The right keyword research lays the foundation for the success of your customer acquisition via search engine. To compare this with a "classic" business: Keyword research determines the location where you should open your shop. It makes a big difference in terms of customer frequency whether you open your shop in the central shopping street of a big city or in a hidden corner in the farthest valley. Here you can find out how to go about it.
While a lot of walk-in customers pass by in the shopping mile of the city and presumably also buy, this will probably happen only rarely in the farthest valley. It's the same on the internet.
If you don't do keyword research, you're practically playing the lottery - only with your working time. Because the motto "If you build it, they will come" only worked for Noah's Ark in the Bible. And the truth of this story may be doubted in this respect (without wanting to attack or offend believers here). Without keyword research, one might mistakenly build one's business in the farthest corner of the search engine's valley without knowing it.
What do you need keywords for? Aren't keywords yesterday's news?
Keyword research is especially necessary for Google ads and search engine optimisation. First to the simpler area of application - Google ads. With good keyword research, you ensure that your ads show up under those search phrases that potential customers actually type in.
Conversely, this means that you do not show your ads to people who are not interested in buying. This is one of the most common mistakes: companies spend money on ads that are related to your industry, but still do not bring customers. This is the case, for example, when search phrases are used by people who are looking for a job in the industry. Such keywords cost money but bring nothing from a sales point of view.
Search engine optimisation (SEO for short) has become somewhat more complicated in this respect. Search engine optimisation concerns those hits on the search engine results page that are below the ads. So if you search for something, you will find up to four ads at the top of Google and below them those results that Google considers to be best suited to the search intention based on the nature of the page. These hits are then called organic rankings.
As an attentive reader, you may already have noticed: SEO is no longer about the keyword (which is what Google ads can still be about), but about search intentions. By now, the robot called Google knows that people who enter "buy blue jeans" have the same search intention as people who enter "buy blue jeans".
For ads, for example, I could now create my own ads for the different keywords. To get to the top of the organic ranking, you need the best page for the searcher.
Now, for once, it's about mastering and learning to understand the process of keyword research:
But keywords can do even more: they are even stronger than the perfect location in the shopping mile
After a keyword research, you not only know the search engine "situation" of your target group, but you also know the words that your target group uses and understands. AND: You know the intention of the people who use these words (e.g. buy). If you use them correctly and get down to the level of your target group in terms of language when creating content, trust in you will be strengthened and thus your customer acquisition will be more successful.
Find the right keywords for your SEO and Google ads step by step
For the keyword research we need some programmes. Some of these are available free of charge on the internet. Online marketing professionals like us, however, almost exclusively use professional tools. However, these can also be very expensive (up to 400 euros/month for a programme).
Don't worry: you certainly don't have to spend that much! We even show you how to complete the analysis completely with free tools. However, this is very time-consuming and especially in the area of link analysis, the free tools are not particularly reliable. However, they can still provide an overview for an assessment.
Step 1: Create table
We recommend that you record and carry out the keyword research in a clear table. We simply use Microsoft Excel for this. However, you can also use any other spreadsheet programme. The only important thing is that the programme can perform a few functions in your table:
- Filter out duplicates: The programme should be able to recognise and filter out duplicate entries. So that you do not have to torture yourself through endless identical items. This saves time.
- Sorting by column values: Your table tool should allow you to sort the records by certain values. Otherwise the table is confusing and unusable.
- CSV-capable: The most important source, "Google", provides the values as a CSV file for download. Your programme must be able to work with CSV data. Otherwise you would have to copy the data into your table by hand. This is also possible, but takes much more time.
Now create a table with the following headings in the first row of the columns:
- Search volume (SV)
- average click price (CPC)
- Target group (ZG)
For us it looks something like this
Step 2: Find out search volume
Now create a list of search terms and search phrases for yourself. These should correspond to what you would enter if you were searching for your offer. Important: Try to put yourself in the target group's shoes! What would the target group enter? What colloquial words describe my offer?
The example of "avalanche transceiver" or the colloquial term "beep" is a very good example. With the keyword "Pieps" you have a really high demand, with the keyword "avalanche transceiver" it is the correct term, but only 10 people per month search for it. If you now rank high with your ad or your page on Google for the term "beep", you can theoretically generate great earnings, while for the other one you will always have too little demand to survive. With such a search volume in this price segment, good earning opportunities are not even to be thought of.
This means: In the first step, we search for the keywords with the highest number of search queries in your industry.
To find out the number of search queries (= the search volume), we use the Google Ads Keyword Planner. This is provided by Google itself. It serves to reveal the potential of various keywords to advertisers. We use it for keyword research in SEO (=search engine optimisation) and SEA (=search engine advertising).
Google is very interested in revealing to paying advertisers how high the search volume of various search phrases is. After all, advertisers want to know how many people they can reach with an advertising form.
Proceed as follows:
- Sign up for Google Ads. Google wants you to create a campaign right away. Try to skip this step. If this is not possible, create a campaign with a budget of 0 euros.
