How To Create A Keyword List For SEO (Apple Example)

A keyword list is the blueprint for SEO like a sitemap is for your website.

It outlines the keyword-targeted content that goes on your site, your URL structure, and it’s even used during link building. And if it’s not done right (you don’t choose right keywords) you will spend tons of time trying to “reoptimize” content or you just won’t get results. I will show you how to create an organized, well-researched keyword list so you can develop your content and URLs around those phrases – and have a better chance of ranking on page 1.

Now let’s create your keyword list…


Start With Your Targeted Location


Small town – small towns have less people so there will be lower search volume. This means your keywords will be broad and you will likely have only 1 primary keyword in your list, which should be targeted on the homepage. Larger markets = more specific keywords.

Large city – in addition to including broad phrases in your list, you should also include more specific phrases – since there are more people in a city so the search volume is higher.

National – since you will have a larger pool of keywords to choose from, you need to research each keyword’s competition so you know which ones you can actually rank for.


1. Small Town (Choose Broad Keywords)

Local SEO Keywords

Go to and use Google Autocomplete to learn what keywords people are searching. Type in your town name followed by any keywords describing what you offer. Try multiple variations (eg. lake bluff macbook…) to see if there are any others. However, chances are you will only have 1 primary keyword which will be targeted on the homepage.

If you want to target multiple towns, do the same thing in Google Autocomplete for each town to see it’s most popular phrases. Your keyword list should look something like this…

  • lake bluff apple repair (targeted on homepage)
  • lake forest apple repair (new location-targeted page)
  • highland park apple repair (new location-targeted page)


2. Large City (Choose Specific Keywords)

Use the same strategies described above only in addition to the broad phrases, also look for the more specific phrases that are more relevant to your specific products/services…

Keyword For Large Cities

Or use the “fill in the blank” method which gives you even more keyword ideas…

Google Autocomplete Fill In The Blank

Play with Google Autocomplete to find keywords for your different products/services…

Long-Tail Keywords

Write down ALL products/services you offer and learn keywords for each one…

Keyword List

Do the same thing for other Apple products. Each mini-list should include your different types of repair services, just like I did for the Macbook Pro, Macbook Air, Ipad 2, etc.


3. National (Choose Specific Keywords + Competitive Research)

Since there are a larger pool of keywords to choose from, we have to narrow down the best ones by learning how competitive each keyword is relative to it’s search volume. This will leave you with only the keywords that have the best ranking opportunities. Otherwise you will spend time creating content that targets keywords you may never even rank for.

Step 1: Write down ALL your products/services

Step 2: Find very specific (long-tail) keywords for each product/service…

National Keywords

A keyword like “macbook pro laptop repair” is going to be very competitive since it’s a broad (national) phrase – and common sense tells us there’s going to be tons of websites trying to rank for this. But a keyword like “macbook pro water damage repair” is going to be less competitive since it’s more specific. These are the type of keywords you want to target.

While broad keywords have more search volume, the specific keywords like “macbook pro water damage repair” usually yield a better opportunity. You’re better off on page 1 for a keyword with 100 searches than on page 13 for a keyword with 10,000 searches.

Step 3: Assign keywords to each product/service

Step 4: Filter out keywords that are too competitive. To do this, search each keyword in Google and look at the results. These indicators will tell you whether it’s too competitive…

Keyword Competition

So instead of choosing “how to get out of debt” we would choose a more specific phrase….

Long-Tail Keywords

Just because a keyword is too competitive doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include it in your keyword list. If a general page outlining all your “apple repair services” improves user experience, don’t worry about the competition. Create the page for your visitors.


See Competitor Keywords With HubShout WebGrader

You can run multiple websites through HubShout WebGrader to view their keywords…

Competitor Keyword List


Create Your Keyword List

Now that you know how to create a keyword list – go ahead and do it! Here’s some tips:

Similar Keywords – if two keywords mean the same thing (synonyms, plurals, phrases with different word ordering), only select the 1 most relevant keyword that best aligns with the product/service. This is because you should only target 1 primary keyword per page. Plus, Google’s Algorithm does a good job of analyzing user intent and “automatically” ranking websites for related phrases, so unless you know how to target secondary keywords which doesn’t even work that well, just select the 1 keyword that makes the most sense.

