If you want to generate leads online for your product or service, the first thing you need to know is what people are already searching for. This is extremely important to know and is going to be the first step in any marketing strategy for generating leads. The process of doing research in order to find out what potential clients are already searching for is called “Keyword Research”.
What is Keyword Research?
Well, it’s just like it sounds. Keyword research is doing research to determine the keywords people are using in order to find a particular product or service. For example, if you offer roofing services, you need to know what words people are already using to look for roofing services. Are they searching for “roofing contractors”, “roof repair”, or “residential roof experts”?
There are so many different variations of words that people may use to search for a roofing contractor, and we want to find out what those are so that we’re sure to target the right words. In addition, there may be words that you yourself would never use to describe your business, but that lots of your potential customers are using! We need to know what your customers are searching for so that we can market ourselves properly.
There are many different keyword research tools out there, but most all of them pull their data from the same source: Google. The great thing is that Google has built a tool that allows us to see what people are actively searching for every month, including what words they use, how often they search for these services, and how competition there is for the words we want to target.
This tool is called the Keyword Planner Tool. The tool is free to use, and all you need to get started is to sign up for a Google Adwords Account.
Sign Up For Google Adwords
In order to sign up for an Adwords Account, just go to www.google.com/adwords.
The sign up screen will look something like this, and you’ll want to hit the Start Now button.
Once you’ve hit the start now button, you’ll be taken to sign up form that requires some basic information, like seen here:
Go ahead and fill out that form with the required information, and bam! Now you’re all signed up for Google Adwords. Now that wasn’t hard was it? Once you’re signed up, you’ll be taken to a Welcome page with the option to “Create your first campaign”. However, there isn’t any need to do that. You’ll just want to click on the “Tools” option in the main navigation. There will be a dropdown where we’ll want to select the option for the Keyword Planner.
Using Google’s Keyword Planner Tool
Now that you’re all signed up for Adwords, you can access this free Keyword Planner tool from Google whenever you’d like. I typically just type in “Keyword Planner” tool into Google and it pops up right at the top. You can also get there by going straight to adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner.
Ok, now we’re ready for the fun part! You should now be facing the Keyword Planner Tool screen which will pop up with 4 main option to choose from. Although all of these options can be helpful, for now, I recommend clicking on the first option of “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas”.
Once that is selected, you’ll be presented with a few different options. The first box, and the most important one, asks for your product or service. This is where you’ll want to put in any words you think people would be using to search for your product or service. I’m going to stick with the example of roofing, and I entered the following words for my product or service: roofing, roofers, roofing contractor, roofing services, residential roofing, roofing services.
It also asks for you to put in your landing page and your product category. You’re welcome to do so, although I typically leave those blank. The most important thing to include are the product or service ideas.
Target Your Service Area
Once you’ve put in as many ideas as you can think of, you’ll want to do some targeting so that you can focus your search only to the geographic area that you service. If you have multiple offices or service areas, then just focus on one at a time.
I’m going to target Las Vegas as my service area, since I used to live there and I’m familiar with the area. Under the targeting section, you’ll see the options to target by location, language, search engine, date range, etc. Click on the top box, where you’ll be able to select the locations you’d like to target.
Once you’ve clicked on the top box, it’ll open and allow you to enter the area you’re targeting. You can target an entire country, a city, a county, etc. Now, just keep in mind that this targeting is going to help us see what people from that targeted area are searching for.
If you target your entire country, and you only work in a small city, the numbers shown to you are going to be much larger than the reality of how many people are actually looking for your service locally. That’s why you want to be as specific as possible as to what your service area really includes.
The great thing is that the Keyword planner has a map you can use so that you can continue to add different geographic areas until you’re fully covering the area you’d like to service. For starters, I’m going to select Las Vegas, Nevada, the top option above.
Once I’ve selected my city, I’m going to want to click on the option of “nearby”, which will pull up a map and lets me see the actual area that’s being targeted by the Keyword Planner.
Now that we can see the map, I can see what portion of my city is actually being targeted. Although the entire area that is being targeted is part of my service area, I want to target the entire city as well as surrounding areas in my research. For this, I’ll continue to add cities and counties in the search bar at the top until the entire geographic area is covered.
There a couple of different ways of doing this, depending on the city you live in. Sometimes you may have to add a bunch of different smaller cities and suburbs in order to cover your general service area.
