A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing the Right
Search Phrases for Your Ideal Business
Identifying your passion and personality based business.
As brand builders, coaches, and consultants, everything we do is intentional and potentially life-altering. While creating our ideal passion-profit balance, we know the connections we make with the people whose lives we improve, not only fuel our creativity but also determine the longevity of our businesses. So how do we choose our ideal businesses and ensure we get our products in front of the right audience?
At every stage of the business, we must be clear about who we serve and why they come to us in particular. This decision process forms the basis for everything we create and distribute while informing all our research, goal setting, plans, and metrics for our brands. This is referred to as niche selection or specialization.
While some business builders are great at narrowing their focus and verifying their ideas, other entrepreneurs have varied interests and talents and thus end up feeling overwhelmed by the implications of the word niche. Having to choose one thing that you are really good at and passionate about, leave dabblers lost and going around in circles like a dog chasing its tail.
If you have ever been caught in the niche spin cycle (going from passion to passion, hoping something will eventually stick,) like I was for years, I invite you to exhale as it is completely normal. I know what the gurus say, “focus on one thing and work on it until it works, “and it’s great advice if you already have an idea of what you have to offer. But if you are just starting out or you don’t know what your passions are or how to apply them to solving problems and making a profit, then you need to follow the steps below to help you gain clarity. This is by no means a definitive list, many, more qualified experts have written posts on this step of the business building process, such as these likely more qualified folks from Entrepreneur.com.
To demystify the word niche further, I paraphrase my personal favorite freelancer, brand crush, and kickass business babe Jorden Makelle from CreativeRevolt.com. She explains niching as finding something you specialize in, something you know about, love or would like to learn. Another consideration when choosing to narrow your focus is finding something that is profitable in your favorite industry and then determining what gap you can fill. So, if your competition gets a lot of complaints about their process, make yours stellar and take all their moneys-win!
To get started, use my personality assessment activity pdf to help you pin down what your natural inclination is in business. This activity is centered on internet businesses and what people with similar personality traits do to make money in this environment. You can download the PDF here. Go through the questionnaires and then check out the matching Myers Briggs personality quiz and their matching online professions and salaries.
Another way to niche down is to take note of the things that you spend most of your time reading about, researching, watching, and listening to. Note where you spend your time, the recent or past experiences that make you feel grateful to be alive and what things you are naturally drawn to, or desire. Track your favorite things and experiences for a week or a month and then take this entrepreneur assessment test to determine your strengths and weaknesses and what work suits your personality type.
Broken down simply the steps are as follows:
- Identify your strengths and passions. This is key and I have included a personality assessment that will help you zoom into what makes you uniquely you and how that translates to business.
- Identify problems you can solve or gaps in the industry your passion can fill.
- Do keyword research, we will discuss this further later on, but search through forums like Quora and Reddit to see what your audience is looking for, what terms they are using to find it, and where they are currently getting it.
- Determine if your idea is feasible. Click on the below infographic for steps to test your ideas.
- Test your idea with your audience. Run contests or have your audience beta test your ideas to work out the kinks.
Now a word of warning here, I am suggesting that you follow one idea through to profit. However, the truth is that as we grow and change, so do our interests and passions and sticking to one thing, year after year that yields us no positive return can be detrimental to our mindsets and determination. If you find that you may have selected a niche that feels like your old job( soul-sucking and dream crushing,) then there is no harm in changing your niche. Many entrepreneurs change their niche several times until they get to the exact, right thing they enjoy. In my blog post about quitting, I discuss how it’s ok to let go of things that no longer serve us, without shame. You can read that post by clicking here.
Keyword Planning and Research
After determining what you like, what kind of products or services you offer and who needs them, you will need to conduct keyword research to help define your marketing strategy and get your business discovered by your ideal audience.
Most lifestyle business owners approach keyword research like hunting marsh crabs. Go in night-blind with a bag, grab whatever comes out of the muck and head home to clean the crap and eat the slim pickings. That approach is no longer efficient in the era of big data being used for contextual and personalized ad targeting.
Learning what terms are being used to search for your offer and how to effectively use them to get your audience responding is paramount in sustaining a business. This is fairly easy to do when you know what exactly you’re into and who your unique people are that are already buying or looking for what you offer. I mean, no shade but someone’s making a killing selling moose poop, so there’s the proof.
By choosing one focus, you will also have an easier time choosing, planning, and creating content that is direct, intensive, and valuable to those seeking your service. So, in the case of Copy Write Brand’s website, our focus is optimized content for lifestyle brands and creators, so when planning our content marketing strategy, this focus guides everything we choose from the tags and categories of our blogs to the alt-text used on our images.
