We’re using plumbers and local plumbing businesses in this example, but the tips we share here can be used for all trades-based businesses, such as electricians, carpenters, masons, HVAC technicians, and anyone else looking to create content to attract local customers to their website.
What are keywords?
Keywords are the search terms that people enter into their favourite search engine to find a solution for their current problem. It used to be a simple relationship: the more times your keywords were on the page, the more valuable your content. But Google got smarter, and started looking at context – figuring out what you were looking for and delivering more of what you actually want.
Years ago, when you entered a search term like ‘looking for bass’ Google might have served up pages related to fishing, musicians, or stereo setups. Now Google is smart enough to understand the context of a page, and by looking at your current intent (skipping any privacy concerns, but just understand that Google knows what you’re doing at all times) will serve you the content you want when you’re looking for it.
Keywords shouldn’t be the focus of your content strategy, but they can be a useful tool to help you create useful content for your audience. This article will show you how to find keywords that are relevant to your business, so you can use them to build content that will attract your audience and show them that you are an expert in your industry.
The fundamentals of keyword research are geography and functionality. As a plumbing business you want to focus on potential customers in your area, so the first step is to determine your geographical reach and the services you offer.
For example, as a plumbing company in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, you could start off with the following questions:
- Which areas of Victoria do we service? How far does our reach currently extend, and do we want to expand it?
- What services do we provide and what customer problems do we strive to resolve?
- What are the most common plumbing issues that customers are experiencing? (Which can be determined by compilations found on Google.)
A potential list for plumbing keywords could include:
- Victoria plumbing = 56,000,000 results
- Victoria plumber = 15,300,000 results
- Langford drain cleaning = 636,000 results
- Victoria clogged toilet = 764,000 results
- Sidney toilet installation = 5,150,000 results
- Colwood water filtration system installation = 162,000 results
- Sooke residential plumbing = 85,500 results
- Victoria commercial plumber = 20,000,000 results
Now add BC to the search phrase, and your results are much more manageable, but all that really matters is that you’re on the front page of Google. (There’s an old joke that the best place to hide a body is on page 2 of Google, because nobody ever looks there)
Looking at the results, you might think it’s impossible to stand out when there are 20 million pages. Creating relevant content is the key. The articles you create should set the context that you are a plumber in Victoria, with experience in x, y, z. This will help you rise above the mountains of static, random pages that mention Victoria and plumbing around the world, so your site will be served when someone nearby is looking for you. And regular content will help you stay on the first page. The goal is to use keywords that will help create context: you are a plumber in that region or community, with the skills and experience to fix their problem.
Alternative Keyword Research
If simple searches on Google aren’t yielding the results you were expecting, there are other research tools at your disposal. For example, WordSearch, a free keyword research tool, provides hundreds of relevant keyword results that can be tailored to your industry and country or to connect with outliers by identifying longtail keywords instead of the most popular keywords.
To see how your competitors are ranking for your preferred keywords, you can search Google or use SEMRush, an online marketing toolkit used by professionals to cross-compare keywords and SEO; or use Google Adwords Keyword Planner to narrow down your list through quantitative data. Through Google’s Keyword Planner you can search volume and traffic, as well as their rankings on Google Trends. Through this tool, you can also view currently low-volume keywords and see whether or not they are expected to increase in popularity—which is a helpful tool for businesses planning for the future.
If you’ve been using the internet for a while, you might remember visiting websites that kept repeating the same word or phrase: sometimes it made sense, but most of the time it felt like the phrase was forced into the sentence. This was an approach called ‘keyword stuffing’, and it was used to trick Google into thinking the page had a lot of relevant information about that particular topic. The good news is, Google keeps getting smarter, and doesn’t rank a site based on how many times it uses a particular word or phrase. On that note – there are no tricks to getting Google to rank you better. Quality content that is relevant and current will make Google happy, and Google will reward your work by ranking your site higher when people are looking for your product or service.
Write your content for people, not search engines
What can you do with your keywords?
Ok, now that you’ve compiled a list of keywords, you need to figure out how to add them to your website. You can (and should) build them into your web copy (your home, services, about, processes, and contact us pages, for example) and you can use them to create content. Looking at the keywords you’ve compiled, are there any opportunities to create a blog post to help people looking for that term?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- How to unclog a toilet
- How to use a snake to clear your drain
- How to stop a leaking showerhead
- Why garbage disposals are terrible for your plumbing system
- How a leaky toilet can cost you thousands of dollars
- How to choose a water heater for your home
- Should you buy a gas or electric water heater?
- Don’t call a plumber to fix your septic service
Giving away your ideas
When you saw the potential blog posts we shared, you might wonder why you’d create a post that tells someone how to do your job.
Why would you want to do that?
Because it shows your audience that you are an expert in your field. You’re probably not giving them a step-by-step article that they can use to replace their toilet – but you certainly can, and it’ll likely be well-shared – but you are going to tell them some of the things they’ll need to keep in mind when they are thinking about it. Some people might follow your instructions and do it themselves, where others will recognize that you’re a pro, so they’ll hire you to come do it.
Just like this article – we’re telling you how you can find your own keywords so you can DIY your own web content, even though that’s a service we provide. You can certainly write it yourself, or you can hire experts to do it for you.
Call us to create your content
We’re a local webdev team here in Victoria, working with talented professionals to create interesting content that gets read, gets shared, and gets business. If you’d like to chat about a content strategy for your website, give us a call.