Keyword Research for Seo is the process of finding and analysing search terms that people enter in search engines with the goal of using that information for a specific purpose, often for search engine optimisation (SEO) or general marketing purposes. A keyword research of a website can identify potential search queries to target, their popularity, their ranking difficulty, and many other relevant details to a campaign.

Performing thorough, high-quality keyword research before you decide on the most appropriate keywords for your website is critical in order to give it the best chance of standing out from the crowd. In order to generate quality organic traffic on your website, you need to identify the appropriate keywords that appeal to your target audience. This will enable you to develop a keyword strategy, which will take your pages to the top of search engine rankings. It’s no secret that Google keeps us on our toes with all the algorithm updates that they keep rolling out. But one thing has remained pretty consistent for inbound marketers looking to make their websites as search engine friendly as possible: keyword research.

Throughout this article, we will be defining what keyword research is, why it’s so important, how to do your research for an SEO strategy, the importance of keyword research, and how to choose the right keywords for your website. We will also describe what keywords to use on your site and how you can find the right keywords that align with the intent of your site.

What Are Keywords and How Important Are They to SEO?

There are many ways that keyword research for SEO can be used to establish and develop online content, and they are usually referred to as SEO keywords. As viewed from the prospective customer’s perspective, these are words that are entered into the search bar in the form of key words that best describe what they are looking for, or to find answers to a question they wish to ask. Marketers understand that the keywords they carefully select and place in their content directly alert search engines about the content on their webpages, which in turn provides a way for them to rank your website and suggest it to their visitors.

Using keywords can provide a wide range of insight into your audience’s minds, providing you with vital information such as what they want and why they want it. Whether you are doing search engine optimization (SEO) or general marketing, it is essential that you incorporate the correct keywords into your content to significantly improve your company’s success. In order to build your business, you need to make sure your customers’ keywords match the keywords on your website.

Having the right keywords on your website will help you define what your business is about and what you offer to your customers. There is, however, a correlation between the number and quality of keywords included in your content and whether it is displayed on a particular search engine results page (SERP) by search engines such as Google. Your chance of reaching more people and gaining more traffic will increase the higher you rank on the SERPs. The top search result on Google receives about 32% of all clicks each and every time a search is performed. There is still a good chance you will become one of the first few results on Google, even if you cannot become the top ranking website. You are going to see an increase in the number of clicks if you maintain a favorable placement on the SERPs as more and more people search for products and services online. It is estimated that the traffic for the 1,000 most visited pages increased by 22% between 2019 and 2020.

Keyword research allows you to find the best keyword phrases that are in demand, but still niche, anticipating what consumers want and providing it to them before they even realize what they are looking for. You can increase the ranking of your website by using high-quality keywords in your articles, blog posts, and product descriptions, which will allow you to attract a larger audience and compete with your competitors in your field. The organic traffic to your website generated from the SERP is far more effective than any paid traffic or advertisement and can produce leads for years to come after your site publishes.

Why Is Keyword Research Important?

In order to target the most effective keywords for your campaign, keyword research can help you determine which queries your target audience is actually searching for on Google, thereby giving you valuable insight into what they are actually looking for. You can gain a great deal of insight from these actual search terms, which you can use to help inform both your content strategy, as well as your ongoing marketing efforts.

In the process of conducting an online search, people use keywords in order to find answers to their questions. The more traffic you see from your content as it appears in the search results, the more likely it is that you will gain traffic from it. Therefore, you should be targeting those search terms in your marketing strategy.

The inbound methodology emphasizes that content should focus on what people want to discover, rather than what we want to tell them; we should be creating content focused on what people want to learn and discover. As a result, we are bringing our audience to our website.

The first step in all of this is to conduct keyword research.

A keyword research can provide you with many benefits, of which the most popular are the following:

1. Marketing Trend Insight

If you conduct effective research, you will be able to gain insight into current marketing trends, as well as help center your content on relevant topics and keywords that your audience is searching for.

