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Keyword Research Basics:
The 1st Step of any Website Design

woman listing search keywords on a chalkboard

A 2023 study by found that 96.55% of all pages get ZERO traffic from Google, often due to a mismatch between their content and the keywords they're targeting.

That's why keyword research is the foundation of any website design we work on. To create and operate a successful website, the site designer and client must have a clear understanding of these four elements:

  1. Unique Selling Point (USP): What makes the client's products or services special?
  2. Target Audience: Who is the client appealing to (e.g., high-end, discount, kids, seniors)?
  3. Core Message: What is the exact message the client wants to communicate (e.g., convenience, low pricing, expertise)?
  4. Search Wording: What exact search terms do people type into Google when looking for the products or services the client offers?

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of identifying the exact words or phrases people type into search engines when looking for the products or services a company offers.

Broad keywords like 'running shoes' might get millions of searches daily, but they're highly competitive and encompass every sort of intent, such as curiosity seekers looking for the wildest designs, people curious about the many styles of running shoes, how running shoes are different than tennis shoes, and, of course, where to buy them.

Long-tail keywords like 'mens running shoes for flat feet on sale', on the other hand, get straight to the point. They are searched for less often, are more specific, and help attract the desired type of visitors. They tend to convert better and are much easier to rank highly in the search results.

Over 70% of all searches are done for long-tail keyword terms! Understanding the long-tail keywords that people are searching for should be considered when designing the site's layout, navigation menu, wording, images, videos, and other elements of the site so that it meets visitors' expectations and ranks highly in search engine results.

Importance of Keyword Research in Website Projects

Keyword research basics should impact every aspect of a website design project:

  • Page Layout and Navigation Menus: Ensure visitors have a better user experience (UX) and easily find what they are searching for.
  • Content Generation: Guides the creation of informative and attractive text, images, videos, and charts.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Improves the chances of ranking highly and being seen by the right audience.
  • Paid Advertising: Ensures that ads are shown only to the desired target audience with the most persuasive message.

Example of Effective Keyword Targeting

A client might initially want to rank for a broad term like "plumber." However, this is highly competitive. For customer conversion and search engine placement, it is better to focus on more specific phrases, such as:

  • "cheap plumbers in Asheville"
  • "plumbers near me free estimate"
  • "emergency plumber Asheville"
  • "plumber for a blocked toilet"

Specific phrases like these, provided by Google, are more achievable and relevant.

Tips for Effective Keyword Research

  • Start Broad and Narrow Down: Begin with broad industry terms, then drill down to long-tail keywords that are specific, less competitive, and offer higher ranking and conversion potential.
  • Use Keyword Suggestion Tools: Free tools like or help identify the best long-tail keyword suggestions.
  • Analyze Competitors: Tools like the SEO Quake browser extension help you see the keywords competitors are focusing on.
  • Utilize CPC Tools: Platforms like can show which phrases are most and least competitive and costly.
  • Keep Keywords Up-to-Date: In 2016, "plumber to replace lead water pipes in Asheville" probably became a heavily searched phrase due to the health issues in Flint, MI. Most likely, few plumbers pursued it.

google trends chart

Content Creation and Optimization

Once you've identified the target keywords, you may want to dedicate a page to each. Include the keyword in the URL, title tag, H1 headline tag, and early in the body of the page where it sounds natural. Avoid keyword stuffing. And when you're linking from one page to another on your site, or requesting backlinks from directories or other sites, try to include a variation of the target page's keyword in the wording of that link.


Effective keyword research ensures that website owners and web developers understand their customers and competitors. It uncovers potential opportunities in the market, helps the right customers find your site, and ensures that the site meets their needs. This foundational step is crucial for the success of any website project.

Ready to get started with keyword research and skyrocket your website traffic?

Contact Joe Web Design in Asheville today for a free consultation! Call us at 828-551-9761.

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