4 Steps To Building The Perfect Keyword Research Plan

Tuesday, October 13, 2015 | By Tim Stoddart

You have designed the perfect website to convert your traffic into clients.  We have discussed and concluded that design is an extremely important factor in determining if the people coming to your site will convert into customers or clients.

The next step is important in determining the kind of traffic that will get to your site. Keyword research and implementation are crucial steps in identifying how people will get to your website and also making sure your business and content addresses their needs.

If you can’t address a user’s needs, they will go somewhere else.

If someone gets to your website by searching something like “what are the best LSAT test prep courses?” – it is clear what their intent is. They know what they are looking for. The question becomes, does your website serve their needs properly?

If so, the likelihood of that user converting into a customer is very high.

It is best to prepare for this ahead of time.

Some Important Facts To Understand

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of keyword research, first we must understand an important factor of how Google works. This is called “Semantic Search” and is determined by the Google algorithm  “Hummingbird.”

“Semantic search is the concept of improving search results by focusing on user intent and how the subject of a search relates to other information in a wider sense, or its contextual relevance. Essentially, semantic search focuses on determining what a user really means, rather than a string of keywords, and then serving relevant results.”

For example, if a user searches “drug rehab,” the Hummingbird algorithm knows that some words associated with drug rehab could be alcohol rehab, addiction treatment, heroin treatment, treatment for drug addiction, etc. Google knows the intent of the user and will give the searcher the most relevant information even if it doesn’t directly match the search query.  

Google tells us that this has put an end to direct keyword targeting, but case studies have proved that is not necessarily the case. Could it be that assigning specific keywords to each page (and not focusing on synonyms or user intent) is the best practice? No – probably not. This is all the more reason to do the proper keyword research and put together a proper plan of action.

There is a lot to think about when doing keyword research, and it can be difficult to keep it all organized. We broke it down to the most basic steps so that you don’t have to worry about algorithms or direct match search.

Let’s get to it. We have put together a step by step plan for you to assign the proper keywords to your SEO plan. Here goes…

Step 1 – Think!! Do Your Research

A lot of experts and companies provide tools and resources to help with keyword research. Many times these tools are valuable  but before we dive into the technology, we recommend you use your brain.

Get out a piece of paper and answer the following questions.

  1. What services do you provide?
  2. What part of the country do your clients come from?
  3. What type of treatment options do you provide?
  4. What type of insurance policies do you accept?
  5. What drug types do you treat?
  6. What is your method of treatment?
  7. What makes your facility unique?
  8. What are my competitors?

Write down everything you can think of. At this point, you are looking for every little option, no matter how insignificant it may appear. After you have done lots and lots of brainstorming, you are ready for step 2.

** Also, this may be a good time to run your keywords through some keyword tools. Keep in mind that computers can’t determine user intent, but it is important to expand your horizons. Some good tools to use are Google Keyword Planner, Sem Rush Keyword Tool, or SEO Powersuite’s Rank Checker. **

Step 2 – Organize Your Keywords

The addiction treatment industry is extremely competitive. If you are a small facility, you may want to rethink going head to head with bigger companies.  Organizing your keywords will let you know which ones you may rank for quickly, and which ones will take time and effort.

In order to do this you will have to take the list you have compiled in step 1, and organize them into three (3) sections.

A – Short Tail Keywords

These are going to be your hardest keywords to rank for. They have the broadest range of intent. These words could be drug rehab, addiction treatment centers, heroin treatment, alcohol rehab, etc. These are the keywords that every addiction treatment center wants.

B – Long Tail Keywords

The lower hanging fruit. Some examples may be…

  • 12 step treatment centers that accept insurance
  • Christian based inpatient addiction treatment center
  • Drug rehab facility that has acupuncture

C – Locations to Target

In a separate list, you want to compile all the demographic areas you wish to target. Do you want to target states? (higher competition) or cities? (lower competition but fewer searches). On this list, you should also write down which of your competitors is targeting which locations so you have an understanding of what you are up against.

Step 3 – Analyze and Prioritize By Competition

Going after only highly competitive keywords will be a daunting task and require lots of time and money. However, targeting only easy keywords probably won’t have the type of impact you are looking for. We recommend  a culmination of high competitive and low competitive keywords.

In order to do this, we need to know the competition for each of the keywords you have narrowed down.

A good tool for this is the Rank Tracker, where you can get “competition scores” for all the keywords you have come up with. If you can not afford this fancy web tool, you will have to go about it the old-fashioned way.

The Old Fashioned Way

Under incognito mode, do a Google search for each one of the keywords you intend to target. If the first few pages are full of big brands, it may be a keyword you wish to avoid. Out of your list of short-tail words, find one major keyword that you think is manageable to rank for after 6-9 months of hard word. List your keywords in order of competition.

Step 4 – Plan Ahead And Come Up With Blog Topics And Keywords

So far you have completed almost everything you need to do in order to understand which keywords and locations you are going after. Put all your findings in a safe place because we will need to come back to them once we start writing and publishing the content. While we are here, let’s plan ahead!

Many of your long-tail search keywords will make for great blog articles. When the site goes live, we want to make sure there are at least 5-10 blog articles ready to go. Compile one more list of questions or article ideas that can target long-tail search. Some examples of this content may be…

  1. How can I stop drinking?
  2. How to talk to my son or daughter about alcohol.
  3. 4 facts to know about cocaine.

Once you have assigned keywords to all your static pages, the next best place to rank for search traffic is on the blog. Your blog will play a huge role in organic traffic, social media traffic, branding, and building community. We will revisit this subject at a later time, but you should have some topics ready to go by the completion of this phase.

What Do I Do Next??

There may or not be some time in between keyword research and keyword implementation. Depending on how long it takes for your site to be developed, there may be some lag time. Once the site is finished being developed, you should keep it on a testing server so that you can write and publish the content before the site goes live.

Up next, we will show you how to put all of this keyword research into action, and structure your site so that it passes authority to the proper pages.

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Tim Stoddart

Tim Stoddart is the CEO of Stodzy Internet Marketing. He lives in Nashville with his wife and hit adorable pitbull, Alice. Tim loves to write about digital marketing and personal growth. You can learn more at TimStodz.com

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