If your website is set up to help single moms find work they can do from home let’s say, get as specific as you possibly can when selecting your seed keywords and building your list. Follow the keyword research process outlined below, or create your own process and follow it each time you create a new product, page or post. If you are not sure how to create processes, I outlined some basic steps to follow in my previous blog post: How to Create Systems to Grow Your Brand and Improve User Experience.
Learn your seed keywords and the phrases( modifiers and variations) associated with them.
Once you’ve locked down your who you do it for, what you do and why you do it, you are set to pick out the key search terms that your audience uses to find your business organically. Now, you can definitely use ads to get traffic to your website, but if you are just starting out and you don’t really have the extra money and don’t mind investing the time, a content marketing strategy that utilizes a combination of keywords and search phrases is your best bet.
A Glossary of phrase to begin:
A keyword is a word or term typed into a search engine such a Google, Yahoo or Bing to find needed information.
Traffic refers to the number of visitors that turn up on your website.
Organic traffic is the definition of the visitors who find your website by typing in search terms that are relevant to your business.
Keyword Variations are different ways in which the word may be typed, spelled or modified.
Seed Keywords are the base or foundational search words. Even when modified, the meanings and relevance do not change.
Head Keywords are used in the title of your page and use in the meta title and description.
Body Keywords are usually placed in the body or content of your page.
Longtail Keywords a string of 4-6 words that define exactly what your audience searches for.
Getting started with your niche keyword research is pretty simple and can be really fun if you think about it as an easter egg hunt. We often think we know what people need until we actually do the research and are enlightened by all the various angles we missed. You may want to think about your keyword strategy in this way, find out what your customers are actually typing in when they are searching for your product, and then make sure you verify all your guesses through thorough keyword research. For example, if you are a personal trainer and you teach people how to run to lose weight. You may be thinking well, let me write down “weight loss” as one of my keywords and you would be right, in a way. “Weight loss” would be a great seed or base keyword you will modify to create what is known as medium or long tail keywords or even a head keyword for SEO for great site ranking.
Once you have created a list of potential seed keywords off the top of your head, you want to follow the list of steps below to conduct your niche keyword research.
- Check forums for search questions
I am a huge fan of creating alerts in Google Alerts and setting my email notifications for Quora to notify me about certain questions. In my case, I have notifications for “I want to start a business but have no idea where to start,” or “how do I write content for my business.” I also type in questions related to my topic in the Google search bar and take note of what people are asking in the “People Also Asked “suggestion box. In the example below I typed ” what can I do to lose weight” in the search bar and the responses that popped up gave me modifiers and suggestions, both highlighted in yellow. So, a list of modifiers from this single search would include “fast weight loss” “natural weight loss”, “safe, natural, fast weight loss” and so on. You can brainstorm to come up with various search terms and keep going until you’re tired.
Additionally, you can set up a profile in Quora and answer questions pertaining to your business, ask questions or search for questions that are relevant to your audience. To set up the notifications the way you want them, click on the profile picture, go to settings and click on email & notifications, on the left. You will be brought to the various options. If you search a question and find answers, you can also follow the question at the top of the page and your profile will be notified when new answers appear.
For Google Alerts, go to Google.com/alerts and type in the phrase you want to set an alert for, a list of your phrases will be saved and once a new post is written with the terms you selected your email will be notified.
Once you start your keyword research, it’s an ongoing process, so make sure you create a table to track what you find. You could have columns for seed keywords, modifiers or varieties, suggested search terms, content ideas, competition and search volume. You can save your list anywhere you like, but when I first started doing my business, I often had a hard time finding all the keyword ideas I came across because I didn’t have a central location and would jot them down on a blog outline or new document and lose track of them. Avoid the struggle by making sure you have one. This is the latest version of my keyword research table and what I track.
2. Choosing longtail keywords and low hanging fruit.
With your seed keywords list in hand, you are ready to search for longer keyword search terms. The Google Keyword Planner tool is my favorite tool for this stage, as it gives you not only keyword suggestions but also lets you know search volume, and how much competition there is for each keyword. As a general rule, you want to choose high-volume, low competition keywords to make it easier to rank for them.
If you have never used the Google Keyword Tool, you want to start by signing up for a Google Adwords account. Now, don’t worry about the AdWords portion, you won’t necessarily have to use it unless you want to. I have included a comprehensive walkthrough of using Google Keyword Planner, a video by QuickSprout that is easy to follow and a great guide to help those new or needing a refresher course.
