How to find keywords for SEO

So if you want to do some SEO, choosing the right keywords is the foundation of any SEO campaign. But when most people start they start saying to themselves, how do I find the right keywords? Where do I even start looking? I don’t know how to do this. If this is what you’re thinking you are in the right place, because in this video, we’re going to show you how.

Hey there, guys, I’m Kellis Landrum. I’m a co-founder here True North Social, we’re a digital marketing agency based in Los Angeles, California. Welcome to part two of our series on choosing the right SEO keywords. In our last video, we talked about the different types of keywords that you can look at. If you want to check out that video, you can click this link. Now we are going to talk about a few different ways to do keyword research and put together a list of potential keywords. And in our third video, we’ll talk about how to choose the right SEO keywords and narrow it down to a few small ones that are the best to start with, and then maybe a few you want to follow up with later on down the road. These are all real techniques that we use here at True North Social. So you’re gonna get a behind the scenes look at how an agency goes about this process.

All SEO strategy starts with Keywords

Now, as I mentioned previously, all SEO strategy starts with keywords. This needs to be your mantra going forward. They ask themselves, how do I get my site to rank? This is where keyword research comes into play. The first question you should be asking is, what do I get my site to rank for?

Now, usually, when I ask this question to clients, the answer I get is everything. But no, everything is not a real strategy, you need to find something specific. You need to find relevant keywords that are associated with your niche, with your industry or whatever else it is that you’re doing. So let’s talk a little bit about how we’re going to do SEO keyword research.

How to find Keywords

So when we’re looking at how to find the right keywords for a specific website, the place I like to start is creating a great big list of keywords and then narrowing it down to better and better possibilities progressively as we go along. The keyword research tool that we use at True North Social to do this is Semrush. There’s plenty of good keyword research tools out there. But I’m going to show you the example of how we do keyword research tools to find monthly search volume, keyword difficulty, and to analyze keywords in general. So let’s head over to Semrush. This is semrush.com this is one of our favorite SEO tools here at True North Social. If you want to get a free trial, you can click the link in the description below. You can try this out for seven days, see if you like it. You know, if you don’t, there are free keyword research tools out there. I just personally don’t really like any of the free alternatives. I think this is one of the best keyword research tools if not the best keyword tools out there. You can try it, compare it to a free keyword tool, and let me know.

google keyword planner

1 Your website

Okay, so there are a few good places to start in the keyword research process. The first place is your website. So I picked this website at random. I googled plumbers in Culver City, where our office is and then pick the first listing I found on yelp.com because they probably paid to be at the top of Yelp. And the Search Engine Optimization for this site is okay. It’s not terrible, it’s definitely not great. If you’re watching this and you’re from Avant Rooter, consider this your free keyword analysis. But let’s take a look at this site. So Avant Rooter does plumbing. And let’s put their URL and into Semrush here. And this will give us a domain overview of Avant Rooter. So it’s got an authority score of 10, which is not very high, it’s got 181 search traffic per month, also not very high. And just under 200 backlinks, also not very high. So this doesn’t have anything to do with keywords this is just telling me some general state of the site. But I’m gonna look at top organic keywords here.

So this is going to tell me keywords that the site ranks for. Let’s toggle this by position. So position 1 through 10 is the first page of Google. So it looks like they have Seven words on the first page. And we can see keyword volume over here, below 100. This one’s just below 200. So none of these are real big keywords. So this is a good possible site to try and start doing some SEO for because when we look off of the first page, off of the first page means 11 through 20 is on the second page. And then 21 through 30 is the third page. So this site has a lot of words ranking off of the first page and even goes to another page. What that tells me is most likely they have a fair number of pages on this site with a bunch of different content on them. Services, coupons areas we serve. These are all good pages with probably the same page content with just the name of the city changed on it. But they’ve got some services. Google likes to see text.
keyword difficulty

My guess is there’s only 200 backlinks to this site which is not a lot. So it means links probably have not been built to a lot of these pages, which means there’s a lot of opportunity here. So the first tip I recommend to people if you’re looking for what keywords should I try and rank for is like off of the first page. Now one of the things I like to do with Semrush is use its keyword manager here. So I’m gonna open this up. And I’m going to create a new list for Avant Rooter. So I’m gonna create a list here. And now what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna refresh this page, just so I make sure I know that it knows that we created a list and now still loading, I hover over this and click on these three little bars here. Show me all the list, I’m gonna set this one to default. And now what I’m going to do is I’m going to pick some keywords that I might want to go after here. So I’m not going to worry about anything that’s already on page one.

