Keyword Research for Home Inspectors - Don't Gamble With Your SEO

Profitable SEO Keywords for your Inspection Business

In a perfect world, you’d create your home inspector website and then, without any further effort of investment of time or money, you’d begin generating leads through that website.

Right?

Well, if you’ve been around for any length of time, you know that doesn’t just happen unless you live in a small town.

You have local competitors, and worse – those pesky massive directory sites that steal a lot of the top positions away from you and your business. 

It’s why I’ve taken the time to produce this mini-course on keywords for home inspectors.

We’re going to use 100% free tools and techniques to get a cutting edge professional keyword list.

Let’s cut that cost for you and bootstrap your way to an excellent keyword list to use for your online marketing campaigns.

Most web developers understand the basics of keywords, and they may include a few here and there, but you need to really buckle down and study if you want good results – or hire a specialist. 

Lucky for you, this SEO specialist is willing to spill the beans.

When it comes down to it, lazy SEOs, or people that don’t specialize in SEO simply plug a Keyword into some keyword tool (like Google Keyword Planner, AHRefs, Moz or SEMRush) or use obvious keywords and don’t generally go beyond that. 

By learning how to find these keywords without relying on these tools you’re going to uncover keywords that your competition have no idea about, and also find lower competition keywords.

I have a friend that uses the phrase “Ready, Fire, Aim!” when people are doing things backward.

It applies here.

But, there’s more to keywords than just researching them.

Here are the three aspects of keywords you must hit out of the park:

  1. Planning
    • This is where we find all of the keywords/ideas/content to use
  2. Mapping
    • This is where we strategically figure out where it fits on your website
  3. Researching
    • This is where we put it all together

I’m going to walk you through this entire process, start to finish. We’ll be using real-world examples for a home inspection company and start building a keyword list.

Just follow along and things will start falling in place for you.

The first section is going to be very text heavy. The ideas here are best outlined that way.

Once we move past the first section, we’ll be looking at more videos than text.

Follow along with these videos and you’ll have a valuable keyword list in no time.

And better yet – the knowledge of how to do this for every single blog post or service moving forward. 

By learning how to do this without costly monthly subscription tools like Ahrefs SpyFu, Moz and SEMRush you’re going to save money in the long run.

You’re also going to find tons of opportunities that are less competitive because not many people really know how to do manual keyword research. This means there’s a less crowded road to the top – which is where you’ll be sitting if you do this step right. 

We’re only going to use free plugins to make this all work.

That said, in our Agency we combine by hand techniques with paid tools – we love SEMRush and Ahrefs they’re incredible tools that go far beyond keyword research!!

Jumping In

Let’s get to it. I’m going to show you some behind the scenes tactics that we use in our Agency to get real results, for real businesses.

Before keyword research starts, we actually need to consider keyword planning and mapping.

Let’s start with planning.

Keyword Planning

We need to consider the following to get a true, professional sense of what keywords to use.

We will go into more detail for each of these sections, with specific examples for home inspectors. This is, in my opinion, one of the most critical aspects of the keyword process.  

We’re going go into the following questions and topics and pick them apart to really find your true keywords. These keywords will match your service, industry and geographical location.

Think about:

  • Who are you trying to attract? (eg. pre-listing, investors, real estate agents, sellers, buyers, etc.)
  • What services do you offer?
  • Any environment causes that may trigger someone to need a home inspection? (Eg. hurricanes.)
  • Regulations & qualifications
  • Local terms (City name, suburbs, surrounding cities, etc.)
  • Are there any local slang or terms relevant to some in your area a user may type into Google?
  • What questions or concerns do you see while on the job? What concerns do you think your client may have, but not bring up to you? (Eg. how to hire a home inspector)
  • What topics/content exist on your competitors/other industry websites?
  • What does Google suggest?

Let’s pick these apart to get going.

As we go through these questions write down your answers on a piece of paper. Or better yet, a spread sheet – I personally love Google Sheets.

We’re going to be coming back to them and using them to actually find a usable list of keywords and determine search volumes at the very end. 

Who are you trying to attract?

Who is it that you’re trying to attract to your website? Who is your ideal prospect?

Some examples:

  • First time home buyers
  • Home buyers
  • Sellers
  • Investors
  • Real estate agents
  • People with a damaged roof
  • People that found mold in their home
  • etc

What services do you offer?

This one is a bit obvious. What services do you offer?

The most obvious one should be home inspection related keywords. Include main services here.

  • Home inspections
  • Commercial inspections
  • Roof inspections, etc.

