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Keyword Research Basics: The Alphabet Soup Method

Keyword Research is important to any business with an online presence. They are the words that help you tell your story. The words that describe your business or services. While keyword research can be very technical, even small businesses and new bloggers benefit from routinely doing some basic research.

SEO and the way we think about keyword research has changed quite a bit over the last few years. Practices like keyword stuffing and single word searching are antiquated ways of ranking your blog or website.

What is keyword research?

According to Wikipedia:

Keyword research is a practice search engine optimization (SEO) professionals use to find and research alternative search terms that people enter into search engines while looking for a similar subject.

In other words, keywords are phrases and words your target audience or customers are using to find you or someone like you.

The good news?

When you do keyword research, you are also doing market research!

That’s right! All that market research you are continually doing to understand your audience and customers needs and pain points can be applied to keyword research.

When you understand what your potential customers are looking for, you’ll understand their:

  • Fears
  • Desires
  • Thoughts
  • Questions

The research will also give you new ideas and inspiration when it comes to creating content for your blog or social media. Your research may inspire engaging questions to ask your audience on Facebook or Instagram. Even without expensive paid tools, you can learn a lot through simple research online.

What is the alphabet soup method?

Everyone I’ve ever introduced this method to didn’t realize they were already using it! When you reframe the way you think about your Google searches, you’ll find keyword research can be a little fun.

Also, this method is free. (That’s a big deal when you don’t have a budget for the cool tools!)

Let’s say you are a food blogger and amazing baker you want to write a post about fondant. (Um, it’s totally possible this is directly related to attempting to decorate a cake with my daughter.)

This is where Google’s suggest feature becomes very helpful.

Start typing a title you think someone looking for instructions on working with or making fondant might need. For this example, I used how to make fondant.

You’ll type in your phrase plus a letter in the alphabet.

How to make fondant a.

Google will autosuggest phrases based on popular searches given those parameters. You can go all the way through the alphabet depending on what you are looking for.

It really is that easy to get started! Keep a list of phrases as you search. They may inspire other blog posts or content ideas for the future as well.

Free Keyword Research Tools

Answer the Public

There are other free tools available online that provide similar information. Another free tool that uses a similar method to the Alphabet Soup method is called Answer the Public. The downside to this site is it limits the number of searches you can do in a day before you are required to pay.


If you are more advanced and ready to start considering search volume (how many searches per month) and ranking difficulty, you can try a tool called Ubersuggest. It gives you considerably more data, and you can begin to think more analytically about your searches.

Keywords Everywhere

If you often find yourself doing keyword research, I also recommend Keywords Everywhere. It’s a fantastic Chrome extension that tells you the search volume and cpc (cost per click) as you Google words and phrases.


When you start to think about keyword research as another way to do market research, you take a difficult task and turn it into a positive business building exercise.

And you find awesome new content ideas at the same time.

The next step is implementing basic SEO practices on your blog or website to optimize your content for the terms you searched.

Still feel overwhelmed? Shoot me an email and let’s talk about how I can help you implement these practices.

open laptop on desk

SEO Basics for Small Businesses

A few weeks ago, I sat in my home office bemoaning the fact that another small business wasn’t using any SEO best practices on their website or social media accounts. My husband asked me if it really matters for small or local businesses.

The answer is…no matter the size of your company or where your company is located, SEO is important for growth and getting your name out there. For many small business owners, SEO lives in the land of things they’ll think about later mostly due to a lack of understanding.

What are SEO basics for small businesses?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s how your website and social media tells Google and other search engines what your business does and who it serves. It creates organic traffic to the different parts of your company that exists online.

Larger companies often have dedicated resources and employees working on their company SEO, but there is a lot smaller companies can do once they understand the basics behind this strategy.

As a small business, you know your audience and who needs your services. SEO is simply how you tell Google to help customers find your business and services.

Sounds pretty simple, right?

To some extent, it is. Your audience is the most important aspect when you consider using keywords (the power behind all SEO), and what phrases people are using to find you.

There is much more to SEO than just keywords, but it’s a good place to start. Look into free SEO tools for your website, such as Yoast SEO if your site is on WordPress.

Why does SEO help small businesses?

While I touched on the why of SEO, it’s important to understand that using the right keywords on your website and social sites are the key to organic traffic. Small local businesses also benefit from local SEO strategies.

It’s really all about helping people find your company.

The more people that find you, the more business you do.

How can a small business start using SEO basics?

Start small.

And start with your current content.

Once you get the hang of keyword research, (I always start by using the free tool Keywords Everywhere) you can start addressing more technical pieces like URL and title format.

Think about your audience the experience you want them to have wherever they encounter you online. Then, take some time to think about the journey you want to take them on or what pain points you want to address.

Your website is the key to giving customers what they need.

If you have a small local restaurant, start by registering for Google My Business. Make sure the descriptions, address, and other information are consistent everywhere customers find you. If you work with products, your product descriptions are crucial to online sales.

It’s really about your business and your customers.

Getting Started: An SEO Checklist

Let’s get into the nitty gritty.

If you’ve been scrolling and just want to know what to do to optimize your existing website or social media…


I’ve got your checklist. Check it…

  • Add a site title – Your site title is indexable by search engines and it’s important to use text and not just your company logo. Also, work to keep your site title under 60 characters and include at least one keyword you want to be found under.
  • Add a site description – Site descriptions should be 50 to 300 characters. These are also called meta descriptions and should be added to every page on your site. It is the text that tells Google what your site and other pages are about. It typically is the text that shows below the page title when you do a search online.
  • Make sure you have a custom domain – Custom domains (as opposed to a or a help with domain authority and strengthens your brand. It also makes it easier to find you online.
  • Connect your social media – Connecting allows people to find you in more places and gives you the ability to push pages to social media directly from your blog or website. It also helps customers share your site and information easily.
  • Do Keyword Research – There are many ways to do keyword research, both free and paid. I mentioned earlier Yoast SEO, which is a WordPress plugin, I also like to use Keywords Everywhere and Answer the Public.
  • Structure your content for SEO – As with most of the information in my inaugural post, I’ll be tackling many of the topics more in-depth in future posts. However, the basics to structure consist of including page headings, remember to keep it skimmable, and include lists.

There is more to SEO but that will get you started and help you begin thinking more strategically about your website.

I’ve mentioned social media a few times, and many of the practices are similar. Think about words that are relevant to your company. Think about your audience and what their searches might include. Use this information when you add tags on Facebook, or hashtags on Instagram and Twitter.

If you are on Pinterest, there are a LOT of fun SEO strategies you can employ. (I happen to know an expert. She’s amazing. Find her here. )

Overwhelmed and need some help getting started? Shoot me an email and let’s talk! I can get you up and running in no time.

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