The quick version of the walkthrough is:
- Go to Google Adwords Keyword Planner ( if you don’t have an account, sign up for one). On the dashboard click on the wrench or “Tools” tab. Keyword Planner will be on the far left column under “Planning.”
2. Get Keyword ideas/suggestions by clicking on “find new keywords” and then type your first seed keyword. You want to pay attention to the average monthly searches and competition level. I tend to stick with high search volume, low competition keywords, but for blogs, I don’t mind choosing low search volume, low competition ones, which are referred to as low hanging fruit. As you scroll down the list, you will notice modifiers added like weight loss supplements and how to lose weight fast. And you will see keyword variations like “diet” and “belly fat,” those are good to list as seed keywords as well.
3. List the best keyword phrases for your business by choosing your long tail keyword phrases-these will have 4-6 words and the low hanging fruit-low search volume, low competition. Since Google Adwords is focused on advertisers and bidding on keywords, you will see the average prices advertisers are bidding for keywords as well, to give you more insight into how popular and therefore how hard it is to rank for a phrase.
3. Start competitive research
Okay, this portion is really important, and different people use different tools and strategies for this. I use a combination of Keyword Finder or Jaxxy and SEMRush to give me ideas and a peek into who’s using what keywords and what other keywords I can add to my list. There are, however, no end to the tools you can use to find search phrases.
If you are doing this for the first time, Jaxxy, KW Finder and SEMRush are free to use but have a daily limit. If you enter your email address you can extend the number of searches you do each day and each software has different features, which I won’t go into today, but do pretty much the same job when doing basic research. If you want to dig really deep, SEMRush does some epic stuff but you pay a sizable monthly fee to use it.
Alright, so, to get started, you want to take your shiny new easter eggs- Keywords-and type a phrase into the software of your choice. Type in your phrase and, in the case of KWFinder shown below, you want to find a variation of the phrase that has a KD or keyword difficulty of 25 or lower. Keyword Difficulty is a metric that basically measures how hard it will be to rank on the first page of the Search Engine Results Page( SERP) and to compete with larger more established sites. So, the lower the Keyword SEO Difficulty, the easier it is to rank number one for that keyword, technically speaking. Now, if you find that your list of keywords is not falling below 25%, do not toss it out. There is still more work to be done like checking search trends and search volume. If all your search volumes for your list of phrases are high, then try choosing lower search volumes, as those are easier to rank for as well. You can also use pay software like rankpay.com to tighten up your list.
In the image below, you will see I did a search for the search phrase “how to lose weight fast.” As you can imagine, that phrase is very popular and would have a hard keyword difficulty, meaning it would be hard to rank for it. On the right you will find a list of websites ranking for the keyword phrase, I have highlighted the website with a low LPS, Link Profile Strength. This is the website you may want to challenge using on-page SEO and a well-designed and executed content strategy. Copy down the link address as you will need it in the next phase of your competitive research.
Using SEMRush to snoop 😉
Next, you want to head over to SEMRush with your low LPS, so in this case, the highlighted “thrivestrive.com,” to check which keywords they are ranking for, their backlinks (where they get their referral traffic,) and a good number of other reports that you can learn how to use in the knowledge base section.
When you sign up for the free version of SEMRush, you will be limited to 10 free searches per day and you won’t have access to all the reports. However, for the sake of this guide, we are going to focus on just finding what top keywords your target competitor is ranking for(because you want to beat them). Right click on the bar at the top and the software will take you to an organic search, keyword analytics where you can scroll down the page and grab the short list of top keywords as demonstrated in the image below. If you had just the name of a website and not a blog post link, you would click on the drop down and choose Domain Overview and you would have access to much of the same information, including who the competitors are competing with. This information can be used to further your research. I also check out the ads at the bottom right of the page for content ideas as well. You will see a list of 7 of the top keyword phrases for this domain, the search volume for the phrase, what position this domain ranks for the listed keyword phrase ( so for how to lose weight fast, they rank at 4th position on the search engine) and the amount of traffic the keyphrase brings to the website. These details are good to know because they give you metrics to aim for.
