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How to Do Keyword Research for SEO

How to Do Keyword Research for SEO

Every second, there are over 40,000 searches conducted on Google alone, totaling more than 3.5 billion searches per day worldwide. Finding the right keywords is crucial as it directly connects businesses with their target audience.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the importance of keywords, outline the steps to find the right ones and provide actionable strategies to leverage their power.

What Are Keywords?

These are the words or phrases that individuals type into search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo when seeking information, products, or solutions. They serve as the vital links between users’ queries and website content. In essence, they act as gateways, connecting users to the answers, products, or services they’re looking for, thus serving as fundamental building blocks of the online experience.

what are keywords

Why is Keyword Research Important?

Keyword research reveals the language and terms your target audience uses when searching for your products or services, allowing you to tailor your content effectively.

Did you know businesses conducting keyword research are 50% more likely to achieve higher search engine rankings? By uncovering keywords with high search volumes and low competition, you can identify lucrative opportunities and niches within your market, positioning yourself as an authoritative source and gaining a competitive advantage.

Types of Keywords (Short-tail vs. Long-tail)

Keywords come in various shapes and sizes, each with its unique characteristics and implications for your SEO strategy:

Short-tail keywords

These are typically brief, general search terms consisting of only a word or a couple of words. Due to their broad nature, short-tail keywords often face high competition, making it challenging to rank for them. However, they can drive substantial traffic due to their general appeal.

short-tail keyword

Long-tail keywords

In contrast, long-tail keywords are more specific and lengthier phrases, often consisting of three or more words. While they may have lower search volumes than short-tail keywords, they are highly targeted and specific.

Long-tail keywords tend to attract an audience with a more precise intent, making them ideal for niche markets. They also have a higher potential for conversion because they align closely with what users seek. Therefore, they are important in optimizing for relevance and catering to a specific audience.

long-tail keyword

How to Find Keywords

Now that we’ve laid the groundwork by understanding the fundamentals of keyword research, let’s delve into the practical steps of finding the right keywords for your SEO strategy.

1. Define Your SEO Objectives

Identify whether your goal is to increase organic traffic, boost conversions, or enhance brand visibility. Your SEO objectives should be tailored to your business’s unique needs.

Common SEO objectives include:

  • Increasing Organic Traffic
  • Boosting Conversions
  • Enhancing Brand Visibility

Defining specific goals will give you a clearer direction for your keyword strategy.

If your objective is to increase organic traffic, your keyword strategy might focus on targeting high-volume keywords with informational content to attract more visitors to your site.

2. Identify Your Target Audience

Understanding your audience’s demographics, preferences, and pain points is essential for selecting relevant keywords aligned with their needs and search intent. Conduct thorough research to create detailed buyer personas representing your target audience segments. Consider factors such as:

  • age
  • gender
  • location
  • interests
  • online behavior

For instance, if you’re targeting millennials interested in sustainable fashion, your strategy might include eco-friendly clothing, ethical fashion brands, and sustainable fashion tips.

3. Understand Your Niche

Thoroughly researching your niche is key to identifying competitors, strategies, and relevant keywords. Conduct competitive analysis to understand who your competitors are, what phrases they’re targeting, and how they’re positioning themselves in the market. Analyze their content, backlink profiles, and social media presence to uncover opportunities and gaps in the market.

For example, if you’re in the business of selling sneakers, you may find that your competitors are ranking for keywords such as “best running shoes,” “athletic footwear reviews,” and “buy sneakers online.”

competitors analysis

4. Generate Seed Keywords

Seed keywords are the basic, initial keywords that define your niche and are directly related to your products, services, or industry. These help you discover related terms and phrases that your target audience is searching for.

To generate effective seed keywords, focus on three key elements:

Brainstorming Relevant Topics

Start with brainstorming sessions to create a list of broad topics relevant to your business or industry. Think about the products, services, problems, and interests associated with your business.

For example, if you run a fitness blog, you might brainstorm topics like “strength training,” “weight loss,” “healthy eating,” and “cardio workouts.”

Using Industry-Specific Terminology

Incorporate industry-specific terminology into your keyword strategy. These specialized terms and phrases are commonly used by your audience in search queries.

For instance, in the finance industry, relevant terms might include “ROA” (Return on Assets), “HFT” (High-Frequency Trading), or “economic downturn.”

