May 7, 2021

Content Marketing – Keyword Research

A Real World Example – Home Inspection Case Study

Description of Company:

The company is a small company with a small and not well defined marketing budget. The company is good at demand fulfillment and provides an excellent service. They have an excellent reputation and no complaints even though they have been in business over 10 years.

The company is poor at creating demand except by word of mouth marketing which has worked well for a number of years. The company will not abandon this valuable marketing channel (nor should they).

Online Marketing Position:

The company has a website with minimal content. Their website covers the basics. What content is on the site has been optimized for search but the depth of content results in a less competitive position in the search results.

The traffic to the site is low. Monthly search volume (from Google) when compared with the monthly traffic from the organic search results show that the company commands about 3-4% of the organic search volume. This is slightly on the low side of the range when considering the average position of their website in search for the keyword set associated with their market.

The company also has an e-mail list of about 1400 names. They under-utilize this as a marketing tool and have no mechanism to increase the subscriber level on their website.

Marketing/Business Objectives:

They want to attract people to their website when people search for generic terms related to home inspection in their target geographic area. They have a position on the 1st page of Google for a few terms and a high 2nd page position for a few more. They desire to be on the 1st page in a top-5 position for all their important keyword phrases.

They want to be perceived as an authority on home inspection and to gain the upper hand (book more business) over their competitors as a result.

They want to be the “go-to” resource for real estate agents and financial organizations when a home inspection is needed.

The company also wants to grow its subscriber list by developing a newsletter and by blogging and to add a sign-up mechanism to subscribe to their newsletter on their website/blog.

The company is open to opportunities to monetize their website.

Let’s start the process of keyword research to gain insights into achieving the marketing/business objectives.

Step 1: Brainstorm on Ideas

We start the process by brainstorming on home and building inspection ideas without being geographic specific. This provides us with an overall market viewpoint.

Here are some brainstorming keyword ideas.

  • Home inspection
  • House inspection
  • Home inspectors
  • Home mold testing
  • Mold testing
  • Heating system inspections
  • Home electrical inspections
  • Roof inspections
  • Commercial building inspections

Step 2: Conduct Basic Research to Generate More Ideas

Let’s now use the Google AdWord Keyword Tool to create more ideas, again without being specific geographically.

The first result you will see when you plug the keyword ideas from Step 1 into the Google AdWords Keyword Tool are the results for the specific phrases entered. Table 1, below, shows these data.Content Marketing - Home Inspection Case Study - Table 1

 

Some observations are:

Home inspection and house inspection are different.

  • As we start to modify the basic inspection concept by adding mold and heating system and roof inspection then we note that the search volume is significantly less. We are moving into home inspection niche categories.
  • Heating system inspection has no search volume. More research is needed to determine whether this specialization has commercial value for a home inspection company. For this term we may also ultimately conclude that it is not worth investing in content creation and content SEO for this or related phrases.

We can see that there are many good opportunities for specific content that would factor in nicely for the content plan for a home inspection business. Content specifically for mold testing and roof inspections are good candidates for content creation.

The Google AdWord Keyword Tool tells us even more.

The AdWord Keyword Took will show us suggestions for other phrases below the specific results of Table 1. Table 2 (below) shows us a display of other clustered phrases that relate to the brainstorming phrases we initially plugged into the keyword tool.Content Marketing - Home Inspection Case Study - Table 2

 

Some observations are:

  • There are 10 more sets of keyword phrases that Google thinks may be related to the phrases from our initial study. This expansion of our original list is very valuable as it provides additional insights into the nature of the home inspection marketplace and relevant adjacent markets based on data from the Google search database.
  • Search terms may include geographic modifiers (note New Jersey and Miami)
  • There is a cost-related set of phrases for home inspection.
  • Checklist and Inspection Report related searches are probably people searching to gain more information about the home inspection process.

Let’s examine one keyword set in more detail. Let’s select the Test Kit Set from Table 2 (above). We know that there are 8 phrases in this group and opening up this set reveals the following:

(Table 3)Content Marketing - Home Inspection Case Study - Table 3

 

What business opportunities do we see in this table?

Could we use the home inspection website to create depth of content on mold testing? Would this be adding value to the customers or potential customers of a home inspection business?

Could we use the website to sell mold test kits (monetize the site)?

Is it a good business idea to collaborate with mold remediation companies? The home inspector could provide referrals for the mold remediation company and visa versa. In a down but stable inspection market the stronger businesses will be open to such collaboration. This also plays well with the historical word-of-mouth marketing approach that the company has used.

Would offering a free mold test kit with every inspection help to attract customers and help to close more business?

To be found high in search also opens up the opportunity to gain advertising revenue. A business that solves the problems that a home inspection reveals may want to advertise on high traffic home inspection website. Plumbers, Electricians, Roofers, Septic and Home Heating service providers could be listed on a page that defines resources. To list these support companies again plays well to the word-of-mouth marketing approach and to list other companies with or without a fee for doing this builds a relationship with these companies.

Could the site gain advertising revenue by advertising mold inspection kits? A Top Ten Mold Kit Review could be a content marketing piece for this effort.

Also, to collaborate with real estate companies is yet another opportunity to gain advertising revenue and referrals. Real Estate agents get a significant amount of business from referrals. Any referral you pass to a real estate agent will be greatly appreciated and return referrals can be expected.

All of this is much easier to achieve if the website content is easy to find in search for high-volume and relevant keyword phrases. Therefore, all online marketing efforts relate strongly to having a high position in search.