2. Traffic Growth

In order to rank better in search engine results, you need to determine the keywords that are most relevant to your content when publishing it. The more relevant the keywords you use, the more traffic you will receive from search engines.

Getting Started with Keyword Research

Before beginning your keyword research journey to optimize your content for search engines, you should familiarize yourself with some basic keyword research fundamentals that will help you in your keyword research journey. The first step in finding focus keywords and long-tail keywords is to understand what makes them different from normal keywords and how they can be used in SEO.

As its name implies, a focus keyword refers to a keyword that will be your primary focus over the course of the strategy. There is a keyword or phrase that is purposefully included in your website’s title, URL, meta description, and body content in the hope that search engines will recognize the importance of it.

A long-tail keyword, on the other hand, is a keyword that contains three or more words in it. The best way to attract more qualified traffic is by using specific phrases that buyers are more likely to use when they are farther along in the buying cycle and have a more clear idea of what they want when buying a product. Long-tail keywords are especially valuable when there is a lot of competition on the market; they are an excellent way for websites to stand out from their competitors when there is a lot of competition. The main difference between the two search terms “toaster” and “4 slice chrome toaster” is the fact that the results produced by the former will be more precise.

Furthermore, you will be able to carry out the most comprehensive and advantageous keyword search by keeping in mind the following:

1. Keyword intent

As one of the most important aspects of developing a keyword strategy is knowing how keyword intent plays into the process of keyword research. Despite the fact that you are intimately familiar with your business, you may not be conversant with the mindset of your target audience. Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes is how you will be able to determine what their true intentions are and really understand why they are searching for what they are searching for.

The intent can be divided into five categories:

  • Informational: It means that the user is trying to learn something or get some information. A search term like this might appear as “how to prepare a smoothie” or something of the sort.
  • Transactional: Keyword that indicates an intent to perform a transaction or find information related to a transaction or find information about a transaction. A high intent search is one where the user is likely to be contemplating making a purchase (e.g. purchasing a product, booking a flight or hotel room, etc.). (e.g. “gift card for Sephora”)
  • Navigational: The user wants to find a specific domain or page within a domain. For the search term, “CNN Business”, the user’s purpose is to find the business section within the CNN website.
  • Job search: This is a more niche intent where the user is looking for keywords related to a job search or careers, for example, “Bank of America internship”.
  • Local: A user is seeking a particular physical location or related information, such as “nail salons in greenwich village.”
Keyword Research for Seo with Keyword intent
Source: Similarweb

If you are researching SEO keywords for your website, it will be important to consider whether your content truly corresponds to your target audience’s intent. Are they trying to learn something new? Are they trying to learn something new? Would they like to find out more about a specific company or website? Do they have a list of products that they are comparing and they are almost ready to make a purchase? Can they make a purchase right now, or are they already prepared to do so? A perfect match will compel the consumer to stay on your page for longer and help you rank higher on SERPs.

It is also important to understand the audience that you are trying to target and to figure out why they want the things that they want, so that you can utilize trigger phrases as part of your long-tail keyword strategy. You can easily tailor your keywords to match the types of intent of different types of consumers by using trigger phrases. In the case of a product, you should use transactional or commercial trigger phrases such as “best”, “buy”, “join” and “compare” in your search keywords so that you can rank better for searches where people are more likely to buy.

2. Monthly search volume (MSV)

MSV is a measurement of the number of monthly searches for a particular keyword. In order to look up the world-wide MSV of a keyword or even to narrow it down to a specific city, you can use keyword research websites and tools devoted to keyword research. It is true that higher MSV values mean more potential traffic for your website, however, they also imply a greater amount of competition as well.

3. Topical Authority

The majority of search engines are improving all the time, and more and more emphasis is being placed on natural language, related terms, and quality content. A website should showcase its expertise by presenting in-depth, interconnected content that demonstrates the site’s expertise. A consumer might click on your website if they regard you as one of the most trusted sources of information on a particular topic, which would interest them to learn more. You will be able to rank highly on search engine results if you have authoritative content and a good reputation.

