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6. A Small Business Owner’s Guide to SEO Keyword Research

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Small Business Marketing

A Small Business Owner’s Guide to SEO Keyword Research

By Jordan Montano
Jul 11, 2023 • 10+ min read
Woman business owner working on laptop
Table of Contents

      Have you ever searched for something online using specific words or phrases? Those words or phrases are known as keywords and play a vital role in how search engines like Google rank websites. Keyword research is figuring out which keywords your potential customers are searching for, so you can use them to optimize your website and content. 

      As a small business owner, conducting keyword research is crucial. It can help improve your website’s visibility in search engines, drive traffic to your site, and, ultimately, increase your revenue. In this guide, we’ll show you how to do keyword research in a straightforward way that anyone can understand.

      Understanding Keyword Metrics

      Keyword metrics are crucial in determining the right keywords to target for your website. The most important metrics to consider are search volume, cost per click (CPC), and keyword difficulty. 

      Search volume refers to how often a particular keyword is searched on a monthly basis.

      CPC (cost-per-click) is the estimated cost advertisers will pay for each click. In general, businesses will be willing to pay more per click for keywords that drive more revenue, so the higher the CPC, the more valuable it is to show up in Google for that word or phrase.  

      Keyword difficulty measures how difficult it is to rank for a specific keyword based on the number of different websites competing for the same keyword.

      Understanding these metrics is essential as it can help you avoid targeting keywords with low search volume or that are too competitive. 

      Instead, you should focus on keywords relevant to your business, with high search volume and low keyword difficulty. By doing so, you can increase your website’s visibility in search engines, drive more traffic, and, ultimately, increase your revenue.

      How to Do Keyword Research

      Finding the right keywords for a small local business can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. 

      1. Create an Initial List of Relevant Words and Phrases

      To start, think about the products or services your business offers and list the keywords that come to mind. 

      For example, a construction company might consider keywords such as “home remodeling,” “roof repair,” and “foundation repair.” 

      A restaurant might use keywords such as “best pizza,” “outdoor dining,” and “happy hour specials.” 

      A retail store might benefit from keywords such as “fashion boutique,” “gift shop,” and “online shopping.” 

      A trucking company might consider keywords such as “freight delivery,” “logistics services,” and “shipping company.” 

      These are straightforward keywords for websites that will help your business show up for customers who are searching for you.

      Another way to find the right keywords for a small local business is to use Google’s auto-suggest feature to identify seed keywords. Simply start typing in a search term related to your business, and Google will suggest popular searches related to that term. 

      For example, if you own a bakery, you might start by typing in “best bakery in,” and Google might suggest options such as “best bakery in [city name],” “best bakery in [neighborhood name],” and “best bakery in [state name].” These suggestions can serve as seed keywords that you can then use to generate more specific keyword ideas using a keyword research tool.

      Finally, include location-based keywords in your list to target customers in your local area. For example, “construction company in [city name],” “pizza restaurant near me,” “boutique in [city name],” or “trucking company in [state name].” By using these strategies, you can find the right keywords to target for your small local business and improve your visibility in search engine results.

      2. Put Your List into a Keyword Tool

      Once you have your initial list, use a keyword research tool to find related keywords and get an idea of their search volume, CPC, and keyword difficulty. There are many free keyword research tools available to use. 

      Google Keyword Planner

      If you are already using Google Ads, you can use Google’s Keyword Planner—while it won’t give you an organic difficulty metric, it will give you search volume and CPC. 


      Ahrefs has a free keyword generator that will allow you to enter a subject and get 100 keyword ideas for free. If you are getting more serious and own your website, they have a webmasters tools account that is free and gives generous information about keywords your website currently ranks for.


      Moz also has Keyword Explorer, which offers a free option after signing up for your account.

      Once you’ve selected a keyword tool, take one of the words or phrases from your initial list and put it in the keyword research tool. 

      The tool will then produce a full list of keyword ideas along with a monthly search volume.

      Another helpful strategy is to analyze your competitors’ pages to find good keywords. You can put your competitor’s URL into Moz Keyword Explorer, and it will give you a list of keywords your competitor ranks for. 

      3. Identify Product and Informational Keywords

      Product keywords are the specific words or phrases customers use to search for products or services online when they are interested in making a purchase such as “women’s pants” or “Mexican Restaurant Nearby.”  

      Informational keywords are phrases that people search for when they are looking for information about a particular topic or product. For example, if you are a construction company, informational keywords might include, “Tips for remodeling your home on a budget,” or “How to prepare your home for a major renovation.”

