How to Conduct Keyword Research When Starting an SEO Campaign

How to Conduct Keyword Research When Starting an SEO Campaign_

Overview: How to Conduct Keyword Research When Starting an SEO Campaign

  • Aligning Keywords with the Businesses Revenue, Profit and Goals
    • Where is revenue being generated?
      • Suburb
      • City
      • State
      • Product
      • Service
  • Keyword Research & Tools
    • Conduct a Google Search
    • Utilize a Tool like Google Keyword Planner
    • Utilize an Extension like Keyword Everywhere
  • Finding the Right Place for Your Keywords
    • Homepage
    • Service Page
    • Product Page
    • Blog
    • Is there a blog in place?
    • What parts of the site are you trying to rank well for?
  • Tracking Your Success Versus Competitors
    • Utilize a third-party tracking tool

Aligning Keywords with the Businesses Revenue, Profit and Goals

Most businesses begin keyword research by imagining what their customers are likely searching for each month. Before picking the right keywords, you must take a step back and understand your business goals and objectives. Many dive into utilizing a tool like the Google Keyword Planner tool but forget to do their due diligence to make sure the SEO strategy aligns with their business goals.

If you are a bar or restaurant, you’re more likely to target suburb related keywords than city-level related keywords. The reason? People search for bars and restaurants based on proximity. If you search for “Columbus Mexican Restaurants” that’s extremely broad. It could show you restaurants all over the city whereas if you focus on “Bexley Mexican Restaurants” you know exactly where you want to eat.

Related Blog: Determining Suburb vs City vs State vs National Keywords For Your Business

If you own an eCommerce website, you might put more emphasis on your product pages and less focus on your homepage, whereas a local business would put the most value on their homepage and service level pages. It all depends on your market and target audience. Let’s say you’re a national eCommerce company selling electronics, and you’re trying to rank for keywords like “Best VR Headset,” which is a national keyword with a search volume of 33,100 each month. You can ignore the city and state modifiers that are added when running a local SEO campaign.

Due to the highly competitive nature of ranking for certain keywords, it’s critical to understand and employ advanced SEO techniques such as cornerstone content and internal linking.

Google’s Keyword planner or a third party software like Moz’s Keyword Explorer or SEMRush’s Keyword Magic Tool can help you find keywords based on volume. However, it is all for naught if you don’t understand the business you’re doing the SEO work for.

Below are questions we recommend asking prior to picking the right keywords: 

  • Revenue Generated: Suburb, City, State, National
  • Revenue Generated Per Service or Per Product
  • Most Visited Existing Pages of Site (Accessible in Google Analytics)
  • Growth Opportunities within Company
  • Overall Traffic Driven By Blog in Comparison to Overall Site


  • If you need a more in-depth look at getting started with Google Keyword Planner check out this handy guide.
  • The Keywords Everywhere extension makes finding related keywords and keyword volumes easier than ever as we’ll see in this guide.

Keyword Research & Tools

Once you understand business goals and objectives, you can dive into keyword research. Even with all of the keyword tools available, you still need a starting point. One common practice is to begin with the services you offer and branch out from there.

For example, if you’re a local dermatologist office in Columbus, Ohio, and you need to attract local organic traffic, consider the services you offer and focus on them. The process is surprisingly straightforward for all local companies. Simply make a list of all the services you offer, and then add your city and state after the keywords.

Another critical consideration is the suburb you’re located in. While there will be more people searching for “Columbus Dermatologist,” the conversion rate on your organic traffic can increase if you are located in Gahanna, Ohio (a popular suburbs of Columbus) and rank well for “Gahanna Dermatologist.” Don’t forget about your local suburb to make the determination whether or not your industry will get searches at the suburb, city, state, or nationwide level.

Start with Google Keyword Planner using the most obvious keywords to begin your campaign. In this case, “Dermatologist Columbus Ohio” is a decent place to start. Let’s dive into the Google Keyword Planner, the two main functions of this tool are finding new keywords and determining search volumes for your keywords

Google’s Keyword Planner Functions

Keyword Ideas from Keyword Planner



From using the Keyword Planner, we now know that “Dermatologist Columbus Ohio” receives 1900 searches monthly, and we also have uncovered some fresh new keyword suggestions like “Best Dermatologist Columbus Ohio” to target, so we’re off to a good start!

Additionally, we can see that Google recommends “acne treatment” as another keyword idea, so now we can repeat this same process again for “Acne Treatment Columbus Ohio” except this time we’ll use the Keywords Everywhere extension.

The one difficulty with keyword planning is the lack of suburb level insights. Since there is not a lot of volume for “Gahanna Dermatologist” (210 searches to be exact) a novice SEO would overlook this as part of the strategy. This is where local insight is extremely valuable. If our imaginary dermatology practice generates 80% of their business from people in Gahanna, this should be considered a primary keyword for our SEO strategy.

Keyword Everywhere Tool

The Keyword Everywhere Tool Chrome extension provides all of the data from Google’s Keyword Planner right on the Google search page.

Through our research, we will find that there are exactly 0 monthly searches for “Acne Treatment Columbus Ohio.” However, we can now see a slew of new keyword terms including “Skin Care Columbus Ohio”, “Acne Scar Treatment Columbus Ohio”, “Microneedling Columbus Ohio”, and “Microdermabrasion Columbus Ohio” for starters.

Tip: When you are doing this research at the local level, just because there isn’t monthly volume displayed doesn’t mean people don’t search for this. For the acne treatment reference, while you may not want to utilize “Acne Treatment” in the title tag of your homepage, this could be a great interior page to showcase this practice area.