4. Customer Acquisition

It is important to understand that if your business has content that other business professionals are looking for, you can meet their needs and provide them with a call to action that will lead them on a path from the awareness stage to the purchasing decision.

In order to target the questions that most people in your audience want to know answers to, you should research keywords based on their popularity, search volume, and general intent.

5. Keywords vs. Topics

There is an increasing number of times we hear about how much SEO has evolved over just the past 10 years, and how little keywords themselves have become when it comes to ranking well for the everyday searches that people make.

To some extent, that is true, but in the eyes of an SEO professional, it is a very different approach. Rather, what matters is the intent behind a particular keyword, and whether or not a piece of content solves or can solve that intent (more on intent in a moment).

There is no doubt that keyword research is an important aspect of SEO, but that does not mean it is outdated. Here’s what I mean:

When you do keyword research, you will be able to tell what topics people care about and, assuming that you use the right SEO tool, you will be able to find out how popular those topics are among your target audience. You can identify and sort your content into topics that you want to create content about by researching keywords that are getting a high volume of searches per month – from there, you can identify and sort your content into the topics that you want to create content about. In order to find and target the right keywords, you will then need to make use of these topics to determine what keywords to use.

Elements of Keyword Research

Whenever you conduct keyword research, you need to pay attention to three main elements.

1. Relevance

As part of its ranking algorithm, Google looks at the relevance of content. In order for us to understand this concept, we need to focus on search intent. Content will rank for a keyword only if it meets the searcher’s needs and allows them to find what they are looking for. Secondly, your content must be able to provide the best answer to the query out there at any given time. Ultimately, if your content does not provide the same level of value that the rest of the content available on the internet, then why would Google rank it higher?

2. Authority

According to Google, authoritative sources will be given more weight than the ones it deems to be unreliable. You can become an authoritative source by enriching your site with useful, informational content and promoting it to earn social signals as well as backlinks in order to establish your site as an authoritative source by providing helpful, informative content. There is a lower chance of ranking if you are not seen as an authority in the space, or if several heavy sources are competing for the same keyword on the SERPs (such as Forbes or The Mayo Clinic), unless you have exceptional content, you have a lower chance of ranking.

3. Volume

In spite of the fact that you may rank on the first page of Google for a specific keyword, if no one ever searches for that keyword, it will not influence the amount of traffic you receive. There’s something kind of strange about setting up shop in an area that has been abandoned.

As a measure of volume, MSV (monthly search volume) is used, which is the number of times a keyword is searched across all audiences every month, derived from the availability of search data

How to Research Keywords for SEO

To help you come up with a list of terms you should be targeting, I’ll explain a keyword research process that you can follow in order to come up with a list of criteria to consider. The benefit of this approach is that you’ll be able to establish and execute a strong keyword strategy that will enable you to compete for the search terms you really care about.

1. Make a list of all the topics that are important, relevant to your business, based on your knowledge of what your business is all about.

The best way to begin this process is to think in terms of generic buckets for the topics you would like to rank for. You will come up with about five to ten topic buckets you think are important to your business, and later on in the process you will make use of those topic buckets to brainstorm some specific keywords that will help you to achieve your goals.

The topics listed above are probably the most frequent topics on your blog if you are a regular blogger. Alternatively, maybe they are the topics that come up the most when it comes to sales conversations. Consider yourself to be in the position of your buyer persona – what types of topics would your target audience search for that you’d want your business to be found for when they search for topics like yours? Suppose that you were a company like ImarkGuru, for instance – that specializes in marketing software that has some awesome SEO tools built in… but I digress… – and you had general topic buckets such as:

  • “inbound marketing” (21K)
  • “blogging” (19K)
  • “email marketing” (30K)
  • “lead generation” (17K)
  • “SEO” (214K)
  • “social media marketing” (71K)
  • “marketing analytics” (6.2K)
  • “marketing automation” (8.5K)

Have you noticed that every keyword has a number in parentheses next to it? This is the monthly search volume of their website. Based on this data you can get a good idea as to how important these topics are to your audience, and how many different sub-topics might you need to write about for that keyword in order to be successful with that keyword. As we move on to the second step of our learning process, we want to learn more about these subtopics …

2. Fill in Those Topic Buckets with Keywords.

Once you have selected a few topic buckets, it is time to identify some keywords that will fit into those buckets, as it will serve you well in your content marketing efforts. Your target customer is probably conducting searches for specific keywords that you believe are vital to rank for in the SERP (search engine results pages), which means you should rank for these keyword phrases as well.

