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Keyword Research

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Organic SEO activities like keyword research services drive 300% more traffic to websites than social media, so if you want more leads, you should focus on getting your business website to rank more highly on SERPs (search engine results pages). Higher SERP ranking translates to more eyes on your business, meaning more potential leads and sales.

Our Nashville, TN-based SEO consulting firm takes keyword research services a step further than other agencies, utilizing a system of tier-based keywords that help you get the best possible use out of every keyword for maximum success. Since an astounding 75% of searchers never go past the first page that comes up during an SERP search, it’s vital that your SEO efforts are as effective as they can be.

Why Take the Stairs for keyword research?

SEO is a crucial part of any marketing strategy in today’s digital age, and keyword research services are a crucial part of any SEO plan. Whether you’re looking to appeal to local Nashville, TN leads or reach a wider audience, ranking highly on SERPs is the best way to drive traffic to your site.

Take the Stairs is far from being the only SEO company on the planet, and if you haven’t worked with us before you might be wondering what we can offer that others can’t. We’re big on transparency here at Take the Stairs, and we like to make sure clients have everything they need up front in order to make an informed decision before working with us.

Here are just a few of the ways our keyword research services differ from other marketing companies.

Tier-based keywords

We use a three-tiered approach to prioritize which keywords are most important to your business, allowing us to get the most out of each keyword.

Tracked progress

When you work with our agency, we track historical data on your keyword’s progress so you can easily see trends and any unexpected changes.

Question tracking

Prospects early in the buying cycle often perform searches in the form of questions. Question tracking helps trace your progress when you’re developing traffic for these leads.

What is keyword research?

Simply put, keyword research services involve researching the words and phrases that your leads and customers are most likely to use when conducting internet searches for the type of product or service you offer. Once you know what terms your target markets are using, you can optimize your content for SEO, which is marketing speak for including those terms (or keywords) in such a way as to show up highly in SERP rankings.

For example, say you own a musical instrument shop in Nashville, TN. Your target audience will probably search online using keywords like:

  • Musical instruments Nashville, TN
  • Guitar repair near me
  • Sheet music for piano in Nashville

You want to make sure your website is as close to the top of the SERP as possible when people search for these terms, so you’ll optimize your site’s content for SEO by making sure to include these keywords when writing articles and landing pages. You can take this approach a step further by utilizing tier-based keywords, which we’ll talk about in a bit.

Top keyword research mistakes

There are a lot of myths surrounding SEO practices, many of which surround SEO keywords. These myths can lead to common keyword research mistakes that will ultimately affect your SERP rankings, costing you time and money. That’s one of the reasons it’s worth considering hiring a professional for keyword research services, especially if you’re not super experienced in digital marketing tactics.

Ideally, the firm you choose for keyword research services will teach you as they go along, setting you up for success if you decide to take the reins and handle SEO on your own one day. In the meantime, we can get you started by pointing out these common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid when researching keywords.

Business owners new to SEO practices often try to limit the number of keywords on their website in the hopes of being able to direct more attention to targeting the few keywords they deem to be the most important. While this method is understandable, it ultimately limits the number of chances you’re giving yourself to rank on SERPs, which is the opposite of what you’re trying to do.

Instead, consider focusing on one primary keyword for each page of your website, plus a handful of less important secondary keywords. Overall, a small business should aim to focus on at least five primary keywords throughout their website, plus a greater number of related secondary keywords.

Considering search intent is a crucial component of keyword research services. That means looking at a search term or phrase and determining how likely it is that the person typing it in is browsing or buying.

For example, if someone Googles the phrase “what is the most popular type of dog in Nashville, TN?” they might be doing a search for any number of reasons – curiosity, to win a bet…who knows?

On the other hand, if someone searches for “dog breeders in Nashville, TN,” or Nashville, TN dog shelters,” there’s a decent chance that they’re looking to purchase or adopt a dog. In other words, these phrases show greater intent to purchase than the one above, so they’re the ones that businesses would focus on.

One of the most common mistakes people make when researching keywords is getting stuck on the most popular keywords for their industry.

Why is this a problem? Because these words are the ones that every other business is also trying to rank for, making them incredibly competitive.