Using Buzzsumo for your sleuthing
Another way I stalk the competition is by using Buzzsumo to check what content is trending on a certain topic. Now, I am trying to keep this as a free resources blog, so anyone can get started and not have to worry about money to get the work done. But keep in mind that you can always use the paid versions of these tools once you figure out the ones you like working with. Like all the other free tools you will face limitations on the number of searches you can perform each day as well as how many results you can see but it’s a start. With Buzzsumo, you can get great insights on content marketing for your business and see what content, topics, and keywords your audience is reacting to and why. You can use the free version to track things like most shared content on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, top influencers in your industry and which brands are being talked about or trending all great information to give you ideas for your own content marketing strategy. Here’s a short Youtube video for beginners that I love referring my clients and friends to watch to get them started, it’s not my content to be clear, but I enjoy the simplicity that Dark Marketing Team uses to explain this platform.
When you go with your list of keyword phrases, type in variations of your phrase to see what content is being shared. While you never, ever want to copy someone else’s work, you do want to study what they are doing and see if you can come up with ways to beat their content and that’s the fun part. So continuing with the Weight loss idea, let’s say one of your keyphrases was “fast healthy weight loss’ then you’d end up with a list that looks something like the image below. You can filter the search by date as shown on the top left, by word count, content type and more. Each post is ranked based on the number of times it has been shared on the 5 different platforms tracked and the number of engagements such as likes and comments. As you see next to the Facebook Engagement column, you have the option to save, view backlinks, view sharers and share the content. The backlinks show you which sites are linking to the competition and you can look to see which sharers are influencers and what keywords are showing up repeatedly so you can target these people or companies to get them to share your content as well or link to your website and improve your SEO. At the top on the Buzzsumo navigation bar, you can also search for infuencers directly and follow them on Twitter to see what they are sharing. Now, I don’t know about you, but I love doing the detective work on my competition as it makes me feel sneaky but powerful 🙂 Of course, as you can imagine, there are many other reports and insights you can access with Buzzsumo, but this is a great starting point.
Tracking Keyword trends and lifespan with Google Trends
The final step I’m going to add to this keyword research journey is to check Google Trends to see what is the lifespan and trend of a keyword phrase you want to use. This is a bit of an extra step but it helps me tighten up my keyword list when I don’t have access to Google analytics or I’m just starting out as with this website.
Google Trends is a feature on Google’s search engine that allows you to research how often people search for search terms and keywords. It is updated daily and has a variety of features similar to other keyword research tools, but has the advantage of being able to track the trends in searches and how people are searching over time. You have the option to search by country, region, city, and year or to search worldwide. You also have access to trending searches and a round up of searches conducted over the past year by categories such as people, movies, professional sports teams and more. To see these options, click on the three dashes in the top left corner to open the menu or get back to Home, where you can start your research. On the Home page, you have the option to compare keywords or search terms, refine your search by platform( Youtube, Google Shopping, Web search or News) and if a keyword has more than one meaning you can change the category to refine your search by category. The example used in the Google Trends Help section is “Jaguar,” being both a brand and an animal, you can differentiate when searching for either.
As you did in the other sections, choose your settings, whether you want to search by country or worldwide and then type in the keywords you wish to compare. The results will pop up to show the trend in interest over time measured on a graph between 0-100, with 100 being peak amount of interest. Just glancing at the graph will reveal whether the search trend is increasing or decreasing, which of the keywords is more popular and which is obsolete. In the example below, you will notice that while “Diet” is the most popular keyword of the 4 chosen, that search interest has declined over the last twelve months significantly. If you wanted to see how the trend worked over several years, you would just change the setting from 1 year to however many you wished to research. Get fir, the lowest search term in the group has consistently been low to nonexistent so you would not want to include that as one of your main keywords.
If you scroll down the page, you will see each search term broken down by subregion, which shows which location had the most search results for the individual terms. To the right of the map showing subregion results, you will notice a box that says “Related Queries”, which is evident, and next to that “Rising,” which shows which terms are on the rise in that region. These insights are phenomenal for if you have a local business or trying to reach people in a particular region.
Another thing to mention here is that some keywords usually spike by season so something like weight loss might spike around New Years when the holiday season has ended and everyone is making resolutions to eat less and do better. Using Trends to look at the peaks over the years will give you access to that data. Checking to see if keywords are spiking temporarily will help you to avoid creating content for dead topics. When you have chosen your trending keywords, make sure to check the variations and try the spelling errors. Some people put dashes in between words and tend to misspell double-lettered words like I did initially with “misspell.” Check each word variation to see if they are worth including in your list.
Well, that just about rounds up the keyword research steps for this post, try the various steps to gather a list of seed to longtail keywords and use them to inform your content strategy and creation. You can do some of these steps each time you sit down to plan your content creation and use them to check keywords for each post.
All the best,