More threads by Daniel


Apr 21, 2013
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I am in the process of a redesign and one of my main keywords has a lot of synonyms. E.g. Home Contractor, Home Renovator, Home Renovation Service(s), etc...

I think the keywords I select should be a function of keyword volume VS competition strength VS keyword ability to bring in qualified leads.

I am unsure of an efficient AND effective way to do this research and was hoping you had a recommendation for me to determine this.

I am in the process of using the google trends research strategy, as detailed in a post by Linda to determine volume and also if i should do City+keyword or keyword+city.
I am in the process of a redesign and one of my main keywords has a lot of synonyms. E.g. Home Contractor, Home Renovator, Home Renovation Service(s), etc...

Hi Daniel, wasn't sure from your intro but are you are business owner trying learn local SEO for your own site or a consultant starting to learn how to do it for clients in that niche?

I ask because if we are talking YOUR site only it's easier to narrow it down.

I am in the process of using the google trends research strategy, as detailed in a post by Linda to determine volume and also if i should do City+keyword or keyword+city.

IMO the Google Trends strategy is step 2 after you have drilled down and understand which key phrases have the most volume.

The Adwords KW tool is really the 1st step to figuring out the KW consumers search for the most. For instance, do more people search for home remodeling, home remodelers, home improvement contractors or service or whatever. So to do that plug in the root word remodeler, then remodeling, then home improvement, constractor, construction, etc. For example I would think not that many search for renovation KWs and more search for remodeling. But I could be wrong and the Adwords tool will tell you that.

Decided to do quick research, just on those 2 phrases.

home remodeling 301,000
home renovation 110,000

home remodeling contractors 14,800
home renovation contractors 6,600

But then with Adwords tool, I found gold nuggets that beat out all the above:

home improvement 550,000
home improvement remodeling 165,000
home improvement contractors 18,100

So that gives you an idea. Therefore 1st step if you have not done it is: don't worry about city, just find out what versions of the core keywords are most popular.

Then to eval competition, set location to that city and search for allintitle: "key phrase one" and then allintitle: "key phrase two"

Then after you do all that and boil it down to most important variations, the Google Trends strategy can be helpful to see how folks in that area search. But the Trends strategy is really more fine tuning or further analysis, that comes after you've done the deeper research above with the Adwords tool.

There is a lot more to SEO and KW research, but those are just a few of the initial steps that come to mind. I hope others will jump in and share their tips too.
Thanks! Ah, it appears I went about things in a backwards way.

I did google trends, then I put the top results into the adwords tool. It is important to note that trends said I didn't have enough search volume to do a geo-tagged searched so I was basically searching the same terms in both tools, and got slightly different results. Not sure what to make of that.

If there is not enough search volume for trends, then what value does it have? Adwords tool seems to offer better data and also suggests keywords!

Additionally, the adwords tool did show some geo-tagged results for terms that trends didn't have enough search volume for.

Linda, could you explain how searching using the allintitle operator helps to eval the competition? I used the operator to search for a term I rank for and I didn't show up at all (I don't have the exact phrase in my title).
If you don't use allintitle it shows you pages with any of the words anywhere on page.

So if KW was "home improvement" it could show you a page from a house cleaning site that has a paragraph about how we clean your home. Then lower on the page it mentions the word improvement.

So this page would not be serious competition for the term "home improvement" because it's a house cleaning service that happened to have those 2 words on page SO it would be easy to beat.

Allintitle looks at pages that have that KW in the title tag. KWs in title is most important for ranking. So finding the # of pages that have KW in title is more indicative of TRUE competition. Those are pages that are very definitely targeting that KW and know enough to do at least some SEO.


San Diego home improvement contractors - 3.6 MILLION competing - Wide open, no quotes or allintitle means they could have any of those KWs anywhere on the web page. Could even be a news story or whatever and not even a true competing contractor.

allintitle: "San Diego home improvement contractors" only 6,000. - Real competition

But then also when you zero in on the ones that have the KW in title and are the TRUE competition, then analyze all the SEO elements that the top 3 have going for them and be sure you are doing all that and more or better than they are doing it.

