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Ryan Sciamanna is an entrepreneur in Greater Cincinnati. He started his 1st business in 2009 & sold it in 2018. He's been playing around on the internet ever since making passive income & providing web services to businesses.

So, you know how you refer to your products or services.  Of course, you do, you are the expert!

But, do you know what people searching for your products or services are actually typing into the search bar or speaking into their ‘search’ device like Alexa or Google Home?

You’d probably be surprised by the difference and which keywords you focus on determines greatly how your web pages will rank for each specific search query.

We’re going to quickly explain how to identify the search queries being used by people searching for your product or service in your local geographic area, ideally your service area.  This will ensure you are finding the right keywords.

This blog post is playing off our last blog post which was the importance that your website doesn’t remain the same.  If you’re going to make changes or add content, it’d be wise to optimize or create for keywords getting a lot of traffic.  It also leads to our next blog post, which will cover the fact search engine ranks ‘web pages,’ not ‘websites.’

The Only Keyword Tool You Need

That is a bit of a stretch, but I like to get my data straight from the horse’s mouth instead of a 3rd party tool.  Tools like Keywords Everywhere and Ubersuggest are great, but I’ll stick with Google’s own products for my keyword research.

Google’s Keyword Planner

By the name alone, Google’s Keyword Planner already sounds like an excellent option to aid you in picking keywords.  It is!

The 3 main reasons I love Google’s Keyword Planner are:

  • You can get keyword data for specific geographic areas – countries, states, cities, zip codes, MDA regions, and probably more…
  • You get very detailed data if you are actively running a Google Ads campaign – if you’re wanting to grow your business in 2020 and beyond, work Google Ads into your budget or get left behind
  • It’s super easy to export the data and manipulate it in any spreadsheet software to make it much clearer and valuable to you

How To Perform Keyword Research

First, login to your Google Ads account.  Click ‘Tools & Settings’ and then ‘Keyword Planner.’  If you don’t see this option, you need to convert your account to ‘expert mode.’  You should see ‘switch to expert mode’ as a menu option on your Google Ads Express account.

Once there, click ‘Discover new keywords.’  You have 2 options, one is to ‘Start With Keywords’ and the other is ‘Start With A Website.’  My preference is to ‘Start With Keywords’ but you should see what keywords Google pulls in by entering your website and your direct competitors.  You can enter the homepage or any page on a website to get results specific to that page.  Remember, Google ranks ‘web pages,’ not ‘websites!’

This is why identifying your keywords is so important and getting them right across your site in all of the various on-page SEO and technical SEO uses for them.  You want to optimize each page for a specific keyword, which could include close variations of that keyword, and make sure you don’t dilute the SEO value of a page on your site by also focusing on that keyword on another page by accident.  This is why hiring a professional SEO service like Optimized SEO and Websites is usually the right choice instead of doing this inhouse.

Start With Keywords and Only View Local Data

 In this tutorial I will use a pest control service that offers their pest control services in Greater Cincinnati.  That would include the city of Cincinnati itself and Northern Kentucky.

To narrow down the geographic area, click the map pin icon right under where you will be typing in your keywords in Keyword Planner.  Be sure to delete the default area so it is no longer included, your Keyword Planner probably defaults to the country in which you live  like mine.  Mine said ‘United States’ next to the map pin icon before I narrowed it down to only the areas relevant to the service area of the business I am identifying keywords for.

Local Geographic Area Keyword Planner

Now that you’ve narrowed down the geographic area, enter the top 10 keywords for your business in your opinion.  Google will take the 10 you entered and provide you with the data for those keywords and thousands more in seconds.  The data is detailed too if you are paying Google for Google Ads at that time.  You can use the tool without actively running ads, but the data will be less accurate and detailed.  You’ll get ranges of values instead of exact values.

10 Pest Control Keywords

The image below shows you how you will be presented with the data in the Keyword Planner tool.  This is OK, but to me, the real value is gained by exporting the data to a CSV file and manipulating it from there.  By default, Google will display the 10 keywords you entered at the top of the list.  You can sort the list from within the tool by clicking column headers.

You may be thinking, man, there aren’t a whole lot of searches…well, it makes a big difference when you narrow down to your geographic area!  This data is what the locals are searching for.  It’s what matters.  And, if people aren’t searching enough for you to sustain a viable business, it’s time to address it ASAP.  Maybe the data will show you a small shift of focus that would allow your business to grow.

Keyword Planner Results

Download The Keywords and Manipulate

Take a look at the screenshot of Excel below and notice what I’ve done, you can download this entire Excel spreadsheet at the bottom of this article.  I’ll explain briefly the adjustments I made to the data and how I did it.  Excel skills are something every business owner should learn if you are not already familiar with the application.

Keywords In CSV File Sorted

Use Each Sheet To Hone In On Specific Topics

Here is what I do.  I open the CSV file in Excel after exporting.  I delete rows 1 and 2.  I also delete column B.  This data is not needed.  I then freeze the top panes and add borders to all cells.  I normally don’t make the yellow cells yellow, I did this for this demo to highlight the importance of the ‘keyword’ and ‘avg. monthly searches’ columns.  You want to focus on terms actually getting searched for, not what you think people are searching for!

I keep the original export in the 1st sheet.  I then copy the data from here to as many other sheets as I need to separate the data out for specific topics.  I’ll use this data to determine everything from my URL slugs to the number of pages to build out for each topic, page titles, page meta descriptions. image file names, alt text, internal links, and so on including adjusting current pages, adding new pages, and new identify new blog post topics.  There is really a lot of thought that needs to go into this to find success with SEO in 2020 and beyond.  The competition is stiff and abundant, and Google is very greedy these days.  Google Ads should always be part of your online marketing and even SEO campaigns.

Referencing the screenshot above it is very clear for the pest control sub-topic of ‘moles,’ that ‘mole trapper’ is hands down the #1 keyword phrase people type in when  trying to locate a ‘mole removal service.’  To be honest, before looking at this data, I would have assumed ‘mole removal service’ would have been the #1 keyword for this specific pest control service!

Highlights Topical Keywords On Each Sheet

In case you are not too familiar with Excel, I go about highlighting the topical keywords for each tab by using ‘Conditional Formatting.’  You’ll need to have your keyword column A highlighted before performing the next steps and you should have already sorted the ‘Avg. Monthly Searches’ column from largest to smallest.

Use this feature by clicking ‘Conditional Formatting’ and then hover ‘Highlight Cells Rules’ and select ‘Text That Contains….’  Enter the words that pertain to that topic.  A word of advice is to use the non-plural version or leave off the last couple of letters of the word to catch more keywords in your search.  Sometimes people make the same typo and if you type in only the plural version, you won’t highlight the non-plural version…

After you have all terms highlighted for that sub-topic, still with the keyword column A highlighted, click ‘Sort & Filter’ and then ‘Custom Sort.’  Expand the selection.  Sort by ‘Keyword,’ sort on ‘Cell Color,’ order by ‘the color of your highlighted cells,’ and put them ‘On Top.’  Now you will be viewing keywords only relevant to that sub-topic sorted by number of searches occurring per month for that keyword or keyword phrase! 

Download The Example Exported Keywords For Reference

You can download the Excel file from the screenshot above to gain further insight as too exactly how I go about manipulating the data after exporting from Google’s Keyword Planner.

Keyword Research Conclusion

Please, let me know what you think!

I’ve never heard any other SEO breakdown keyword research and finding the right keywords in a more thorough and easy to follow manner.  I hope this information allows you to gain the edge on your competition in the search results.

We’d love to handle your business’ marketing for you so you can focus on doing what you do best, running your business!