, we talked about it, very slight variation based on where you are located based in the US. So if you’re from the East Coast and you move to California, you want to use California terms, if that’s where your customers are located. But again this is very broad this is very quick. Within five minutes you can get some very good data from Google, but it’s kind of limited to what you can do in terms of searches.

RP: Right…

VD: One place I like to go to is Google AdWords, and truly if you have a Gmail account you can sign onto Google AdWords, you don’t even have to run a campaign or spend any money with them. So for instance at this exact moment we’re not running any campaign for our clients, but I’m still able to go log in through my Gmail account to Google AdWords, and that’s the Keyword Planner.

RP: Right, and just so people know, Virginie, when you log in for the first time, you’re not going to land on this screen. So can you show them where, what menu they’re going to click on to get to here?

VD: Oh, you know what, I just click… This is what I did. I did Google AdWord Gmail account already. So for instance, I was logging into Gmail and then Google, “Google AdWords.” And if you click on the first link they give you, you can do start now. And it should automatically log you in.

RP: Oh. Okay. Yeah it’s a little bit different then if you… Okay. It’s a little bit different if you actually have an account and you’re going through. Typically it takes you to a home page and it asks you to start to create a campaign, and then you have to click on the tools at the top and then underneath tools is the planner. But that’s okay.

VD: I’m not sure. To tell you the truth, I don’t go there too often, because once we get the keyword search for client we’re good to go for a few months.

RP: Yeah, okay. Not a problem. Let me just state then, for those of you end users, if your screen doesn’t look like this when you log in, because typically mine doesn’t, all you need to do… And if you could show them, Virginie, on the screen is just click on the tools and then there’s a pull down and you’ll see that the AdWords is in there. Or the Keyword Planner, excuse me.

VD: Right. Right there. So this is the home page for Google AdWords and like you said the drop down Keyword Planner is right here.

RP: Perfect, I appreciate that.

VD: No problem. Sometimes I assume everybody goes there all the time. There are all kinds of cool little tools here. It’s not meant for people like you and I, who are really into business. It’s actually meant to be for very user friendly. And all you have to do is read the sentences provided by Google. So, “What would you like to do?” And you can see there are four categories here. The first one is the one that most people use, which is search for new keyword and add group IDs. And here, again very self-explanatory, you can enter products you use. So for instance you do flowers and you can put your landing page, product category… As you can see they have all kinds of different categories. Home and garden might be one of them for you. Let me see if… Yard and garden patio. So you can pick different things. You can also pick locations of where you think your customers are. ‘Cause you and I are a very big proponent of local businesses. I mean, if you are in San Francisco alone, you’re not interested in Utah. So you really want to look at what people in San Francisco are looking for, for what service you offer. You can even specify the language. Mexico is very close to us. If your main target audience is in Spanish, you might want to switch right to Spanish. You can even do negative words and just like often times with Google products, you can select different ranges.

VD: Typically, it’s set to the last 12 nouns, but you can be very specific. The last six nouns perhaps are only of interest to you. Perhaps the type of service you are trying to target is seasonal. If you are repairing heaters this is not something you are going to look for trends during summer time. So you might want to start September through March or May, what kind of keywords related to heater repair are people looking for? Keyword filters… You can’t go wrong with the filters and all this information. You just click what seems to make sense to you and then you can click on get Id’s and then it will give you some information.

RP: Yeah, and for the basic user, if you’re first getting used to this it can be a little overwhelming, because there are so many options. And when in doubt if you just leave all the defaults the way they are and just go after the keywords that you’re looking for, I think that’s a great way to go. The other thing you can do and I will do… I do this for research, but I don’t rely on it 100%, is Google will also allow you to put a web address in and it will extract the keywords out of that website. Now I like it, because it might give me keyword ideas that I wasn’t thinking about, but at the same time just because some other company says, “These are the keywords that are on our website,” that doesn’t make it right. So, we always to vet our own research and our keywords, regardless of how big you think this company is, doesn’t mean that they did the proper keyword research.

VD: Okay, so do you look at maybe a competitor’s website in a different state, maybe?

RP: Yeah, definitely. And a lot of times what I’ll do is, especially if it’s in a market that I’m not terribly familiar with, I’ll put the client’s website in, I’ll put some competitor websites in, that appear to be big. That it looks like somebody actually spent some time, did good marketing, they built out a nice website. I’m assuming that they probably put some time and effort into SEO keyword research, but again, I’m going to always vet any research that I do myself, to make sure that what I give the client at the end of the day is quality.

