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Lesson Three

Understanding Keywords

Lesson three is all about keyword research, but don’t worry we keep it nice and simple (even a little humorous in parts).
We guide you through a very simple yet highly effective way to think about and execute keyword research for your business.
We demonstrate this approach with live examples and show you in real-time so you can follow along, stopping and starting this lesson as you go.

Watch the next lesson: Lesson Four: Understanding On-Page SEO

Worksheets & downloads available here

Video Transcription

Hello, and welcome to module one, lesson three.

Where we’re going to look at researching and understanding keywords. What are keywords? Well, they are the foundation of any well planned marketing strategy, and where every smart business person begins their campaign. However most website owners, or their marketing agencies go about keyword research entirely the wrong way. Let me explain.

Often they will pick terms that they think their audience looks for, or how they wish their business to be found. Pop those terms in the keyword panel or other automated tool, then look at results, cherry pick those that they feel are most relevant, and optimise their website, and their entire campaign around those, frankly, guessed terms. It’s madness.

What keywords come to mind when I say the word, “Football”? Do you think of keywords like Premier League, Match of the Day, pitch, crowd, the off-side-rule? Maybe you think of your favourite team, or even your favourite player.

You may even be like my wife when I asked her this exact question just now before filming, and she turned around to me and quite simply just said, “Overpaid.” Well the Google Keyword Planner doesn’t think like that. In fact, it doesn’t think at all, because it’s a machine. And as such, the results that it shows are very one dimensional. Live football, football news, football results, football games, online football. Nothing like the terms that you most probably thought of, as it sticks very firmly to close matches of the exact phrases you enter, and there is the issue.

Now don’t get me wrong, the Keyword Planner and other tools like it are very useful, and we will be using them throughout this course. However, they’re not the place to start, and that’s not what we’ll be doing. Remember also, that just using the keyword planner, you’re being given the exact same keyword suggestions as everyone else.

We need to be, and we’re going to be much smarter about how we do keyword research. Remember it isn’t what it once was. With mobile search, more queries than ever are being localised with Near Me, and Closest, also voice search.

Now colloquial “Where is the nearest pizza place to me?” All of this means you as a business owner need to be much more intelligent about how you go about doing keyword research. How many keywords should you be optimising for is a very common question that I’m asked by academy members.

Remember, any keyword list is just an indication of a much wider process at play. The Google algorithm is now highly intelligent. Let’s say you optimise for estate agent in Oxford. It’s very likely that you will still appear for property agency, and letting agency even if you haven’t explicitly optimised for those terms.

In addition you’ll also appear for all the various towns around Oxford if you optimise for Oxford, or you stand a greater chance of appearing depending on the competition. You will also stand a greater chance of appearing just simply for estate agent or property agent, if that person who is searching happens to be located in that target area. So if they’re in Oxford, and they search for estate agent.

What I’m gettin’ at here, is that no keyword list is exhaustive. you are never going to list every possible keyword that your business is going to appear for, so don’t stress about trying. Instead, what we’re gonna focus on doing is creating keyword focus groups based on topics.

How many keyword groups, or topics you’re going to have will depend entirely on the number of products, or services you want to optimise. But these keyword groups will give us the essential ideas for how we’re going to optimise your website later on in this module. And as we move through the course, they will give us ideas for content creation and it’s promotion. But wow, let’s take this one step at a time. First step is to create our first keyword group. Just below this video is a downloadable worksheet.

So go ahead and pause this video, and come back once you’re ready. I’ll wait. Fantastic. You’re probably wondering what this is. Well this is my proven and trusted method for how I’ve done research for clients for years. Write down your main business, product, or service at the very bottom in the seed keyword slot. Above that we have 12 spaces where we’re shortly going to be filling in all the related keywords. Above that, at the very top of the page there are six spaces.

These will be the six primary terms that will form the keyword group all based around a single topic. It may sound daunting and a little bit scary, but don’t worry. I’m gonna jump onto my computer right now, and walk you through this whole process, step by step. Right, let’s create our first keyword group. Now I always start my keyword research on Google. It makes the most sense because that’s where we’re focusing most of our time and energy.

With keyword research, what we are essentially trying to do is create a group of related keywords which are proven that that is how customers are going to find your products, find your services. Now I’m going to use one of my agency clients as the example here as we work through this lesson, which is a company called London Drainage Services. Fairly obvious what they do. All manner of drainage services in London. Now if you make sure that you’ve got your keyword template, which is … You can download the worksheets for the lesson. If you make sure you’ve got that ready. Then hop onto Google.

