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The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Keyword Research

In the past, if you wanted to catch the attention of prospective customers in your town or county, you would place an advertisement in the Yellow Pages.  You might even have purchased 30- or 60-second commercial spots on radio or TV (although TV was, for most, prohibitively expensive). But over the last two decades, digital marketing has largely replaced such traditional mediums.  That’s because search engine optimization (SEO) can now be drilled down to what is known as “local SEO,” which enables businesses to more precisely attract consumers in their local geographical region.  But since all SEO efforts still begin with relevant keywords, so we’ve put together his handy tutorial:  The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Keyword Research.

What Keywords Are

Keywords are the words and phrases people use to search for information on the internet. Search engines also use keywords, in part, to categorize and rank web pages. While there is much more that goes into SEO in 2021, we’re going to focus on keyword research as an SEO starting point.

Why Keywords Matter

If your competition appears first in search results, then your website will receive less traffic from the search engines. In fact, search results that appear on the first page of Google are estimated to earn as high as 92% of the clicks from the people who are conducting the search. This means that as few as 8% of users take the time to click through to page two, which means that your competitors—not you—will be getting the lion’s share of clicks.

But that’s not all.  If you’re hoping to drive a lot of organic traffic to your website, then you’ll need to rank in one of the coveted top three spots because the top three spots receive 62% of all clicks on a SERP (search engine results page). According to a recent Chitika study, the traffic breaks down as follows:  the top listing in Google’s organic search results receives 33% of the traffic, the second organic listing receives 18%, and the traffic only degrades from there. By the time you get to the 10th position, you’re getting only 2.4% of the traffic for that keyword.

As a result, it’s extremely important to optimize your website for search engines so that when people are conducting their searches, they can actually find you.

Proper keyword research is also important if you’re planning on running pay-per-click ads on Google, which are the listings that appear at the very top of SERPs.  After all, if you use the wrong keywords, you will not attract the audience you want and your conversion rate (lead to sale) will end up being very low. You don’t want to end up paying for clicks that aren’t going to convert to paying customers.

Keyword Research

Keyword research involves finding major search queries pertaining to your business or niche. Using it, you can find keywords for your website and discover new topics to write about. Moreover, since keywords are essential for understanding the internet user’s intent behind a particular search query, they can help you improve the rankings of your content in search engine results.

Before you begin conducing keyword research, however, it will be important for you to gain an understanding of the different types of keywords and how they impact SEO.

Types of Keywords

Like ice cream, keywords come in different shapes and sizes. They can be broad or targeted, shorttail or longtail.

Broad keywords are relevant to a number of different results and increase competition. While this might seem like a negative, you must understand that you need to become visible in the keywords people are using to search for products and services like yours. For EZnet Scheduler®, a broad keyword would be appointment scheduler.

However, it is very difficult to achieve ranking with a broad keyword. That’s why a mix of different types of keywords is advisable.

Targeted keywords are very specific to a product or service, and people who are using this particular keyword in their online searches have a very specific result that they are looking for. Targeted keywords have the benefit of less competition, as most businesses default to targeting broad search terms. One thing to keep in mind is that these targeted keywords also have much lower search volume. So, for EZnet Scheduler, a targeted keyword might be appointment scheduler for small businesses. And also, small business appointment scheduler.

There are also longtail keywords (three or more words) and shorttail keywords (one or two words). Using our previous examples, appointment scheduler would be a shorttail keyword whereas small business appointment scheduler would be a longtail keyword.

Keyword Research in Small Businesses

While guesswork might be one method of choosing keywords, it is not the most effective.  Keyword selection is serious business.  The good news is that there are a number of free keyword tools out there that can help you.

1. Google Trends

One of the best places for conducting keyword research for small businesses is Google, which can help you identify potential keywords for your brand.  Google Trends visualizes the relative search popularity of a keyword over time.

Screen shot of the Google Trends home page
Explore what the world is searching.

2. Google Search Console

Google Search console helps you track your website’s performance in organic search. This means it shows a lot of data about the keywords that you already rank for.

Alternatively, you can enter the primary keyword and search for it on Google. Once that’s done, you need to scroll below the organic search results to find related keywords. Many of these keywords may be relevant to your business.

Screen shot of the Google Search Console home page
Improve your performance on Google Search.

3. Bulk Keyword Generator

Bulk Keyword Generator is a keyword research tool for local SEO. It generates keywords based on industry type.

Screen shot of the Bulk Keyword Generator home page
A free local SEO keyword tool for small businesses and marketers.

4. Questiondb

Questiondb finds the questions people are asking about a specific topic. It pulls these from a database of 48M questions sourced from Reddit.

Screen shot of the Questiondb home page
Uncover Your Audience’s Questions.

5. Keyword Generator

Keyword Generator finds up to 150 keyword ideas for any seed keyword. For the first ten keywords on each list, Keyword Generator also shows the Keyword Difficulty (KD) score. This is a number between 0–100 that estimates ranking difficulty. Generally speaking, the higher it is, the more backlinks you’ll need to rank. (More on backlinks in a future blog post.)

Screen shot of the Keyword Generator home page
Find relevant keywords from Keyword Generator’s database of over 8 billion queries. Just enter up to ten words or phrases and choose from one of six keyword ideas reports.

6. Keyword Surfer

Keyword Surfer is a free Chrome extension that shows estimated global and monthly search volumes for any query typed into Google.  Right now, Keyword Surfer shows local search volume estimates for 19 countries. These include the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, France, and Germany. There’s also an option to turn global search volumes on or off.

Screen shot of the Keyword Surfer home page
Find new keywords for noticeable traffic boost on your pages.


About EZnet Scheduler

EZnet Scheduler® is a cloud-based, SaaS appointment scheduler with built-in resource management and credit card processing functionality. Our advanced data security guarantees the safety of your data and your customers’ data.  That’s why Software Advice rates us as one of the best for value, quality and features.

EZnet Scheduler screen shots
EZnet Scheduler is accessible on all devices, Windows/Android or Apple.
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