I’m going to try and start getting more stuff onto page one. Right now none of the search volumes on page one are over 170. That’s the biggest keyword on here, that’s number seven. So I’m going to try and find stuff below 170 and just try and get more stuff up here. So I’m gonna look at what’s relevant, plumbers in Culver City is probably pretty relevant. Semrush says the intent on this keyword is commercial, meaning the user wants to… it says investigate render services. It means they’re looking for a plumber to hire right? They’re googling plumbers in Culver City, and this guy comes up so I think that’s a good one. Culver City plumbers also a good one, Plumber city’s east Los Angeles, let’s assume that’s an area that this company serves. Plumber Pacific Palisades, Plumber Culver City. So as I see these checkmarks happen here, I’m gonna look down in this keyword list. And they should add in here unless I’m doing something funny.

There we go. So now I’m seeing that now I’m building my list, right? So I’m gonna start with a pretty broad list of stuff. I can just keep adding some of these Palisades plumbing, Palos Verdes plumber. I want to go on my thing here. Now, you’ll see there’s not all of these are going to be relevant to what I want. There’s Avant address. Now, Avant could be a bunch of different businesses, Avanti plumbers, not really sure if they’re looking for this business or some other business, is Avant sick, Avant account, all of these are probably not super relevant. So I’m not going to bother working on those but plumbers in East Los Angeles, those might be. Rooter service in Los Angeles, Venice plumbing, Palisades plumbing, Pacific Palisades. I don’t know why you would search that way, but maybe great, so I’m not trying to be super super particular here. I’m not saying I’m actually going to go after all of these but these are all potentials, Malibu plumber Sure, why not? Palos plumbing, I’m sure they mean Palos Verdes.  Plumber Los Angeles, California. Sure, why not? Right.

So I’m gonna build a decent list of these here. Water Heater Repair Santa Monica, maybe that’s what a plumbing company does. Okay, so this would be a good way to start looking at keywords that I couldn’t move up on my site. I’m gonna refresh this here. Okay, so here are some good candidates, they’re sorted by volume. This is probably pretty big. Maybe not going to go after those right away, here are a bunch of smaller ones I can go after. So this is a good start looking at keywords we already rank for.

2 Your competitors

Okay, so option two is to look at competitors. Right. So let’s find a good keyword on our list here. I’m going to go for something kind of medium volume like Plumber Culver City. So I’m going to look at our competitors here. I’m gonna pick a keyword that’s something with the right search volume data. Not too big, not too small, somewhere right in the middle, 210 is fine.

search engines

Let’s see who comes up in search results. So first of all, I’m going to ignore ads. I don’t care about ads. I’m also going to ignore the map pack. These are natural listings. So first thing I want to keep in mind is to ignore sites that aren’t plumbing companies that are just list some other stuff like Yelp, Angie’s List, don’t want that. Ritz Plumbing, this looks like an actual plumbing company. So let’s take a look Ritz Plumbing Culver City. Okay, so this looks like a good one. This might be the local page for a bigger company, looks like it is, but I assume they are Los Angeles. Yeah, they are a Los Angeles based. So what I want to do here, same as with off on, I’m just gonna get the main URL of their site. And I’m gonna open up Semrush again, and I’m going to look at this site. So this site has a little bit higher domain I believe, more traffic and more links. So I’m guessing they’re probably going to rank for more keywords, which they do. Let’s look at what keywords these guys have.

 Okay, all sorts of stuff to look at here, plumber Hollywood, Orange County sewer repair, Los Angeles emergency plumber. So Avant didn’t rank for anything over 170. So there’s two ways I can go about this. Maybe the fact they’re in position one, I’m guessing this site has done a little bit of SEO, just because it links for in some function for 1100 keywords, right, they probably are doing a little bit SEO, these keywords are important to them, they had to do some work to get on the first page. So if they’re important to them, they’re probably pretty decent keywords. That’s a hit for me. I’m just going to add a couple that they, I’m gonna say like maybe I’ll compete for some of this. I’m not going to compete on their brand name, but Orange County sewer repair, emergency plumber Los Angeles, Los Angeles emergency plumber.

google ads keyword planner

And as I’m clicking on all of these, these are going to go to my Avant rooter list. So when I look over here, now, I was at 19 let’s make sure these are getting added now I’m at 23. Right so looking at what they are, what your competitors are going after, not a bad way to pick keywords. The other way is again at volume right so 27,000 is pretty big. They’re just off the first page for that. But let’s look at some of the smaller stuff. Water Heater Repair Burbank, I’m gonna say we don’t serve Burbank right or Santa Clara right? Used water heaters in Los Angeles. We don’t sell used water heaters. Plumbing supply West Los Angeles, plumbing toilet repair, plumber Compton, right. If we’re in Culver City, probably don’t have Compton. Let’s see emergency plumber Santa Clarita. Let’s see Long Beach plumbing company, Hollywood plumbers, any of this kind of stuff, right?

