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By now you probably know that keyword research is one of the most important factors for your company’s marketing success. Despite all of Google’s algorithm updates, keyword research has managed to remain consistent. By figuring out which keywords people use when searching for the services or products your company provides, you can begin to develop a marketing plan that helps you get found by your ideal clients.


I’m going to lay out how you can start performing keyword research for free for your company.

Keyword Research 101:


Step 1: Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes.

The first question you need to ask yourself is: How is the consumer trying to find my service or product online?


You’ll want to start your keyword research process by compiling a list of keywords that you believe people will use when trying to find the type of services or products your company provides.


As an example, I’ll use a property management company in San Jose, but this can applied for any type of business.


The first thing you would do when conducting keyword research for a property management company in San Jose is brainstorm and write down all the search terms you believe people will use to find such a service.


Some examples might be:


“Property Management San Jose”

“San Jose Property Management”

“Property Management Companies in San Jose”


After you have a built up a sizeable list of keywords, the next thing you’ll want to do is check and see if there are people actually searching for these keywords.


Step 2: Check Keyword Volume

This step will end up surprising you. Often what you believe to be the best keyword, may not be. You always want to check how many people are actually searching for the keyword on a consistent basis.


So how do we find out the monthly search volume for a specific keyword?


Tool #1: Google AdWords Keyword Planner


What is Google AdWords?

AdWords (Google AdWords) is an advertising service by Google for businesses wanting to display ads on Google and its advertising network. The AdWords program enables businesses to set a budget for advertising and only pay when people click the ads. The ad service is largely focused on keywords.” (Source)


Now that we know what Adwords is, we will go over how we’re going to use it to conduct keyword research for free.


Whether or not you wish to target these keywords using paid ads or by targeting the keywords on the organic search results is another subject, which we will cover in the future.


Today, we are looking at this strategy from the perspective of targeting the organic search results.


We will initially use this tool to verify our keywords and see if there is any search volume for them.




Once you are signed in to Google Keyword Planner, you will see this:

Keyword Planner

Bonus: If you choose the option above Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category, they will also give you other keyword ideas and their average monthly search volumes.


Sticking to our example of a San Jose Property Management Company, we would type in all the keywords we came up with in step 1.


“Property Management San Jose”


“San Jose Property Management”


“Property Management Companies in San Jose”


Performing Keyword research for property management


Next, click on “Get Search Volume” and you’ll be shown the average monthly search volume for each of the keywords you typed in.




720 searches per month for “Property Management San Jose”


320 searches per month for “San Jose Property Management”


20 searches per month for “Property Management Companies in San Jose”


Now that we know the monthly search volume of each keyword, we need to determine the difficulty of each keyword.


In order to do this we need to analyze the websites that are currently ranking for each keyword and determine if we can compete.


Not all keywords are created equal. You may find one with huge search volumes but the websites that are currently ranking for them may be too competitive.


As you invest time in developing your online presence, your website’s “strength” in the eyes of Google will improve. As your site strengthens, you will be able to target more and more competitive keywords.


There are many different factors at play but we will cover one metric that can give you a general idea of the overall strength of your website and your competitors’.


Tool #2: Moz Bar Plugin

For this example we will look at the Google Chrome Moz Bar Plugin.


You can find it by simply writing “Google Chrome Moz Bar Plugin” in Google search.


Once you download the plugin, you can see exactly what it does. It will give you a few general metrics that you can use for your research.


We will only look at one of the metrics today.


DA = Domain Authority


Moz’s plugin gives you a general rating on the strength of the overall website. As an example Google’s DA is 100, which is the highest possible.


How will we use this?

  1. Sticking with our example, search “Property Management San Jose” on Google.
  2. Click on the Moz Bar Plugin, which is on the top right of your screen


This is what we get (we will only look at the first four search results for our example but you should look at all the results on the first page):


Now we can see that the first two results are from Yelp, which is a directory, and happens to be very strong (DA of 94). On the other hand, the next two results are actual property management companies and their DA is not as high as Yelp’s.


As a rough estimate of whether or not you can compete with these websites you can check your own website’s DA.


You can do this by going to your website and clicking on the Moz Bar. The Moz Bar should pop up in the header of your screen and display your website’s DA.


Now you do not necessarily need to have a higher DA than your competition but the higher it is, the more likely you can outrank them with proper on-page optimization and a couple months of high quality link building.


You do want to be somewhat close to the same DA or higher than some of the websites that already rank. For example, if your website has a DA of 1 but the competition has an average DA of 40, you’ll have a tough time outranking them in the near future.


Using the Moz Bar is a great way to gain a rough estimate as to the competitiveness of a particular keyword.


Remember that Domain Authority is only one of the metrics you can use to analyze your website. There are many other factors that go into ranking a website but this is a great place to start.

To Conclude:

Keyword research is the starting point of ranking any type of website. By evaluating the competition you can gain a better understanding of how much work will need to go in to ranking your website. It takes consistent effort to get your website ranking in search engines but it’s well worth it. Once your company shows up in search engines for targeted keywords you’ll have leads contacting you on autopilot.