Just start searching. There’s no right and wrong, there’s no definitive way of doing it. Just start searching for keywords that you feel are relevant to your business, and how someone might find you. When you’re searching, just have a look. I know for this one we’re … My client’s currently fourth at the moment. But as I’m looking through, one of the great things you can do in Google now, is if you just put your cursor next to that, and you’ll instantly get some other results.

Straight away, drainage company. I can pluralize that. Drainage companies, drainage specialists, drainage contractors, London. These are all related terms. All four of those, those three, this one. I would be popping those into my related terms here. So you can quickly see how this list can get far beyond sort of a dozen or so. Equally, just simply put in the space bar. See how this changed.

You get a completely different set of keywords. London drainage company, London drainage services. If I just click on that one, I can see that my client’s actually second for that term. That’s a different term, again, same principle. I can just keep going through this, and just delve deeper, and deeper into the rabbit hole. Again, I can look for, again, services.

Different terms, if I put my cursor at the start of that term, I’m gonna get different terms. Again, if I remove that … If I search … Put my cursor, I’m gonna get different terms again. I would just work my way through this, this is all based on just that one keyword string. I would do this for any and all terms that I could think of off the top of my head around this client. I knew this client does drainage, I know they’re based in London. I know they do blocked drains, drain clearance, drain maintanence.

You can work across the different areas of your business, or be it each one of those if they are quite different services or products, you’re gonna create a different keyword group for them. You can see how this starts to pan out quite quickly. Once you have those terms … this is one keyword suggestion box. You also have … If you scroll down, I’ve got my results set to 100, you’ll probably have yours to 10. But if you scroll down the bottom, this is really useful as well. This is what Google is telling you are related searches to London drainage.

It’s an absolute goldmine in terms of keyword ideas. We can see drainage specialists, drainage contractors, drainage company, emergency drainage. All different terms that again, what I would do is, I would be copying a bunch of those into either this, or if the keyword list was getting pretty extensive, I would put it in an Excel spreadsheet. I would take all those terms, and I would just bank them for the moment. Just keep adding to the terms. If we end up with 50, or even 100 keywords, that’s okay.

At the moment it’s just about getting lots of keyword ideas, that we can then start to group. One of the key things as well, let the search results give you ideas. I would always scroll through here and look at how the competition, how people that are ranking, how they have optimised it. Look at their page titles, look at the terms and the keywords in their meta descriptions. See if you can generate other ideas from them. Once you’ve done some initial keyword research, and you’ve generated a handful of keywords that you’re fairly happy with, pop them into the related and popular keyword section of your keyword template.

Once we have those in place, we’re gonna move onto some more advanced keywords strategies and expand upon that list. What I always like to do is use the search console. Now if you’ve only just set this up …

If you’ve only just set this up, then you won’t have any data, it’ll just say, “No data” here. Which is not a problem, it just means you’re gonna have to check back and do this step in a couple of weeks time. If, or as in when you do have access and it does have the data, if you click into search analytics, this is really useful.

This will tell you the exact keywords that you’re already appearing for. Which is really fantastic ’cause we can see what are we already appearing for? Can we improve upon these? If you’re ranking average number three, let’s try and get you to that first spot. It can make a real difference and often there’s some quick wins in here. What I like to do is click on the date range, and you can set it back as far as 90 days.

Just go to last 90 days. This will give you all of the keywords that this client is being found for, and how people are finding his website. If you download this spreadsheet it’ll load into a CSV and it’ll look like this. Now this gives you all of the keywords that the website is being found for. The number of clicks, the number of impressions, the click through rate, which is what CRT stands for, it’s click through rate, and your average position. Now what I tend to do is just scan through this, if I’m just doing initial keyword research I might copy all of these keywords and pop them all into my long list of all terms. But often what I’m gonna do if I’m creating just a single keyword group, which is what you’re gonna be doing, is I would cherry pick those that are most relevant to the primary service, or product that you’re optimising at the moment. You can keep this file just for future use as well.

What you can do, what I tend to do, is I click on the impression column, filter, and sort large to small. This will give me a better sense of the keywords that are generating the highest search volumes, ’cause they’re often going to be the ones that I’m going to want to prioritise. Block drains London, drain unblocker, how to unblock a drain, you’re seeing a bit of a trend here. You’ll probably see the same with your data as well. You’ll start to see topics. That’s all around unblocking a drain … There’s gonna be more to how to unblock a drain.

