How to Begin Your SEO Journey Without Spending a Penny – Keyword Research

This free guide covers the very first step in any website’s SEO journey: figuring out the right keywords in order to help grow your business and making your online presence pop. If you nail your keyword game, you’re on your way to drawing in a lot more visitors, gaining new customers, making more sales, and getting your brand out there in the big, wide world of the internet.

Think of Google as that friend who’s trying to matchmake you with people looking for what you’ve got. Keywords are your way of telling Google, “Hey, this is what we’re all about!” so when someone’s searching for what you offer, Google knows to point them your way. It’s like having a secret handshake with the most popular search engine around, and the best part? It doesn’t cost a penny.

In this little guide, I’m going to show you how to hunt down the perfect keywords without spending a penny, using some simple tools and tips.

What’s the Deal with Keyword Research?

It’s basically like doing a little detective work to find out which words or phrases people are using to search for stuff related to your brand. It also means checking out what your competition is up to and finding your unique spot in the online world. This helps you figure out what to talk about on your website.

Why Bother with Keyword Research?

Well, it’s a game-changer for getting new eyes on your business, and even sparking ideas for new things you can offer. It’s not just about filling your site with buzzwords; it’s about getting insights into what your potential customers are searching for, and which keywords best apply to you.

Let’s say you’re starting up a new business called “Dave’s Decorating”. We’ll use this imaginary business to walk you through how diving into keyword research isn’t just essential for SEO, but can actually help shape your business overall plan.

Breaking Down Keyword Research

  1. Digging for Keywords: This is where you start. You’ll use some nifty tools to find out what keywords are hot and which ones you should be using to get noticed.
  2. Mapping Out Keywords: Here, you decide where on your website each keyword should go to play nice with Google and avoid repeating the same keyword too much.
  3. Putting Keywords to Work: Once you’ve got your map, you start weaving these keywords into your site’s content to climb up Google’s search results.

Finding Those Golden Keywords

Start by brainstorming keywords that fit your business. Still using the “Dave’s Decorating” example, let’s say you’re based in Stockport like us. Think about what services you can offer and how people might search for them. This gives you a base to start from.

For example, you may primarily offer painting and decorating services, but you may also offer shelving or picture fitting. Perhaps you can also cover up water leak damages or staining on a small area of paint work, without having to completely repaint the walls. You may also wish to target specific areas that are more local to you, to avoid having to travel for hours and eating into your profits.

Once you’ve written this list of services you can provide then you can begin using free tools like Google’s Keyword Planner to view related keywords and how often people are searching for them. This can sometimes even spark new ideas for additional services or products, boosting the power of your business.

Not only is this service free, but the chances are you already have a Google account, especially if you use services such as YouTube, Gmail or Google Drive. This means you won’t even have to create a new account in order to use it.

After entering a prompt keyword of “painter decorator stockport” they provided the following results…



The image above is obviously a condensed version of the Google Keyword Planner results, but from this we can see the ideal keyword to target would probably be “painter decorator manchester” which is searched for up to 10,000 times every month. The more people that see you the better right? – imagine if Dave was on the front page for that keyword. His phone would never stop ringing!..

However, unfortunately it’s not as easy as that. Manchester is a large area… “Dave” may not wish to drive all the way up to Rochdale from Stockport in order to inspect the work that needs to be done, give a free quote, only for them to go elsewhere. He may wish to target areas closer to him to mitigate the risk of that happening.

Not only that, but he would be competing with every other company in Manchester who offers the same services. Perhaps large firms with considerable SEO budgets that a sole trader couldn’t compete with. Keeping that in mind, here are some useful pointers…

Tips and Tricks

  • Mix It Up: Go for a combination of both popular and less common keywords. The less common ones likely have less competition, giving you a better shot at standing out. Targeting more common keywords will help grow your business over time.
  • Check Out the Competition: See what keywords others in your space are using. This can help you find your own niche, perhaps offering services your competitors are unable to provide.
  • Niche Down: Speaking of niches, they can be goldmines. If you find a specific, less-targeted area you can excel in, go for it!
  • Understand Your Audience: Make sure your content matches what people are actually looking for with those keywords. One keyword example in the screenshot above was “commercial decorators manchester” but if Dave is a sole trader, he may not be able to realistically take on commercial work, such as repainting all of the hallways in a 7 story hotel for example.
  • Organize: Keep track of your targeted keywords and plans with something like Excel or Google Sheets (also 10o% free) or simply save the plan after filtering through the keywords in same Keyword Planner account you started on.

After Finding Your Keywords

Now that you’ve got your keywords:

  1. Sprinkle Them Into Your Site: Use them in your page titles, descriptions, and content, but keep it natural. No one likes to read stuff that’s awkwardly stuffed with unnatural sounding keywords.
  2. Check Out Different Ways to Show Up on Google: Google sometimes shows lists, images, or other types of results at the top. Aim to fit into these when it makes sense.
  3. Write Some Killer Content: Whether it’s your main pages or blog posts, make your content engaging and useful, incorporating your keywords smoothly but ideally providing value to the intended customer base (just as we’re writing an article to help you with SEO, Dave can write an article about the benefits of insulating paint, or thermal paints, and then provide his contact details at the end to act as a CTA – you’ll see an example below.)

Wrapping It Up

Keyword research is more than an SEO task; it’s a powerful way to understand your market, refine what you can offer, and make your online presence as strong as possible. Whether you’re a small shop or a big name, knowing and using the right keywords can help you closer connect with potential customers who are looking for exactly what you have to offer.

Need a hand getting your SEO to the next level? Don’t be shy; reach out for expert advice on making those keywords work for you.

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