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Placester: What are your favorite tools out there for keyword research (free or paid)? Which do you use in your business?
Dale Bertrand: We use Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools to discover the keywords that are already driving traffic to a client’s website. KeywordSpy and SpyFu are wonderful tools to reveal competitors’ AdWords and organic keywords. Finally, we use Google’s keyword tool to perform keyword expansion, pull search volume and grab cost-per-click data.
P: What do you think is the biggest blocker preventing more marketing professionals from doing keyword analysis?
DB: Many traditional marketers (and some search engine marketers) don’t fully appreciate the value of keyword research. It’s easy to target the keywords that you believe best describe your service and skip the difficult persona development required to dig deeper. Also, keyword research is time consuming when done right. I budget 30 hours for keyword research for every client project.
P: Describe a specific case in which keyword research had a positive impact on your business or your customers.
DB: One of my clients runs a chain of preschools in the Boston area. The most obvious keywords to target would be “boston preschool”, “boston daycare” and “boston childcare”. Through keyword research, we discovered that parents were not using the term “boston” in their online searches for child care. Instead, their searches included neighborhoods within the city of Boston — e.g. “south end preschool” and “brighton daycare”. In this case, our keyword research effort saved us months of time optimizing our web content for keywords very few people actually type into Google.
P: Any keyword analysis tips or tricks that you’ve found especially helpful?
DB: I recommend identifying competitors that appear to be sophisticated in the area of search engine marketing and identifying the keywords they are targeting. You can find a competitor’s keywords using a tool like keywordspy.com or spyfu.com. Also, try searching the HTML code behind their homepage for the “meta keywords” tag. In many cases your competitors will list their target keywords in this meta tag for all to see.
P: What’s your best piece of advice for real estate professionals who are just starting out with keyword research?
DB: First, remember that the goal of keyword research is to discover what your potential clients are actually typing into Google, so you can optimize the content on your site to target these keywords. I would start by jotting down every question a buyer or seller asks you. These questions are keyword rich. You should write up the answers for the questions you get most often and post them on your website.
Second, because real-estate is a hyper-local business, you should become intimately familiar with the names people use for every neighborhood, square, street and district that you serve. Write about all of them on your website. Keep in mind that unofficial names may be less competitive because they are aren’t used much in news articles and other online content.
You can get in touch with Dale at firstname.lastname@example.org.