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Keyword Research Strategies: How to Do Keyword Research for SEO

keyword research strategies how to do keyword research for seo

Welcome to the world of SEO and keyword research, where understanding the right phrases can unlock the potential of your online content. Whether you’re new to digital marketing or just looking to refine your skills, this guide will demystify the process of keyword research, making it accessible and actionable for you.

Keyword research is the cornerstone of effective SEO strategies. It acts as a compass for your content creation and optimization efforts. With over 19,000 keywords attracting more than 100,000 searches each month in the U.S. alone, the competition for visibility is fierce.

The real magic is balancing high-volume and low-competition keywords to drive targeted search traffic to your site. Did you know that 95% of keywords receive 10 or fewer monthly searches? This indicates that there is a huge potential in using less popular search terms. Furthermore, 15% of daily searches on Google are brand new.

Interestingly, 14.1% of all keyword searches are phrased as questions. This is a great opportunity for content creators to cater to their audience’s needs and build trust by answering their queries directly.

We’re here to help you understand the importance of keywords and how to select the best ones for your needs. We’ll cover everything from the basics to advanced techniques and provide you with actionable tips and strategies. So, let’s dive in and learn together!

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is a fundamental SEO task that involves identifying and analyzing the terms and phrases people enter into search engines when looking for information, products, or services related to your business. Essentially, it’s about understanding the language used by your potential customers when searching for your offerings and aligning your content with these terms to improve visibility in search engine results.

Keywords vs. Topics

Over the past decade, there has been a significant shift in SEO strategy. Traditionally, specific words or phrases that users enter into search engines are known as keywords. On the other hand, broader subject areas or themes that content can be categorized under are referred to as topics. The evolution of SEO has moved away from a strict focus on individual keywords towards a more holistic approach. This approach emphasizes the relevance and comprehensiveness of content within broader topics.

This shift is largely due to changes in search algorithms. Google, specifically, has become increasingly sophisticated in understanding user intent. Instead of merely matching keywords in search queries to pages, search engines now prioritize pages that address the user’s search intent behind the search.

For instance, if someone searches for “how to make French toast,” they’re not just looking for the phrase “French toast” scattered throughout an article. They’re looking for comprehensive content covering topics like ingredients, preparation steps, cooking techniques, and perhaps variations of the recipe or the history of French toast.

Here, the search intent is to learn the entire process of making French toast, not just to find a page that mentions the term a lot.

While keyword research remains crucial for understanding what your audience is searching for, it has evolved to focus more on discovering the topics those keywords represent. By identifying high-volume topics through research, you can create content that directly caters to your target audience’s needs.

Why is Keyword Research Important for SEO?

Keyword research for SEO goes beyond just selecting words; it’s about comprehending the needs of your potential customers and the digital market. By carefully analyzing data, keyword research helps businesses to create content that ranks well in search engines, resonates with your customers, generates substantial traffic, and ultimately converts curiosity into actual sales.

Here’s a list of reasons that make keyword research important:

Helps You Understand Your Market Better

Conducting keyword research can provide valuable insights into the current market trends and consumer preferences. It helps businesses understand what topics and queries are trending and capture attention. 

For instance, a sudden rise in searches for “sustainable living products” could indicate consumers’ growing interest in eco-friendly options. With this information, businesses can adjust their content strategy to highlight sustainable practices, eco-friendly products, or tips for a greener lifestyle. 

Not only does this make the content more relevant, but it also positions the brand as aligned with the prevailing interests of its audience.  

Get More Traffic to Your Website

The main objective of Search Engine Optimization is to increase a website’s visibility (ranking) in search engine results pages, which eventually leads to increased organic traffic. 

For example, if you own a bakery and notice that many people are searching for “gluten-free bakery options near me,” you can optimize your website with these keywords to improve its visibility for these searches.

Get More Customers

Effective keyword research can greatly aid customer acquisition by identifying queries that are highly likely to convert. By targeting keywords that indicate a user’s readiness to purchase or a strong interest in a particular product or service, businesses can create content that caters to these specific needs. 

For instance, using keywords like “buy organic coffee beans online” suggests that the user is ready to make a purchase, as opposed to a more general search like “benefits of organic coffee.” 

By focusing on these high-intent keywords, businesses can customize their content and offer to appeal to users who are further down the sales funnel, boosting conversion chances.

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Elements of a Great Keyword Research

Keyword research is an in-depth analysis of language nuances, search behavior, and market trends. To get the best results, it’s crucial to understand the intention behind searches, the search volume, and the competitive environment of the pages currently ranking for your target keywords.

What is the Search Intent Behind it?

