Some clients like to participate in the keyword research process, and this is how to do it.
Tricia: My question was, when you do your keyword research, a lot of clients want to see something. So, my question is, how do you present that to the client without having to do too much explanation? What’s the best way to show your clients that? Having enough for them, and maybe not too much.
David: Right. Well, I was thinking about this question because the former agency I used to work for really struggled with this. And they had a hard time. But the way I’ve addressed it is I don’t think of keyword research as a client deliverable.
Tricia: I typically don’t either.
David: I think of it in terms of client participation. That really helps to say, “Okay, client. You know, there’s not a deliverable from this, but I want you to check my work for me.” So, I will give them a list of keywords with numbers – search volume numbers or Google trend numbers, whatever quantification I’m able to use. So they can see that here are some of the options and whether or not there are people searching for them.
David: And then I will ask them. “Did I miss anything? Or am I misunderstanding anything?” And the misunderstanding is the most important part of that question. We have one client, and in the keyword research, we realized that they want to look for emergency services on what they have to offer. Okay, let’s say they’re a dentist and they offer emergency services. Well, there are a lot of people searching for emergency services, but not all dentists offer emergencies services. So, I put the numbers in there to say, do you even offer emergency services? And then they could say no. So suddenly, I could cross out a bunch of keywords.
David: And they can see what we’re crossing out. But I want them to see all the keywords with zero volume too.
David: Because what we don’t want to do is get in the keyword game of “what about this keyword?” “What about that keyword? And we can kind of look at the list, and if they say, “well, what about this?” And we can probably find something similar under the zero keywords words and say, “this isn’t exactly your word, but you could see a variation on that is zero searches. So, that’s not how your customers are looking for you.”
David: It might be accurate. It might be the most accurate way to describe your product or service, but it’s not how your customers look for you. That’s really valuable to quash the keyword game because they see all the zeros.
David: Oh, yeah. I’m thinking about it differently from my customer, but meanwhile, my customers are all looking for this.
Tricia: This one client has a keyword that is more industry-specific – you’re not going to look for that keyword unless you know that specific technical name. And most people looking for the service aren’t going to have a clue about that name. So, I can show them that because I put that in and was doing some numbers with that. Google trends was really helpful. I was showing several of the different ones as far as which ones had the most volume. You could see one was way up here, and the others were down here. So, yep. Okay.
David: Exactly. That’s really a great way to do it. And I prefer using the Google search ads keyword planner tool.
Tricia: Yeah, I did that too.
David: It does give you a lot more than Google trends will be able to give you. But either way, you want a quantification there, not only for your sanity but so that you know you’re focusing on something that there are proven searches for, not what you intuit might be a search. But there’s data. And then the client, it helps them. The other thing I was going to say about this is if a client has a local focus, be sure to use the word “near me” in the queries. Because it might not have data for “dentist in this small town.” But we want to see whether people are searching for “dentist near me” because that would include whatever small town that dentist serves. Right? There might not be enough search volume for dentist in whatever small town this might happen. And so, just because you don’t see a geographical modifier for the town that you’re trying to use, if you do see “near me,” you do know that that is a phrase that Google has associated with local searches.
David: And so “near me” is kind of a magic word in the sense that they’re not literally looking for the word “near me” on the page.
David: Google is smart enough to understand what “near me” means to the user.
David: If your page says I’m a dentist in Fort Mill, South Carolina where I live, and someone in Fort Mill, South Carolina does a search for “dentist near me,” they could find that dentist because the dentist page says dentist in Fort Mill, South Carolina. It doesn’t have to say the words “near me.”
Tricia: Okay. Okay.
David: It’s kind of a special word in that way.
Tricia: Okay. I remember thinking it came up in one of the queries, but I don’t think I specifically was putting it in when I was doing keyword planner. So, I’ll do that.
David: And if you see it in one of your phrases, go ahead and add it to all of them and run it through the data again. Each time you do that, even for the same client, you will learn more and keep adding more words. And then, back to your original question, show them the full list with all the numbers. First of all, to reiterate to them that you’ve done your research. Second of all, we kind of want to intimidate them with how many possible keywords there are. Because we really want to break that attitude from the beginning of the focus on the keyword. Right? We want to break that. We want them to see there are many, many, many ways someone could search for the same thing.
David: We can use that as a way to educate the clients because we want them to realize that Google thinks in terms of topic, not word. And if there’s anything we can do to get away from the ranking question, it will help your client and prevent you from having a world of frustration.