For example, if I were to brainstorm some keyword phrases that I think people would type into a search engine related to the topic “marketing automation” for the last topic bucket for an inbound marketing software company, I would brainstorm some keyword phrases that people may type in. Those might include:

  • Marketing automation tools
  • How to use marketing automation software
  • What is marketing automation?
  • How to tell if I need marketing automation software
  • Lead nurturing
  • Email marketing automation
  • Top automation tools

The list goes on and on and on. The purpose of this step is not to come up with your final list of keyword phrases in order to use in your SEO campaign. In the end, all you are trying to do is to come up with a mental list of phrases that you think potential customers might use when searching for content that is related to that particular topic bucket. As we progress, we will be narrowing down the list so you don’t have anything too unwieldy at the end.

In spite of the fact that there are more and more keywords being encrypted by Google every day, one of the best ways to come up with keywords ideas for your website is to figure out what keywords your website already gets indexed for. This means that you’ll have to use a website analytics tool, such as Google Analytics or HubSpot’s Sources report, which you can access through the Traffic Analytics tool, to accomplish the task. In order to identify the keywords people are using to reach your website, you will need to dig into your website’s traffic sources and sift through your organic search traffic bucket to identify which keywords they are using.

If you have more topic buckets than you have topic buckets, you should repeat this exercise. Don’t forget, if you are having trouble coming up with relevant search terms, you can always talk to your colleagues who are working with your prospects and customers, especially those in the Sales and Customer Service departments, and discover what kinds of terms they use, or what kinds of questions they have, if they have any. It is often a good idea to start your keyword research with those factors in mind.

3. Understand How Intent Affects Keyword Research and Analyze Accordingly.

According to what I mentioned in the previous section, you are now able to rank well on search engines like Google if you can take advantage of user intent, which is now one of the most crucial factors. A searcher is now more likely to find your web page if it addresses the problem he or she is looking to solve rather than simply having the keyword he or she used in their search. In order to answer the question, how does this affect your keyword research process?

We often take keywords at face value, and unfortunately, there are many different interpretations of what keywords mean below the surface of the surface, so don’t take them literally. It is important to be extra careful about how you interpret the keywords you target, due to the importance of understanding the intent behind a search for your ranking potential.

For example, let’s say you are looking for keywords as a starting point for creating an article you want to write on “how to start a blog”. Depending on what a searcher’s intent is behind a keyword such as “Blog”, it will influence what direction your article should take, whether it refers to a blog post on the blog itself or the blog website itself. Can you explain to me what the searcher wants to know? Is it to understand how to start an individual blog post? Do they actually want to know how to actually launch a website domain so that they can blog with that domain? You’ll need to be sure that the keyword will target only people interested in the latter, if your content strategy is only targeting people interested in the former.

Whenever you are trying to determine what a user’s intent is when typing in a keyword, it is a good idea to enter that keyword into a search engine yourself to see what types of results appear when you enter that keyword. Ensure the type of content you’re going to create for the keyword is relevant to the type of content you’d intend to create for the keyword.

4. Research Related Search Terms.

During the keyword research process, you may have already thought of this idea when deciding what keywords to use. In that case, it can be a great way to add those non-essential items to your lists.

If you’re struggling to think of more keywords people might be searching about a specific topic, take a look at the related search terms that appear when you plug in a keyword into Google. When you type in your phrase and scroll to the bottom of Google’s results, you’ll notice some suggestions for searches related to your original input. These keywords can spark ideas for other keywords you may want to take into consideration.

