Keyword Research 101 for Small Businesses

Being a small business owner means you're a jack of all trades: owner, blogger, marketer... It can get chaotic at times. You may not have much time for keyword research, which is why we've created this keyword research 101 article for you.  

The thing is, SEO is crucial for your business. Roughly 85% of consumers use the Internet to look up a business or service. Even if you only have 30 minutes to an hour per day, you can definitely fit in some SEO work to help your small business connect with your target audience. This is how you gain traction.

And keyword research is SEO's backbone. That's why we've assembled a list of the best keyword tips to use. This keyword research 101 guide will help you improve your rankings and increase your conversion rates. 

1. Location matters

Since small businesses generally target more local and specific locations, location is necessary. First, know your target audience. What specific area do you want to target? Is your product or service more applicable on a city level? County level? State? International? 

Maybe there's some crossover, but identify the specific location you want to target first. This is fundamental to keyword research 101, as "women's accessories in Mission Viejo" is easier to rank for (and a better local fit for clients searching for that product in Mission Viejo) than "women's accessories." 

2. Keyword research 101 time

Now that you know what location you're targeting, here's the pinnacle of keyword research 101: the actual steps to conduct keyword research. So, here's what you need to do:

1. Create 10 topics that are applicable to your business

For example, if you sell accessories (i.e: jewelry, scarves...) in Mission Viejo, some topics would be: women's accessories and women's fashion.

2. Create 10 subtopics under these topics

Subtopics go more in-depth into the topic. Again, using the accessory example, some subtopics under "women's accessories" would be women's scarves, women's jewlry, keychains...

3. Some tips when it comes to finding subtopics (and possibly new topics)

Google Trends is a free tool that shows what's trending depending on the niche. This could give you an idea of what your target customer is searching for. Another effective trick is to type one of your subtopics (or topics) into a search engine. Google is recommended since it's the most used. (In fact, it gets over 100 billion searches each month.) 

At the bottom of the page, Google always has a list of blue-linked long-tail and short-tail keywords that relate to the words searched. You can add some of those under your topics. Or create another topic altogether. 

4. "You are the weakest link, goodbye"

Choose the more relevant topics out of the topics you've created—let's say 3-5 topics. These should be the most relevant to your business. 

5. SEO tools

To look up the stats for the subtopics (or keywords) you've identified, use SEO tools like Google Keyword Planner. You'll enter the keywords you're aiming to rank for. You'll find out how many times people search for that keyword in a given month, plus how difficult it is to compete for it (and a bunch of other stats). 

We'll keep the stat list short because high traffic and low competitiveness is what you're looking for. These types of keywords will potentially get you quicker results. (Of course, know that SEO isn't a sprint: It's the tortoise, not the hare who wins the race.) 

3. Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer 

What do your competitiors' SEO strategies look like? Check out what they're doing. Some questions to keep in mind when doing this: 

  • Who are your competitors?
  • Which keywords are they using? 
  • How are they structuring their content and incorporating backlinks to get SEO results?
  • Are they using any unique keywords in the niche?
  • How similar (and different) are their SEO strategies compared to yours? 

By answering these questions, you can see if you need to alter your strategy or maybe just add or change a keyword or two.

4. How to embed keywords in your website

Congrats! You've researched your keywords. You've identified your competitors' strategies. Your keyword research 101 class is almost done! Now, it's time to put those keywords into action. We're going to show you how to embed them in your website.

There are a number of ways to do this:

  • Title descriptions
  • Alt tags
  • Blog content

We would argue that the easiest way to incorporate keywords into your website is through a blog. Think of it this way: Your website may have 6 pages tops (About, Contact, Services, Homepage...). Too much would be overwhelming (and possibly turn off) viewers. 

A blog is a great way to add consistent content (and increase your keyword rankings) without causing confusion or disorganization. This is where the 30 minutes to an hour per day of SEO time comes in. Add at least one blog post to your website per week, using a focused keyword from your list. 

That keyword should be in the first paragraph of your post, the meta description, and alt tags. And then, sprinkled around in the body a couple of times. Don't overdo it. Google (and the rest of the serach engines) have changed their algorithm. You used to be able to insert your keyword a million times if you wanted to into the post. This is considered keyword stuffing, and search engines will now penalize you for doing it. 

5. But, what am I going to write about?

Write what you know. You're a small business owner, with a wealth of applicable knowledge in your industry. You can offer customers an even more personalized experience than arguably larger corporations. This gives you an edge. Use it. Write that personalized blog post, drawing upon personal stories that relate to your industry. It gives customers a way to get to know you. Plus, people enjoy stories about other people, with some kind of life lesson or moral tied to it. 

6. And don't forget to add the location to your keywords

Enough said. Overwhelmed with SEO? Check out our free marketing resources for help with SEO, data analysis, and ore. As always, please contact us about any SEO questions you may have. We're here to help!