- If you are in Express mode, use the toggle function to go to classic Google Ads mode.
- Now click on "Keyword Planner" in the menu item "Tools" and select the option "Determine new keywords".
Now you have to make a few settings. In the first field, enter your first keyword from the list. Secondly, you determine the alignment. It is important that you select your entire country here, for example Germany or Austria, and not just a district, county or federal state. Even if this sounds illogical at first glance, because with a local business you might only want customers from your area. But there is a technical background to this: mobile network operators do not always pass on your location. For example, according to the server location of all Austrian mobile network operators, mobile internet users are always in Vienna, even though they may be hundreds of kilometres away. Practice shows that we usually do better with search phrases like "service location" or "offer location". But it depends on the attempt.
As an example company, let's take a hairdresser in Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol. So we enter "Frisör Innsbruck" in the field above.
Now a screen opens up for us with ad group ideas and mostly terribly high numbers. But these only serve to show how many people one could actually reach with this topic area around search input for Google's computer assessment. However, this is more like fantasy numbers. We are looking for real search phrases of our exact target group. Therefore, we open the tab "Keyword ideas".
Now we see the following:
On average, "Frisör Innsbruck" is searched for 4,400 times per month in Austria on Google. The average click price is 52 cents.
- Copy keywords to table
However, there are others under the first two keywords. Google suggests here those keywords that the search engine considers to belong. However, not all of them make sense. Hairdresser Vösendorf is also among them. But this town is more than 500 kilometres away from Innsbruck. So it makes little sense. By the way, all these words added together make the fantasy numbers of the group rider. That is why we have to deal with the individual keywords at this point.
We see that Google gives us 36 more ideas. Google suggests up to 700 ideas (depending on the keyword entered). We always want to copy them all out and paste them into the Excel spreadsheet. To do this, we have to click on "Download" and then download the list as a CSV file. Now you have to delete all columns except for the search term, the search volume and the CPC. Now you can simply copy the list into the table.
We proceed in the same way with all the search terms noted down in advance. It is also worth looking at the list again and again. In this way, you can still come up with many suitable search terms that you may not have considered at all. You should then enter these again at the top and copy and go through the new suggestions again.
As a hairdresser, you might also have keywords like hair extension, perm, men's hairdresser etc. on your list. Go through all the keywords and all the newly found keywords that you consider useful. This way you will always come across new ones.
If you have copied everything together, you probably now have a long list. Depending on the size of the field or the client, it can happen that we have a list of several thousand entries in our research. So don't be surprised if the list seems very long to you. That doesn't matter, we will thin it out and in the end we will know the most important (=most profitable) keywords.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have never placed Google ads before, you will not see such exact search volumes in the Keyword Planner. You will only see a distinction between 0-10, 10-100, 100-1000, 1000-10,000, 10,000-100,000 and more searches per month. Google has restricted this ad in 2016. Only when you spend the first euro on ads will you see the right numbers. The good news here is that you actually only have to spend 1 euro. One course participant tried it and already had the more accurate search volumes from Google available 24 hours after he set up a campaign for one euro and it was clicked.
Step 3: Filter out duplicate entries and order entries
When you have gone through your list and the new entries and are now faced with a seemingly endless list, the next step is to filter out all duplicate entries (of which there are certainly many). In most versions of Excel, this can be done via the menu item "Data", the sub-item "Filter" and then with the selection "Special filter". Select all list entries and choose the option "Remove duplicates". If you have a different version of Excel or use a different spreadsheet programme, it is best to simply google for instructions on how to remove duplicates and follow the instructions.
Once you have removed all duplicates, the next step is to sort the entries according to search volume. To do this, select all entries and use the Sort function. Select the Search volume column and sort the entries in descending order. This way you have the entries with the highest search volume at the top.
Step 4: Check the target group situation
Now comes a particularly important part of the keyword research, because this is where a lot of mistakes happen. Many entrepreneurs believe they already know what their customers are looking for. The problem is that they are often way off the mark. Even we, who have been doing this for years, often have different assumptions than the research reveals.
However, one thing is very important and must be taken to heart: If the research of the target group situation shows that it is not the target group that uses this keyword, but others, then please also trust this. It is no use thinking that Google is wrong. Google is not wrong. Google evaluates billions of pieces of data every day and knows exactly what someone is searching for when they type in a certain phrase. Please don't think you can do it any other way - then you will fail.
However, we do not want to leave you with this sentence here, but would also like to illustrate it with an example from our practice.
One of our clients is an IT support company from Vienna. The boss of the company called us and asked if we could build him a page that would put him at the top of Google.at under the search term "IT Support Vienna".
