Key takeaways:

  1. You do not need fancy SEO tools to do keyword research – you can follow this simple two-part process on a piece of paper, in a Google Doc or in a spreadsheet.
  2. Start by identifying your core products or services. This should take only a few seconds each.
  3. Each core product or service will have frequently asked questions – make a list of all these questions for each of the core products or services that you offer. Spend the most time building out this list as this will allow you to develop a topic map that will help your website gain topical authority.

In a previous post, I explained why keyword research is important and what good keyword research output looks like. I highly recommend that you read that blog post if you haven’t already done so.

In this blog post, you’re going to follow the exact same process I use to build out an initial list of seed keywords to get your topical map started.

This quick and dirty method is great because it ignores keyword search volume. Instead, the keyword research you’re about to do will help you achieve topical authority.

[workflow graphic]

Identify your core product or service.

You’re going to start from the very top. That is, what does your business offer?

Here are some examples of types of businesses and a suggested keyword:

  • Dental practice: dentist
  • Bank: home loans
  • Gardening retailer: indoor plants
  • Psychology clinic: child psychology
  • Furniture retailer: outdoor furniture
  • Bridal shop: wedding dresses

Many businesses offer more than one core product or service. You can repeat this as many times as possible but the goal is to get to this initial list as quickly as possible.

Don’t aim for a completely exhaustive list over all the product categories or services that your business offers – just get started!

For example, this is here is a quick brain dump of core products for a bank:

  • home loans
  • credit cards
  • personal loans
  • bank accounts

These are the core products that a cryptocurrency exchange can have:

  • bitcoin
  • ethereum
  • ripple

And this is a quick list of services that a psychologist can have:

  • child psychology
  • marriage therapy
  • depression counselling

I’m going to refer to these core products or services as head-terms.

A head-term is essentially the top-level keyword that represents the product category or service that you provide.

Make a list of frequently asked questions for the head-terms.

You’re going to start building out your seed list of keywords. By doing this, you will be able to start planning what type of information is missing on your website.

Generally speaking, people tend to want to know the following:

  • Best X (where ‘X’ = your head-term)
  • What is X
  • When is X
  • Why is X
  • How to X
  • X vs Y
  • X fees/cost/rates

You can get really creative here because if someone has asked you or your team something, they’ve probably tried searching for it on Google.

I encourage you to go down rabbit holes in this stage of the process because this is where you can come up with topic ideas that your competitors have ignored.

Here is an example to help you get started:

Add locations to your keywords.

If you’re a business that serves a particular city or region, adding locations to your keywords is a very good idea.

These are some common location keywords to consider:

  • keyword + {city}
  • keyword + {state/county}
  • keyword + {near me}

For example:

  • child psychologist salt lake city
  • best child psychologists for autism salt lake city
  • child psychologist utah
  • child psychologist near me

And you can apply this to branching services:

  • autism diagnosis salt lake city
  • ADHD screening near me
  • child psychologist near sugar house
  • child counsellor midvale
  • teenager psychologist southwest valley

As you can see, there are countless combinations that you can come with when you add locations to your keywords.

Putting it all together.

After a few minutes, you will end up with a list of keywords.

Perhaps something like this:

You’ll notice that we have not looked at search volume or discussed the competitiveness of a keyword throughout this process. This is because this approach to keyword research is not about finding keywords that you can rank for.

I want you to ignore ranking on Google Search for now. I know this sounds weird for an SEO to say but fixating on ranking tends to encourage shortcuts and hacks. This is because traditional SEO tries to outsmart the search engine.

Content marketing should not focus on outsmarting search engines. Content marketing should have one goal: to provide the best experience for your audience.

And that’s what you’re doing here.

The concept of topical authority comes from having comprehensive coverage for a topic. This is why you’re going to map out as many FAQs that your customers have asked you or your team.

Don’t worry if you think some questions are similar – keep them! This is because you will refine this list when you start putting together your topical map.

Let’s get started with topical mapping.

>> How to categorise keywords with search intent.

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