At this point, my goal is to just build up a list of anything that I think might be somewhat relevant, right? I’m not trying to necessarily pick and choose, I want to build a big list and then narrow that list down in the next step. So this is how you do that with competitors and then you build your list and get some more stuff on there by looking at competitors.

3 Broad Keyword + Modifier

There is another way I want to show you, that has to do with modifiers. So let’s take a look at that. So we’re talking about keyword modifiers. Let’s talk about what that means a little bit first. So when we look at these keywords, a lot of them are modified. Now what do I mean by that? Let’s take the word plumbing. For example, this keyword is modified in a lot of different ways on this list. And usually when we’re talking about keyword modifiers, we’re talking about words that come either before or after your keyword. Like in this case, Plumbing has two modifiers here, one is quality, and the other is Ventura. So I’m gonna do a little filter here, just so we can take a closer look at these.
long tail keywords

Put in plumbing, this is going to filter out all the keywords that don’t include plumbing. So here we have plumbing contractors, and Los Angeles. Here contractors is a type, Los Angeles is a location. Here in Moreno Valley is location so we can see a location modifier might come either before or after our keyword. In this case services is a modifier. In this case, contractors is a modifier, right? But those are some different sorts of variations. So when I’m thinking about keywords that I can modify, and find variants of this keyword to use, I have a strategy for doing this, because I want to find keywords that have some sort of search volume to go after but I also want to make sure that that search volume is appropriate and the keyword is irrelevant to what I’m doing. So let’s take a look at one way, we can do that using keyword modifiers. So what I’m gonna do here is I’m gonna create a new spreadsheet in Google Sheets, you can use Excel, if you want. I’m just used to using Google Sheets because I like it.

Put in plumbing, this is going to filter out all the keywords that don’t include plumbing. So here we have plumbing contractors, and Los Angeles. Here contractors is a type, Los Angeles is a location. Here in Moreno Valley is location so we can see a location modifier might come either before or after our keyword. In this case services is a modifier. In this case, contractors is a modifier, right? But those are some different sorts of variations. So when I’m thinking about keywords that I can modify, and find variants of this keyword to use, I have a strategy for doing this, because I want to find keywords that have some sort of search volume to go after but I also want to make sure that that search volume is appropriate and the keyword is irrelevant to what I’m doing. So let’s take a look at one way, we can do that using keyword modifiers. So what I’m gonna do here is I’m gonna create a new spreadsheet in Google Sheets, you can use Excel, if you want. I’m just used to using Google Sheets because I like it.

Right there Google Sheets threw an error, so we got that taken care of. I’ll name my spreadsheet, keyword modifiers. We’ll call this Avant so we can do more than just plumbing here. So I’m gonna say, keyword, and you can have more than one modifier but let’s just start with one. So I’m gonna say, keyword, I’m gonna add a modifier and then I’m going to have the combined one over here. So let’s start with the word plumbing. Case does not matter here but I want to get ranked for keywords in a lot of different locations. So I’m going to use the keyword plumbing over and over again. Now if you want to find different locations that you might want to try and rank for, if your service is plumbing, here’s a nice trick for that. I’m gonna say cities in Los Angeles, right. So I’m gonna just try and find a list of cities on the internet to go after. This could be by city, this could be by geographic area, could be by state, there are a lot of these kinds of lists. Los Angeles has a ton of cities in it. So I’m gonna just go through and grab all these. I’m going to create a sheet here. If you see something that’s a table, and you don’t want all the tables, you can just paste it into a blank sheet. And then just copy the column that you want, like I’m doing. So now I’ve got all the cities in here, that’s a nice long list. Pull this down quite a bit. So there we go, and combined. Okay, so the magic word here is “concatenate”. See, I didn’t even spell it right. But thank God, Google corrects me because I do not know how to spell. Concatenate Google Sheets. There we go. So I’m going to copy and paste this. This is page one, supportgoogle.com. You can Google it the same way I did. Then we’re going to put this into combined. Now this by itself is not a formula until we put the equal sign at the front of it.

keyword research tool

Now, it is a keyword for Google. But, it’s grabbing the wrong words, because we are specifying the wrong cells. This is A, so we have A1, A2. So it is doing what we told it to do. We want A2 and B2. Just A2 and B2 it looks like, so let’s get we can get rid of A3. So we got A2 and let’s get B2. Okay, so that’s got plumbing, Agoura hills, but we need a space between it. So to add a space, we’re going to add a comma in here. And then we’re going to add two equal signs. And I am going to hit the spacebar to put a space in between them. This is telling it A2 space B2. So that’s going to put a space in between these two things. And if you want to repeat something on Google Sheet, when you select a cell, you’ll see this little blue square in the bottom of it. And if you hover over it, you’ll get crosshairs and you just press your mouse button down and you start pulling down and it will populate these cells. And handily enough, it will even change the cell number as you drag down so you get all these different cities, which is nice and convenient.

