SEO keyword research is tough. It’s especially tough for unfamiliar industries. How are you supposed to know what keywords to use when you barely know what your client does?
The less you know about an industry, the more vital it is that your client understand the process so they can help you as much as possible. Here are some steps to educating your client enough to enable them to be helpful.
First, make sure your client understands what it is you need from them. They’re not going to immediately understand why their one-word keyword idea won’t work, so you have to tell them.
It can be helpful here to get an idea of what kind of money they have to throw at SEO. This will determine which keywords you can target. Obviously the more resources (this can be time, money, content, etc.) the client has to put toward SEO, the more competitive the keywords you can target.
Explain this right off the bat. Let them know that if they don’t invest in SEO, the returns will be lower, because generally less competitive keywords also have less traffic.
Once you explain competition, explain conversion rates. They may think a keyword is gold because it’s low competition and high traffic, even though all or most of the traffic it gets are people with no interest in their product. Explain that unqualified traffic isn’t worth messing with.
It’s at this point that they should understand what you need. What you need to know, ultimately, is this: what words do people use when they’re searching online for your products?
Even after your client understands the question, they probably don’t have the answer. This is where it’s going to be very helpful to have them literally call up some of their customers and ask the customers what they searched for to find your client. Ask your client to do this. If they have the time, they should be more than willing.
If they won’t but they’ll let you, consider doing it yourself. The information will be invaluable.
Once you have that initial list, it’s easy enough to narrow down your choices.
Another place to look for keyword ideas is in their referring keywords report in their analytics. But this only tells you how the visitors got to their site. Talking to customers hopefully will get you keywords they used to get to competitors’ sites.