Chapter 2: Keyword Research

Now that you have an idea how your business stacks up, you can start the keyword research process.

Keyword research is the starting point for the implementation of a local SEO. It sets the stage for your online marketing performance and your campaign’s ultimate success or failure. In this section I’m going to discuss a few key concepts in keyword research as well as provide simple tips for selecting terms for your next campaign.

Keyword Types

Generally speaking, keywords are lumped into one of two categories including head terms and longtail keywords. These keywords can also be classified as broad (head) and narrow (longtail).

Head terms include phrases that are very broad and non-specific but are frequently searched.

  • Ex) computer, ice cream, microphone, coffee

Each of these keywords are examples of head terms.

Longtail keywords, on the other hand, are much more specific and typically include multiple keywords in the search query. They tend to have lower monthly searches and are easier to rank for in Google.

  • Ex) white laptop computer, chocolate flavoured ice cream, vintage microphone, spiderman coffee cup

The interesting thing about head terms and long tail keyword is that head terms are searched more frequently as you can see in the graph below, yet they make up only a small portion of the total keywords that are searched on a monthly basis.

A study conducted by Experian and Moz found that long tail keywords made up as much as 89.4% of all the terms people search.


That’s why SEO consultants roll their eyes when they hear a company would like to rank #1 for “INSERT KEYWORD HERE” because they are potentially missing out on an enormous opportunity and the nearly 90% of all keywords searched in Google.

Now that you understand the basics, let’s look at the process for selecting and researching keywords.

Step 1: Search Suggest + UberSuggest

A useful tool and technique is to begin with is Google’s Search Suggest to build a list of suggested phrases. Suggested phrases are often times terms people have searched in the past (among other things) and provides a reference for the types of keywords you should target with your local SEO campaign. To use the tool simply visit Google and type in a keyword.

Here’s an example:

As you can see from the example, three additional variations of “Calgary Electrician” were returned that a company may be interested in targeting. As you can imagine the process of searching one keyword at a time and documenting the phrases that it returns would be rather cumbersome work to say the least. But don’t worry, we have a great tool to speed up the process.


UberSuggest is Google’s Search Suggestion tool on steroids! It takes a keyword and lists variations (in alphabetical order) that would be triggered by Google’s Search Suggest. Check out the example below.

Take a moment to scrub the list by selecting the terms that are applicable to your business. They will be available in the right sidebar when you’re finished to copy and paste. Depending on the size of a website I will typically collect around 20-50 keywords. There will be used in the next step.

Using UberSuggest you should now have a nice list of keywords that can be used in the next step of the process, performing keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner.

Step 2: Google Keyword Planner

UberSuggest is great because it provides a list of suggested terms and phrases, however, it doesn’t provide the all-important monthly search volume or competition rates for keywords. That’s where the Google Keyword Planner comes in.

To use the tool simply visit the Google Keyword Planner website. The tool is now part of Adwords so you will need to create an account before you can access it but don’t worry it’s completely free!

Once logged in you should see the interface below.

You’ll notice you have the opportunity to populate a few fields including:

  • Your product or service: These are the terms you are interested in researching.
  • Your landing page: Google will analyze your landing page and recommend keywords based on its page content. In most cases I leave this field blank.
  • Your product category: If you’d like to limit your keyword research to one category Google has provided a list of categories for you to choose from. I also typically leave this field blank.
  • Targeting: Of course you also have the option to limit your keywords to a geographic location, a language, to a specific Google network, and to include negative keywords (terms that you do not want to appear in the research).
  • Date range: Includes the period of time for the research.
  • Customize your search: Provides additional filtering options for keyword match types.

Once you’ve entered your criteria, hitting the “Get Ideas” button will display your keyword list.

Ad group ideas


Keyword ideas


There is a lot happening on these pages, however, two areas are important to understand before moving forward.

For starters, your keywords will be grouped by Ad group ideas, or Keyword ideas. Ad group ideas are related keywords grouped together. I like to think of them as clusters or categorized groups of keywords. They tend to be phrases that are nearly identical with only slight variations at the beginning or the end of the phrase. If you click on any of the Ad group ideas, you’ll see a complete list of keywords that you can research further.

Keyword ideas, on the other hand, are individual terms. They are not grouped together but are displayed in one large list as you can see in the second example above.

Now that you understand the difference between Ad group ideas and Keyword ideas we can discuss the exciting stuff.

Analyzing keywords

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, beside each keyword are a few values, the ones we are interested in include:

  • Avg. Monthly Searches: The number of monthly searches for a given keyword.
  • Competition: The amount of competition (within Adwords) for a given keyword.
  • Suggested Bid: The suggested Adwords bid for a given keyword.

Our objective is simple, we want to find keywords that have high monthly searches and low competition. This philosophy ensures you identify the terms that are search most frequently but also have the lowest possible competition.

Here is the document we use to record our keyword research it helps to keep things organized.

Step 3: Keyword Mapping

The next step in our Keyword Research process is to “map” or assign specific keywords to related pages on your website.

One common misconception of search engine optimization is that one page can be optimized to target tens or hundreds of unrelated terms and phrases. In reality a page should be organized around a specific theme and optimized for between one and three keywords. That’s it. This is where keyword mapping is so valuable. It allows you to keep everything organized by listing the pages on your website and assigning them keywords.

Here’s a quick example:


Notice that we’ve mapped keywords to related pages. Air conditioning keywords were mapped to the air conditioning page, drain cleaning keywords were mapped to a drain cleaning page and so on. We didn’t attempt to map or assign all of the terms to just one page. This is very important to remember.

Start mapping your website and keywords

If you have an existing website go through the process of listing the pages on your site. Then map one to three related keywords to each page on your website. In the case where you have a keyword you are interested in targeting but none of your existing pages are related to the term the best solution is… you guessed it, create a new page on your website to target that term.

This process can be completed in an excel document, our team uses this simple spreadsheet to expedite the process. (see the provided sample).

The exception to the rule

I’ve discussed assigning a maximum of one to three keywords per page on the website. Although that is true, there is one exception to the rule. On your website’s home page you can typically map three to five keywords as long as they are closely related. Keep in mind that if the keywords are too unrelated it can result in a dilution of your website’s optimization. And for the sake of all that is holy, do not try to jam hundreds of keywords into your site. The engineers at Google are a smart bunch, and can tell when you’re trying to manipulate their beloved search engine.


That’s it! You now know the basic process of performing keyword research for your website.

Chapter 3: Onsite Optimization