I have quite a few keywords here. I don’t really need all of these, but we’ll just see what happens. Okay, so I have this long list. So I’m just going to grab all of these and I’m going to copy them. I’ll go back over to Semrush here. And I believe it’s the keyword overview. So the keyword overview or keyword magic tool. Keyword magic tool. It’s inserting Ritz Plumbing in here. Let’s do it this way, I’m just going to open a new window or new tab, open up fresh Semrush here, let’s go over to keyword overview. So it doesn’t load anything. Okay, so I can enter multiple keywords on here, I can either separate them by comma or by line, either one works, but I’m just going to paste my big list in here, and hit search. Now, this is going to give me search volume for all of these keywords, how nice and convenient. There are a lot of good ones in here. So I’m gonna start adding these to my lists just to make sure I’m adding them to the right one. Plumbing industry, this one, I don’t even know how that one got in there. But these are locations, all of these might be nice choices for me to look at. I’m gonna put lots of these in here, right, so those go to my keyword manager. And I can go back over to my keyword manager here and look at all this stuff. And I can see up to 66 now, there’s much locations.

I have quite a few keywords here. I don’t really need all of these, but we’ll just see what happens. Okay, so I have this long list. So I’m just going to grab all of these and I’m going to copy them. I’ll go back over to Semrush here. And I believe it’s the keyword overview. So the keyword overview or keyword magic tool. Keyword magic tool. It’s inserting Ritz Plumbing in here. Let’s do it this way, I’m just going to open a new window or new tab, open up fresh Semrush here, let’s go over to keyword overview. So it doesn’t load anything. Okay, so I can enter multiple keywords on here, I can either separate them by comma or by line, either one works, but I’m just going to paste my big list in here, and hit search. Now, this is going to give me search volume for all of these keywords, how nice and convenient. There are a lot of good ones in here. So I’m gonna start adding these to my lists just to make sure I’m adding them to the right one. Plumbing industry, this one, I don’t even know how that one got in there. But these are locations, all of these might be nice choices for me to look at. I’m gonna put lots of these in here, right, so those go to my keyword manager. And I can go back over to my keyword manager here and look at all this stuff. And I can see up to 66 now, there’s much locations.

4 Keyword Tool Suggestions

All right, last but not least, we’re going to have a look at Semrush’s keyword magic tool. This is like most keyword tools, and then you just put a keyword in here, and it gives you some alternatives. This is tricky to use but let’s take a look and see what we can come up with. I’m going to try a big broad keyword like plumbers. So this is a place to start, right? This gives us 97,000 keywords to look at. Now you could go about seeing volume, what is in the correct volume range. Probably if you’re in the 450,000 range, you’re probably not needing to watch this video but let’s say 1to 1000. Apply that, we’ll see what we get. So some of these are going to be local area. Some of these aren’t somebody who’s looking for a plumber, this is best vehicle for plumbers, plumbers glue, there’s going to be a lot of plumbing stores, plumbing accessories, and something like this. So this is, I don’t know if this is helpful. There’s just so much in here, that’s not what we’re looking for, that maybe this is not the best way to go, it is so broad but if you did want to go big and broad, you can do that. Let’s try something a little more focused like Plumbing Services.

I have quite a few keywords here. I don’t really need all of these, but we’ll just see what happens. Okay, so I have this long list. So I’m just going to grab all of these and I’m going to copy them. I’ll go back over to Semrush here. And I believe it’s the keyword overview. So the keyword overview or keyword magic tool. Keyword magic tool. It’s inserting Ritz Plumbing in here. Let’s do it this way, I’m just going to open a new window or new tab, open up fresh Semrush here, let’s go over to keyword overview. So it doesn’t load anything. Okay, so I can enter multiple keywords on here, I can either separate them by comma or by line, either one works, but I’m just going to paste my big list in here, and hit search. Now, this is going to give me search volume for all of these keywords, how nice and convenient. There are a lot of good ones in here. So I’m gonna start adding these to my lists just to make sure I’m adding them to the right one. Plumbing industry, this one, I don’t even know how that one got in there. But these are locations, all of these might be nice choices for me to look at. I’m gonna put lots of these in here, right, so those go to my keyword manager. And I can go back over to my keyword manager here and look at all this stuff. And I can see up to 66 now, there’s much locations.