FYI there are over 300 Local SEO factors so it's extremely complicated to figure it all out.

So I found generating keywords to be a daunting task due to all the permutations. I found this great tool that makes all the permutations I need! Keyword Lizard, the Free AdWords Keyword Combination Tool!

I generated 45,000 different permutations! Most of them are gibberish and are useless though. Next I put them all into excel. After excel, I put them into google adwords tool. But, it only lets you use 2,500 at a time so it's a bit of work to sort everything. At the moment I'm copy pasting my results...but there has to be a better way!

I was hoping that I could just export the top results to a google docs spreadsheet, thus eliminating lots of unnecessary data. The other idea I had was to see if there is an adwords keyword tool plugin that allows me to generate all my results straight from excel or google docs. My preference is google docs though. Would appreciate any tips on how to automate this process as it would eliminate a significant amount of work!!

Once I have all my top keywords, I am going to input them into market samurai (Free trial) and do a competitive analysis and also try to figure out what keywords draw in the best leads.

So, that's my strategy right now. I feel pretty good about it!
Are you the business owner? I suspect not, as a lot of higher volume search terms result in tire kickers and wasted time doing appointments/estimates for price shoppers.

I do lead gen for several contractors in FL, and it took a while (is still evolving) to learn how to screen this and filter properly. Some you won't learn until you have personal analytic data on, but if you just think down the line... "is this person going to be interested in an 8' x 10' bathroom tile demo, or would they possibly be talked into a master bath room addition"? HUGE difference in ROI! And your contractor will thank you later.

If you're doing ppc at all, another thing to test is a landing page with mandatory fields. One field should be a pre-selected budget... without overtly communicating "HEY we only do jobs that are $30k and up" it will subconsciously alert the user to the fact that, "oh shit, this isn't a thousand dollar job."

Leads to lower volume of leads, but typically higher quality.
Hi Matt,

Great idea about subtle communication via the form!! Ya, I definitely get leads from my site that include people feeling things out, don't have the budget, or didn't realize what is involved and were expecting to pay significantly less than my price.

However, I can usually tell what's going on after a phone call.

I do want to generate high quality leads, and do not want tire kickers. I hate driving around in traffic for nothing!! That being said, I want to have a comprehensive keyword list so I have the option to see what's out there and make the choice myself. Additionally, I included long tail keyword combos in my research and I am hoping those will pay off.

I will likely do PPC for some terms. The issue is it can get expensive fast, so I want to make sure I get a good landing page going first! Hopefully in the long run I won't have to do PPC because I will rank organically. Would love to hear any tips you have for the contact form!
Sure what do you need help with?

Form tips: test really, but off the top of my head, service selection drop downs, that unconsciously educate the consumer about services you do that they might not know about. (I want a pool, OMG they do docks too!!! - "I just found that out by filling out the quote form"... not clicking around reading other pages of the site, which people are lazy about and don't always do.)

Don't know if that's a good example for ya, but you get the idea. All the norm stuff like CTA, colors, and placement.
I'm still having difficulty sorting out the keywords!! I thought my strategy was good, but just found an important error in the data. So frustrating. But, yknow it's a learning process.

Problems I am encountering:

1) There is a ton of data to sort through (as mentioned) seems the only way to deal with that is to apply for the google api plugin for excel, which apparently takes 5-6 weeks and there's no guarantee to get it.

2) There is no data for most of my long tails, including ones with keywords + city. Will the following strategy provide accurate data? Use the keywords as a proxy for popularity. So if a keyword is popular, local searchers will add their city to it.

3) There is very little data on any longtails. I want to figure out what longtails I should use, but feel like I'm walking around blind. Of course I can use my intuition, but it would be great to find some low hanging fruit...The google keyword tool provides a 12 month average. My keywords are for seasonal work, and I think this is one reason I am getting no results. Is it possible to set the keyword tool for a date range?

4) I did some test searches on google and it seems that for a lot of the long tails I am creating it just uses synonyms and brings up results with other keywords. So now I am wondering if my process is a waste of time, and if I should just use keywords I got from basic research and focus on other activities that will increase my PR.

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