  • Commercial/Transactional Intent: Users who are ready to engage in a transaction or make a purchase typically use keywords such as “buy,” “discount,” “deal,” or specific product names like “purchase iPhone online.” Targeting these keywords directly impacts sales for businesses.

  • Navigational Intent: Users demonstrate navigational intent when they search for a particular website or page, such as “Facebook login” or “Amazon customer service.” Although these searches may not be a top priority for acquiring new customers, they are important for brand recognition and user convenience.

  • Informational Intent: Many people use the internet to search for information. These searches often involve questions such as “How do I bake a cake?” or “What is blockchain?”. Creating content that answers these questions can help establish your brand as a knowledgeable authority and attract potential customers who are just starting their journey.

Does it Have Enough Searches?

The monthly search volume of a keyword indicates how many times it’s searched in a given timeframe and is a direct indicator of its popularity. However, high monthly search volume doesn’t always equate to high relevance for your content. It’s essential to balance search volumes with specificity.

Long-tail keywords, for instance, might have a lower average monthly search volume but can attract more targeted and engaged traffic, leading to higher conversion rates.

What are the Pages Ranking for Your Focus Keyword?

Analyzing the competitive landscape is a crucial step in keyword research. It helps to understand which pages currently rank for your primary keyword, which provides insights into what Google deems relevant and valuable for that query.

If authoritative, well-established sites dominate the top search results, it might be challenging to rank for that keyword. For brand-specific keywords, the official brand site is likely to rank the highest, making it difficult for other content to compete.

Furthermore, if a well-established company is ranking for a non-branded product keyword that they have created or made popular, it’s improbable for new competitors to push them down easily.

This highlights the significance of picking relevant keywords, aligning with the search intent, and facing a reasonable level of competition (or, in some tools, it’s measured by keyword difficulty). By checking out what’s already ranking, you’ll be able to discover gaps in content that you can use to your advantage or find unique angles that haven’t been fully explored.

Keyword Research Basics: A quick guide to keyword research process

In this quick guide, we’ll peel back the layers of the keyword research process—from generating keyword ideas to finding the best keyword research tool. This is your gateway to mastering the essentials, ensuring your content resonates with your audience and shines in the competitive arena of search results.

Whether you’re crafting your first blog post or optimizing your website, the techniques shared here will provide a solid foundation to build your SEO efforts.

keyword research guide

Make a list of broad topics relevant to your products and services

When it comes to identifying the best keywords for your brand, start by listing down broad topics or “seed keywords,” as we might call it. These serve as a foundation for generating new keyword ideas.

Map out general categories or “buckets” that encapsulate the key areas you want to be discovered for. These overarching themes cover various aspects of your business—from product categories to the values and solutions your brand provides.

For instance, for digital marketing businesses, your topic buckets might include:

  • Marketing

  • Social Media Marketing

  • Search Engine Optimization

  • Video Marketing

  • Web Design and Development

Each category represents an interest your target audience is likely exploring. Make sure to keep this list short—at least 5 to 10 broad topics. This focus ensures clarity in your SEO strategy and prevents dilution of your efforts.

To find relevant topics, step into your audience’s shoes and consider what they might search for. As a customer, what search terms would you use to find solutions? Use this information to decide on the most useful topics for your content.

Expand each topic with a list of keywords you think your customers use

After identifying your seed keywords, expanding your keyword list by including other relevant keywords becomes necessary. This is where keyword research tools come in handy, as they offer a plethora of information to assist you in finding keyword ideas.

These tools provide insights into search volumes, keyword difficulty, and the intent behind each query. Some of the best keyword research tools are Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and SEMRush. These can help you discover variations and long-tail keywords (longer phrases with more specific intent) to optimize your content better.

Check the strength of your keywords

Once you’ve identified your broad topics, the next step is understanding their significance to your audience. 

Analyzing the search volume of your keywords can be compared to taking the pulse of your potential audience’s interests. This data reveals how frequently a particular keyword or phrase is searched for in a given period, often per month. A high search volume indicates a significant interest, suggesting that creating content around such topics could drive considerable traffic to your site.

Focus on several key aspects as you’re doing keyword analysis:

  • Exact Search Terms: Choosing list of keywords that match your audience’s search terms is essential to improve your content’s visibility in search results.

  • Search Volume: Having a high search volume does not guarantee traffic, so finding a balance between relevance to your brand and the feasibility of ranking for keywords is crucial.

  • Keyword Difficulty: Knowing your competition is the key to winning in organic search results. Prioritize keywords with high search volume but low competition in organic search results. This sweet spot indicates that a keyword is popular enough to drive traffic but not so competitive that ranking for it would be exceedingly difficult.