Less commonly targeted keywords by SEO/inspectors are ancillary services.

Do you do mold, roof, infrared or other specialty inspections?

List all of these too. It’s important to only list the ones you’re qualified to do – NOT all of what’s out there.

Environmental Causes

Are there any reasons why someone would out of the blue need an inspection in your area?

Make sure to stay within your qualifications and state regulations on this one, if relevant. These causes will jump out and be obvious to you.

Some examples here include:

  • Tornadoes
  • Hurricanes
  • Flooding
  • Heavy rain
  • Hail
  • Earthquakes
  • Any others that affect your area

Regulations & qualifications

Regulations and qualifications are two different things. Both of these topics should jump out at you and be obvious.

Regulations:

  • Are there any government or state regulations that you can include on your website? (A good example are Tarion-backed mandatory inspections in Ontario, Canada, where I live.)

Qualifications:

People will type in “certified home inspector” or “certified roof inspector” to find qualified people. Don’t miss these keywords – you can also get specific by thinking about using terms like:

  • Association ties (think: internachi, ASHI, CAHPI, state specific associations, etc.)
    • People may very well know about some of these and type them into Google eg. “internachi certified inspector”
  • Generic “certified” “qualified” “ethical” etc. related keywords

City and surrounding locations

Now, you’re obviously going to need to include the city you want to rank for.

Make sure to jot down all the terms that are relevant here. Include cities, suburbs, towns, etc.

Ensure you do the most research into your main city – ideally, wherever your Google My Business address resides. When you list these, try to keep them organized in the spreadsheet so you know which suburbs go with what cities.

Local slang, terms and abbreviations

Keeping tabs on this stuff should be easy for an insider such as yourself. Think of any of these that may exist for you and note them in your handy spreadsheet. 

  • Are there any slang terms used in your area? For example, Chicago is known as the Windy City.
  • Unofficial areas or government areas are sometimes used by locals, but not actually listed on a map. These are a great thing to target as outsiders (aka most web devs/SEOs) will miss them initially.
  • Abbreviations. This one is pretty simple – just don’t forget about the abbreviations that someone searching for your website may use. For Chicago, you’d want to include “illinois” AND “IL” for example.

Your client/prospect’s concerns

There’s two easy ways to generate ideas here.

First, put yourself in their shoes. What are they thinking – what matters to them at the time of them needing a home inspection? 

Look around the internet for people with concerns. Use google. Look on real estate forums.

Check out negative and positive reviews of competitors to see if you can pull out anything. If someone types in their review “I was really worried about XYX but James made the inspection go off without a hitch.” – That’s your cue that this probably isn’t the first time someone has worried about it.

Second, what questions do you get asked by prospects/clients?

Keep a running list.

Chances are these are great topics for your website, because if they’re asking you – there are probably people typing them into search engines as well.

A good example of this is a blog post on the topic of “Should I use my real estate agent’s home inspector?” – this is a valid concern many people face.

Always provide value!

Competition analysis: what is already working?

Your competitors that are highly ranked in Google have already figured out what works. Check them out and see what they’ve done!

I kept this towards the end of the keyword planning list because I don’t want you getting lazy and JUST doing this step.

I strongly urge you to perform all the steps leading up to here to best rank in your local area for the terms your prospects will be using.

Once you have, let’s jump into this video.

Watch over my shoulder as I pick apart the competition and steal their keyword ideas. 

Leverage Google – What do they think?

Lastly, let’s jump back into Google and figure out what they think. This is a strategy that is excellent at producing “long tail keywords” and what we call in the SEO world as the “LSI keywords” – which is related content, as Google sees it.

I strongly recommend you install and activate the Chrome/Firefox plugin “Keywords Everywhere” when you follow along with this video.

This plugin is going to be instrumental in your keyword research process.

When you do this exercise, make note of any search terms that have any search volume.

The tool will tell you if they do or not.

Personally, I just bold these items and worry about them later. If you properly indicate which ones have volume, it’ll make your life easier.

Another cool tip that runs parallel with this technique that we don’t go through here is to use Google’s keyword planner to identify what “generic” keywords (aka keywords that don’t include your city in them) get search volume in your specific area. You can do keyword research on a more local level with that tool – but it’s a bit more advanced than we get into in this training.

You’re going to get some incredible insights, that essentially fall under the 3rd part of this article, keyword research.

The planning phase is the heaviest section AND THE MOST IMPORTANT SECTION, so good job.

You’re doing great. Let’s move on. 

Keyword Mapping

Keyword mapping is a simple concept but not one that people always take into consideration.

