How to do keyword research for SEO

Keyword research is key to understanding what your target audience is looking for your content, services and products in search engines. Read our guide to get started with keyword research for your SEO strategy and to help you get better results.

Keywords form the foundation of your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and content strategy. You can create as much content as you want but if it’s not optimised for your selected keywords, it may be useful for social media marketing for other channels, but it’s not going to help potential customers find you in the search engine results pages (SERPs). 

53% of website traffic comes from organic search. So, if you want to drive more customers to your website, you’re going to need to invest in keyword research and an SEO strategy. 

Keyword research will help you better understand your target audience and how they’re searching for your content, services or products. We have created this guide to help you get started with keyword research for your SEO strategy and to help get better results. 

What is keyword research? 

Keyword research is learning more about the keywords and phrases people use in search engines to find answers to their questions or to purchase products or services. This data is then used as part of an SEO strategy to drive traffic to a website. 

Keyword research can help you find the right keywords and phrases to target through your strategy, how often these queries are used, their ranking difficulty, and more. 

For more information on what SEO is and how it can help your business, why not read our blog? What is SEO and why do you need it for your business? 

Why is keyword research important? 

Conducting keyword research properly will provide valuable insights into the terms that customers are actually looking for in search engines such as Google. The insight you gain from this research will help to inform your content strategy and help to optimise your website for the correct terms. 

People use keywords when researching online to find solutions to their problems or answers to their questions. If you create high-quality, useful content that appears in the top results of the search engines, you will appear in front of your target audience and gain more traffic. 

You need to know what people are searching for to make sure you’re creating content about what people are searching for. Put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers and think about the problems they have and how your product or service can solve them. 

It can also help to answer questions such as:

  • How hard it will be for your website to rank for a particular keyword 
  • How much traffic you are likely to get if you rank for a keyword 
  • The type of content you need to create to rank for a particular keyword 
  • Are the people who are searching for a particular keyword likely to become customers? 

How to get started with keyword research 

It can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to keyword research for your business, so here’s a step-by-step guide. 

1. Make a list of important topics and keywords related to your business 

Start by thinking about the topics you want your business to rank for. For example, we sell Digital Marketing services, so our topics would include SEO, PPC, Paid Social and Display Marketing. 

It’s likely that you’ll end up with 5-10 topics that you think are relevant to your business. However, there will be more specific keywords within these topics, which will be the keywords you build your content strategy around. 

Keywords around your products and services will make create seed keywords that you can use in keyword research tools to discover other related phrases, common questions and topics for your content that you may miss otherwise. 

2. Use keyword research tools 

Keyword research tools, both free and paid, can help you to find target keywords related to the topics you have listed for your business. It can help you expand your keyword list and understand the words people use when searching for your products or services. 

All you need to do is type in a seed keyword, and the tool will pull keywords from its database based on the keyword. 

Use tools such as:

Using a keyword research tool should help you to narrow your keyword list down by showing which terms have search and monthly search volumes, which should indicate whether or not it is worth creating content around that term. 

3. Look for related search terms 

If you’re struggling to think of relevant keywords for your business, have a look at the related search terms that appear at the bottom of the page when you search for something in Google. 

You will find suggestions that are related to your original keyword, and this can show you more relevant terms being used that you might want to add to your keyword list. 

4. Conduct competitor research 

Just because your competitors are targeting a specific keyword, it doesn’t mean you need to. But, understanding which keywords your competitors are trying to rank for can help you add to your keyword list. 

If your competitor is ranking for the keywords on your list, it’s worth looking at how you can improve your content and rankings to compete with them. This doesn’t mean you should ignore the keywords they’re not targeting as this could be a good opportunity to rank for the keywords they haven’t thought of and are not getting any market share of. 

Remember that the brands you think are your competitors are valid but, to find out who you’re competing with in search, you need to type your top keywords into Google and look at the websites that are ranking on the first page - these are your competitors in search. 

Prioritising your keywords 

As you find relevant keywords for your website and strategy, you will also need to think about a few key factors to understand whether you should be writing content for those keywords. 

Search volume 

While researching keywords for your strategy and using keyword research tools, you’ll see that the monthly search volume for your keywords varies. Monthly search volume shows you the average number of times a keyword is searched for in a month. 

Both low and high volume search terms can be beneficial for your business so understanding the impact of search volumes can help you to choose the keywords that will be most effective for your strategy. However, you will also need to consider the keyword difficulty which relates to the competition surrounding that term which will help you to determine how hard or easy it will be for your website to rank for that keyword.

The higher the search volume of a keyword or phrase, the more likely it is to be a highly competitive term to rank for. Large brands often dominate the first page of results for high volume keywords, making them much more difficult to rank for. If your website is relatively new, it can be extremely difficult to rank for these keywords so your time may be better spent on lower volume keywords with lower competition. 

Long tail keywords 

High volume search terms only make up a fraction of searches performed within search engines. They may also have more ambiguous intent than long tail keywords with lower search volumes which means that you might drive traffic to your site but your content will not meet their needs. 

Long tail keywords with lower search volumes tend to convert better because they are more specific and are better at showing the intent of the search. For example, someone searching for ‘jeans’ is likely to be just browsing. On the other hand, someone searching for ‘best price womens size 12 jeans’ is probably ready to buy. 

Understand the intent behind keywords 

Historically, you would have been able to create a web page, stuff it with the right keywords and appear in the search engines. However, it’s now more important that your website is optimised for user intent and solves a searcher’s problem rather than simply contain the keyword that the searcher used. 

Before you decide on the keywords you want to target, think about the intent behind the keyword as this will be more important in terms of your ranking for the keyword. If you want to know more about what searchers are looking for when they use a specific keyword, type it into Google and have a look at the type of results that appear. 

This will give you a good indication of the type of page or information you will need to provide. For example, someone searching for ‘white running trainers’, is likely to be looking for a product page. On the other hand, someone searching for ‘how to change a tyre’ is likely looking for a step by step guide or a video. 

If you create a piece of content that fails to meet the original intent of the search, it’s not likely to solve a searcher’s problem and is less likely to appear highly in the search results.

There are many different types of search intent to consider but the main types include: 

  • Informational - someone who is searching for information such as the name of an actor in a film. 
  • Navigational - this searcher wants to navigate straight to a particular website such as Facebook. 
  • Transactional - this type of searcher wants to do something such as buy a cinema ticket. 
  • Commercial - this is someone who is looking to compare products and find the best one for their needs. 
  • Local - looking to find something locally, such as a coffee shop or restaurant. 

💡 Read our blog post for more information on search intent and what you should be looking out for: A guide to search intent for SEO

If you’d like to know more about SEO and how it can drive results for your business, request a free digital marketing audit from our team, and we’ll show you where you can make improvements and drive results for your business. 

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Blog written by

Dylan Bonsall
Digital Marketing Executive