When you imagined opening your own contracting business, you probably didn’t picture performing keyword research as one of your quarterly tasks. But keyword research is a critical aspect of your marketing plan — which drives your company’s success.
Keyword research may feel overwhelming, especially if you have no marketing experience.
In this guide, we’ll break the process down into manageable steps that you can follow to improve your search engine rankings. Once you make keyword research a habit, you’ll be on the road to becoming a top-ranking business in your local industry.
What Are Keywords?
Before you can master keyword research, you should understand what exactly keywords are.
When you search for anything on Google, you type “keywords” into the search bar.
Then, Google analyzes those keywords, determines which web pages are the most relevant to your search, and delivers those pages to you on a search engine results page (SERP).
Keywords are the search terms your contracting business should try to rank for in search engines like Google, Bing, and Safari.
Note: Despite their name, keywords aren’t always individual words.
There are two main types of keywords: short-tail and long-tail.
- Short-tail keywords are one or two words, like “general contractor” or “local plumber.”
- Long-tail keywords are longer phrases, like “kitchen remodeling in Charlotte NC” or “how much does a room addition cost.”
Both are important to your marketing strategy, and during your keyword research, you’ll find a mixture to target through your page content.
What Is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of identifying the keywords to use in your website’s content to rank in the search results for those terms.
The key here is to choose precise, tailored keywords with high traffic but less competition so that your website can be on the first page of results or, better yet, the top three results.
The keywords you include should be:
- High-traffic: Your keywords should be terms users are searching for frequently. If you rank for a keyword that no one uses in their search queries, it won’t do your business much good.
- Relevant: These terms should relate to your services. You want to ensure that when a keyword leads a user to your site, they find the information they were looking for. Google’s algorithm looks for websites that can provide value to users and match their search intent — not just ones that contain the right keywords.
- Attainable: If you own an HVAC business, you’ll naturally use “HVAC” throughout your web content. But you probably won’t reach the top three rankings for a general Google search of “HVAC.” These short-tail keywords can be hard to rank for, whereas long-tail keywords offer less competition or difficulty. “Keyword difficulty” is a metric you can examine in many SEO tools.
Once you find keywords that meet these criteria, you have a solid foundation for building and revising your website pages, like service pages and blog posts.
Why Is Keyword Research So Important?
Keyword research is just a drop in the bucket of your larger marketing strategy. But without it, you risk your website not being visible to potential customers.
Did you know that in 2022, 99% of consumers searched online to find information about local businesses? That’s huge. The internet is likely the number one tool your potential customers use to find your business.
When your contracting business doesn’t rank in the first few search results, you lose a large portion of your potential customer base to competitors. Keyword research is the stepping stone you need to reach more customers, improve brand awareness, and grow your contracting business.
Keyword Research: A Step-by-Step Guide
Keyword research requires a few different steps. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to perform quarterly keyword research in under a half hour.
Here are the steps to identify keywords to use in your website content:
Step 1: Brainstorm Topics
Some marketers may tell you that the first step is brainstorming actual keywords. We’ll tell you that a better first step is brainstorming topics — and then narrowing them down into specific keywords.
You know your contracting business better than anyone, so you know what keyword topics relate to your business.
Many businesses think that ranking for their business type — such as “plumbing” or “HVAC” — is enough to improve SEO. In reality, ranking for those generalized short-tail keywords is very challenging.
Think about the number of plumbing businesses with websites that are competing for the top three search engine rankings. Likely, thousands.
Instead of narrowing your keyword usage to your type of business, you can try to rank for related topics and phrases. For example, if you own a plumbing business, your list of topics may look something like this:
Think about the topics that could lead potential customers to your website. These can include your services and the problems your customers may be having that they need solutions for.
With these topics in mind, you can move to the next step: creating keywords.
Step 2: Turn Your Topics into Keywords
Your next step is to consider the specific search terms your customer base may use that relate to your topics. These topics can lead you to anywhere from a few to dozens of keywords.
For instance, under the topic “toilet,” you could brainstorm these short-tail keywords:
- “Clogged toilet repair”
- “New toilet installation”
- “Toilet replacement services”
You could also brainstorm these long-tail keywords:
- “how to fix a clogged toilet”
- “how long does a toilet last?”
- “how to install a new toilet”
- “toilet repair vs. replacement”
- “do plumbers replace toilets?”
Coming up with at least three or four keywords under each topic gives you a good amount of keywords to work with when you move to the keyword research tool phase.
Step 3: Consider Your Location and Service Areas
As a local business, you must consider a unique facet of keyword research: finding keywords that pertain to your local area.
Local SEO is the process of tailoring your website to rank in local search results. If your business is in San Francisco, you want it to show up for people in San Francisco and the surrounding areas.
To establish yourself as a trusted local business, you’ll want to include your business location in the majority of your blogs and service pages on your website.
In terms of keyword research, you will need to brainstorm and evaluate keywords that contain your location name. For instance, San Francisco plumbers can try to rank for keywords like:
- San Francisco plumber
- Plumbing company San Francisco
- San Francisco plumbing repair
Google tracks the locations of searchers. When someone in your city searches for “plumber,” Google will show them local plumbing businesses.
A search query like “plumber near me” will also lead local businesses to appear in the first few search results.
Step 4: Analyze with Keyword Research Tools
While brainstorming keywords can be effective, keyword research also involves a more logistical process. You can identify how popular certain keywords are using keyword research tools, helping you refine your approach.
You can find dozens of free keyword research tools online.
Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, Ahrefs, and SEMrush are all good options. You can test out a few different tools to see which one you’re most comfortable using.
Most keyword research tools let you generate lists of keywords and evaluate specific terms you’re considering.
These tools present you with a grid of metrics for all related keywords. Metrics may include the following:
- Keyword difficulty: The attainability of ranking your website for a keyword
- Volume: The frequency with which people search for a specific keyword
- Traffic potential: The amount of traffic the top-ranking page for a certain keyword receives
These metrics can help you narrow down your list of potential keywords to ones that are actually worth your time and effort.
Becoming familiar with keyword research tools can streamline your research process and ensure that you attain the best results through your SEO strategy.
Step 5: Rinse and Repeat
Keyword research is an ongoing process. Many marketing consultants recommend revising your keyword strategy every quarter or at least twice yearly.
Of course, keyword research is only half the battle.
Once you find the right keywords, you’ll need to create content that includes them strategically. Simply adding a list of keywords at the end of each blog post won’t increase your rankings.
Let Us Tackle Your Keyword Research and SEO
Search engine optimization in general, and keyword research in particular, are complex, involved processes.
If you don’t have time to dedicate to these high-level marketing tasks, don’t sweat it. At Contractor Growth Network, we have the skills, experience, and expertise to increase your search engine rankings.
We’ll dive into your website, analyze what keywords your competitors are targeting, and provide keyword-rich, SEO-optimized content to drive organic growth for your contracting business.
Call us today at 980-449-4384 to schedule your strategy session with our marketing team.