It’s essentially pre-planning where the different content (different topics/keywords) will be going on your website. 

This is a crucial step.

What goes where?

When filling your website with great, optimized content you need to avoid something called “keyword cannibalization” – which is basically where you confuse Google by optimizing (whether purposefully or accidentally) different pages for the same keywords or topics. This isn’t good for your SEO, and can actually be a detriment to good rankings. 

By taking proper planning into account from the get go, you can avoid this nuisance all together without ever really learning what the heck “cannibalization” really is (it is less terrifying than it sounds, full disclosure) and better optimize your content in the long-run.

To get an understanding of how we can do this, let’s jump back into a video.

Additionally, use some common sense

What keywords are related to others? What naturally fits onto a page together?

Would it make sense to randomly start going into detail about radon inspections on your roof inspections page? No – you could briefly mention it and link to its own page about Radon and the benefits of an inspection though!

By doing this, you’re creating highly relevant pieces of content that Google loves to rank when people are looking for that information.

In general, I will use industry standard keywords and hot buyer-intent keywords in the main navigation (the header or header menu) and I’ll generally add more informational keywords as blog posts (eg. “What to look for in a new home purchase.”)

So for example, on a Chicago home inspector website, I may have 5 main pages. Let’s say home, radon, mold, commercial and roof inspections.

On each of these pages, I would include all the keywords that someone may type in together.

For example, someone could potentially type “Internachi certified mold inspector in Chicago” into Google. If you’ve added the words certified, Internachi and Chicago to your mold page, you’re getting way more brownie points from Google than someone that didn’t.

This list goes on, but you’ll need to use critical thinking. For example, including “hail” keywords on your roof inspection page could be beneficial.

Pro tip

Add words that people use to describe services in Google to every single one of your main service pages.

“Best” for example – people may type in “best home inspector Chicago.”

If you’re hitting these keywords, Google notices.

These are called “Maps qualifier keywords” because they actually produce a Maps section showing local businesses when prepended to local terms like “Chicago home inspector.”

Some examples in the home inspection industry are ethical, best, expert, professional, high quality, fast and certified. The list goes on – be creative!  When combined with expert on-page SEO, stealing the Maps listings on page 1 become a lot easier.

Now, one thing we haven’t discussed yet is… search volume! 

Which is funny, because that’s where most people start. Luckily, you know better!

In fact, I’d go as far to say you’ve learned some techniques that people that flat out sell SEO to business owners don’t even employ!

Alright, I’ll get off my soap-box. Let’s get back to this and wrap it up.

Keyword Research

Alright, what we have currently is a spreadsheet of keywords, or topics.

Effectively, a dog’s breakfast.

What we now need to do is actually construct our keywords.

What keywords are actually getting search volume at a local level?

“Local” keywords are the ones that will drive new inspections for you, because people in your service area will use them. Eg “Chicago home inspector.” 

An example of a local keyword would be “Chicago home inspectors” – it is a term that someone may type in when looking for your service. 

The other topics you’ve scraped together will dramatically support these keywords, while also reaching new search engine users.

Putting out this high quality content is an excellent way to increase your overall SEO, because having positive “click thru rates” and “dwell time” are good SEO influences. But, I digress… let’s get back to keywords.

Combining Google suggestions and Keywords Everywhere plugin

This is magical. It is where I start finding out what types of keywords exist (that have search volume) for a specific city. Follow this video and you can too. 

The FINAL research strategy is up next.

This is what I do at the very end of the process. I ONLY do this after I’ve painstakingly gone through every single service offered using the method above.

Before we jump in, please note this is for your LOCAL terms. High buyer intent terms – things like “chicago home inspector” – NOT for blog topics such as “Should I get my new home inspected.” 

The final research method

The website we’re using here is http://mergewords.com/. It’s free, and doesn’t require a sign up.

Watch over my shoulder as I construct a keyword list for a chicago home inspection website. 

That’s it.

We’re done with keywords.

Well… until we need to actually optimize the website with these keywords. On-page SEO is a beast unto itself.

If I’ve done my job, you’re now convinced that keyword research is absolutely critical in your SEO efforts.

Because it is. 

Leave me a comment below if you want further clarification on anything.

Oh, and make sure you get on my email list if you’re not – it’s a great place to stay up to date on best practice SEO tips for your home inspection business.

About the Author Andrew McBurney

Andrew is an SEO expert and digital marketing enthusiast. His knowledge of SEO coupled with his social work background makes him an excellent candidate to help YOU get to the top of your industry's search engine results pages.