Tricia: Okay, when I started, they had told me what they thought their keywords were. And I always ask because you never know. I like to know what they think and to compare it to what I come up with. Their website was new, and their old website wasn’t able to get into their Google Analytics; there was a whole new domain. So, what I did was I ran their top competitor through the Google keyword planner.
David: Yeah. That’s an interesting strategy.
Tricia: Yeah. But the interesting thing is that the keywords that were from their top competitor were things that I had on my list that I was probably going to use. It kind of emphasized that those were…
David: So, you’ll notice that in the keyword research process I wrote, I did not suggest you look at competitors for keywords.
Tricia: I know. But I noticed when I did that, that David doesn’t have that in there. But I said I’m going to just do it to see.
David: Yeah. It’s not like it’s a bad idea. But what we don’t know from that is, well, you will know what keywords they think they want to go for, but we don’t know whether they’re doing a good job, whether these keywords actually produced customers?
Tricia: Yes. Exactly. Yeah.
David: Right? We just know that that’s what they think. So as a way of generating ideas, maybe it’s not a bad idea, but we have to be careful about trying to compete with a competitor over something nobody is searching for.
David: Or one that doesn’t even convert. Like, I had an example. One of my clients does industrial stacks for paper plants. Really exciting space. And so, the previous SEO company optimized them for stacks.
Tricia: Just stacks? Stacks of what?
David: Forget about that for a moment. What most people mean when they think of the word stacks is those things that come off the back of a pickup truck that the high schoolers have these days, that billow out black smoke to show off.
Tricia: Okay. Okay.
David: Yeah. That’s a stack.
David: Nine times out of ten, when someone looks for stack, that’s what they want. They don’t want the kind of stacks our client produces. So, we learned really quickly that if we would’ve just looked at search volume, we would have learned, “Oh, crap. That’s not the right kind of stack. A lot of people search for stack, but not the right kind of stacks.” We had to modify it and zoom in on exactly what type of stack, which had significantly less volume, but a lot less competitive and better to convert. Right? Even if we ranked for stack, we would’ve gotten a crap ton of traffic and no customers.
David: So be careful for that reason.
Tricia: That’s kind of what I did. Because I think their competitor has a few other things they do. So, there are keywords that obviously mine doesn’t even do, but some of their keywords were matched up with the different services that my client provided. So those were the ones I looked at, just to see and to get an idea of any other ways to word it that I hadn’t thought of.
David: So, this with when you find a word that a client has that doesn’t make any sense, throw it into a Google search and see what Google suggests as far as related searches. As you’re typing it, see what auto-suggest says.
David: Right? People Also Ask, these are really great things that give you all kinds of great ideas.
Tricia: Yeah. I’ve got a client that I’m going to be doing some keyword research on next. And they have a very technical term that I have to figure out how people search for it in layman’s terms. So, maybe by next week, I’ll have more questions.
David: Well, that’s worth talking about, too, because it’s kind of a different dimension of keyword research. So, it all depends on who the customer is. Right? If the customer is a layman, then we need to talk about it in layman’s terms.
David: Yeah. If the customer is B2B and the customer isn’t a layman, then a technical term might be the best one, even if it shows up at zero.
Tricia: Yes. Yeah. And this one is B2C. So, I definitely need to, and right now, they’re using too technical of a term to reference it.
David: And honestly, sometimes you just make your best guess, and you go back later, and you see in search console, what is bringing in traffic? Because sometimes, simply having any sort of focus is better than none. And you might surprise yourself as you learn. So, you know, sometimes you just optimize for a guess.
Tricia: Let’s see what actually happens.
David: Yeah. Especially if you get zeros back. Because zeros doesn’t mean nobody searches for it. It means it doesn’t cross the threshold to have enough data for Google. It still could be really valuable.
Tricia: Yeah. Okay. That’s one thing. Sometimes, I think because when I start off, and I’m not sure, I then sometimes feel like I second guess myself on some of this stuff.
David: Well, I tried to build the process to help with that. That’s why you’re going back every couple of months. You have permission to make a mistake. And as long as you’re doing something in a couple of months, you’ll be able to see it a little bit better. So, it’s almost better to just do something, come back in a couple of months and see if you can get better, because you’ll have more data after a couple of months, and you will probably learn more about SEO in a couple of months, and be able to apply it again. That’s why it’s important to repeat.
Tricia: For sure. Yeah. Okay.