However, one of the problems with this is that there are certain areas that aren’t being covered in the city, and ideally, you’d like to cover the entire city. When this is the case, sometimes there will be a county or other option that is better to choose as it will cover the entire search area. In this situation, I found the county to be a better fit for what I was wanting to do.
Although the county view does include other areas that aren’t necessarily a big focus of my service area, I’m familiar enough with Las Vegas to know there really isn’t that much outside the Las Vegas metropolitan area, so, I’m not too worried about it messing up the data.
Once you have your area selected, click on “Done”, and it’ll take you back to the previous screen with the targeting options. We’ve done enough targeting, so go ahead and click on the button to “Get Ideas”.
Build Your Keyword List
We should now be facing a new screen which will allow us to dig into the keyword research data and find the best keywords to target. There will be two main options you can select, and both can be helpful. One is “Ad Group Ideas”, and that will take keywords and group them into different categories. This tool is designed for paid search, but this can still help as you generate keyword ideas.
The other one is called “Keyword Ideas”, and that’s what I’ve selected in the image below.
From here, it will show you the search traffic for the key terms you entered previously. It will also show other terms that are similar to the words you’ve submitted. In addition to the keywords, Google provides us with some other data that is quite helpful.
The first thing I like to do a this point is to compile a list of all possible keyword variations that I could potentially want to target. Basically, I’m going to scroll through the different keyword ideas, and take the ones I like and add them to the search box above. There may be a better, more efficient way to do this (especially with other tools), but this is how I do it with the Keyword Planner.
What criteria do I look at when determining which keywords to add to my list? Well, first off, I like to compile as large a list as possible, and then go through and refine the list down to my targeted keywords. However, even so, I still filter out some of the keywords that aren’t relevant so as to make the list more manageable. Here’s some of the criteria I look at:
- Average Monthly Searches – This number indicates how many average times this term is searched for every month (within the geographic area we’ve selected). To compile my list, I’ll add as many relevant terms that I see have at least some search volume.
- Competition – I don’t really pay attention to the competition much, since this is competition for paid traffic. In fact, I prefer if the competition says “High”, because it means that leads are most likely being acquired from other companies for that term.
- Suggested Bid – This represents how much it would typically cost to pay per click if you chose to advertise for this keyword via PPC(I’ll get into this more elsewhere). I prefer keywords that have a high estimated bid, again, because we know that valuable leads are being generated from these keywords.
As I scan through the list of keyword ideas, I add most of the keywords that I think are relevant. I will most definitely add them to my list if they are relevant and they have a high suggested bid price. There are many ways to do this step and everyone may have different criteria when selecting keywords for their list, but this is one of the ways that I do it.
Refine Your Keyword List
Now that my keyword list has been built, let’s take a look at my top terms, based on average search volume, competition, and suggested bid price.
Based on this information, I can see that the main terms that people are searching for and that I’m going to want to use for marketing online are going to be “roofing”, “roofing companies”, “roofing contractors”, “roofer”, etc.
These terms are typically referred to as “primary keywords”. That means they are the terms that have the most search volume, and are the best terms to target. Typically, when looking at what terms to focus on for my primary keywords, I would look for a minimum of 100 searches a month. It looks like only one of my terms has the required minimum, which is “roofing”.
However, since “roofing” is also often used in conjunction with other terms, such as “roofing contractors”, and “roofing companies”, I would have a list of the top terms that would be good. to use.
In addition to these main or “primary keywords”, we also want to be aware of some of the other terms that people are searching for, that may not have quite as much search volume. Looking further down the list, we see the following terms:
From this list, we can see other good terms that we’ll want to keep in mind, as they’ll be good “supporting keywords” that we can use in the future. We see that such terms as “leaky” or “leaking roof repair”, “roofing services”, and “residential” all have a little bit of traffic and would be good to incorporate into our marketing efforts as well.
How To Use Keywords to Generate Leads
Now after you’ve done all this work and you’ve identified what people are actually searching for as it relates to your product or service, how will these keywords be helpful? There are many different uses for keywords, and I’ll dive more into how to use them in other posts.
However, it’s good to recognize that you can use these keywords for ANY type of marketing you do online. If you have a Facebook page, you can ensure that the category you choose for your page is relevant and that your company description includes some of the most important words.
If you have a Yelp business page, you’ll also want to make sure your categorization and business description are matching up with the words you’ve identified.
The same can be said about marketing on Craigslist, SuperPages, social media, etc. The great thing is that if you’ve done this process right, this will be the foundation from which you can build on for all of your online lead generation efforts.