Keywords Research for Architects’ Marketing

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Keywords Research

Keywords research is the spline of marketing for architects and architecture firms, especially of content marketing and search engine marketing (SEM). Both architecture and construction industries have their professional jargon. But most of our potential clients are not familiar with it. So, most of their searches are based on keywords that we are don’t use. There are two relevant examples:

  • People live in their homes. They build houses. But on architecture firms’ websites, you can still see them under a residential category in portfolios.
  • Other people build office buildings, malls, supermarkets, but architects still design commercial architecture.

I call both “residential” and “commercial” Architecturese. This is the language of the country where people call their houses “housing units”. Although some might Google residential or commercial architecture, my guts tell me they are architects trying to see what their competitors design.

Matching Content with Searches’ Keywords

Although Google and Bing “know” that house projects are residential architecture, they wouldn’t rank on the search results a page named residential architecture for a query like “house plans” because users wouldn’t consider it a proper result.

Through keywords research, architects can find those keywords that people really use when they search for information regarding their future projects. The degree to which potential clients become aware of the real issues related to their projects depends on the matching of keywords from the content of architecture firms’ sites with those of users’ online searches.

Unfortunately, nobody knows exactly what potential clients search. Actually, they don’t know either. They continually refine their searches till they reach satisfactory results. In fact, it’s a learning curve. Though, they rarely arrive at a point where they use our professional jargon. But some searches can be anticipated from simple, day-by-day vocabulary, like house instead of residential. At some point, house plans or house projects are quite good approximations.

Keywords Research Tools and Tricks

Google Ads has a magnificent Keywords Planner.

The best tools for your keywords research comes from Google Ads. Its name is Google Keywords Planner. It is the same tool you would use it to create Search Engine Marketing campaigns.

Keywords research - Google „People also ask:”

But Google has a magnificent tool that helps you get all related searches. Also, Google has suggestions, as “People also ask …..”.

Keywords research - Alphabet Method

Another method, also using Google, is the alphabet method. Basically, you type “house a…”. Google suggests “house architecture”. Using this method with all alphabet letters, you can make an impressive list with keywords.

When you find relevant keywords, you can compare them with Google Trends. This tool can show you how searches evolved over time. Interesting enough, it highlights regional differences.

Keywords Research - A free Keywords generator from Ahrefs

Ahrefs has some powerful keyword tools. One of them is a free keyword generator. You can get hundreds of keyword suggestions. Their statistics are very accurate. Many free tools are available and webmasters link Ahrefs accounts with Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Therefore, they have real data from millions of websites all around the world.

Another Ahrefs free SEO tool is Keyword Difficulty Checker Tool. You can find out how competitive is to target a keyword and how many backlinks you need to rank in the top 10.

Ahrefs is not the only provider of SEO tools. Moz and Semrush also have great tools. Nevertheless, I think Ahrefs is the best for one simple reason: many functionalities are free, so they collect data from a huge number of websites. Other tools are free just for a few weeks or months. So their data is filtered by this discriminant: websites with SEO budgets starting from hundreds of dollars by year.

Regional Searches

We all know that Google personalizes the search results by region. Though, often, people try to narrow down their searches. So if it’s hard to rank for “architecture studio” nationally, ranking for the Boston area it’s easier. Well, no, I think it’s hard as hell to rank in Boston.

Nevertheless, local potential clients want to build office buildings locally. They are searching for information in a local context. Local architects and architecture firms are the experts of local market.

Project-based marketing for architecture firms

Keywords Research with Google Trends

Google Trends gives beautiful insights on what people search over long periods.

It feels natural for an architecture firm’s websites to rank high when people search for ”architecture firm”. But I suggested on How Architects Atrract Clients, that when potential clients searches for ”architecture firm”, they are in an advanced stage during their investment process.

So, here is a comparative graph of different keywords. Remember that I am not a native English speaker and I am not with the terminology. Nevertheless, these are the trends for the last 5 years:

Google Trends are based n a 0-100 scale, where 100 is the higher search for the entire period. So:

  • ”architecture firm” searches represent about10-15% of the highest search, ”building land”
  • close to building land is building design
  • ”building project” and ”building cost” are at 40-60% of the highest search. But they are 3 up to 5 times more frequent than „architecture firm” searches.

My observation is that building costs and building land relate to the preliminary phases of building investment. Also, building design and building project are popular searches of potential clients.

Keywords Research with Google Trends

Mixing those observations with Ahrefs Keyword Difficulty Checker Tool, we can see that:

Keyword Difficulty for ”architecture firm”
  1. Architecture firm has a difficulty of 95 out of 100 on a logarithmic scale – Super Hard

2. Building design – a difficulty of 72 out of 100 – Super hard

Keyword Difficulty for ”building project”

3. Building project has a difficulty of 32 out of 100 – Hard.

4. Building land – a difficulty of 10 out of 100 – Easy.

5. Building costs – a difficulty of 8 out of 100 – Easy

To rank in the top ten results for Architecture Firm searches, your website must have about 1391 quality websites linking to your website! But ranking in top ten for building costs can bring you about 8 times more visitors, most likely potential clients or individuals doing research for potential clients. You have to get about 9 backlinks to your content. This is not that hard if you decide to publish statistics with building costs for your targeted market.

Why am I mentioning backlinks? Well, backlinks are still a ranking factor for search engines like Google or Bing. Think about a backlink as a confidence vote for your content.

Project Phases Keywords Research

Project phases are the best starting place for keywords research. These are investment phases, legal phases, building phases, and client’s buying phases. During all these processes, potential clients have a research phase. They search for technical, legal, financial, and economic information to check project’ feasibility and all limitations regarding land, zoning regulations, codes, etc.

All this includes even more professional jargon against day-by-day vocabulary. But any keyword found and targeted attracts clients during the preliminary project phases.

Please read more about Market Segmentation and Market Targeting.

This article is only an introduction in Keywords Research. It applies in Content Marketing, SEM Marketing, and Advertising. Also, almost all Marketing Plans include a keyword research phase.

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By Octavian Ungureanu

Marketing for Architects helps worldwide architects and architecture firms to better promote their businesses, attract more and better clients, and get new, exciting projects.