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SEO Basics: How To Do Keyword Research

  • Felix Rose-Collins
  • 8 min read

What is keyword research?

It is a search engine optimization practice that is used by professionals to do research and find search terms that are actually entered by people when they browse the numerous search engines on the web. SEO professionals concentrate on researching those keywords which help them achieve higher rankings in the search engines. Understanding of actual search keywords helps in the creation of content strategies.

Judging the Value of a Keyword

It is important to consider the true worth or value of a keyword to your individual website. For example, if you own an online retail store, you will have to keep an eye on the dominant sales arising out of people searching for specific keywords while doing shopping online with you. If it is a shoe shop, then you would have to keep an eye on whether the visitors are enquiring about 'black' shoes or 'brown' shoes, so that you could be proactive and manage your inventory accordingly.

Keywords that are typed by visitors into the search engines are generally available to webmasters and there are keyword research tools that help us to find niche information. A classic formula for understanding web marketing is through proper understanding of the value of a particular keyword. Google keeps us alert with its algorithm updates and the biggest lesson learnt from such updates is that keywords research optimization has remained consistent for inbound marketers who are seeking to get their websites optimized.

Steps for doing Research into Keywords for your Search Engine Optimization Strategy

Keyword research is a process that can be followed. It helps business managers come up with a list of relevant terms that their business has to target. Executing a powerful keyword strategy helps in working out a plan that is actionable for your website optimization. Here are six key steps that you can take towards strengthening the process of research into keywords for your search engine optimization strategy.

Step 1 – Listing out relevant and important topics based on your understanding of your individual business

You can look out for all topics that you would like to rank in connection with generic storage. When you arrive at a significant number of topic batches that may be relevant to your business operations, you can use these lots to locate specific keywords to begin your research process. These topics and keywords have to be items that you would come about frequently during sales conversations related with your business. Some general topic lots that you would come across may be 'blogging', 'SEO', 'marketing analytics', 'social media', 'lead generation' and 'email marketing'.

Step 2 – Fill the topic batches with relevant keywords

Once the broader topic lots are arrived at, you can focus on identifying keywords that fit into those lots. These will be keyword phrases that you feel are crucial for ranking in the results pages of search engines. Your targeted customers would most probably conduct searches for these specific keywords or phrases. For example, if you select `email marketing’ and if your business involves inbound marketing software, you will have to devise keyword phrases that you feel people would use while searching for what they need in relation with this particular subject. These keyword phrases may include items such as email marketing tools, how to use email marketing tools, what is email marketing, lead nurturing or automation of email marketing. These phrases would make up a useful dump in your final list of keywords that you feel your potential customers would be using to search for all content that is related to a particular topic lot.

Google is busy encrypting tons of keywords every day; there are smarter ways of coming up with important ideas of how you can figure out a set of keywords that your individual website is being sought out for. Software involved with website analytics would help you greatly. Google Analytics helps you do just that. It helps you explore the source of traffic to your website and also assists you in sifting through an organic search traffic lot so that you would be able to identify those keywords which people are actually using to visit your website.

When you repeat such exercises for several topic and traffic lots, you would also be able to verify with your sales and service teams about the kinds of terms their potential prospects or customers are using. There would always be a query with common questions. These are great places as starting points for doing keyword research.

This would be an important and a creative step when you are in the process of completing your keyword research. It is also a great way to finalize the topic lots. When you struggle to come up with a set of keywords that you feel people would be using to search about specific topics, you can go to Google.com and explore all the related search terms which appear when you write down a particular keyword in the search bar. When your keyword phrase is typed in, you may scroll to the bottom of the results shown by that Google page. You will observe few suggestions for all search items that are related to the input that you have made, originally. These related keywords would give you fresh ideas for a lot of other keywords for your consideration.

Step 4 – Arrive at a proper mix of long-tail keywords and head terms in each topic search lot

There is a difference between long-tail keywords and head terms. Long-tail keywords are long keyword phrases that involve three or more words in their search. Head terms are those types of keyword phrases that are shorter in length and they are more generic. They may be anywhere from one to three words in their length. It is crucial to know that you have a proper mix of long-tail terms and head terms as they will help you come out with a strategy for keywords that would be well balanced with both short term and long term objectives. This is mainly because head terms get searched generally more frequently. It makes them competitive and also hard to rank for than the long-tail phrases. This is the difference between a head term like `blogging’ and a long-tail term like 'how to go about writing a good blog post'. Both these keyword search phrases have their own merits and importance as it depends on the frame of mind of the visitor or browser.