The solution? Using adjacent keywords that are easier to rank well for. For example, instead of trying to rank highly on a SERP for “coffee,” a local cafe might try:

  • Organic coffee shop Nashville
  • Coffee shop with free WiFi
  • Lunch cafe near Vanderbilt University

An easy trap to fall into is using lingo that professionals in your industry are familiar with, but that are completely unheard of by your audience or customers. Unless you’re selling to other businesses in your industry, make sure that your keywords are ones your customer base are likely to search for.

One excellent way to find out what terms your prospective clients use is asking your sales team: they speak to customers every day and hear firsthand what prospects ask for.

For example, a company selling point of sale software might be tempted to use the keyword “POS terminal,” only to find out that most people looking for a product like theirs are more likely to search for things like “computerized cash register” or “touchscreen checkout register.”

How to do keyword research for SEO

Before we get deeper into how we use tier-based keywords when creating content, it’s helpful if you have a basic understanding of some keyword research principles. Understanding the following steps will give you an excellent foundation for increasing your site’s organic rankings on Google and other search engines.

First off, you’ll want to start by brainstorming all the different ways a potential customer would search online for products or services related to your business. This includes thinking about as many variations or names for your solutions as possible, plus all of the sub-services in connection to your main offerings.

For example, people looking for an SEO firm might Google:

  • SEO firm in Nashville, TN
  • Search engine optimization consultant
  • SEO help for small business

Or, they might look for specific services related to SEO, like:

  • Keyword research services
  • SEO content writers Nashville
  • Help with backlink development

Once you have a pretty good list of potential keywords, you’ll want to prioritize which services will be more important for your business to rank for.

Now it’s time to research the phrases you came up with to see which ones are most likely to generate traffic to your business. Our keyword research services evaluate keywords by:

  • Intent: the likelihood that a person is looking to make a purchase based on how they phrase a search
  • Search volume: how frequently people search for a keyword
  • Competition: how difficult it is to rank well on an SERP, based on how many other businesses are using it

You might find out that some of the terms you wanted to rank for aren’t actually worth it, which frees you up to focus on keywords that are likely to perform better.

Now you’re in a better position to prioritize the keywords that will be the most important to rank for into tiers from most important to least. Organizing your terms into tier-based keywords will help you decide which ones to implement within your organic content.

The next step will be to add your most important keywords to the content you write on your website – the trick is to do this as naturally as possible and avoid keyword stuffing.

Keep in mind that search engines crawl more than just your content for keywords. They also look at other aspects of your pages in order to decide where to rank you on their SERP. It’s important to understand some of the areas that search engines consider in addition to the body of your articles. A few examples include:

  • the H1
  • the meta description 
  • the URL slug

You’ll want to make sure that the keyword research services firm you choose optimizes every element of your webpages for maximum effect. 

Once you’ve researched the keywords you want to use, organized them by order of priority, and implemented them on your website, it’s time to upload your top keywords and website URL into an SEO tool so you can track your progress.

Don’t expect immediate results, but you should start to see things trend in the right direction after a few months. Remember, your job isn’t done once you implement your keywords – you’ll need to constantly evaluate and update your content, making adjustments to reach your SERP ranking goals.

First off, you’ll want to start by brainstorming all the different ways a potential customer would search online for products or services related to your business. This includes thinking about as many variations or names for your solutions as possible, plus all of the sub-services in connection to your main offerings.

For example, people looking for an SEO firm might Google:

  • SEO firm in Nashville, TN
  • Search engine optimization consultant
  • SEO help for small business

Or, they might look for specific services related to SEO, like:

  • Keyword research services
  • SEO content writers Nashville
  • Help with backlink development

Once you have a pretty good list of potential keywords, you’ll want to prioritize which services will be more important for your business to rank for.

Now it’s time to research the phrases you came up with to see which ones are most likely to generate traffic to your business. Our keyword research services evaluate keywords by:

  • Intent: the likelihood that a person is looking to make a purchase based on how they phrase a search
  • Search volume: how frequently people search for a keyword
  • Competition: how difficult it is to rank well on an SERP, based on how many other businesses are using it

You might find out that some of the terms you wanted to rank for aren’t actually worth it, which frees you up to focus on keywords that are likely to perform better.

Now you’re in a better position to prioritize the keywords that will be the most important to rank for into tiers from most important to least. Organizing your terms into tier-based keywords will help you decide which ones to implement within your organic content.

The next step will be to add your most important keywords to the content you write on your website – the trick is to do this as naturally as possible and avoid keyword stuffing.

