How Do I Do Keyword Research?
Since keywords are the foundation of all SEO work, it’s generally a good idea to know what you’re going to target before you get started. There are several ways that you can find new keywords.
We always recommend starting with a classic brainstorm. What do you think buyers and sellers in your area are searching for? What would you Google if you were a client? This is always a great place to start your brainstorm. Examples from your brainstorm could include:
- Vancouver real estate
- North Vancouver homes for sale
- Vancouver real estate agents
- Vancouver condos for sale
- Vancouver home buyers guide
- Sell Vancouver property
...And so forth. Try to also consider keywords people in the buyer or seller journey might be interested in that aren’t directly related to property searches, but are still relevant to the real estate industry. For example, “mortgage rates” and “home buying process”.
Write down absolutely everything you can think of, including semantic variations (eg: Vancouver condos, Vancouver condos for sale, condos in Vancouver, etc.) We’ll prioritize these keywords in a few steps…
Keyword Tricks In Google
Once you have a few solid keywords in your back pocket, you can move on to some additional resources for keyword research. The first is Google itself! While we aren’t going to tell you to Google “real estate keywords”, it’s not the worst idea. But instead, this step is about building on the keywords you already have.
Type your keywords into the search bar and then pay attention to the auto-complete suggestions. These are keywords that Google thinks you might be searching for, and many users will click the option that best matches their actual search. If you see new keywords in this auto-complete, add them to your list.
Towards the bottom of the page, you’ll see a related searches section that lets you know what other people are searching. A lot of these are very specific, or even random, but write down anything that relates to your business specifically.
Paid Keyword Research Tools
If you opt for either of the paid SEO tools we recommended, Moz Pro or SEMrush, you’ll also have access to their keyword research database. While each tool operates a bit differently, the concept is the same: you tell Google one or more of your target keywords, and it gives you suggestions. These tools also share search volume and priority metrics that will help you choose which keywords to focus on.
Moz Keyword Explorer
This simple tool will help you analyze a keyword and see related suggestions. The free version is limited to 5 queries daily, while the paid version ranges from 5 keywords per day, to 30,000 per month. We like Keyword Explorer because of its clean user interface and easy-to-understand metrics.
SEMrush Keyword Analytics
SEMrush is known for their keyword research abilities, so it follows that they have an entire suite of tools that can help you discover new opportunities. In addition to traditional keyword research tools, SEMrush has a neat feature called “SEO Ideas” that will analyze the existing pages on your site, and then provide new keyword ideas for those pages. While there are several keyword tools and resources within SEMrush, the tool has a steep learning curve.
Verifying Your Keywords Viability
The very last step in your keyword research should be verifying your keywords’ viability. By this, we simply mean that you want to make sure the keyword can bring visitors to the site. It doesn’t matter if you rank #1 for “the most awesome real estate agent in California” if nobody is actually searching for that term—because you still won’t get any traffic to the page.
If you have one of the paid tools we recommended, you should use their keyword analysis tools to determine how much traffic a keyword can bring in, and how competitive it is. If you don’t have paid tools, use their free versions until you max them out, and then switch to Google’s Keyword Planner.
PRO TIP: Keep in mind that the more competitive a keyword is, the harder it will be to rank for. When getting started, it’s often advantageous to target long tail keywords, and work your way up to the short tail keywords when you start seeing SEO progress.
Google Keyword Planner
Google’s Keyword Planner has been developed for AdWords, and is geared specifically for Pay-Per-Click (PPC) users. But it can be used in a pinch to gather information about SEO keywords too—just know that you aren’t getting a 100% accurate picture.
Under Keyword Planner, go to Find new keywords and get search volume data > Get search volume data and trends.
Here, enter all the keywords you thought of throughout your keyword brainstorm, research, and gathering. Google will then provide data on average monthly searches and competition. Just keep in mind that this is PPC competition, not SEO competition, and therefore isn’t always a reliable metric for decision-making. Use your instincts.
Planning Content Around Keywords
Once you know what keywords you want to target, based on search volume and your keywords of interest, you can start planning some basic content. Take a look at the keywords that are important to you, prioritize by volume and competition levels, and use them to determine what pages you’ll need on your site.
Similar keywords relating to one community, niche, or topic can typically be grouped together on a single page. These are semantic keywords, and search engines like Google actually use them interchangeably. That means you can create a single page that targets both “Victoria real estate” and “Victoria homes for sale”. We don’t recommend creating a fresh page for every single keyword variation, as it looks unnatural to search engines and negatively impacts user experience.
And finally, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Choose 4 or 5 priority pages to start, then revisit your keywords once that foundation has been created. SEO should be an ongoing effort, with new pages added on an ongoing basis over time.
Next Section: What Content Should I Create?