Analyzing Competitor Keywords

Conduct a competitive analysis to gain insights into the keyword landscape within your niche. Examine the keywords your competitors are targeting by exploring their website content, blog posts, and meta tags, and using keyword research tools.

For example, if you are analyzing Footlocker, you might discover that they are ranking for organic keywords such as “nike europe website,” and “athletic footwear deals.” Understanding these keywords can help you identify gaps and opportunities.

competitor keywords

How to Choose Keywords

You may have gained a lot of target words in your first search, but not all of them hold equal relevance or significance to your brand’s goals.

Here are ways how to refine and select the most impactful words to optimize your website’s performance:

Evaluate Keyword Relevance

When evaluating keyword relevance, consider how closely a keyword aligns with the content and focus of your website. Choose keywords that accurately reflect the products, services, or topics you offer.

Ask yourself:

  • Does this keyword accurately describe what my website is about?
  • Will users searching for this keyword find value in my content?
  • Does this keyword match the search intent of my target audience?

Selecting relevant keywords ensures that your content is targeted towards the right audience and improves the likelihood of ranking well in SERPs.

Assess Keyword Authority

This refers to the competitiveness and credibility of a keyword within your niche. Assessing keyword authority helps you understand the difficulty of ranking for a particular keyword and the level of competition you may face. Building upon insights gained from competitor analysis, consider factors such as search volume, competitor strength, backlink profiles, and domain authority when assessing keyword authority.

Consider CPC

Cost Per Click (CPC) is a metric used in paid advertising to determine the average cost paid by advertisers for each click on their ads. While CPC is primarily relevant for paid search campaigns, it can also provide valuable insights into the competitiveness and commercial intent of keywords for organic search.

Building upon insights gained from keyword relevance and authority, consider factors such as CPC values to identify keywords with strong commercial intent and potential for driving conversions.

How to Analyze Keywords

Navigating through the multitude of keyword options can be daunting. However, leveraging SEO metrics can streamline this process.

You can gain valuable insights for your content strategy by analyzing these key metrics:

Search Volume

Search volume is a fundamental metric in keyword research. It measures how frequently a particular keyword or keyphrase is entered into search engines within a specific time frame, often per month. High search volume keywords are commonly searched terms, while low search volume keywords are less popular.

Keywords volume

Traffic Potential

Assessing traffic potential involves estimating the amount of organic traffic you can expect to receive by ranking for a particular keyword. Factors such as keyword volume, search volume, and click-through rates contribute to determining traffic potential. By analyzing these metrics, you can prioritize keywords that offer the greatest opportunity for driving traffic to your website.

Keyword Difficulty

Keyword difficulty is a metric that assesses how challenging it is to rank well in search engine results for a specific keyword. The difficulty score is influenced by various factors, including competition, content quality, and backlinks.

1. Competition

Highly competitive keywords are often targeted by many websites, making it harder to rank for them. Less competitive keywords, on the other hand, present better opportunities for ranking.

2. Content Quality

The quality and relevance of your content play a significant role in determining keyword difficulty. If your content is more informative, engaging, and comprehensive than your competitors, it can help you rank better for a given keyword.

Keywords difficulty

Prioritizing Keywords

Once you have analyzed and selected a list of potential keywords, the next step is to prioritize them to ensure your SEO efforts are focused on the most valuable ones. Here are two key strategies to keep in mind:

Group Keywords by Themes

Organizing your keywords into thematic groups can help you create more focused and relevant content. By grouping similar keywords, you can address multiple related search queries with a single piece of content, improving your chances of ranking higher for those terms. This approach also helps in structuring your content in a more coherent and user-friendly manner.

1. Identify Core Themes

Start by identifying the main themes or topics that your keywords fall into. For example, if you run a fitness blog, your themes might include “workout routines,” “nutrition tips,” and “fitness equipment.”

2. Create Keyword Clusters

Within each theme, cluster related keywords together. For instance, under “workout routines,” you might have keywords like “strength training,” “cardio workouts,” and “home exercises.”

3. Develop Content Around Themes

Use these clusters to guide your content creation. This ensures that your articles, blog posts, or web pages comprehensively cover the topics and are optimized for multiple related keywords.


