Da**it Jim, I’m an SEO specialist, not a Doctor!

Mission: How To Do Keyword Research

The SEO Specialist Team

Captain Kirk, your objective and that of the crew of the USS Enterprise is “to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.” – Wikipedia

Your new mission is to navigate the uncharted universe of Keyword Research.

Tools Needed

“Make It So!” – Set Client Expectations

Keyword Research specialist

Now that you’ve accepted your mission, set client expectations for SEO deliverables at the start of a campaign. Make is so, Spock!

    • Focus on 2-3  to start and add to your keyword portfolio after the first keywords are ranking.
    • Keep in mind it takes time to climb in the rankings in Google.
    • Focus on organic traffic.
    • Focus on traffic instead of rankings.

“Hailing On All Frequencies!” – Gather Keywords

Keyword Research Expert

Chief Communications Officer Uhura, send out messages to the other starships or space stations. Hailing on all frequencies indicated in an effort to gather as many keywords as possible, no matter what frequency they were on.

Client List Keywords

  • Gather a list of client approved keywords.

Things to ask for:

  • Company overview
  • Main services and products
    • Example: Dentist Bristol, Cosmetic Dentist, Braces Bristol, Teeth Whitening Bristol
  • Is it a local or national campaign?
    • Does the client have a business location or an online store?
  • Are these buying keywords?
    • If your client is selling shoes in Bristol, that is a very broad keyword and not one that someone is looking for when they are ready to buy. The more specific the keyword, the more likely the customer will buy.
    • Example: Shoes Bristol vs. Red High Heel Shoes in Bristol

Things to avoid:

  • Targeting the same keyword 5 x’s
    • All keywords have a halo effect. Google sees these as similar keywords. Any keyword that is similar to the main keyword will be optimized in the same keyword portfolio to Google.
    • Example: Dentist in Bristol, Dentist Bristol, Bristol Dentist
  • Targeting more than 2 keywords for one target URL
    • It makes it hard to optimize the page and meta data when you put more than two distinct keywords on one page. The only exception to this rule is when you have the same keyword, but different locations. All similar keywords with separate locations should be grouped together on the same page unless you have a distinct location page.
    • Example: Dentist Bristol, Dentist New Haven, Dentist Ledingham

Low Hanging Fruit Keywords

  • Gather a list of keywords that the client is already ranking for on the second or third page in Google.
    • Enter the client’s website or their top services/product URL into the KW planner to identify terms that the client’s site is already relevant for and see if these fit the client’s needs. (SEO Centro is also a good tool to see keyword density).
    • Go to SEM Rush to see which terms they’re already ranking for that just need a push to get them to the first page of results.

Competitor Keywords

  • Gather a list of your competitor’s keywords.
    • Enter client’s website into SEM Rush. Look at competitors’ KWs to understand which other terms are relevant for the industry and to get ideas of long-tailed KWs so you target visitors with an intent to buy. You can also put the competitor’s website into the search for a more comprehensive analysis. You can see what keywords you share with your competitors.
    • You can also go into Spyfu and see a really good analysis of shared keywords with your competitors. This is helpful because if your competitor is ranking on the first page for that keyword, but they have a low link portfolio, you know you can probably rank on the first page as well.

Long Tailed Keywords

  • Look for long tailed keywords after you have exhausted the other lists. Or if they want a very specific keyword.

3 Ways to find Long Tailed Keywords

  • Go to Keywordtool.io and type in the keyword that is too competitive. This will populate similar keywords that are longer tailed. From there you can check the competition on the new longer tailed keywords until you find a keyword that works for your client.
  • Type the keyword into Google SERP’s and see what auto-populates as commonly used phrases.
  • Go to a specific product page and pull the product’s keyword off the client’s website or from the URL.

Google Adwords Keywords

  • Combine keywords from the previous lists and populate new suggestions in Keyword Planner in Adwords.
    • Enter your list of keywords into “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category”
    • Click “Get Ideas”
    • Go to “Keyword Ideas”
      • Keyword Planner will populate a list of relevant keyword variations below your search terms. Add whatever keywords you want to your combined list of keywords.

