display digital marketing log full color

2022 Small Business Guide to Keyword Research and SEO

small business guide to targeting keywords and seo

Are you about to start refreshing your web content? STOP. Before you begin to dive in, read this guide on how to target keywords to help increase organic traffic, Ad conversions and site ranking.

Before you get started, you need to have a good understanding of how search engines work. So, let’s dive in.

Understanding SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a tricky game. It’s not something you can master overnight. You have to be able to put yourself in the shoes of the search engine. Think about how they crawl and index your web pages. It’s an all-encompassing process that takes time.

When a user enters a search term into a search engine, the engine will crawl the web to find pages that contain the search term. It won’t crawl a single page and come back looking for more. It will determine the top results for the keyword.

We can determine how your website ranks for your target keywords using the Google Search Console. After updating your web content with your new target keywords, wait around 30 days and see if you start ranking for them.

Common SEO Issues For Small Businesses

If you are new to Search Engine Optimization or fail to see results, it could be because you are facing some challenges.

Common SEO challenges we see with Calgary small businesses are:

Thin Content: There is no exact character or word count that is the best for SEO. As experts, we do know one thing; Google loves long-form content. Why? Long-form content typically provides an in-depth explanation of a specific topic. The more unique the description, the better. 

Duplicate Content: Many business owners and rookie digital marketers tend to duplicate content instead of writing new and unique content for their business. This can hurt your search ranking for your business. 

Poor Site Architecture: How Google and users crawl through your site can affect your ranking. If the content is unorganized and hard to find, Google will rank pages lower in the Search Engine Results Page. It is vital to create a site architecture that makes it easy for users to find the content they are looking for. 

Lack of Schema Mark-Up:  Schema Mark Ups are bits of code used to help search engines find content your customers are searching for. They are great for product pages, showing customers reviews and ratings, and answering crucial questions. 

How to Use Keywords

When you use keywords in the title and content of your web pages, it will help search engines crawl your web pages. The more unique and relevant keywords you use, the better.

Keywords are an essential part of any SEO strategy. However, you can’t just start adding keywords to your content. You need to ensure your keywords match the content and topic of your content. 

Avoid “keyword stuffing” at all costs. This can lead to penalizations from Google, which will significantly drop your page rank.

Search Intent

This is the most complicated and vital step in building a keyword list. How we talk and the use of words can almost always determine the intent or goal of our questions. When we search online, Search Intent can be split into four main categories: 

  1. Informational Intent

  2. Navigational Intent

  3. Transactional Intent

  4. Commercial intent

We could add more to both of these lists, but this gives you a good idea. When choosing keywords for your website, it is essential to use informational (Top of Funnel Searches) and Transactional (Bottom of Funnel Searches). This will ensure your website content creates a great experience from the first visit. 

Learn more about how search intent can increase your Google Ad Profitability.

Keyword Search Volume

It is essential to understand the search volume of your keywords. We do not want to use keywords that have way too much search volume (this means competition is very high), and we also don’t want keywords that have little to no traffic. Using Google’s free keyword planner through their Ad platform, you can get insights into the volume of your targeted keywords. 

Two things to consider when looking at keyword ideas:

  1.  Relevance

  2. Average Monthly Searches

Using these two methods in combination with your audience research, you can determine the best keywords to use for each web page.

Keyword Competition

We mentioned above to avoid high competition keywords. Most small businesses compete in a high competition industry. For us, it is digital marketing services. This industry is flooded with competitors, both big and small. In turn, our targeted keywords are in high competition. 

An excellent keyword targeting tip: When you are in high competition for keywords, it is essential to find and use long-tail keywords with reasonable monthly searches and low competition. For example, a long-tail keyword such as “social media optimization.” sees on average 90 searches per month and has intense competition. This is perfect for a small business to target our social media services page. Not only do we offer this as part of our services, but it will also provide a boost to organic traffic.


Getting to page 1 of Google is an investment of both time and money. SEO provides one of the highest returns on investment (around 200-275%). Some businesses see results in the first three months, while others may not until month 6 or 12. This is dependent on industry competition.

Use this guide to help give your SEO strategy a boost and remember to consider the following when choosing keywords:

  1. Search Intent

  2. Keyword Volume and Relevance

  3. Keyword Competition

Do you need help getting your business to page 1 of Google? We can help! As SEO experts, we work with Calgary companies to increase their search ranking, traffic and sales. Drop us a line at [email protected]

Interested in reading more?