By: Patrick Sauriol Jan 29/2024
Keyword research for a beginner

Knowing what keywords should exist on your website is critical to having a good SEO strategy. If you’re making it up as you go along, or haven’t thought about keyword planning yet, you should invest some time in either developing a keyword strategy on your own or enlisting the assistance of an SEO specialist.

For those of you who might not be clear on what a keyword is: a keyword is a common phrase that someone enters into a search engine like Google. The search engine considers the word or phrase and then displays a list of webpages that it thinks best gives an answer to the query.

As an example, if one types in “cheap haircut,” the search engine will give solutions to that keyword query. Note that in this case the keyword is a two-word phrase; “keyword” is a term used to describe any length of query, from a single word to a longer sentence.

Getting back to our example, the results displayed by the search engine fit what the algorithm believes is the best candidates for “cheap haircut.” If your website offers reasonably priced haircuts, but you don’t use the words “cheap” or “haircut” as much as a competitor does on their website, your site might not show up as high in the search engine results as the competitor’s.

Understanding Keywords is Just a Part of the Strategy

You also need to understand the way your ideal customer uses a search engine when looking for the solution you provide.

Understanding why one person will use the keyword “haircut” versus “barber” or “hair stylist” or “hair salon” is fundamental to having a solid keyword strategy for your website. At first blush it may look like different ways of saying the same thing but someone looking for a hair stylist is thinking of their haircut in a separate way than one looking for a quick trim (like a “haircut” search might offer.)

The customer’s way of thinking is referred to as their intent, and it can have a profound difference in the engine’s results.

When you get deeper into the weeds, the keywords that you choose for your site’s keyword strategy begin to cover the territory that one’s brand identity covers. Selecting the fonts, the colours, the imagery, deciding on the user experience, all the visual ingredients that go into brand identity also extend into the choice of words you (or your copywriter) use on your website.

Branding choices can inform the keywords that you select, just as keyword research can give you focus and clarity about where your primary audience is looking.

Know Your Target Audience

If you’re the owner of a that imaginary barber shop I keep mentioning, it’s likely that your customers aren’t looking for a higher end styling experience – and that’s perfectly alright. There’s enough demand for different price points, and customer experiences. Know what your business does to deliver its best value, think about who your ideal customers are, and then put yourself in the shoes of those customers trying to find your business online. What keywords are they typing into the search bar?

When writing content for your men’s barber shop it may prove to be beneficial to spend time writing more for your About page. Talking about the history of your business in the neighbourhood, showing photos of your business throughout the years, being a part of the community…all that rich content can send signals to the search engine that your barber shop is unique to this area of the city. And those signals can help to improve your page ranking over competitor websites that don’t bother to include this information on their sites.

Or, if you’re acknowledged as one of the city’s best places to get an affordable haircut, use that in your About content.

The audience for a business may change over time, or expand, or shrink. By keeping your attention on who your ideal customer is, and adjusting your website content should the nature of your clientele change, your keyword strategy can pivot and adapt.

TL;DR, So What’s The Checklist for Keyword Strategy?

  • Know, and I mean really know, the best value your business gives to customers.
  • Spend time thinking about who your ideal customer is (congrats, you’ve made a persona).
  • What would your ideal customer type in a search engine to find your business? Remember, they’re looking for the value that your business offers to them.
  • Do you have those keywords on your website?


It can be hard to do this work by yourself, which is why employing the services of a marketing professional, brand specialist, or a copywriter can really help.

They won’t be as close to your business as you are and can offer a fair, unvarnished opinion about your business’ value. They can also help you develop your value statement so that what you offer customers comes across better and clearer.

The more time that you can spend on the first two or three points above, the closer you will be to refining your website’s keyword strategy.