Of all my years playing with the Internet there is one question that comes up over and over and I just don’t have a good answer for it.

“Which keywords are we targeting?

My answer is usually something along the lines of: “Uhhh… All of them?”

I realize that is a not so great answer. But the correct answer is simply put, much more than a list of words with irrelevant “numbers of importance” beside them.

Also, there generally 2 types of websites: sites that need to rank for 1 or 2 important and obvious terms, and other sites which can benefit from covering a wide variety of topics.

Keyword research can do more harm than good. Examples below.

There are lots of different types of websites but for today’s example we’re covering business websites, because, well, they make money, or at least, they should.

A company selling pizza is going to want to rank for “Pizza + their city”, or possibly restaurant. The end. But for many other types of businesses they are leaving money on the table by not creating lots of content. Below are some examples.

Nuclear Power Plant sales!
I work with a very successful real estate broker and we beat to death everything in his area. If I had done keyword research, what would I see? Keywords such as “real estate”, “real estate agent”, “real estate broker”, blah blah blah. Everyone knows this; there is no research required. Of course, we have pages in place which cover these keywords, but we also have content which covers everything in his area. One article is called “selling property near a nuclear power plant”. He has had multiple people list land with him that is near the nuclear power plant. These are large $400,000 acre tracts resulting in a $40,000 profit each time they’re sold. They saw the article, skimmed through a sentence or two, and picked up the phone. 9 out of 10 times this is how it works.

Clothes washing machines!
A friend of mine, Kevin, does home restoration. I’m sure keyword research for him would reveal “water damage”, “burst pipes”, etc are important keywords. He already has these pages. These are glaringly obvious. I suggested he put up a page about water damage to hardwood floors. Within two weeks of having the page up he had to go purchase a new $30,000 work truck, tools, and hire two new employees for the increased workload the page brought in. Other pages of his site which make him money include content about air conditioners which leak in the attic and clothes washing machines which break down located on the second floor of your home. Now, tell me, is your keyword research tool going to tell you ANYTHING about clothes washing machines which break down located on the second floor of your home? No.

Sewer inspections!
A plumber I know wanted keyword research. I told him to just write about stuff he sees every day. He did! One article was “Getting a sewer inspection before purchasing a home”. He now gets all kinds of calls from real estate agents and new home buyers. If he had been sticking to keyword research, what would he have seen? “Plumber”, “plumbing company”, etc. Other successful content for him includes content about the city’s sewer lines, chopping up cement to fix pipes, where you can rent a Ditch Witch, and funny sounds your sink makes.

I could go on all day long with examples like this for DUI lawyers, bankruptcy attorneys and more. But- if ANY of these people had simply tried to rank for specific keywords it would have cost them big time. If you’re creating content on a regular basis, or at least like I do, you are absolutely going to hit every keyword possible and then some.

Examples of bad keyword research tools

Not all keyword research tools are bad. They can benefit you if you’re new to the Internet or simply aren’t sure of what keywords people are typing in. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and it is great to be aware of what your potential clients are searching for.

Let’s take a look at “massage”. I know instantly the vast majority of a spa’s business is going to come from two keywords: “massage”, and “massage therapist”. This is going to be 95% of it (or more). Don’t forget- a healthy blog full of content here is priceless as well for attracting inbound links and miscellaneous searches as seen above.

Any keyword tool used with “massage” is going to turn up keywords such as this:

  • massage
  • massage therapy
  • massage therapy school
  • massage therapy jobs
  • massage tables
  • massage therapy balls
  • pain after a massage
  • careers in massage therapy
  • prostate massage (what the heck is that?!)
  • massage envy

You have to dig a bit to discover that the most important key phrases people are looking for are actually:

  • Massage
  • Massage therapist
  • Sweedish massage
  • Deep tissue massage

Cover Topics!

Now that we’ve established that no keyword tool is going to go tell you to write about washing machines overflowing onto hardwood floors beside nuclear power plants, we must learn to cover topics.

When thoroughly covering a topic I hit every keyword out there. A page which has thoroughly covers a topic will cater to the intent of the search. The longer the better.

If a business has multiple services I’ll build out large pages for each and every service.

If you’re fresh out of ideas, begin answering the phone at your business and make a list of what people are asking. There you go, that is the title for your next piece of content.

Shut up Len, just list some keyword tools!


Ok, ok, it is good to at least look at the keywords. Depending on how your brain functions though, you may want to do this AFTER getting a site up and running. It just depends on you and what works best for you. At the end of the day we all want the phone to ring.

  • Google keyword planner. You really have to be aware of what you’re doing using the planner which is built for AdWords and broad match modifiers. Also, ignore the search volume numbers. That said, you can sometimes get an idea or two here.
  • Semrush. I use this one. It is like $60 or $100/mo or something but is decent and beats the freebies hands down, so, they don’t get a mention. Sorry. I use Semrush for many other projects so the keyword tool is just a bonus for me.
  • Your brain. This is my go to. I very rarely use any other keyword tools. I rank things on page 1 of Google on a daily basis and take away something from every article’s performance. I have pages out there which are read once a year which are incredibly valuable and pages which get over 1,000 views a day which are absolutely worthless. You just don’t know until you put it out there. After it’s up you can observe who is reading it , where they are, how long they’re reading it and more.

That’s my 2 cents. 🙂


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