If you run a fitness blog, you might group your keywords under themes such as:

  • Weight Loss: “weight loss tips,” “how to lose weight fast,” “weight loss diet plans”
  • Strength Training: “strength training exercises,” “benefits of strength training,” “strength training for beginners”
  • Cardio Workouts: “cardio exercises,” “best cardio workouts,” “cardio workout plans”

Eliminating Irrelevant Keywords

Not all keywords from your initial research will be relevant to your goals. It’s essential to filter out those that don’t align with your business objectives or audience’s needs. Consider the following criteria when eliminating:

Relevance: Ensure the keyword is directly related to your products, services, or content.

Search Intent: Match the keyword with the intent of your target audience. Keywords that don’t align with what your audience is looking for should be removed.

Competition: Assess the competitiveness of the keyword. Highly competitive keywords might be harder to rank for, so weigh the effort versus the potential reward.

For a website selling sneakers, you might start with a broad list of keywords like:

“best sneakers for running”
“cheap sneakers online”
“sneaker cleaning tips”
“designer sneakers”

After evaluating these keywords, you might exclude the following:

“Sneaker cleaning tips”: While related to sneakers, this may attract users looking for cleaning advice rather than purchasing new sneakers.

“Designer sneakers”: If your store specializes in affordable sneakers, targeting “designer sneakers” may not align with your business focus or attract the right audience.

Keyword Research Tools

Keyword research tools are indispensable assets in your SEO toolkit, streamlining the intricate process of discovering and evaluating keywords. These tools are designed to unravel the ever-evolving tapestry of search queries, offering valuable insights that underpin your SEO strategy. Here’s why they are pivotal:

  • Streamlined Keyword Exploration:  These tools simplify unearthing new keyword opportunities by providing data on search volume, competition, and related keywords. This saves time and ensures you don’t miss valuable target words that can drive traffic to your site.
  • Data-Driven Decision Making:  You gain access to a wealth of information about keyword performance, which informs your choices and increases your chances of ranking effectively.

Popular Keyword Research Tools

From the many different keyword research tools available, a handful have become popular, each with its strengths. Some of the most well-known tools include:

  • Google Keyword Planner: This is a free tool provided by Google, designed for advertisers but highly valuable for keyword research. It offers insights into keyword search volumes and competition, making it an excellent starting point.
  • SEMrush: SEMrush is renowned for its extensive keyword research capabilities. It provides comprehensive data on keyword performance, competitive analysis, and the ability to track your rankings.
  • Ahrefs: Ahrefs specializes in backlink analysis but also offers robust keyword research features. It’s renowned for its keyword difficulty metric, helping you identify keywords with the right search volume and competition balance.
  • Moz: Moz’s suite of SEO tools includes a keyword explorer, which offers valuable data on keyword difficulty, search volume, and click-through rates, assisting you in making informed decisions.

Pros and Cons of Different Tools

While keyword research tools are indispensable, each comes with its unique advantages and limitations:

  • Google Keyword Planner: Accessible and free, making it great for beginners. However, it’s somewhat limited in its keyword suggestions.
  • SEMrush: Provides extensive data and competitive analysis but can be costly for smaller businesses.
  • Ahrefs: Excels in backlink analysis but offers slightly fewer keyword suggestions than some competitors.
  • Moz: Offers a well-rounded suite of SEO tools, but its keyword data is part of a broader package.

By considering the pros and cons of these tools, you can select the one that best aligns with your specific needs, budget, and level of expertise. Your choice of tool will significantly impact the effectiveness of your keyword research and, by extension, your SEO strategy.

Keyword Trends and Seasonality

In the ever-changing landscape of SEO, keyword trends and seasonality play a pivotal role. Keeping your finger on the pulse of trending keywords, understanding how to navigate seasonal shifts, and adapting to market changes are keys to SEO success. Let’s explore how staying current with keyword trends, addressing seasonal fluctuations, and remaining adaptable can elevate your SEO strategy.

Staying Updated with Keyword Trends

Remaining in tune with keyword trends is vital for a successful SEO strategy. Here’s why it’s important and how to stay updated:

  • Relevance: Trending keywords reflect current interests, concerns, and hot topics. Staying current ensures your content remains relevant to your target audience.
  • Fresh Content: Utilizing trending keywords allows you to create fresh, timely content that can attract a surge of traffic.
  • Tools and News Sources: To stay updated, use keyword research tools highlighting trending terms. Follow news outlets, industry blogs, and social media to spot emerging trends.