  • Related Searches: Be on the lookout for related relevant saerch terms you might have overlooked initially. These terms can offer additional opportunities to attract your target audience, especially if they come with high search volume and low organic competition.

Verify search intent

When users type a search query, they have an underlying purpose or goal in mind—this is known as search intent. It is essential to understand this intent because it determines the type of content you should create to meet the audience’s needs effectively.

One of the simplest ways to understand search intent is to analyze the SERPs for your selected keywords. Enter your keywords into the Google search engine and review the top-ranking results. 

Pay attention to the nature of the content that ranks well: 

Is it mostly product pages, informational articles, how-to guides, or forums and discussions? 

The type of content that dominates the first page gives you a clear indication of the search intent. For instance, if product pages and commercial listings are prevalent, the search intent is likely transactional or commercial.

After categorizing your keywords, align them with different parts of your website according to their intent:

Transactional or Commercial Keywords

These should be used for your homepage and service pages, where users are closer to purchasing. Such keywords often include terms like “buy,” “for sale,” “services,” or specific product names. Sometimes a long tail keyword can also be indicative of a high purchase intent, especially if it includes specific details about the product or service

For example, a long-tail keyword like “buy organic fair trade coffee beans online” not only suggests that the user is ready to make a purchase but also specifies what kind of product they’re interested in. This level of detail in a search query provides a clear signal of a user’s intent to buy and is highly valuable for your e-commerce pages, product listings, or service descriptions.

Informational Keywords

Ideal for blogs, resource pages, FAQs, and other supporting content. These keywords cater to users in the research phase of their buying journey and can help attract a wider audience by providing valuable information. 

These can be long-tail keywords in the form of questions or phrases that delve into specific topics, concerns, or interests related to your field. For example, keywords like “how to choose the best running shoes for flat feet” or “what are the benefits of LED lighting?” are perfect for engaging users who are seeking information, advice, or solutions to particular problems.

These long-tail keywords are especially useful for blogs, resource pages, and FAQs where the primary goal is to educate, inform, and provide value to the reader.

Determine how you rank in your industry

You can use tools like Google Analytics or Google Search Console to know how your website ranks for specific keywords. These keyword research tools can help you monitor your website’s keyword rankings over time.

To track a specific keyword, you can enter it into your chosen tracking tool and monitor its position. You can also perform manual searches using Google. Use private browsing or incognito mode to prevent personalized search results from influencing the outcome.

For example, let’s say your target keyword is “business coaching services”. You’ll immediately see on the results what pages and companies are performing well for that keyword and where you rank.

If you’re not ranking, look for patterns in the title tags Google considers for that keyword and compare it to yours. Google sometimes ranks variations of keywords, so consider revising your primary keyword if this is the case.

Also, check the content type of these pages—are they informative? Are they service pages? If the content of pages ranked is far off than what you wish to rank for, then maybe you’re targeting the wrong keyword.

Use the insights you gain to make strategic decisions about your digital marketing efforts. This includes allocating resources effectively, prioritizing high-impact keywords, and refining your content and SEO strategies to strengthen your online presence.

Advanced Keyword Research Tips

Delving into advanced keyword research can be a game-changer for your SEO strategy. Here are more tips on how you can gather more keyword ideas:

Conduct Keyword Research using Your Competitor’s Data

Analyzing the keywords used by your competitors is crucial for business growth. Keyword tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs can provide valuable insights into your competitors’ SEO performance, including the keywords they rank for and the associated search volume.

Let’s use Ahrefs here as an example. Simply enter your competitor’s URL into the Site Explorer tool and click on Organic Keywords.

analyzing keywords using ahrefs and find keyword ideas

This will show you a comprehensive look at the relevant search terms your competitor is ranking for alongside other information such as search volume, keyword difficulty, current position, changes in position, and the page they are ranking for.

check for relevant keyword ideas using your competitor's data

When reviewing your competitors’ list of keywords, make sure to identify common themes and patterns. Pay attention to the keywords they rank on the first page of Google Search. These are typically the most competitive and valuable.

Assess the importance of competitor’s keywords in relation to your business, especially those that are closely related to your products, services, or industry. Look for gaps in your own keyword strategy. Find keywords that your competitors are ranking for that you aren’t targeting. These represent opportunities to improve your strategy and capture additional organic traffic.

Check the search volume and competition level as well. High search volume keywords with low competition present attractive opportunities for significant search traffic gains with less effort.

Based on your analysis, develop actionable insights into your keyword strategy. This may include optimizing existing content for keyword variations, creating new content to fill in the gaps, and implementing targeted link-building campaigns.