We explained our concept of customer acquisition to him and it made sense to him. The problem was: as it turned out during the target group research, people who enter "IT Support Vienna" do not search for an IT support company at all. "How so?", you may ask. For this we have to look at the first search results page under this keyword:
The picture here is as follows:
All the hits we see ranked in front are sites offering jobs for IT support technicians. Only at the bottom are one or two (number varies slightly) IT support companies that offer computer services to companies.
Of course, this analysis only refers to the organic hits. Organic hits are those search results that come directly below the advertising. Please never forget: the hits that are displayed with the ad tag are there because the company pays Google money for them. The organic hits are there because Google has found that they help the searcher the most.
Now it is important to internalise the following: The first 3 organic hits together get about 60 percent of all clicks, the whole 1st page about 92 percent. What does that mean? With this order, Google also represents the search intention of the searchers quite accurately. So if hits 1-3 show no IT support offers, this means nothing other than that 60 percent of the people who enter "IT support Vienna" are not looking for support for the company's technical infrastructure. They are looking for what it says: And those are job offers.
It also means: Only people who are looking for a job in this industry enter this search phrase. This means: If you offer a job, this is a search term you should target. But for customer acquisition, you should ask yourself the following question: How many people who are looking for a job in my industry right now want to become my clients? Almost certainly none!
If you analyse this from the advertisers' point of view under this search term, you have to conclude: All companies that place ads under this search term are spending a lot of money for nothing due to a lack of knowledge. Because they are looking for customers. However, those who see these ads are not potential customers. At most, these people click on the ad because they would like to work for this company. I.e.: You pay a lot of money per click for people who will never become customers....
Which keywords are the right ones and how do I check them?
It's simple: go through your list one by one (the keywords with the most frequent queries are now at the top) and enter them into Google Search as normal. Please make sure you are not logged in to any Google service and delete your history and cookies. Otherwise you could get distorted results.
If the keyword shows all or almost all (except for one or two places in the lower ranks) only competing companies with the same or similar offer, then you are correct. In our example of the hairdressing salon in Innsbruck, it would look like this:
Here we see map entries of hairdressers at the top and on the whole rest of the page only website hits of hairdressers. This means quite clearly that anyone who enters "hairdresser Innsbruck" is certainly looking for a hairdressing salon in Innsbruck. And we know from our research: That's 1000 search queries per month. If you are high up here, you will reach a lot of potential customers as a hairdresser in Innsbruck.
You must repeat this procedure with each keyword in the list. To save time, please do not dwell on keywords that are certain to be a bad match from the outset. Just because the keyword "hairdresser Vienna" is also suggested by Google to the hairdressing salon in Innsbruck during its research, you do not have to check it. Here we already know beforehand that certainly no Innsbruck hair salon will be listed. After all, Vienna is about 500 kilometres away... So you don't have to check such search phrases individually.
Grade your keywords
In order to be able to compare the keywords that you analyse, you should grade them. We proceed in this way:
All but 2 entries on page 1 of the search results are competitors (or competing offers from telephone book, booking platforms for hotels, etc.) -> target group situation 1 (especially if hits 1-3 are competing companies).
All but 3 are competitors or all are competitors but the region is not covered -> target group situation 2
Regional hits are important because they significantly increase the target group situation, especially for local providers and businesses. For example, even with "Hairdresser Tyrol", only hairdressers and platforms on which hairdressers in Tyrol are listed come up. However, we do not know where someone who is looking for a hairdresser in Tyrol wants to go. Tyrol is a whole province. From one end to the other you quickly sit in the car for 3 hours. Would you drive 3 hours to the hairdresser? Hardly. That means: the target group situation is still good, but not as good as before. Especially with the example of a hairdresser, one could even consider whether this is still a good target group situation that deserves the grade 2. With a service provider like a management consultant, it certainly fits. They will probably have no problem travelling 50 or 100 kilometres to a lucrative client.
All search phrases that have fewer competitor hits than the above: Target group situation 3-5.
These are of no further interest to us, as there is too little to be gained here. There are too few potential customers among them.
Go through the list until you have left the relevant set. Checking keywords for hours that only have a search volume of 10 searches per month makes no sense. Go up to a number that seems reasonable to you. You have to decide that depending on your industry. If you earn 10,000 euros per customer, it probably makes sense to target keywords with a search volume of 50 if the target group situation is very good. But if you only make 1 euro per customer, it will no longer be worth it.
As you can see, it is easy to find out a lot about your target group in advance. You know which words your target group mostly uses and you know how they search for your product. You have thus gained a real insight into the minds of your potential customers.
Now it's up to you to use this important information for your online marketing success. You can now use this knowledge profitably for your Google ads strategy, your SEO, but also in any other marketing strategy (even offline). You can find out how to do this here regularly in the blog.
Written by Manuel Diwosch
The klickbeben editorial team consists of experts in the field of online marketing. Our goal: We want to give you insight as well as tips on topics such as email marketing, marketing theory, SEO, social media marketing, search engine advertising and much more. In addition, we would like to offer you small insights into our exciting everyday agency life and thus a glimpse behind the scenes.