How to Do Keyword Research for Seo: a Beginner's Guide

5. Using keyword research tools to your advantage is the next step in the process.

Based on the keyword ideas you’ve generated up to this point, you might be able to come up with more keyword ideas by using keyword research tools and SEO tools that can help you come up with exact match keywords as well as phrase match keywords. There are several popular ones, including the following:

  • SECockpit
  • Keywords Everywhere
  • Moz
  • KeywordTool.io
  • KWFinder
  • SEMrush
  • Ahrefs
  • Ubersuggest
  • Google Keyword Planner

How to Find and Choose SEO Keywords

Having come up with a list of keywords that you want to rank for, it is now time to refine your list based on the best ones for your strategy based on the research that you have performed. It is as simple as this:

How to choose the right keywords for SEO

1. Use Google Keyword Planner to cut down your keyword list.

The Keyword Planner from Google offers a lot more information about search volume and traffic estimations for keywords you are considering, and it is free to use. As a next step, you should use Keyword Planner to gather information and fill in some blanks by using Google Trends in order to gather additional data.

Using the Keyword Planner, you can make sure that you flag any terms that have way too little (or way too much) search volume on your list, and that won’t help you maintain a healthy mix as we discussed earlier. In order to avoid deleting anything, the first thing you should do is go to Google Trends and check out their trend history and projections. By doing this, it’s possible to figure out, for example, whether or not it’s a good idea to invest in some low-volume terms right now. That way, you can reap the benefits later on in the future.

Maybe you’re just looking at a list of terms that seems to be too unwieldy to deal with, and you need to narrow it down somehow … then you may want to use Google Trends to find out which terms are trending upward and are therefore worthy of your attention.

2. Prioritize low-hanging fruit.

When we refer to priority low-hanging fruit, what we are trying to mean is that we would like to prioritize keywords that we have a chance of ranking for on the basis of the authority of our website.

It is common for large companies to target high volume keywords, and since these brands are already well established, Google normally rewards them with authority over a wide variety of categories.

If you want to find keywords with little competition, you can also consider them. When you compete for keywords that don’t already have multiple highly optimized articles fighting for top positions, you will be given the top spot by default – if no one else is trying to take the spot from you.

3. Check the monthly search volume (MSV) for keywords you’ve chosen.

As a content creator, it’s important to write content with what people want to discover in mind, including a check of MSV can help you achieve this.

In search engine terms, monthly search volume refers to the number of times a particular search query is entered into search engines over the course of a month. If you are interested in learning about the most searched keywords in a particular cluster of keywords, you can find a free tool like searchvolume.io or Google Trends to help you.

4. Factor in SERP features as you choose keywords.

If used correctly, there exist several SERP feature snippets that will be highlighted by Google when they appear on the SERP. In order to find out what the first search result looks like, you can just use the search engine and type in the keywords of your choice and see what comes up. In order to give you a quick overview of what each type of SERP featured snippet looks like, let us summarize what they are in this article.

Paragraph Snippets

As they are called, featured snippets, or paragraph snippets, are short pieces of text that are displayed at the top of Google’s search results to give quick answers to common search questions. You can help in winning the placement of your advertisement by understanding the searcher’s intent and providing succinct, concise answers.

How to Do Keyword Research for Seo: a Beginner's Guide

Image Packs

The image packs are search results displayed as a horizontal row of images that appear in organic search results, based on the time of day. If there is an image pack, you should try to write a post that includes a lot of images to win a place in it.

How to Do Keyword Research for Seo: a Beginner's Guide

List Snippets

This type of list snippet is used to summarize the steps and instructions to complete a specific task in a post – often in the form of an “how to” search, or snippet. It is important to make sure that your posts are clear, direct, and have direct instructions and formatting to help you win this placement.

How to Do Keyword Research for Seo: a Beginner's Guide

Video Snippets

Google snippets appear on a search query page at the top of the page in place of textual featured snippets, and they are short videos that Google will display. If you post a video on both YouTube and your website, it will give you a better chance of getting a top placement if it is tagged with the targeted keywords the people are searching for.