Pro Tips For Keyword Research

  • Not familiar with the industry? See what people type in that’s related to a keyword you’re looking into.
    • Keywordtool.io
    • Ubersuggest.org
    • Google Suggest

“Live Long and Prosper.” – Search Volume

Spock the SEO expert

It is the Vulcan way to live long and prosper. It is your duty to make sure this happens by finding the keywords that have the highest search volume, but also that you can compete with. If you choose a keyword based only on search volume, it’s likely it will be too vague or have high competition. You will not prosper with these keywords.

Google Keyword Planner

  • Identify the potential KW’s they can pursue from the client’s site and competitors. Pool these with the KW’s the client wants in an excel document.
    • Go to Google Adwords Keyword Planner
    • Enter your list of keywords into “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category”.
    • Click “Get Ideas”
    • Go to “Keyword Ideas”
    • Download list of keywords into an excel file.


  • Sort through the list of combined keywords for search volume, relevance, and what the client wants.
    • Filter keywords with the highest search volume to appear at the top. Keep your list of keywords separate from the keyword variations populated by Adwords.
    • Delete any irrelevant keywords.

“Highly Illogical…” – SERP Relevancy

Starship enterprise SEO machine

Captain Kirk, make sure to check the native inhabitants (search results) of planet Omega IV, to see if they are logical or relevant to what we’re looking for. We don’t want to inhabit a planet that is “highly illogical”. – Spock

Google SERP Search

  • Check each keyword on your list in Google SERP results to see how relevant they are to the client’s campaign.
    • Enter a potential KW into Google search and look at the first page of results.

Questions to consider:

  • Are the results relevant to what your client does?
    • If you’re looking for fencing companies that build fences, but sword fencing clubs come up, then your keyword isn’t relevant to your client.
  • Do you see just directories of businesses coming up or actual individual businesses coming up?
    • If the majority of the first page results are directories and Wikipedia articles with no actual businesses, then you know you can’t compete.
  • Are the results national or local (or semi-local)?
    • Are you targeting a national keyword, but it is actually a local term? You can tell this if Google Map results are the first results in the SERP.
    • Example: Nonprofit Organization shows up as a local term, not a national one.

“Beam Me Up, Scotty!” – Competition

Keyword Klingon

By Cristiano Betta from London, UK – KlingonUploaded by MaybeMaybeMaybe, CC BY 2.0

It is imperative to your mission to make sure you rank your keywords as high as possible in the SERP’s. You’ll need to assess the Klingons’ strategy and backlinks to see if you can win the war on rankings. Once you’ve done that, then you can beam those keywords up.

Majestic SEO for Client

  • Check the client’s website in Majestic SEO or the Majestic SEO Extension.
    • Enter your client’s website into Majestic SEO. Or go to your client’s site and click on the Majestic SEO extension.
    • Check your client’s external backlinks portfolio, trust flow, and their citation flow.

Majestic SEO for Competition

  • Check your client’s competition in Majestic SEO or the Majestic SEO Extension.
    • Enter keyword into Google search.
    • Pull up the first 10 results in separate tabs.
    • Click on the first site and check the Majestic SEO extension. If your client is within a rolling thousand for backlinks, then you know this is a site you can compete with.
    • Example: Client’s Backlink Portfolio: 56; Competitors Backlink Portfolio can be anywhere from 0-1056.
    • Check all 10 pages’ backlink portfolio with the Majestic SEO extension. If there are more than 3 websites on the first page that are within the rolling thousand of your own backlink portfolio, then you know you can compete with this keyword. Sometimes you can compete with 2, but it depends on the existence and quality of content and meta data of your competitors.
      • Note: If your client has 5,000 or above backlinks the rolling thousand rule doesn’t apply as much. The higher number of backlinks your client has, the higher you can compete with.)
      • If you have exhausted all of your keyword ideas and cannot compete for any of them. Use Google Adwords to find variations of your keywords. This is also when you would look for longer tailed keywords.