VD: Yes. And to reassure everybody out there, this is not brain surgery, but it does require a lot of your time. So, if you’re a busy business owner, you might not have the next 12 weekends to become familiar with all of this. So you can hire someone like Ryan, for instance, to do that research for you and tell you what you should be targeting, in order to have a successful web presence. And there’s another… I don’t know how much time we have left, but you and I are big fans of So, here, for instance, if you go to and click on learn, there’s all kinds of cool tools and reading material on keyword research for instance. And they’re very good at what they do. They have a lot of good suggestions. Again, just becoming familiar, what you should be doing to find your keyword research. Just like us, with Google AdWords being a keyword tool, so the Keyword Planner, just like we were saying… Google Insights for search, Google Trends keywords, that’s what we were at. And Microsoft Advertising Intelligence, I’m actually quite not familiar with that, it’s something I’m looking at this week.

RP: I don’t even… To be honest with you Virginie, I don’t even bother with them, simply because if almost 70% of your search is coming from Google… Unless you’re a national account and Microsoft is maybe generating hundreds of thousands of views a day, but it still might only be 2%, but at that volume, maybe it makes sense. For most companies, I don’t even weight… It’s like all the different social media accounts, there’s a 100 plus different social media platforms, if you try to be on all of them, it’s just it’s too much, it’s overwhelming, it doesn’t make sense, focus on the one or two that your audience is in. And it’s the same thing, as far as I’m concerned with search, find the search engine that your audience is in. More than likely it’s going to be Google, therefore just focus on Google, especially in the beginning. You can drive yourself nuts trying to figure everything else out. The other thing, and we are out of time, but the other things is making sure that you have a Google Analytics and a Google Webmaster account setup on your website. Because you can get good information for keywords, visibility, how many times your website’s been viewed for a specific keyword in the Google Webmaster tools.

VD: Oh yeah, and this year they actually tell you if it’s a female or male, and what age group. There is no more privacy, you can actually…

VD: Soon it will be giving us the the political affiliation of our visitors. We’re just a few months away from that. But, yes, it’s all available from Google Analytic.

RP: Yeah. So, I think the key takeaway from this episode is going to be, if you haven’t done any SEO keyword research, or maybe you have somebody that’s doing for you, but you’re not really sure what they’re doing, the easiest way is just go straight to Google. Play around, don’t try turning buttons on and off, just punch in some different keywords for you business and see what the results are. It’ll actually tell you what the search volume is, I forget the exact word, but it’s amortized over time. So, if it says that it’s 2000 searches a month and you’re looking at the United States, one, be aware that 2000 searches is spread out over the United States. So, if you’re just trying to get clients in Santa Rosa as an example, if it’s 2000 nationally, how many people in Santa Rosa are actually searching for it. And then the other thing is that, to always take information from Google with a grain of salt.

VD: Yes.

RP: And the reason being, is that they’re trying to protect their algorithms from people trying to reverse engineer. So, a lot… Not a lot of times, but sometimes the information that you get from Google is not 100% accurate. And they do that on purpose, because they don’t want people that are trying to cheat the system to, again, reverse engineer their technology in order to cheat the system to get their website at the top. So, typically for smaller keywords it’s not a big deal. I know for bigger keywords, once you get into that national, international, type of keywords, probably, “Diet Pills,” I would imagine is one of those, you can’t always take the information… Or always take the information with a grain of salt.

VD: Yes, I agree with you a 100% on this.

RP: Alright, perfect. Well, we’re three minutes over, so I need to turn this off. Next week we have a great episode, which I thought we were doing today, and that is going to be talking about the big change… Well, not big changes, but there’s ongoing changes with Google Places. I guess the big change is that it’s not Google Places anymore, it’s Google Business. But even on the backend they’ve made some changes. And I’m a firm believer that as a business owner if you want to be found on Google, you need to play in their backyard, and the very first place you need to play in is Google Business. So we’re going to talk about that. How to correctly set up an account and make sure that your account is visible.

VD: Yes. Let’s do that.

RP: Alright. Sounds good. I hope you have a wonderful day. As always, I appreciate your time, Virginie.

VD: You’re welcome. Take care.

RP: Alright. Thank you. Bye.


About the Author:

Ryan Perry is the founder and CEO of Simple Biz Support, Inc. Ryan started video blogging in 2009 as an alternative to written blogs to create visibility and credibility online. During the workweek, he enjoys helping small business owners harness the power of video to grow their companies. On the weekends, he enjoys hiking and searching out waterfalls throughout the state of California.

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