There may be people who are searching for items that are specific and they may be more qualified searchers for your products and services than those who are searching for generic items. Long-tail keywords can be identified as terms that have a tendency to be more specific in their nature. It becomes easy to identify what people are actually looking for. For example, people who are searching for a head term such as `blogging’ may be searching for various lots of reasons that may or may not be related to your business operations.

You have to keep checking your list of keywords to ensure that you have a good balance of both long-tail keywords and head terms. You cannot rest by simply concentrating at the effective use of long-tail keywords; you have to keep trying those difficult types of head terms in the long run, too.

Step 5 – Assess how your competition gets ranked for your lot of keywords

It is not always necessary that you have to copy whatever your competitor is doing. It may also apply for your competition’s use of keywords. It is not necessary that just because a set of keywords is important for your competitor, it should also be important to your business. Yet, it is better to have a good understanding of the types of keywords your competitors are keen to rank for. It is a useful way that helps you to assess your particular list of the keywords and give it further thought. When your competitor gets ranked for specific keywords that may feature even on your list, it will certainly make sense to spend a little time and try to improve your own ranking for those very keywords. You should also not ignore the keywords that your competitors are not considering important for their business. This could give you a good opportunity to own the market share on some important terms. You can maintain a great balance by understanding the keywords’ balance that may get difficult due to your competition along with those keywords that appear more realistic. This balance of head terms and long-tail terms will make you end up with your own list of keywords that offer quick results in terms of visitors to your website. They will also help you progress faster towards bigger and far more challenging search engine optimization objectives.

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You can come across keywords that your competitors get ranked for by searching for them manually through incognito browsing. You will be able to see the positions that your competitors are in. There is a way to go about this. SEM rush enables you to run few free reports that will help you check out the top keywords for the particular domain that you have entered. This is a faster way of getting a better understanding of the kinds of terms that your competitors are getting ranked for.

Step 6 – Using the Google AdWords Keyword Planner effectively to minimize your keyword list

Once you arrive at the right balance of keywords, you can concentrate on narrowing down that list with quantitative data. There are several tools available. The most effective mix is that of Google AdWords Keyword Planner and Google Trends. You have to remember that you have to first set up an AdWords account to use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner. It was known previously as the Keyword Tool. It helps you in getting both traffic estimates and the search volume for all keywords that you are considering for getting ranked. This Planner could be effectively used in flagging terms on your list of keywords that have very little or very high search volume and also those terms that are not helping you maintain a healthy or balanced mix of keywords. You should not be hasty here and start deleting anything from your list. You have to check the trend history of the keywords in question. You will get these projections with the help of Google Trends. It helps you establish all those terms that are trending in an upward direction and they may require your focus.


Keyword research could not be treated lightly, it is one of the most valuable and important activities in search marketing fields that can bring high returns. When you rank for the proper mix of keywords, it can help make or break your individual website. When you research the keyword demand for your niche market, you will not only learn the phrases and terms that you can target with search engine optimization strategies but you can also learn much about your customers’ browsing and searching habits in the long run.

Keyword research is not only about strengthening your search engine optimization and getting visitors to your website; it is also about getting the right types of visitors. The efforts that you put in this kind of research will not go wasted; this intelligence is highly useful and cannot be overemphasized. You can predict shifts in the market demand with the right kind of keyword research. It will help your business adapt and respond to ever changing market conditions. Your will be able to give the customers exactly what they are looking for through your products and services. Research for keywords will finally give you a list that will help your business focus on the right topic lots for both short-term and long-term gains.

You cannot become complacent with the set of keywords that you have researched. You have to keep re-assessing the lot every now and then and an ideal benchmark is to review them quarterly. When you start gaining more authority in the search engine results pages, you will observe that you could keep on adding more keywords to your existing list to maintain and strengthen your current presence with the search engines.

Felix Rose-Collins

Felix Rose-Collins


is the Co-founder of Ranktracker, With over 10 years SEO Experience. He's in charge of all content on the SEO Guide & Blog, you will also find him managing the support chat on the Ranktracker App.

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