Soon you’ll start to see trends of topics, rather than a single giving keyword which is the whole premise of why we’re creating groups of keywords. Because one piece of content could arguably rank for a whole host of terms around a given topic. Select your best terms if you … You might not find any, but if you do, cherry pick those out, and pop those into here. Then what we’re going to do, is we’re going to use the keyword planner. Like I said earlier, this is where a lot of people start their keyword research, and it’s a mistake.

‘Cause already by this time, we’ve got a good sense of what’s the keyword’s ranking, and what Google is suggesting. If Google is suggesting we should be looking into this term, it’s something I’m gonna be paying attention to. Now we’re gonna use the Keyword Planner in two different ways, but before we get onto that, what I need to talk you through is the setup of the Keyword Planner. Now to set this up, if you haven’t already got it, you need to go to Set up an account, follow the very basic set up process, which isn’t a problem, and then once you’ve created an account you then need to create your first campaign.

Now you’ll have to … Google makes people these days jump through a few hoops in order to set up their campaign, but you don’t have to spend any money. You just have to set a fictitious, a pretend … single campaign up. You may have to create an ad, you may have to pop in a couple of keywords, just do that. Just make sure that your campaign is paused, and then you will get access to all the sweet stuff, all the good stuff of the Google AdWords system. Which crucially includes the Keyword Planner. Once you’ve got this system set up, you will have this top menu here.

If you click on tools, you’ll come into the Keyword Planner, which is this. Now if you struggle with setting AdWords up, or you can’t work out how to do it. Again if you’ve got anyone technically minded that might be able to help, shoot them up. If you haven’t, you know you can just email me support at the Evergreen Academy, and I will gladly give you a hand. Once you’re in here, there’s a few different options. What I tend to do is I often take the keywords that we created earlier … I’ll just copy them out … And I pop them into here, because the Keyword Planner by it’s very definition will give you lots of keyword ideas.

But the only downside is it’s giving everyone else the same keyword ideas that it’s given to me based on similar terms, which is why we don’t start with it. But what you can do, is I just tend to pop in all of those keyword ideas that we generated. Straightaway I’m gonna get a more varied mix than other people. Make sure you’re setting to your target area. Now this is … I know for my client, he’s targeting to specifically London, but that’s gonna be very, very niche. A very, very small target market in the grand scheme of things.

So nine times out of ten I would almost always say just leave it as UK. Don’t leave it as worldwide, make sure it is United Kingdom. If updated this will then search it’s data bank for all the similar terms, and crucially, it’ll do a few different things. It’s going to tell us the average monthly searches for all the keywords that we put in, and the competition, and the, in some cases, crazy expensive suggested bids. Then this is the fun stuff here. This is where it will have all of the related keywords, and basically the suggested keywords.

What you tend to do is download the entire file. We’ll save that, and then we’ll open this file up. Here we go. Now if you just … I start to piece this together. You can see here, you’ve got the sea of keywords, and then you’ve got the keyword ideas. What I tend to do right away is just separate out the two lists.

Because they’re the terms that I put in and these are the other keyword ideas. You will then have … We’re starting to build a sense of the monthly searches. Which terms are the most popular. Again, I would select that column, we’ll enlarge to small. Starting to see some consistencies. ‘Cause that was the term that we found from Google search, and I already know from this one that that is a very popular term in terms of the search impressions.

But crucially, I could already see … You’ll start to see this as you go through, and you learn how to do this. A lot of impressions got only five clicks. That means there’s a great opportunity there, that if I improve this client’s optimization around that given term, we’ll increase the number of clicks because there’s definitely the number of people are searching for it. That’s because if we assume for this particular term, he’s ranking number 10. Which is obviously not good enough, it’s gonna need to be improved, and it will be improved.

Right. As we see this is a list of the keywords here. You’ve then got loads of keyword ideas. Now what you could do with this … You can often get six to eight hundred keyword ideas, so I tend to do the same thing. I select all of the keywords in that column, largest to small and you’re gonna get some really vague kind of unrelated terms. Plumber … That is just so vague it’s … That is not a commercially … The term it’s … You’re never gonna rank for a term as generic as that, so it’s something I wouldn’t even entertain.

Instead you’re gonna go down this list, and once again you’re gonna be cherry picking the keywords that for you are most relevant. Puttin’ them in to your related and popular keyword ideas. You’re also gonna be able to get a good sense of the search volume. Now what I tend to do is I miss … I just skip past the first sort of 10, 15% of the links. Because most people when they open this … When they look at keyword research, are gonna go off to the big money terms. They’re gonna go after the most popular terms.