Homepage Keyword – should usually target the 1 main keyword you want to rank for.

Blog Post Keywords – use Google Autocomplete to find 1 keyword for each article you write. These should be non-promotional (eg. a “how to” article) and should also be long-tail. A good example would be “how to fix a macbook pro with a white screen.”


Organize Your URL Structure (Bonus Step)

The keywords you choose can affect your URL structure and the content that goes on your site. This is why it’s it’s a good idea to create keyword list before building your site…

Here’s what your URL structure might look like:

  • (homepage)
  • (outlines your Macbook Pro services)
  • (specific service)

And here is a URL structure for location-specific keywords:



Questions? Comments? Drop Me A Line!

Once you’ve created your keyword list, you can start organizing your permalinks, add the content to your site, then optimize the content by using your keyword in the page title, SEO title, meta description, content body, etc. You’ve just done the hardest part of on-page SEO!

If you have questions on how to create a keyword list, drop me a line in the comments. I’m glad to help with whatever questions you have. I hope you enjoyed the article!


Tom Signature

How To Create A Keyword Map

How To Create A Keyword Map

A keyword map aligns phrases people are searching (your keywords) with the content and structure of your website.

You’ve heard people say “how you build your website affects your SEO” – well this is mainly what they’re referring to. If you want to make your site SEO-friendly then your keywords should be driving the content and how it’s structured. Not your designer or copywriter.

Unfortunately we often find ourselves thinking about keywords and SEO after the site is already developed. That’s OK. You can still learn how to create a keyword map then go back and make changes to your content, permalink structure, and things of that nature.

Here’s what to do:


Step 1: Create a Keyword List

  • A full product list
  • A full list of your services
  • Buzz words used in your industry
  • Keywords used by your well-informed audience
  • Keywords used by your not well-informed audience
  • Cities you’re targeting
  • Blog category topics
  • Blog article topics (eg. how-to’s and FAQs)

Or anything else that comes to mind that your audience might be searching. Take your time and make your keyword list as long as it needs to be. A good keyword map starts with a good list of keywords. Organize it however you want.

Here’s a brief example:

Keyword List


Step 2: Learn What Keywords People Are Actually Searching

Take each keyword and learn the exact phrase(s) people are using to find it. If you’re not familiar with keyword research, I recommend learning how to find keywords people search in Google. These are the tools I use:

Once you know what people are searching, organize your list by creating a spreadsheet. I use Google Sheets. Start entering your keywords and the information in each column.

Keyword Map for Local SEO

  • Run each keyword through Keyword Planner to see how many monthly searches it has
  • This keyword list targets Chicago but yours obviously doesn’t have to
  • Use the service/product column to better organize your list
  • Assign your own priority (high/medium/low) to each keyword
  • You can have multiple keywords for a product/service, which I encourage you do
  • Most keywords should be long-tail keywords (keywords with 3+ individual words) since these are more specific, have higher conversion rates, and are less competitive


Step 3: Expand Your Keyword List Based Off Your Research

While using those tools to do some research, you probably came across keywords you didn’t have in your original list. Now is the time to add those to your keyword list.


Step 4: Group Related Keywords

If two keywords have the same meaning (eg. they’re synonyms, plurals, or have different word ordering), group them together in your keyword list (see photo below). Then add the two keyword’s monthly searches together. These are called LSI keywords and since they have the same meaning, they can be targeted on the same page.

Combining LSI Keywords


Step 5: Create a Keyword Map

I use WriteMaps to create my keyword map (it’s free and very easy to use).

Keyword Map for SEO


Different Types Of Keyword Maps

Keyword Map For Local SEO   Keyword Map For Blog Categories
Products Keyword Map


Now you know what pages need to be on your site to target the keywords! Don’t forget, your homepage can target a keyword too. This might get you thinking about what your permalink structure will look like, which is the next step to good WordPress SEO.

If you found this article helpful please share – I would appreciate that.


Tom Signature

Learn What Keywords Are Being Searched in Google (And Competitors) Using Google Autocomplete + HubShout WebGrader

Learn What Keywords Are Being Searched In Google

If you’re doing SEO, the first step is to learn what keywords people search in Google so you can target them in your content and SEO strategy.

