Before you dive into the digital research of coming up with the right keywords, you need to create a keyword map. Call it a keyword cloud, a brain map, brainstorming, or anything else for that matter, the point is to take a sheet of paper and physically write down similar keywords or phrases that come to mind.

Don't worry about doing things right in this stage. All you're doing is mapping and thinking about the process right now. Let's go ahead and walk through exactly what this would look like so that you can see how the process works from A through Z and what specific steps you need to take to go from concept to fruition.

Grab a sheet of paper and write down your industry, line of work, niche, job, or whatever else it is that you're looking to optimize or write an article on. This should go in the center with a big circle around it. Let's just say, for example, that we want to write about legal services. Write that down in the center of the paper and put a big circle around it.

Now, it's your job to map out similar keywords that you can then write out. Keep in mind that "legal services" is a short-tail keyword. There's little to no chance that you can rank for a keyword like this at the outset. All we're doing right now is trying to find similarities so that we can locate the appropriate long-tail keyword to optimize for. When you think about legal services, what else comes to mind? While there are numerous similarities, what you have to think about are the most relevant ones. When someone thinks about legal services, they're likely thinking about doing something when it comes to those types of services. Often, they're looking to gain action towards some end.

Here's an example of how our keyword map might look like for legal services:

  1. Bankruptcy
  2. Divorce
  3. Lawsuits
  4. Law offices
  5. Lawyers
  6. Paralegals
  7. Corporate formation
  8. Wills
  9. Trusts
  10. Contracts

Okay, so we have 10 things on this list. Now we're getting somewhere. If you're in the legal services business, this gives you plenty of options when it comes to keyword research. What you'll come to find later on is that these choices wouldn't necessarily appear when using a tool like the Google Keyword Planner.

The Google Keyword Planner will only help you find highly-similar keywords when it comes to what advertisers are selecting during their campaigns. This doesn't make them necessarily relevant or a viable option when it comes to mapping out long-tail keywords that will help you rank at the outset.

Once we have our general similarities determined, we can map these keywords out further. However, as you'll notice, for someone that's in the legal services business, there's quite a wide range of topics that can be similar, with endless opportunities for creating excellent content to rank for any number of these.

At this point, all we need to do is to break these down a bit further in order to arm ourselves with the right information. As we break each of these sections out, we'll determine a good strategic plan in our keyword analysis approach, allowing us to create the right plan of action from the outset.

Let's take any one of these keywords that we've discovered in our initial keyword map, and delve deeper into the topic. Let's experiment with one so that you can get an idea of just how this will work. Remember, the goal here is to locate a keyword that is:

  1. At minimum 4 or 5 words in length
  2. Has low competition
  3. Represents a respectable search volume
  4. Is highly relevant to your overall content
  5. Doesn't have a shelf-life or an expiration date
  6. Focuses on niche markets where possible

Keep these rules in the back of your mind. As you build out your keyword maps, you'll want to ensure that whatever keyword you choose will fit within the framework of these guidelines. Of course, you'll be able to determine competition and search volume to some degree by using the Google Keyword Planner. But don't worry about that right now.

For the time being, let's simply map out another one of these services. Now, if you're in the business of providing legal services, it's likely that you're either a lawyer or a paralegal. If you're a lawyer, and you deal with a specific area of the law, it would make sense to start there.

Let's say for instance that you're a divorce lawyer, so you want to start in that area. Let's go ahead and break down the divorce category of keywords and see where that leads us in our keyword mapping efforts. Once we've broken that down, we can determine what the best approach might be. If we look at the divorce section, here's an example of what we might come up with when further mapping out these keywords:

  1. Best divorce lawyers
  2. Cheap divorce lawyers
  3. How to get a divorce?
  4. Reasons for wanting a divorce
  5. How to find a divorce lawyer?
  6. How much does a divorce cost?
  7. How to file for divorce?
  8. Is a divorce expensive?
  9. Best private investigators for divorce
  10. Child custody laws for divorces

Okay, so this list can go on and on, but we'll stop here at 10 results. So, what we've done here is to identify the types of questions that people might pose when searching for Google in relation to a divorce. If you take a look at the list of 10 very carefully, you'll see that there are plenty of keyword and content opportunities here.

Now, if you'll recall, one of the rules we actually identified was to ensure that our keywords are at least 4 to 5 words long. Now, most of these keywords do satisfy that rule, but not all of them. In order to satisfy that rule, all we would have to do is add a location to many of them.

For example, in the first item, we have "Best divorce lawyers." If, for example, you live in Miami, you could simply lengthen that keyword to "Best divorce lawyers in Miami." Now, one thing to point out is that Google will already automatically geo-code the results for you based on where you live.

If you're searching for "Best divorce lawyers" from Miami, Google will ensure that the results are relevant to your location. But, not all the results will be geo-coded to your area. That's why it's best to add geo-location coding into the long-tail keyword, especially if your services are applicable to a specific location.

When you're a lawyer in Miami, you'll want to target the people that are searching for lawyers in Miami. That doesn't mean that all of your content should be curated to the Miami area. You do want to have a national appeal to your content in order to build authority. What you're after is the right mix of doing both.

If you're a private chef working in New York City, for example, you'll surely want to tailor some of your content to the New York City area. Obviously, you'll want locals who could potentially hire you, to discover you. However, you will still want to create content and find keywords that could apply to a more global reach.

So, let's say that we rewrite out keywords to satisfy the minimum four or five-word length. Here's how they would appear.

  1. Best divorce lawyers in Miami
  2. Cheap divorce lawyers in Miami
  3. How to get a divorce in Florida?
  4. Reasons for wanting a divorce
  5. How to find a divorce lawyer?
  6. How much does a divorce cost in Florida?
  7. How to file for divorce in Florida?
  8. Is a divorce expensive?
  9. Best private investigators for divorce
  10. Child custody laws for divorces in Florida
mapping keywords

In this list of items, you'll notice that 6 of them are geo-coded with either Florida or Miami, while the others remain more generic in nature. That's on purpose. However, there's no need to do this if you're selling a product, service or information that isn't geographically specific.

Of course, you might want content that has a shelf-life, or is applicable to current events or news that's happening now. Still, you'll want to stay away from that in the beginning. Build up your evergreen content first and foremost. Once you have a solid base of traffic, then you can consider content that has an expiration date.

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