“Resistance Is Futile!” – Local Competition

Keyword Galaxy

Warning: Khan is a particularly formidable enemy. If you don’t play by his rules he will overpower you and your mission. He will take over the local rankings and you will not be able to inhabit the maps section in Google.

  • Determine with the client if they are doing a local campaign. Keep track of the keywords that do have a maps section in the SERP results and the ones that don’t. It is typically better to target the keywords that do. This is a great way to get your local campaigns on the first page when otherwise they can’t compete organically.

How Local Listings Work:

  • Make the client aware of how local listings differ from organic results.
    • Local listings are not necessarily organic results.
    • They are very volatile (time, day, location of searcher).
    • They require additional optimizations.
    • Ensure that the client understands that your promotion efforts will have an effect on local listings; however, there are factors outside of anyone’s control that can have an effect on these listings. We then should reassure them that should they meet certain conditions, our work will help stabilize these rankings and that we can educate them on what they can do to help.

What Your Client Needs:

  • Make the client aware of what they need to do to rank with local listings:
    • To have a verified Google+/Google my Business page with a business address in the city they want to rank in.
    • This page’s optimization needs to include the exact desired term and/or category in its description.
    • Reviews are essential

Other Factors to Consider:

  • If the searcher is closer to a competitor’s address.
  • If the area is saturated (no other geos appear).

“Set Phasers to Stun!” – Target URL

The New Frontier of Keyword Research

Once you’ve chosen your keywords, set your phasers to stun and target your keywords on a specific page that is the most relevant for that keyword. We don’t want to confuse any of the future inhabitants who come to this new planet.

Find Target URL

  • Take the completed list of keywords and assign each keyword to the most relevant page on the client’s website or a page that can be edited to become relevant.
    • Go to Google Search and enter the following: site: + root domain + space + keyword
    • Example: site:bigleap.com seo agency
    • Google will pull up the page that it finds most relevant to that keyword. Oftentimes it will be the homepage, but scroll down to see if there is a better page, like a specific service page. If it is a service keyword and a page doesn’t exist for that word, have the client create a new specific page for that keyword.

Other Ways to Find Target URL:

  • Go to Google Adwords and enter the URL you feel is relevant in the Keyword Planner. Search to see if the URL is relevant to the keyword.
  • Go to SEOCentro and put the URL you want to target into the keyword density tool. See if the keyword you want to target or a variation of it shows up in the cloud.
  • Go to the client’s website and search for the most relevant page. When you find one you think would be the most relevant, enter (ctrl + f) on the keyboard and search for that keyword on the page.

Google Trends

  • Look at Google Trends to see what time of year people are searching for any type of business. Get ahead of these trends by starting SEO for that type of keyword 6 to 9 months before the peak.
    • You can add more than one term.
    • Change date ranges.
    • Narrow down location.

“To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before…” – Client Approval

Keyword research tips and tricks


Captain Kirk, and the crew of the USS Enterprise, you are now equipped to set off on your mission to boldly go where no man has gone before and accomplish great things for the people of this universe.

  • Send the completed keyword grouping or keyword suggestions to your client for approval.
    • Add new KW Grouping Folder to Clients folder.
    • Create Excel document titled “Keyword Grouping-Client Name”
    • Include Keyword, Search Volume, Target URL, Google Maps, and Notes at the top bar and add a filter. Add information beneath rows.

Email Client

  • Once you found the keywords you recommend for promotion, present them to your client in a professional manner and in an email so they have an audit trail of all you’ll do for them.
  • Be sure to include:
    • The Keyword(s)
    • Search Volume
    • Hours Recommended for Promotion
    • The URL to target
  • You can also include a list of all other terms you considered (especially if you don’t recommend going after a term the client was set on pursuing) so the client can see:
    • How competitive the term is (search volume).
    • How expensive the term is to promote (recommended hours).
    • If the site is not ready to promote the term just yet (project it for the next phase of promotion).
    • Give a timeline for instances like this and what the site needs (can pursue after 6 months, add a relevant page/copy/etc.).


Create strategy, meta data/copy and implement them. Now you’re ready to boldly go where no SEO specialist has gone before!