This is called keyword research and it can easily make the difference between ranking on page 1 or page 7. Keyword research should preferably be done before designing a website. Because if it’s not involved in the design, how are you  suppose to align your content with the phrases people are searching? Otherwise you might need to go back and make adjustments.

I will cover some basic strategies for selecting good keywords. Because if you choose one that is too competitive or one that’s not being searched at all, this can you leave in the dust with more page 7 rankings. It’s the most common mistake I see. Let’s not do that.

  1. Start With Google Autocomplete
  2. Hone In Using Google Keyword Planner
  3. See Competitor Keywords With HubShout Web Grader
  4. How Many Searches Should My Focus Keyword Have?
  5. Create A Keyword List



1. Start With Google Autocomplete

Google Autocomplete is the easiest way to learn what keywords are being searched in Google. Just go to, start typing in a phrase then you’ll see suggestions based on previous history. Be sure to try out the “fill in the blank” method shown in second photo.

Google Autocomplete Trick

Google Autocomplete SEO

Phrases on top have more searches, however you’ll want to target the other keywords so you can maximize search engine traffic. Long-tail keywords (phrases that usually have 3+ individual words) are more specific and bring a more targeted visitor to your site. That means a better conversion rate. These are also easier to rank for (less competition in Google) and are just more profitable all around.

So whether you’re looking for a keyword to use in your upcoming blog post or you’re creating an entire keyword list, always start with Google Autocomplete. The one thing it doesn’t tell you is the actual number of searches each of them have.

Keep reading…



2. Hone In Using Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner tells you how many people are searching for a particular keyword. It provides suggestions and has filters on the left to help you narrow down the best phrases.

Google Keyword Planner

  • Must sign up for Google AdWords to get started :(
  • Start with a broad phrase
  • Make sure the “keyword ideas” tab is selected
  • Ignore the competition tab, that is for AdWords and not SEO



3. See Competitor Keywords With HubShout Web Grader

HubShout Web Grader compares your website’s keywords with your competitor’s. It also provides valuable info like estimated traffic value and number of links to your website.

HubShout Web Grader Report



4. How Many Searches Should My Focus Keyword Have?

In Google Keyword Planner, you’ll see the actual number of monthly searches each keyword has. But how little is too little, and how many is too many?

The number of searches your keywords should have is different for each website. You need to check your domain authority in the HubShout WebGrader report. This is your website’s predictive ability to rank in search engines on a scale from 0-100.

Domain Authority Reports

Now use this handy chart I borrowed from Orbit Media’s keyword research guide to learn how many monthly searches your keywords should have.

Domain Authority Chart

If you want to rank for a keyword that has more monthly searches than the chart recommends, you can always make additional SEO efforts to do that – mainly getting more links and social shares for the page that targets the phrase. Just don’t go too high.

And don’t be discouraged if a keyword only has 30 or even 10 monthly searches. If you have 20 pages that target 1 primary keyword each, multiply that by 10 searches/month which potentially adds up to an extra 200 visitors/month. Not too shabby. Plus, people are likely using variations of that keyword so that number could actually be more.

If you want to improve your domain authority so you can target keywords with more monthly searches, you will need to get more links from high quality websites (in the HubShout report, notice how the monthly traffic value almost directly correlates with the # of links to each website).

You get links by creating new, helpful, keyword-targeted content on your website and blog which people naturally want to link to. My strategy is to take all the articles I’ve written about WordPress SEO and turn it into a series which I’m currently working on. Once you’ve created some good content, start promoting it and the links will come.


5. Create A Keyword List


I hope you found this helpful. Stay tuned for an update on my WordPress SEO Series and be sure to subscribe to my newsletter if you want more helpful articles.


Tom Signature

8 Top SEO Mistakes Made By Noobies

SEO Mistakes

Homer could have saved so much time if he had just learned some SEO basics.

Long gone are the days where keyword stuffing (and even keyword density) work in SEO. Google has gotten smarter and there’s over 200 ranking factors but with that being said, getting the fundamentals down isn’t hard. I have made plenty of SEO mistakes and spent months “figuring it out” when learning a few principals was all I needed to know. 4 years later and being the top WordPress SEO Expert in Google, I’ve learned a lot since I started.

Here are some of the top SEO mistakes I see…


#1. Not Selecting The Right Keywords

Guessing keywords doesn’t work. Doing a little keyword research tells you which phrases people are searching. I like to use Google Autocomplete for this to select long-tail keywords (ones that are very specific) since they have better conversion rates and lower competition.