Keep in mind that search engines crawl more than just your content for keywords. They also look at other aspects of your pages in order to decide where to rank you on their SERP. It’s important to understand some of the areas that search engines consider in addition to the body of your articles. A few examples include:

  • the H1
  • the meta description 
  • the URL slug

You’ll want to make sure that the keyword research services firm you choose optimizes every element of your webpages for maximum effect. 

Once you’ve researched the keywords you want to use, organized them by order of priority, and implemented them on your website, it’s time to upload your top keywords and website URL into an SEO tool so you can track your progress.

Don’t expect immediate results, but you should start to see things trend in the right direction after a few months. Remember, your job isn’t done once you implement your keywords – you’ll need to constantly evaluate and update your content, making adjustments to reach your SERP ranking goals.

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Take the Stairs’ 3-tier keyword approach

Every keyword research consultant is going to organize their keywords a little differently, and it can be helpful for you to get a clear understanding of how an agency plans to make the most of your keywords before you decide to work with them – after all, the last thing you want to do is pay someone to plug keywords into your content at random, with no real plan.

At Take the Stairs, we organize your SEO keywords using a system of tier-based keywords that help us prioritize and plan for maximum effectiveness.

The keywords on the first tier are the ones we give most priority to – there will only be one Tier 1 keyword per webpage. These keywords:

  • Show clear intent to purchase
  • Have a high search volume
  • Are comparatively easy to rank for

In most cases, Tier 1 keywords will also include a focus location, appealing to people local to your area.

Tier 2 keywords are a slightly lower priority than Tier 1, but are still important. You’ll want to include three – five Tier 2 keywords per web page, in addition to the primary Tier 1 keyword.

Tier 2 keywords will:

  • Have a high search volume
  • Show some intent to purchase

They’ll also include a focus location and ideally be less competitive.

Keywords on Tier 3 are a list of 10-20 terms related to your business that you have good reason to track. People need to search for these terms at least 10 times a month, and they’ll probably:

  • Show some intent to purchase
  • Include a location
  • Mention a specific industry related to your business

In addition to using tier-based keywords, you can boost SEO by including related questions. These questions:

  • Should help buyers make purchasing decisions
  • Have a high search volume
  • Be formatted in question form

Keyword research FAQs

When we talk to clients about keyword research and using tier-based keywords to organize search terms, they usually have a lot of questions. This is especially true if someone is brand new to SEO concepts and isn’t really sure if optimizing their site for organic search results is the best direction for them to go in.

Even if you’ve been heading your company’s digital marketing efforts for some time, you still might not be completely sure how it all fits together. So, we’ve gathered some of the questions we hear the most to help you get a handle on how keyword research can help your SEO rankings and why it even matters.

Some experts say that keyword research is not only important – it’s the most important part of digital marketing. Keyword research gives you an idea of how people actually find your business online (as opposed to how you think they find it), and provides a backbone for all the other digital marketing processes you use.

Without performing extensive keyword research, you’re taking a stab in the dark about what people are looking for, as well as how your business is performing in relation to the competition.

Because everything else in your SEO strategy revolves around what you find during the research phase of keyword implementation, you’ll want to do this step at the beginning of any SEO or content creation campaign.

Additionally, you need to keep an eye on keyword performance and trends, and make adjustments as needed.

More and more businesses discovered the importance of SEO rankings over the past couple of decades and utilized keywords accordingly. To keep up with marketers’ SEO techniques, search engines like Google constantly update the way it decides which sites rank and which don’t.

These frequent changes in the SEO world mean that it’s more important than ever to keep up with the times and research keywords regularly to make sure that the ones you need to rank for haven’t changed.

In general, we like to focus on one primary Tier 1 keyword per page, plus an additional 3-5 secondary keywords. Each page on your website will focus on different keywords, so the total number of keywords on your site will vary depending on the site’s size.

SEO keyword research services you can count on

Are you looking to implement tier-based keywords into your marketing plan and need some help getting started? Or are you looking to offload the hassle altogether by hiring someone to handle your keyword research services for you? Either way, we would love to help.

Our SEO team is based in Nashville, TN, but we help folks all over the country improve their SEO rankings, increase leads, and grow their businesses. If you’d like to learn more about our services and what we can do for you, set up a discovery call now and we’ll be happy to talk you through it.