N.B. a “keyword” is a bit of a misnomer as many keywords are actually multi-word strings.
In the Relevance section above, I encourage you to use the terms your customers are using as you build the content for your website.
But how do you know what terms your customers are using? There are entire software products built to solve this exact problem, but there are also a couple of really easy ways that any business owner can find out.
Keyword discovery is a tedious process but it’s mostly work you only need to do once. Ideally if you release a new product or service, you’ll want to discover additional keywords for it before publishing it to your website and other channels, but it’s a lot less work to research keywords for a single page than an entire website.
The first step on your SEO roadmap is to compile a critical mass of the keywords that your customers might use to search for a business like yours into one master list. A simple text editor like Notepad or Google Docs will work just fine as a place to record your list, but I recommend using something like Google Sheets or Excel (one keyword per cell), in preparation for the second step on your SEO roadmap.
Technically, you don’t even need to ask — your customers already use a lot of the terms they’d use to search for your business when they contact you! Pay attention to the language they use in their phone calls with you (or your staff) and in the emails and contact forms that they send you. Record their most commonly used terms and phrases in your master keyword list.
If needed, ask a handful of additional customers how they might search for your business, or for products or services that you sell. Asking family members or friends who have a rough idea of what you do but aren’t experts in your field, will work just fine too.
At this stage, you’re just trying to come up with a rough idea of the kinds of terms people will use; once you have an initial list, feel free to add even more keywords that come to mind for you.
Perform a search on Google for each of the terms your customers, friends, and family mentioned and scroll to the bottom of the results page. Google will list terms related to the one you searched for, front-and-center. The screenshot above shows Google Suggest results for “furniture stores.”
Copy each additional Google Suggestion that seems relevant to your business and paste it into your master list. A couple of the Suggestions above are specific brands (Kuhnhausen’s, Furniture Shack) which you would probably exclude from your list, but the other six all seem like reasonable terms to target, depending on which area of Portland you’re located in.
Another free and easy place to discover more keywords related to your initial list is Google Trends. Just type one or more of what seem like your most popular keywords into the search box on the homepage and click the magnifying glass.
On the results page, Google will present a lot of really interesting data about the term you just typed in, but if you want to stay focused on task… 🙂
…scroll down to the bottom right and you’ll see a box called “Related Queries.” Google shows up to 25 more terms related to the one you entered (I recommend sorting by ‘Top’ instead of Rising’ in most cases).
Copy and paste each related term that’s relevant to your business into your master list.
Continue searching Google Trends for additional keywords from Asking Your Customers and Google Suggest until it seems like Trends is no longer returning useful Related Queries for the terms you’re typing in.