But if you scroll down, and you get to sort of this level, the kind of the … You don’t want to necessarily be going right down to here where the searches are 10 or … 10 is almost Google’s way of saying, “Very few. Rarely get searched.” Whereas if we get up into the kind of, the hundred or two hundred sort of range, this is often the sweet spot. Where the greatest opportunities lie. This tends to be where I focus my energy, and I look and find the best potential keywords. At this stage you may already have a whole host of keywords, and have filled up your related and popular keyword ideas. There again, you might not, and you might be hungry for more.

Just in case you’re the later, I’m gonna go even deeper and show you even more amazing ways to find and generate awesome keyword ideas. If you go back onto Google, and as you’re looking through the results, or as you would’ve been looking through the results, I’m sure you would’ve seen the same companies coming up again, and again. It’s possible they’re below you, they might be above you in the search. There may be one or two competitors which you’re just frustrated by because they’re always sitting above you in the search results. What we’re gonna do is, we’re gonna do some competitor keyword analysis. What I want to do is take one, two, three.

Three or four of the keywords of the competitors that are ranking above you. I’ve just chosen these four that are all in amongst the mix with my particular client. They’re kind of his main competitors. We take their website, and again, we go back into the Keyword Planner. We modify search. I’m gonna take out all of those keywords that we had before, and simply put in their homepage into the Your Landing Page section. Then click on get ideas.

Now what this will do is … This is really quite clever, Google will now crawl that website and see which keywords their website is optimised around. So straight away, just think about that for a moment. That’s gonna give you loads of ideas and insight into how your competitor has optimised their own website. What I tend to do … You then go through and download that same file, exactly like we just did, for our own research, but now if you like, we’re taking a sneak peek at the competition. Here we go again, this is now gonna have all the keyword ideas.

It’s gonna give us loads of useful data, and what’s really interesting is it’s going to tell us which pages their website ranks for which enables us to go even deeper, which I’ll cover in just a second. But initially, you can just go through. You can, again, you can order by volume to look at where they are getting their most searches from. Where is their traffic from. You can start to cherry pick terms, and say, “Are they ranking for any given topics, given keyword groupings?” We can cherry pick ideas.

Again, those with the high search volume are probably ones they’re most optimised around. So we start to delve a little deeper, and you start to find other terms. What’s really interesting is if you order the extracted from section, order that A to Z. What it will do is, it’s gonna tell you all the terms that each page is optimised around. Most websites are going to have a lot of terms around their homepage. But what’s really interesting is as you get down here, you get into the pages which are sub pages on their website.

It might be their services pages, it could be product pages, whatever it is. But it will give you a good sense of what these terms are optimised around. As you’re … This works really well for as you start to build out your keyword groups. If you’ve got specific services, or specific products, which you want to flank your ideas around, you could see how this could work. Because you can pop in Iver, the homepage of the competitor, or you could just pop in the exact URL of their service page, or their product page which is ranking, into the Keyboard Planner, pull off this same spreadsheet and work through the keywords to get keyword ideas, to see the keyword volume. Any that you like the look of … We’re gonna just, again, cherry pick out.

I would do this for three, or four of the competitors. You can see how they’ve actually optimised for the different locations. They’ve got one for Essex, one for Kent. I won’t tell you what I think of that approach. But it gives you some really good insight into how the competition are ranking, what they’re doing, and how they are appearing. As I say, you can take it one step further if you wanted to.

You could take a single given URL. If one page was ranking exceptionally highly, and you thought, “How on earth are they ranking? What are they optimised around?” You could take that URL, pop it into the landing page. Generate the keyword ideas, evaluate those, cherry pick the best.

Once you’ve got a keyword list, however you’ve gone about it. We’ve covered several ways in which to cover keyword research during this lesson. However you go about generating keyword research, you want to have a bunch of those. At least a dozen terms, you may have two or three times that many, it doesn’t matter. But they’ll want to be focused around a single topic. Once you have those, we’re gonna move into the last part.

Which this is the proving part. This is where we find out how viable it’s going to be, and how possible it’s going to be for rank for those terms. Lemme show you what I mean. I’m gonna take London Drainage Services, that’s the first term. I’m gonna pop that into Google, I’m gonna search for it. Then what I like to do is … I just want to see how many of the competitors that are on Google’s first page, that are above me, or my website … Above your website, how many of those are optimised around that exact strength.