Remember, competitive analysis is an ongoing process. You must also regularly track changes in keyword rankings, search volume, and competition to stay ahead.

Find LSI Keywords

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are terms that are semantically related to your primary or seed keyword. They are not necessarily synonyms but are related in context and meaning.

For example, if your seed keyword is “apple,” LSI keywords could include “fruit,” “orchard,” “pie,” or “technology,” depending on the context.

Incorporating LSI keywords into your content is beneficial for Google, as it helps it to better understand your content. Also, it helps you prevent using the same keywords repeatedly (known as keyword stuffing), which may harm your SEO.

Tools such as Ahrefs classify relevant keywords into subtopics to provide a structured summary of related terms. This can assist in understanding how to incorporate these terms into various parts of your content naturally.

getting LSI keywords from seed keyword

Check ‘People Also Asked’ Questions for FAQs

When it comes to finding long-tail keywords and understanding user intent, the “People Also Asked” (PAA) feature in Google search results can be a treasure trove for marketers. This feature shows a list of questions related to the initial search query, giving you valuable opportunities to create content that users are interested in knowing more about.

While long-tail keywords usually have a lower search volume, they are the best keywords to target for either commercial or informational content as they tend to be more specific and higher intent.

To use this feature, search for a keyword or topic related to your business. Once the search results appear, scroll down to the “People Also Asked” section.

researching keywords using Google's People Also Asked section

Identify relevant questions to your business or industry and create a list. Then, check your database for any existing content related to those questions. You can write additional FAQs or content sections to make it more substantial for readers.

If PAA presents a gap in your content strategy, you can use this insight to create new content like a resources page or a blog post. You can also use these to inspire topics for webinars, podcasts, videos, and social media content, broadening your content marketing strategy.

Generate Keyword Ideas using Google Suggestions

Google’s autocomplete feature, often referred to as Google Suggestions, is a valuable tool that lists down possible search queries based on what you’re typing. It can help you find long-tail keywords, phrases, and question-based keywords that your target audience uses. It can also reveal common search patterns, trending topics, and geographical variations.

analyze keywords using Google's autocomplete feature and generate keyword ideas

First, type in a broad keyword and observe the suggestions. Look for patterns and keyword variations that indicate what users are most interested in. Use your findings here to create or optimize content.

Search for Trending Topics

google trends

Google Trends is a powerful tool for identifying popular topics trending over time. It provides insights into users’ search behavior across different regions and time frames. Here’s how you can use this free tool to find keywords effectively:

 Exploring Interest Over Time

keyword research on Google Trends

Just enter the keyword and see how its popularity has changed over time. This can help you determine whether the keyword is gaining or losing interest among users. You can also identify seasonal or periodic trends by looking for patterns. For example, keywords related to “taxes” might spike annually around tax season. Keep an eye out for such trends to enhance your marketing strategy.

Comparing Keywords

analyzing keywords

You can also use this tool to compare phrases to see which is more popular. This can help you choose between similar keywords or find more effective variations.

Check how keywords perform in different regions or countries. This can be especially useful for local SEO or global marketing strategies.

Discovering Related Queries

discover related queries

Google Trends can also show related topics and queries for any given keyword. These can be excellent sources of inspiration for additional keywords and content ideas. Pay attention to “Rising Queries” to identify keywords that are becoming popular rapidly.

While Google Trends is powerful, it’s best used with other keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Ahrefs for a more comprehensive strategy.

Popular Keyword Research Tools

Google Keyword Planner

Using Google Keyword Planner for Keyword Research

You must create a Google Ads account to access the Google Keyword Planner. Although it is free, you may have to set up an ads campaign, but you can pause it to prevent any charges. The tool provides keyword ideas based on seed keywords, search volume data, trends, and CPC estimates. It is primarily designed for advertisers but is also useful for keyword research.

Google Search Console

using Google Search Console for keyword research

Google Search Console is a free service where you can monitor, maintain, and check for errors on your website that affect its visibility on search results. It offers insights into the search queries that drive traffic to your site, the performance of your content (such as click-through rates and average positions), and identifies any issues that might impact your site’s performance.

It is an essential tool for understanding how Google perceives your site and optimizing your content based on real performance data.

Ahrefs

Keyword Tools | Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Ahrefs is an SEO keyword research tool that requires a paid subscription. It offers a wide range of features, including keyword research, site audits, backlink analysis, and content exploration. Its Keyword Explorer tool provides users extensive data on keyword difficulty, search volume, and click metrics. It also generates a list of keyword ideas based on the seed keyword.

