Demystifying Keyword Research: Strategies for Small Businesses in the Age of Limited Data

Patrick McFadden
2 min readJun 19, 2023

Keyword research has become harder and harder as Google continues to hide more information from small business owners and CEOs.

If you’re new to the world of SEO and online marketing, you may not remember a time when you were able to see every keyword that drove traffic to your site through search engines — and how much traffic each keyword was generating.

Unfortunately, more than 90% of that information is now presented to webmasters as simply “(not provided).”

So what are business owners and CEOs of small businesses to do in this age of unknown and incomplete data?

The good news is that search engines are much smarter than they used to be and are able to understand the intent of what a user is searching for, without having to use “exact-match” search results.

Because of this, you can focus more on the experience of your readers as opposed to stuffing keywords in content in order to be found in search engines.

That being said, utilizing proper keywords on your website and in your content is still extremely important and can still be useful in achieving greater search engine visibility.

Let’s explore some methods that can be extremely helpful in identifying the best keywords for optimizing content.

#1. Brainstorm on Your Own

It’s always a good idea to start by brainstorming on your own. You know your business and what you offer to your customers

#2. Google Auto-suggest & related

Go to Google and start typing into the search box, you may notice that Google starts suggesting terms related to what you are typing

#3. Google Keyword Planner

This is a free tool that allows you to check the size of the audience you’ll be able to reach with each keyword, plus how competitive it is

#4. Research Boards and Forum

Almost every industry has a handful of active bulletin boards and forums that people turn to in search of information and conversation

#5. Ask Your Customers

Ask your customers “What would you Google to find a service like ours?” or “What search terms ultimately led you to our business?”

Keyword research can be very complex and confusing — if the person selling SEO services wants it to be.

But, in reality, anyone with a basic understanding of (A) their business, (B) their ideal client and (c) the problems they solve can conduct effective keyword research with the steps in the graphic.

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Patrick McFadden

Small Business Marketing Consultant // CEO of @indispmarketing // I install a marketing process to increase visibility, grow revenue & make your phone ring