There’s an unbelievably simple way to check this out. Just hold down CTRL, press F, and paste in that exact term. I’m using Chrome for the web browser, which is one of the best web browsers in my opinion. What this will do is, it’ll automatically highlight all the results. Now you can ignore the paid results in terms of, “Are they matching?” Because it doesn’t matter, it’s irrelevant. We’ll get onto this shortly.

Then you’ve got the map stack here. If you’ve got a map stack here, this is good. Ideally you wanna have your business listed here. This is my actually client. He’s ranking top for this term. You then wanna just scroll down and see how many of the other competitors … So of all these only one has actually got this exact phrase in their title, and no one’s got it in their meta description. The meta description is this two line introduction here. So only one.

On them, I’m top anyway, which is in part due to that fact that it’s great content. But that aside, there’s only one other result that is ranking that has that exact term. If we try another one … Drainage contractors, London. We’ll search that. We’ll pop that in. Again, we’ll just have a quick scan, and we’ll just see. They’ve got … One competitor there, a second competitor there … a third one there.

What you’re looking for in here is to look at how competitive it is. Because as you work through this list, you’re gonna get a sense of … If you put in a term, and you see … I think this will probably be one that’s quite competitive. Nine times. Ignore those two, but you’ve got drainage London. One, two, three. That’s a little bit more competitive, that these are three of the top four all have that exact term. That’s probably one that we would say, “That’s quite competitive. That wouldn’t be one of the priority ones that we’re gonna put at the top here.”

Even though it gets quite a bit of search, you’re just making life harder for yourself, and it’s one that you’ll often find that you can introduce at a later date. Because at the moment, we’re just about … We want to establish your website, and get it out there, and get it seen as fast as possible. Once we’ve built some authority, and we’ve built some trust, and we’ve built some rankings, and some traffic. You can then start to play with the big boys. To try and compete for the more competitive terms. At the moment we’ve gotta be a little bit sneaky, and try and find the low hanging fruit, which is what this process is all about.

Now add in to this process that ideally, depending on what you’re trying to optimise for, where possible you want to avoid the most competitive terms. Those that have a lot of paid traffic. You’ll notice on this search result, you’ve got four paid ads, you’ve then got the map stack. The first organic one isn’t til right the way down here. That is below the fold of the page. It’s really quite far down. Really quite far down.

As when you’re going through, and you’re doin’ this, is there are terms that you pop in that don’t have any paid ads, but we can see via the spreadsheets and the research we’ve done, that they they do get some search volume. Google may only show 50 or 70, or 90 searches a month, but there is no paid ads, and there’s only one other person on the top ten results that has that exact phrase in their page style, in their meta description. That term is going straight in my keyword shortlist. I’m just gonna continue doing this exact process as I work through all the various terms. I’m just gonna pop them in see how competitive they are.

See if there’s any paid ads, see if there’s a map stack. If I can stand a chance of gettin’ in there. Create a shortlist. You’ll end up … You may not have six terms. You don’t necessarily have to have six terms. I would say four plus, four to six is a good number to … We don’t wanna have loads, but those four terms will give us variance and will all be based around the same topic.

They’ll be synonyms of the same keyword and variants of the same keyword, which will enable us to optimise your website, and your website pages in the coming lessons. In the coming modules, keep things extremely natural, and not keyword stuff. Yet, have keyword mentions, and all the different types of keywords that people are gonna search are gonna be right there in your website. That’s it. I’ve covered all sorts of keyword ideas, and hopefully given you loads of inspiration and different approaches that you are excited to take to find the very best keyword ideas for your business. I encourage you now to go through and re watch this video if necessarily.

Do exactly the keyword approaches we’ve just covered, and generate a fantastic keyword group. There you have it. That process is the exact formula that I have been using for years to research and find the very best keyword opportunities that have enabled my agency clients to grow their business, reach the very top of Google, and earn millions of pounds in revenue every single year. At this point you should have a keyword group with your seed keyword at the bottom, the twelve or so keyword ideas generated off the back of that, and at the very top, the six terms that represent the best possible opportunity for that topic to rank and perform well online, and to bring more customers to your business whilst ensuring we avoid the most highly competitive terms.

If your business has many different services, or a wide variety of products, you’re going to be best served just choosing two, or three of these and creating a keyword group for each. We’ll then work through the remainder of the course and optimise your website around these keyword groups. Once complete, you can return to this step and repeat the keyword grouping phase for every single product, or service that your business has. That’s our initial keyword research complete. In lesson four we’re going to look at on-page SEO. I’ll see ya then.

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