Ahrefs is popular for its powerful backlink analysis capabilities, making it a favorite among SEO professionals for competitive analysis and link-building strategies.

SEMRush

Using SEMRush for keyword research

SEMRush is another paid all-in-one marketing toolkit offering robust SEO, PPC, content, social media, and competitive research features. Its keyword research tool provides detailed insights into keyword difficulty, search volume, SERP features, and related keywords.

SEMRush also offers unique features like the Keyword Magic Tool. This organizes search terms into relevant subgroups, making managing and segmenting keyword strategies easier.

Moz

Using Moz for keyword Research

Moz offers a suite of SEO tools known for their user-friendly interface and the Moz Pro campaign, which tracks keyword rankings, site audits, and backlink profiles. Its Keyword Explorer tool provides keyword suggestions, monthly search volumes, keyword difficulty scores, and organic click-through rates.

Moz is also famous for its proprietary metrics like Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA), which are widely used in the SEO community to gauge the strength of websites and pages.

Ubersuggest

Using Ubersuggest for keyword research

Ubersuggest is a keyword research tool created by Neil Patel. It offers valuable insights about keywords such as volume, competition, and seasonal trends. Additionally, it provides content ideas, backlink data, and domain overviews. The tool’s straightforward interface and free basic features make it easy for beginners to use while also offering advanced functionalities for in-depth analysis.

Offers both free and paid versions. You can start using it for free with limited capabilities and upgrade to unlock more features.

Answer the Public

Using Answer the Public for Keyword Research

Answer the Public is a tool that helps users to find related search queries and suggested autocomplete searches in the form of a search cloud image. Users can enter a keyword to view a list of questions, prepositions, comparisons, alphabetical, and related searches. This tool is particularly useful for discovering long-tail keywords and understanding the specific queries that people are asking about a topic, making it a valuable tool for content creation.

Limited free searches are available without an account. For unlimited searches and advanced features, you need to sign up for a paid plan.

Also Asked

Using Also Asked for Keyword Research

Also Asked is a tool that helps users understand the relationship between different questions related to a specific topic. It achieves this by utilizing Google’s “People Also Ask” boxes. By entering a seed keyword, it generates a tree of related questions, showcasing their interdependence. This tool can be especially useful for content creators, who can use it to gain a better understanding of a topic’s depth and breadth, ensuring that they cover the subject comprehensively and address multiple related queries.

Provides a certain number of free searches before requiring you to sign up for a plan. Account creation is necessary for continuous use.

So, how do you choose the right keywords?

Having a well-defined keyword strategy is critical for effective SEO and content marketing. To gain expertise in this skill, focus on understanding your target audience’s intent, analyzing competition, and balancing high-volume keywords with long-tail, niche-specific phrases.

Remember, the best keywords are those that align closely with your content and resonate with your target audience. Also, keep an eye on emerging trends and adapt your strategy accordingly.

If you’re looking for more personalized advice, feel free to connect with me. I’m here to help you navigate the complex world of SEO and digital marketing. You can also follow me on social media for the latest insights, tips, and updates in the field.

Let’s work together to elevate your online presence and achieve your marketing goals!

FAQS about Keyword Research

You can gather keyword ideas for free using tools like Google Keyword Planner for basic search volume and trends, Google Trends for interest over time, and the “People Also Ask” and “Related Searches” sections in Google. Ubersuggest and Answer the Public offer limited free searches that can also provide valuable insights.

Keywords are crucial in SEO because they act as the bridge between what people are searching for and the content you are providing to meet that need. They help search engines understand the relevance of your content, improving your search visibility and connecting you with your target audience.

Optimize your site ranking by incorporating keywords naturally into titles, meta descriptions, headers, and content. Focus on high-quality, relevant content that addresses intent. Ensure keywords are used in a way that maintains readability and user experience, avoiding keyword stuffing.

Use head keywords properly by integrating them seamlessly into your content, ensuring they reflect intent and are contextually relevant. Place them in strategic positions like titles, headers, and opening paragraphs, but always prioritize natural, engaging writing over forced keyword insertion.

Assess if your keywords are effective by monitoring your website’s search traffic, rankings, and engagement metrics using tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. An increase in organic search traffic and improved search rankings for targeted keywords indicate successful keyword optimization.

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I'm Sophie Kessner

First generation Mexican American mama that’s gone from hood to strategic hustle. I’ve spent the last 10+ years inside the personal development space supporting 100’s of coaches in scaling 6 figure businesses online & supported 4 different companies in surpassing the 7 figure mark. Today, I focus on making scaling more sustainable by integrating the lenses of business, systems, automation and CEO Development through an Equity centered and Trauma informed lens.

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