You can repeat the same process for each keyword you discover. The process is just plugging each new keyword you find into the tool until you’ve completely saturated all of the related keywords for your niche.

Using Google’s Keyword Planner in conjunction with free tools like Keywords Everywhere, you can find all of the related search terms that are receiving traffic and create a list of keywords to begin targeting.

Good Old Fashioned Google Search

If you scroll to the bottom of Google, you’ll see “Searches Related To.” Below is what populated for the search query, “Columbus Dermatologist.” This is a great way to see what other people are searching for related to your search and should be taken into consideration when looking for keywords.

There’s also “People Also Ask.” Below is what populated for the search “SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum.” Many dermatologists sell this product in their office. If they are looking to get more exposure for this product, they can look at the “People Also Ask” and formulate great blog topics.

Finding the Right Place for Your Keywords

Now that you’ve determined all of the highest volume keywords for a dermatologist office in Columbus, OH and your keyword research and these keywords align with the businesses revenue, profit and goals, it’s time to place find the right place for these keywords.

If you discovered 150 great keywords, you don’t want to add these all to the homepage. There needs to be a game plan as to the pages where these keywords should be placed. An entire page may not be needed for “Acne Scar Treatment” as it would fit better as a sub-section on an “Acne” page, which lists out different treatments and procedures. It’s helpful to create a sound URL structure to stay organized with the layout of your pages and core keywords that should be associated with each one.

Related Blog: Downside of Outsourcing Your SEO Overseas

Tip: You want to provide the best user experience. This should be taken into consideration when building out a URL structure and creating pages and blog topics. Don’t just create a page so you can rank well on Google. Make sure the page offers valuable information and answers questions that a customer may ask.

If the local dermatology practice just fired their aesthetician and couldn’t offer Microdermabrasion at the moment, you want to hold off on this from an optimization standpoint. The same holds true if the service isn’t profitable. It wouldn’t make sense for an SEO Agency to allocate time, effort, and resources into optimizing this practice area.

When you are creating your URL structure and selecting keywords, make sure to get approval on the final keyword list from the product or service expert. The last thing you want to do is pick non-relevant keywords with a lot of volume that don’t align with the business’ goals and objectives. In many instances, the internal resource will be the only one that has this product or service level knowledge.

Another Example: For our digital and development agency, we have different pages for each type of website development (WordPress vs. WooCommerce vs. Magento). We made this decision since there are a lot of people that look for this site platform technology when conducting their Google Search. Someone is deeper in the funnel when they are searching for “WooCommerce” versus “Web Design” since they know that they want the specific benefits that the WooCommerce platform offers. We knew if we had a great page that showcased our WooCommerce websites, demonstrated our skill with this platform, and answered common questions, we’d be providing a better user experience.

Tracking Your Success Versus Competitors

Once you’ve selected keywords and added them to various pages on your site, you should begin tracking their performance. We use both SEMRush and Moz for keyword tracking for our clients. We started with Moz but as we grew and acquired more clients, we liked SEMRush’s capabilities. You can read THIS BLOG on the top 30 keyword ranking tools as there are many options to choose from.

Once you start tracking keywords, you can monitor your overall rank versus your competitors. Let’s say you’re an in-house SEO specialist for the dermatology practice we continue to reference. If you interviewed the dermatologist about the different types of acne treatment and enhanced this page on your website, you would hope to see an uptick in rank, which is why keyword tracking is important.

The same is true if competitors make a major change to their site. You’d be able to see an uptick or downtick in rank and closely monitor this.

There are also thousands of algorithm updates per year. When a major algorithm hits, you want to know whether or not your site was impacted. Keyword tracking gives you full clarity as to whether you were positively or negatively impacted.

Related Blog: Why Did My Google Rankings Drop Dramatically?

Below is an example of keyword rankings over a 90-day timespan for a dermatology client of ours:

You’ll notice which keywords were affected by the SEO optimization.

One of the last steps is to do two types of Google searches for the keywords you are going to target. This will help you determine what type of content is currently ranking for the #1 spot for these terms, this way you can actually compete with the top dogs by visiting their sites. For example, if the #1 ranked site has a 2500 word piece of content on “acne treatment in Columbus, OH” then it’s likely you’ll have to write something of similar weight in order to stand a chance.

Then do one more search for the same keyword using the “allintitle:” command. The Google search bar should look like “allintitle:Best Dermatologist Columbus Ohio” by doing this, Google will show you how many other sites are currently indexed for that exact keyword.

You can see in the below screenshot that there are 1,400 other sites with this exact keyword in their title. You can start researching different competitors using this method.


Start with the services you offer, and the city you’re targeting, from there you should be able to create a modest list of keyword ideas. Then using tools, you can transform all of your brainstorming into a finalized keyword list, complete with search volumes for each term you’re going to target.

Conducting keyword research in this way, you can determine what’s worth focusing on, and then allocate more time to the keywords that will provide the most traffic.

Jason Parks

Jason Parks started The Media Captain in 2010. He’s grown TMC into one of the largest digital agency’s in Ohio over the past decade.The Media Captain has worked with hundreds of small, medium and enterprise clients on digital marketing and development projects.The Columbus Based Digital Marketing Agency has received numerous accolades. TMC was named a Top 1% Agency in the U.S. by UpCity in 2019 and 2020. They also won the “Best PPC Campaign,” which was a national award from DashThis. They were also the recipient of the Top 10 Social Media Marketing Agencies in Ohio.