Google Autocomplete Fill In The Blank

Use Google Keyword Planner to learn the actual # of searches a keyword is getting per month. Before you start optimizing your website, creating a keyword list is a good idea since this will help you align your content/site structure with well-research keywords.


#2. Not Separating Product/Service Pages

Once you know your keywords, instead of having 1 page outlining all your different products/services, creating a designated page for each product/service will help you better target each keyword. When people search “Chicago Engagement Photographer” they want to see a page about engagement photography (which should be optimized for that keyword). They don’t want a page outlining ALL your photography services. Google wants relevancy!


#3. Not Targeting Keywords In Content (Correctly)

Use your keyword in these places:

  • Page title
  • Content body (2-3 times)
  • URL
  • SEO title
  • Meta description
  • Image alt tag

If you’re on WordPress, install Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin and use the page analysis tab to optimize your content for green lights. However, the SAME content optimization strategies can be applied to any website, so just follow the items in this SEO checklist:

Yoast Page Analysis Tab


#4. Spending Time On Meta Keywords

Meta keywords are obsolete in SEO, so don’t spend time using these in your website.


#5. Ignoring Sitewide Optimizations

Sitewide optimizations are things that affect your entire website’s SEO. This can also be issues related to your domain name, sitemap, redirects, indexing, structural and usability issues, and other factors that affects your entire website. Here are the common ones:


#6. Not Knowing How To Get Links

If your website is optimized and you’re still not ranking high, you probably don’t have enough links to your website. You can see how many links you have using Open Site Explorer. I’m sure you’ve heard this and might ask, well, how do I get these damn links?

90% of my links come from my blog tutorials. People find there useful, so they’re more likely to reference them on their own website/blog/social media. Researching a long-tail keyword for each blog article (#1 in this list) will help you drive additional traffic. Then it’s just a matter of optimizing the content and making article “better” than whoever’s in the top results for that keyword. Longer, more thorough articles usually outrank shorter articles.

Going out and “building links” isn’t as effective anymore. Most links should be earned through good content as well as content marketing (eg. participating in groups, discussions, and forums and linking to your article when it’s appropriate and relevant to the discussion.

Link Building

5 easy ways to get links:

  • List your website in your social profiles and online directories
  • Use links in your pages/posts to link to your other pages/posts (internal linking)
  • Write blog articles about FAQs or topics your customers frequently talk about
  • Share that article with customers and on social media, email, etc
  • Mention people in your article through status embeds, interviews, etc


#7. Not Reading The Right SEO Guides


#8. Hiring Someone Who Doesn’t Know What They’re Doing

SEO Joke

Your SEO person should know what works and what doesn’t. More importantly, they’ll be honest and not try to take your money for services that won’t yield results. They will help you get your keywords and strategy down, not run your website through an automated SEO tool and send you a laundry list of 100 things to do. This is all too common in the industry.

That’s the difference between an SEO pro and an SEO shmo. I offer a variety of WordPress SEO services but I will NEVER suggest a client pay for something they don’t need.


Well those are the top SEO mistakes I see! If you enjoyed my article and found it helpful, please share it with a friend who might like it too. I would really appreciate that.


Tom Signature e1367146208251



Using Google Keyword Planner For SEO Keyword Research

Google Keyword Planner can be an awesome keyword research tool in SEO, even if it was designed for AdWords.

It gives you keyword suggestions, trends, filters to help narrow down your selection, and each keyword’s # of monthly searches which indicates competition in organic results.

But I still like to start my keyword research with Google Autocomplete since as you see in the photo, it can give you a very simple list of good keywords. THEN I move to Google Keyword Planner to find phrases which didn’t appear in Autocomplete. Using both tools allows you to create a more robust keyword list and prevents you from missing anything.

Google Autocomplete - Plurals

That’s my spiel on Autocomplete and you can read this article for more Google Autocomplete tricks like the “fill in the blank” trick. Now let’s dive into Google Keyword Planner. You will need to sign up for a Google AdWords account to use Keyword Planner.


1. Start With A Broad Keyword

Google Keyword Planner Search

Broad phrases give you a larger number of keyword suggestions. Then hit “Get Ideas”…

Google Keyword Planner Interface

This pretty much sums up the gist of it.