Step 3: Study Search Volume

Using the initial list and building in a geographic factor. We study search volume for the phrase “home inspection”. The geographic factor is the State of Utah.

When we use the Google Keyword Tool we get the following results.

Content Marketing - Home Inspection Case Study - Table 4

 

 

It is very important to note that the abbreviation for the State of Utah (UT) shows no search volume while the full state name shows 1,300 searchers per month. We can conclude that we need to optimize our content for Utah rather than UT.

This is only a single example for a geographic modifier. The Google AdWord Keyword Tool will provide search volume for an entire list of geographic-specific phrases.

Step 4: Narrow Down the List

For the purpose of this example I will narrow down the list to a single phrase. The phrase will be “home inspection utah”. We conclude that the search volume is sufficient to warrant our SEO efforts.

Let’s now study the competition.

Step 5: Study the Competition

The #1 competitor for the phrase “home inspection utah” is www.myinspectionteam.com/

Let’s use our competitive analysis table to analyze the top-performing page in search for this competitor.

Item

#

Page Element

Present

1 if yes

0 if no

Weighting Factor

Page Element

Score

1

Keyword phrase in URL

0

10

0

2

Keyword phrase in HTML Title Tag

1

8

8

3

Keyword phrase in HTML Description Tag

1

6

6

4

Keyword Phrase in HTML H1 Tag

1

8

8

5

Keyword Phrase in HTML H2 Tag

0

4

0

6

Keyword Phrase Density 0.5-2.0%

0

2

0

7

Keyword Phrase using bold, underline or italicized text

1

2

2

8

Keyword Phrase used as image alt text

1

1

1

9

Keyword Phrase used as anchor text link

1

2

2

10

XML Sitemap

0

5

0

11

Page has over 250 words

1

2

2

Total

29

 

A best score is 50. In this case, a score of 29 seems a bit on the low side but note that the competing page is the home page of the site. It is difficult to get the keyword into the root domain. With this in mind we can discount this factor and a best score would only be 40.  A score of 29 out of 40 is not too shabby and it is curious as to why they missed some elementary basics such as the H2 Tag the density and the XML Sitemap.

Also, remember that SEO is relative. You do not have to achieve a perfect score you only need to do better then the other website pages vying for a top 5 position.

I will not analyze the other top-5 competitors as the process is the same. What you are looking for is to determine the “weakest” of the top 5 competitors to determine whether you have a good business chance for bumping one of the top-5 and moving into a top-5 position with one of your pages.

They last item to observe is the in-coming links to the top 5 competitors.

The table below shows a meaningful comparison from Open Site Explorer (http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/)Content Marketing - Home Inspection Case Study - Table 5

The site we have been studying (http://www.myinspectionteam.com/) has only 6 in-coming links. Note that that these 6 links come from only 4 other domains.

From a linking perspective and being that the page is also their home page. They become our #1 target. To have only 6 links into the home page of the site is a very weak position from a linking perspective.

A strong content marketing and SEO effort can bump them from a top 5 position.

Step 6: Focus

We know that we will create content and optimize the content for the phrase “home inspection utah”. We can repeat this analysis for some other phrases which are closely related to establish a focused and themed keyword list.

You need to be on theme and know that there is search volume and know that you have a good chance to compete.

Step 7: Study Trends

Below is the Google Trends graph for the search phrase “home inspections”.Content Marketing - Home Inspection Case Study - Graph

There are some observations worth nothing.

The overall trend is down since 2005. We all know this but this is certainly a confirmation of this. What this means is that some competitors are in a weaker (less competitive) position – some may even go out of business. It also means that the strongest competitors may fight more competitively for more than their fair share of the shrinking pie.

The 2nd part of each year is a slow period. This is also something that anyone in the business knows but again this graph confirms this.

It is also valuable to note that overall we may be seeing a bottom. The last year in this graph (2012) is similar to the year before.

Also, the variations from the highest search volume to the lowest levels within a year are becoming smaller. The market is stabilizing.

In this case, trend analysis shows us that we should have any new marketing initiative for the home inspection marketplace ready for the start of any given year. From this analysis we can expect the last quarter of the year to be a slow period. Since the last quarter of the year is slow this is a perfect time to focus on new content marketing initiatives for the up-coming year.

Step 8: Finalize

Put all of this together and you will know the following:

  • The content that should be included in your Content Marketing Plan
  • The language that should be included in the copy
  • Keyword Phrasing Groupings
  • Search Engine Optimization insights
  • Search Volume
  • Insights into the competition quality and insights into which competitor can be bumped from a top 5 position.

You can also see opportunities to monetize the site. In this case the company will need to decide whether they want to create ad revenue or even whether to sell a product that compliments their home inspection service (such as mold inspection kits).

Content marketing will support all of these activities.

Conclusions

Content Marketing will:

  • Help to build depth of content improving search position and resulting in more traffic.
  • The added depth of content will help to establish the company as an authority on their topic.
  • Being seen as an authority will help to secure more business with home owners, real estate agents and financial lending organizations.
  • To create a depth of content by adding a blog will help with search position and also create materials for the newsletter. The research and content created for the blog will provide content for the newsletter (business efficiency is a beautiful thing).
  • A higher position in search is certainly possible and this higher position open the door for advertising revenue and perhaps even product sales.
  • A higher position in search, a blog and a newsletter (with a sign-up form) will drive a higher level of subscribers and establish yet another marketing channel.
  • To have 3 solid marketing channels (word of mouth, website traffic, newsletter and e-mail marketing) will stabilize the business in a down market and help it to gain market share over its local competitors. It also positions the business well to take full advantage of the next market upturn.