How to Do Keyword Research for Seo: a Beginner's Guide

6. Check for a mix of head terms and long-tail keywords in each bucket.

As a general rule, head terms are keyword phrases that are shorter, more generic, and are just as long as a single word and as long as three words, depending on who you are talking to. As opposed to long-tail keywords, long-tail keywords are generally a series of words that are longer than three consecutive words.

Having a mix of head terms and long-tail terms in your keyword strategy will give you a keyword strategy that’s well balanced with a long-term goal and a short-term win, which will contribute to a keyword strategy that’s effective and efficient. Due to the fact that head terms tend to be searched far more frequently than long tail terms, it is oftentimes (not always, but often) a much more competitive market, and long tail terms are harder to rank for than head terms. Take a moment to think about it: Without even looking up the search volume or the level of difficulty, which of the following terms do you think would be some of the hardest to rank?

  1. What are the steps to writing an excellent blog post
  2. blogging

In the case that you answered #2, then you are absolutely correct. However, do not get discouraged if you encounter difficulties. I believe that even though head terms generally have the greatest search volume (meaning that you have a higher chance of getting traffic from them), the traffic that you will receive from the term “how to write a great blog post” is normally much more valuable.

Why?

It is safe to say that someone who is looking for something that specific will be a much more qualified searcher for your product or service (assume you’re in the blogging space), than someone who is searching for something that is really generic. Besides being more specific, long-tail keywords are also easier to figure out what the people searching for those keywords are actually looking for, since they tend to be a little more specific. As an example, if someone is searching “blogging,” they could be searching it not because they have any interest in your business, but for a host of reasons unrelated to your business.

The best way to ensure that you have a healthy mix of long-tail and head terms in your keyword list is to check it regularly. There is no doubt that you want to be able to achieve some quick wins through low-competition long-tail keywords, but at the same time you should also try to work on the more challenging head terms in the long run.

6. See how competitors are ranking for these keywords.

You do not need to follow what your competitor is doing just because he or she is doing it. In the same way, keywords should be treated the same way. You should not assume that just because your competitor values a keyword, does not imply that it should be valuable to you as well. It is however important to keep in mind that understanding what keywords your competitors are trying to rank for is a good way to help you evaluate your list of keywords a bit more carefully.

You should definitely try to improve your ranking for keywords that are on your list, as well, if your competitor is ranking for those keywords as well. Nevertheless, don’t ignore the ones your competitors don’t seem to be paying attention to if you want to succeed. I think that this could be a good opportunity for you to own market share on terms that are relevant to your company.

You can maintain a similar balance that is found when you mix long-tail and head terms. This can be done by balancing the terms that might be a little more difficult because of competition, with those terms that might be a little more realistic. You need to keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to end up with a list of keywords that get you some quick wins, while helping you to make progress towards larger, more challenging SEO targets.

The question is, how do you know what keywords are being used by your competitors to rank high on the search engines? As an alternative to manually searching for keywords in an incognito browser and checking out how your competitors are faring, Arel=”noopener” target=”_blank” hrefs allows you to run a number of free reports that show you the top keywords for the domain you enter. Using this tool, you can get a quick indicator of the types of terms that your competitors are ranking for, and you can do the same.

Final Words

Find the optimal keywords to build your content around by conducting keyword research to find out what are the trends and blind spots, understand the user intent, and find out what the most compelling keywords are. It is important to remember, however, that keyword research is only the foundation for your SEO efforts. The best way to stand out from the competition is to make each blog post, article, and product description as valuable, interesting, and complete as possible, compared to your competition’s. Ensure that you pay close attention to the layout and the on-page SEO within each piece of content and make your website easy to scan and mobile-friendly by making it easy to read. Remember that organic search engine optimization is a long-term process, so you will need to be patient. The majority of businesses slowly climb up the SERPs over time, even if you rank quickly for specific terms or phrases.

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