4 Keyword Tool Suggestions

All right, last but not least, we’re going to have a look at Semrush’s keyword magic tool. This is like most keyword tools, and then you just put a keyword in here, and it gives you some alternatives. This is tricky to use but let’s take a look and see what we can come up with. I’m going to try a big broad keyword like plumbers. So this is a place to start, right? This gives us 97,000 keywords to look at. Now you could go about seeing volume, what is in the correct volume range. Probably if you’re in the 450,000 range, you’re probably not needing to watch this video but let’s say 1to 1000. Apply that, we’ll see what we get. So some of these are going to be local area. Some of these aren’t somebody who’s looking for a plumber, this is best vehicle for plumbers, plumbers glue, there’s going to be a lot of plumbing stores, plumbing accessories, and something like this. So this is, I don’t know if this is helpful. There’s just so much in here, that’s not what we’re looking for, that maybe this is not the best way to go, it is so broad but if you did want to go big and broad, you can do that. Let’s try something a little more focused like Plumbing Services.

keyword research helps

So ACS plumbing services, so there’s brands, who knows where these are, emergency plumber service, right? This is something that might actually be good for the type of business we’re looking at. This is very big, well, we’ll call this aspirational. Right? This is a lot bigger than, that site is probably getting anywhere anytime soon, plumbing, repair services, probably in that same boat. But so Plumbing and Drain services. And keep in mind, this is so broad. If you’re running a locally based business, word like Plumbing and Drain service, this is nationwide. This is all across the US, you might get calls, and you might be in LA and get calls from people in Florida. And that’s probably not going to do a whole lot of good. Unless you’re a national chain, something like that. You know, one thing you might want to try is looking at a little bit narrower volumes, right? So maybe we go, let’s say 200. In here, I would say for a smaller business, probably what you’re going to focus on is questions related to plumbing that maybe you could answer, because these are all plumbing services. And in fact, in that respect, maybe we go back to, maybe instead of doing plumbers, we do plumber. And we already have our volume set to 200 here. And this is giving me a lot of small plumbing businesses. Really what I’m looking for here is questions that somebody might ask about plumbing that we could write a blog post about, like adding a toilet to existing plumbing. This is a good blog post that a small business might write or even a big business, right? Because if you wrote a blog post like this, you could build up your ranking on it, build some power in it and then link to another page on your site that might be a little bit tougher to build links on or that maybe needs a little bit more linking Power. I think this is commonly called a pillar and post strategy where, you know, pages that you’re trying to get to ranked for very large keywords, you write blog posts with a smaller volume, build up some street credibility, I guess, some trust through those, and then link them up to a bigger site. So we can try doing something like that. Now going back to more specific stuff. Let’s see, I think there was one that was like, let’s look at plumbers, Los Angeles. See if there are any variations of this, that we might be able to get. 24 hour Plumbers, Los Angeles, cheap plumbers Los Angeles. So I’m in Los Angeles, I’m doing plumbing, emergency plumbing.

These are all sorts of fun variations that I might be able to find for my seed keyword. Plumbers Los Angeles, California. So slight keyword variations on these kinds of keyword ideas. This one is CA, this one is California. So you might keep in mind like oh, these Rankings, this one has 70 and this one has 50. This might help you figure out which one of these you want to focus on, one more than others. West Los Angeles, so this kind of gives you a general idea of Semrush’s keyword magic tool. And you know, using very broad keywords versus a little bit more specific keywords, and if you want to do informational versus commercial terms and these, but hopefully this gives you a little bit clearer idea of some different keyword research tools you can use to find relevant search terms and how you can create a very big list of target keywords and search queries. In fact let’s go back to our keyword list and see what we’re up to now. So let’s see, Avant Rooter, we’re up to 91 we’re almost hitting 100. So this is a pretty good list of keywords we could pick from.

 Conclusion

So we made some great progress. We now have a pretty big list of potential keywords to choose from. In our next video we’ll talk about how to narrow down this large list into a smaller one of the best keywords that’s really going to hit our target audience and is going to help us build up some traffic quickly and then build up even more traffic later on. Once again, my name is Kellis Landrum from True North Social don’t forget to hit the like and subscribe buttons and thanks so much for watching.

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