Whatever keyword you search you will see it’s # of monthly searches. Then look below to find more keyword suggestions, so for example, since “Chicago Newborn Photographer” did not show up in Autocomplete but does show in Keyword Planner – I can now add it to my keyword list. You want to scroll the entire list to make sure you’re not missing any good phrases.


Use Filters To Narrow Down Your Selection

Once you’re done scrolling through the list, play with the filters to see if you can find other keywords you missed. I like to use the “include” filter


Use the filters to target geographic locations, include or exclude certain words, and specify a range of monthly searches (see next step to learn how many monthly searches your site should have). Go ahead and click “Get Ideas” and review the results. If you don’t see a lot of keywords you can always try tweaking the filters or starting with an even broader phrase.

Google Keyword Planner Search


2. Learn How Many Searches Your Keywords Should Have

The higher your domain authority, the more monthly searches your keywords can have. You can check your domain authority by running your site through Open Site Explorer.

Domain Authority - Open Site Explorer

Now see this chart I borrowed from Orbit Media’s keyword research guide

Using domain authority to research keywords in Google Keyword Tool


4. Ignore The Competition And CPC Column

Unlike Autocomplete, Keyword Planner also tells you a debatably accurate number of monthly searches for each phrase. And depending on the website’s domain authority (it’s ability to rank for competitive phrases) it clues you in on what keywords can be eliminated since they have too many monthly searches, indicating higher competition. These are the tips I will cover in my tutorial.

These are for AdWords, not SEO. While they can be used as an indicator on whether a keyword is too competitive, it definitely is NOT the best indicator in SEO.

Better keyword competition indicators in SEO are:

  • # of monthly searches
  • Whether Google’s search results include authority websites (eg. Amazon)
  • Whether Google’s search results include content that covers the topic extensively
  • Your website’s domain authority (higher authority = better chance of ranking)

5. Don’t Choose The Same Keyword Twice

6. Create Your Keyword List


2. Find Keywords People are Searching in Google

Now that you know how competitive your keywords should be, go to Google Keyword Tool and type in a broad phrase where it says “word or phrase.”

Before you hit “search” and look through the list, here’s a few things to consider when choosing keywords:

  • Each page on your website should only target 1 primary keyword
  • Always picture yourself as the searcher and think about what information they might be looking for
  • The content on a page should directly reflect it’s primary keyword, and vice versa
  • If a page’s content does not reflect a keyword, add a new page to your site or chose a new keyword
  • Pages can target multiple keywords if the keywords are similar enough
  • Your keywords can include a geographic location (eg. Chicago Patent Attorney)


Now hit search! When looking through the list, make sure you’re looking at the “Keyword ideas” tab and not “Ad group ideas (beta).”


3. Use Keyword Filters

It’s time to narrow down the results using the filters in Google Keyword Tool. Obviously the point is to setup filters that only show you the most relevant search terms according to your criteria.

Start by setting up a filter to only show keywords within your competition as described in step 1. To do this, click “Advanced Options and Filters” just above the search button on the main page. Create a filter that looks like this (follow the chart in step 1 to see what number you should put in):

how to use Google keyword tool filters

There are other filters too. If you want to include or exclude specific words in your search term, you’ll see this section on the left of your screen in Google Keyword Tool. And now that you know how to use Google Keyword Tool, let’s take a look further into your competition.


4. Know Your Competition in Google

Just by searching a keyword in Google, you find out more about your competition. If larger websites like rank in the top results, you probably want to chose a different keyword. This is especially true if a large website is clearly targeting that keyword. A good indication of this is if that website uses an exact keyword match in their title tag:


how to research keywords in google

There’s no way I want to compete with these guys!


5. Finalize 1 Keyword Per Page

Yes, just one. That’s why it’s called your targeted keyword. Consider adding new pages and blog posts to your website if you want to target more.

Having a website with only a few pages also limits the amount of SEO you can do. This is because a website with 10 pages doesn’t have a lot of content in the eyes of search engines. It basically says you’re not providing your audience with enough useful information. That’s what a blog is good for.

Once you’ve finalized a few terms in Google Keyword Tool, try using them throughout your website.


If you enjoyed my article, please share it with a friend who might like it too. I would really appreciate that.


Tom Signature e1367146208251