      As you are pulling your keyword lists, you will likely find a combination of product and informational keywords. It’s important to separate these into the two groups. If you’re unsure which category a keyword falls under, go to Google and search for the word or phrase and look at the results that come up. If they are primarily blog posts, the keyword is informational. If they are primarily pages selling products or services, they are product keywords.

      Do I Need A Blog?

      A blog can be an excellent tool for businesses to connect with their audience, showcase their expertise, and improve their search engine rankings. However, it’s essential to evaluate whether or not creating a blog is right for your business. 

      A blog is not necessary for every business. For instance, if your product doesn’t require a lot of research or doesn’t have the time or resources to create high-quality content consistently, then a blog might not be best for you. 

      On the other hand, suppose your business relies on establishing authority in a specific industry, providing up-to-date information in a changing landscape, or requires a lot of research and information before purchasing. In that case, a blog may be a valuable addition to your website. 

      Ultimately, it comes down to understanding your audience, goals, and content creation capacity. If you are unsure, try searching questions about your product and look at the search results. If the results on the first page have a lot of informational blogs, then you might want to prioritize one. If the results are just pages for products, then you are likely okay without one. 

      4. Group Your Keywords 

      Now that you have a list of product and informational keywords, it’s time to group your keywords. Grouping keywords allows you to organize and prioritize your target keywords and create targeted content that addresses the needs of your audience. 

      Let’s say you have a coffee shop in San Francisco, and you want to target customers who are looking for coffee shops in that area.

      Some product keywords in your list could be: 

      • san francisco coffee
      • san francisco bay coffee 
      • san francisco coffee company
      • organic french roast coffee
      • organic french vanilla coffee
      • breakfast blend coffee
      • breakfast blend coffee beans

      Each of these keywords should be grouped with other keywords that have the same meaning.

      San Fransico Coffeesan francisco coffee, san francisco bay coffee, san francisco coffee company
      Organic French Roast Coffeeorganic French roast coffee, organic French vanilla coffee
      Breakfast Blend Coffeebreakfast blend coffee, breakfast blend coffee beans

      Now that you have your keyword groups, you can match your keywords to pages on your website. 

      GroupKeywordsPage Of Site
      San Fransico Coffeesan francisco coffee, san francisco bay coffee, san francisco coffee companyHomepage
      Organic French Roast Coffeeorganic French roast coffee, organic French vanilla coffeeProduct page selling organic french roast coffee blend
      Breakfast Blend Coffeebreakfast blend coffee, breakfast blend coffee beansProduct page selling organic French roast coffee blend

      5. Apply Your Keyword Research to Your Website

      Once you have completed your keyword grouping, it’s time to incorporate your keywords into your website.

      For each of the keyword groups and website pages listed, you will include your keyword in the following places:

      • Title tag – The headline that appears in Google search results.
      • H1 tag – The title or main header of the page.
      • Product description – Since Google can’t read images, including a description of the product you’re selling will help Google to better understand the page.

      The actual process for this varies depending on your website’s hosting platform. If you use WordPress the YoastSEO plugin will allow you to create your title tag within the WordPress editor as you are creating a page. You can also find similarly helpful tools on other hosting platforms, including these help-guides from Squarespace and Shopify. If you use another, try Googling SEO settings (your website service.)

      If you have informational keywords, treat each keyword group like the topic of an article and write the blog post from there. Continuing with the coffee shop example, say you have a keyword group for “how to make lavender coffee.”

      You would create a blog post title “How To Make A Lavendar Coffee” and then provide a recipe and instructions for how to make the drink. 

      3. Track Keyword Performance

      Another important step is monitoring your website’s search engine rankings and traffic to see how well your targeted keywords perform. One tool you can use to do this is Google Search Console, a free tool provided by Google. By regularly reviewing your website’s performance in Google Search Console, you can identify areas for improvement and adjust your keyword strategy accordingly. 

      For example, you can use the tool to see which keywords drive the most traffic to your website and which pages rank the highest in search results. Using this information, you can make targeted improvements to your website to continue improving its search engine rankings and drive more traffic to your small business website.

      Final Thoughts on What We’ve Learned.

      Keyword research is a critical component of any small business’s SEO strategy. It involves identifying the words and phrases that potential customers use to search for products or services like yours and then strategically incorporating those keywords into your website and content. Conducting thorough keyword research can increase your website’s visibility and attract more traffic from search engines.

      By understanding the importance of keyword metrics, selecting the right keywords for your products or services, and effectively grouping and utilizing those keywords in your content, you can improve your business’s local SEO and attract more customers to your website as part of your digital marketing strategy.

      Jordan Montano
      About the author
      Jordan Montano

      Jordan Montano is a marketing manager with extensive SEO experience.

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