Keyword Research: Demystified for Home Services Businesses

Keyword research may seem simple - know your customer and what they search for. There is a lot more to it to make it effective, including the buyers journey.

The mystery of keywords can be similar to the previous mystery of SEO (hopefully you've have received all info to clear any SEO uncertainties - if not, read more here.) You might hear marketers - or even your "SEO person" tell you that they're working on your keywords on your website and your articles to get you more traffic. What exactly does this all mean and how do they find these keywords? Lets us clear the air a bit. Keyword research, in an effective marketing world, involves a couple of steps. We're definitely oversimplifying it here - but hopefully meeting our intention of providing the overview.

But first, why is research into keywords so important? Inbound marketing with your blog means that the indoor and outdoor living topics connect and resonate with your readers (your potential clients) - from the beginning of their buying process (awareness) all the way through the decision stage. (more on this below and in this related article: Win more bids by selling through the buyer's journey). You want to do all of this because it brings you traffic -> leads -> customers -> revenue. Relevant keywords help uncover these problems - or express them in a way that your readers communicate. This same approach is used all over your website. 

Since we, at Halstead Media, are niche to the home services industry, this process of keyword research is a lot easier because we know this industry inside out. There are however major differences for each client - depending on size, goals, and locale.

1. Define your customers

You might have an assumption to this. You might even be able to provide their age range, average family size, household income, and then a few more details. There is a lot more here. We'd want to detail their job, seniority level, regular day (and irregular), pain points - what is your business solving for them, what are the things they value, what sources do they use to get info, and finally, what are reasons they don't buy your service. Why do we need this info? 

2. Understand the buying journey

A common mistake we see is a blog full of self promotion. For example, "we did this project and look, it's beautiful" or "we are the best because.." That's not connecting. Effective blogging shares content that buyers can understand and find helpful to their problems - all the way from the beginning of their problem. For example: Awareness stage: a blog that talks about the problem of difficulty entertaining in small outdoor spaces. For Consideration stage, something about which outdoor spaces to invest in in order to improve entertaining space. Finally, for Decision stage, Creating a cohesive outdoor living environment. Now that your target customer is clearly defined, you know what kind of guests visits, which terms your customer uses (there are multiple ways of saying "entertain"), and many more critical not-so-small details to use in these blogs - all purposed for each step in the journey.

3. Validate search counts

So you found out that your target customers are interested in increasing their entertaining spaces and warmer outdoor evenings in the fall or more cohesive kitchen and bath designs. This doesn't mean that these are the exact terms they're searching. Lets also not forget the different terms they'd search for as they are in each different buyers journey step. All of your keyword search terms must be real terms your target customer is indeed searching for. There are quite a few tools to use for this - HubSpot and Google Keyword Tool to name a couple. It's important to understand how many searches a month each keyword (or phrase gets). You will definitely be surprised with at least couple for your local area!

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 over and over again

Keyword research isn't one and done. Its an ongoing cycle to be repeated about monthly. Search habits change - sometimes with good reason like season and other times, for no obvious reason. Usually, it's important to make updates to what you will be focusing on - and other times you shouldn't. Keyword research of counts and terms, combined with your business goals will help you decide.

It's important to recognize that effective use of keyword terms are not meant for keyword stuffing. For example, a blog title, "decks are important for those who like patios and different materials" is keyword stuffing. Google knows what this is a will absolutely not give you the boost in search rankings if a more normal title was used! Keyword terms also shouldn't stick to being exact. You want a mix - of exact and similar. Read more about why and how Google's algorithm impacts your search results here.