Dealing with Seasonal Keywords

Handling seasonal keywords requires specific strategies due to their fluctuations in search volume:

1. Content Scheduling: Plan your content calendar to align with seasonal peaks. For instance, if you’re in the retail sector, prepare holiday-themed content in advance.

2. Yearly Analysis: Review past data to understand the yearly cycles of your seasonal keywords. This allows you to optimize your content release timing.

3. Optimizing Existing Content: For keywords with predictable seasonality, revisit and update existing content, ensuring it’s fresh and relevant each season.

Adapting to Market Changes

Adaptability is key in the ever-evolving digital landscape. Here’s how to adjust your keyword strategy to market shifts:

1. Monitoring Trends: Regularly track keyword trends and market developments to detect shifts early. Keyword research tools and market analysis can be valuable.

2. Content Flexibility: Be ready to adjust your content strategy and keywords swiftly. Having versatile content that can be adapted to various trends is advantageous.

3. Customer Feedback: Listen to customer feedback and inquiries. They often reveal emerging trends and shifts in market demand.

Tracking and Measuring Success

SEO is a dynamic journey, and understanding how to implement tracking tools, monitor keyword rankings, and analyze organic traffic and conversions is the secret to continuous improvement. Let’s explore these essential aspects of SEO measurement and discover how they drive your path to success.

Implementing Tracking Tools

Utilizing tracking tools is instrumental in measuring the effectiveness of your SEO strategy.

Here’s how to implement them and why they matter:

Analytics Platforms: Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console provide in-depth insights into your website’s performance. They offer data on user behavior, site traffic, and keyword performance.

Rank Tracking Software: Use rank tracking tools like Moz, SEMrush, or Ahrefs to monitor keyword rankings, track changes over time, and gain competitive insights.

Content Management Systems (CMS): Many CMS platforms have built-in SEO plugins or modules that assist in tracking and optimizing content for SEO. For example, WordPress has SEO plugins like Yoast SEO.

Monitoring Keyword Rankings

Keyword rankings directly impact your SEO efforts. Here’s why monitoring them is crucial:

Visibility: High keyword rankings improve your website’s visibility in search results. Users are more likely to click on top-ranking pages.

Competitive Analysis: Tracking keyword rankings helps you benchmark your performance against competitors. You can identify opportunities to outrank them.

Content Optimization: By monitoring rankings, you can identify which keywords require more optimization, potentially leading to better results.

Example: If you’re a digital marketing agency, tracking the keyword “digital marketing strategies” is vital. A drop in ranking may indicate the need to revisit and enhance your content for that keyword.

Analyzing Organic Traffic and Conversions

Analyzing organic traffic and conversions is essential for evaluating your SEO strategy’s effectiveness:

Organic Traffic: This metric measures the number of visitors who arrive at your website via search engines. An increase in organic traffic is a sign that your SEO efforts are attracting more visitors.

Conversions: Analyzing conversions, such as sign-ups, purchases, or form submissions, helps determine the quality of your organic traffic. It indicates whether the right audience is engaging with your content.

Example: If you operate an e-commerce website, an increase in organic traffic from users searching for “affordable laptops” is valuable. However, if these visitors are not converting (making purchases), it might suggest that you need to improve your product pages or offers to enhance conversion rates.

Key Takeaways

  • To drive search traffic, align content with popular search topics.
  • Start by analyzing competitors’ successful keywords.
  • Utilize professional keyword research tools for vast keyword databases.
  • Consider Traffic Potential to predict potential traffic from ranking.
  • Keyword Difficulty is a starting point; consider search intent and relevance.
  • Leverage keyword research tools to prioritize keywords effectively.
  • Stay updated on keyword trends to capitalize on emerging opportunities.
  • Implement tracking tools to monitor keyword performance and make data-driven decisions.

Remember, keyword research is not just about finding words or phrases; it’s about understanding your audience’s needs and intentions. By prioritizing relevance and understanding the competitive landscape, you can uncover lucrative opportunities and position yourself as an authority in your niche. Keep exploring, analyzing, and optimizing your keywords to stay ahead in the ever-evolving digital landscape.