How To Do Keyword Research For Your Business

Often when a business owner first contacts an SEO agency they have little idea of the keywords they should be targeting or at least they don’t appreciate how many keywords they could be targeting to drive more sales.

Even when a bunch of keywords are suggested, they tend to be based on assumptions of what a customer will be searching for and these assumptions will have changed little over time.

Unfortunately, the effectiveness of keywords can and does change over time as search habits change and Google makes subtle changes to search results. This makes it all the more important to:

  • Do extensive keyword research from a variety of sources from the beginning
  • Continue to do keyword research to find new opportunities

One of the common errors made is to target high search volume keywords. Often these keywords may not actually convert into sales, even if a website does appear on page one for those search terms.

High search volume doesn’t necessarily translate into high conversions. Why? The reason is down to something called commercial intent.

For example, I may run a website that does spectacularly well traffic wise attracting 40,000 unique visits a month but the actual income generated from that site is less than £500.

If I do a simple calculation of how much money I am going to be making from each visitor, it is clear that most of the people are either visiting the site to do research, or just have a look around and window shop.

If on the other hand if I am getting 2,000 visits a month and making that same £500 in income, then I can say that the keywords my site is ranking for have high commercial intent and they are driving a much higher proportion of paying clients.

The trick with keyword research for your business is to find these high commercial intent keywords and include them in everything from your pages to the content written for your blog. Only then will you be able to start making some serious money from the volume of leads you attract.

This leads us to the next question? How do you find the keywords that have a high conversion?

Let’s show you how…


The trick here is to look again at the search results for your keyword targets and ask yourself, if someone is typing in this search query, are they really looking to buy?

We all like to window shop from time to time and this includes looking at things we can’t afford. If I know I can’t afford something I am unlikely to type in ‘Buy new Ferrari’ unless I happen to have that kind of cash. This doesn’t mean I’m not interested however.

I may just want to look at pictures of the cars so I type ‘Ferrari Photographs’. If the website that is ranking number one for this keyword is attempting to sell the cars, it’s unlikely they will be selling to me until I have have the cash to purchase at some point in the very distant future.

So we could say that in this case the keyword is going to drive lots of irrelevant traffic to my business with few if any sales.

So establishing the commercial intent of your keyword targets is as much about using your own commercial knowledge about what your customer will be searching for.

This is why SEO teams benefit from working closely with sales teams to establish buyer personas and target demographics to really refine that targeting and ensure that efforts are not wasted on chasing high rankings for the wrong keywords.

Now that we have established the theory of commercial intent in keyword research we can move onto the types of queries people are going to use when they are in the mood to spend.

These queries can be separated into categories:

The highest category of commercial intent keywords is the ‘buy now category’. These are the keywords where the searcher is there with a card itching to spend their money on the first site that appears and answers their query

Some examples of these keywords are:

– Buy (plus product/service)
– Book (plus product/service)
– Sale (plus product/service)
– Free Shipping (plus product/service)

You will find the above keywords frequently used in Google Adwords adverts and this is the best place to look if you are looking for high conversion keywords. In fact if you look at Google’s keyword planning tool, you may find the cost per click bids on these keywords are far higher simply because there is a lot of money to be made from them.

The next highest category where intent are product and service keywords. These also happen to be the most common keywords service based business owners optimise their websites for.

Examples of this type of keyword includes:

– Specific service
– Specific product
– Best
– Cheap (belongs in this category because the searcher will be searching a number of sites to get the best price)
– Find

These keywords can be linked with specific towns and cities which tend to provide the easier opportunities to gain high rankings. Search volume may be low but if someone is looking for a local business for a service then even 8 visits a months can bring in a substantial amount of new business each month.

Following this we then move into the categories least likely to convert into paying customers.

Information keywords
How to
Ways to
Best Places to…

The above keywords should still perform part of an SEO strategy that is based on attracting people to the website. They might even be form an important part of a strategy for a site based on information such as a travel and tourism website.

A bit like going fishing, information keywords can be useful commercially when they are used as bait to get people onto your webpages and signing up to newsletters and so on. They are usually best used in blog content rather than for web pages.

Ten a Penny Keywords

Unfortunately, some business owners make the mistake of thinking that offering something for free in advertising will get them customers. The same could be said for offering a service at a lower  price than competitors  just to gain customer volume.

Here close attention should be paid to what the business is likely to gain from a web page that ranks for a keyword with the following in it:


Or it could have a service offered at an impossibly low price. The problem with ranking high for these keywords is, a site will attract a lot of people who are generally timewasters and looking to get something for nothing.

If you run a service based business and offering something for free, then a lot of thought needs to go into the likely payback. Will you simply attract enquiries from people who just want the free thing and have no intention of spending money?

So this wraps up our advice on how to do keyword research right but what about some good sources of keywords?

Where are the best places to find keywords in each of our categories?

Here are some examples:

Google Keyword Planner
Good for finding out the level of competition for keywords and what advertisers are prepared to spend to get themselves on the first page.
Good for finding out what your site currently ranks for as well as your competitor’s keyword targets. You will get a small amount of information free if you sign up which then reverts to a paid for service which can work out quite expensive although you do get a lot of information.
This one has been around for a while and it has improved over time. You can get an extensive list of keywords from this tool and results can be separated by country so it is much more precise than other free keyword research tools.
Find broad keyword data using a variety of search engines on a global scale. So not the most effective tool for precise keyword research
Don’t be put off buy the grumpy old bearded man. This tool can provide a lot of data on search queries and is particularly good for catching those long tail keywords your competitors might have missed.

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