How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner’s Guide

Let’s cut through the noise and get right to the beating heart of SEO: keyword research. It’s not just a task; it’s an expeditiona relentless quest for the phrases that unlock the treasure trove of search engine results. Those who understand the nuances of keyword research hold the keys to the kingdom of organic traffic. Others simply wander in the digital wilderness.

What You Will Learn about Keyword Research for SEO

  • The importance of keyword research for SEO.
  • Steps to conduct keyword research for SEO.
  • Beginner’s and advanced tips for conducting keyword research for SEO.

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the reconnaissance mission before the battle for rankings. It’s about understanding the language your potential visitors use when they’re seeking information, products, or services. It’s not just a technical process; it’s an exercise in empathy. You’re not just looking for words; you’re deciphering the intent, the needs, the very desires that drive people to type those words into the search bar.

Insider Tip: Think like your audience, not like a search engine. Humanizing the process makes for more effective keyword choices.

Why is Keyword Research Important?

Why obsess over keywords? Because they’re the linchpin of a successful SEO strategy. They inform content creation, drive engagement, and ultimately, dictate the visibility of a website in search results. The right keywords can elevate a brand from obscurity to industry authority.

Insider Tip: High search volume doesn’t always equate to relevance. Focus on keywords that align with your brand’s expertise and user intent.

How to Do Keyword Research

Step 1: Make a List of Important, Relevant Topics Based on What You Know About Your Business

Begin with what you knowyour business. Identify the pillars of your brand, the cornerstone topics that define your market presence. These topics will form the foundation of your keyword research.

Insider Tip: Leverage your unique selling points. What makes you stand out in your industry? Use that as a starting point.

Step 2: Fill in Those Topic Buckets With Keywords

With your topics in hand, it’s time to populate them with potential keywords. Think about the subtopics that fall under each primary category and the questions your audience might ask.

Insider Tip: Use brainstorming sessions with diverse team members to generate a wide array of keywords that cover multiple perspectives.

Step 3: Understand How Intent Affects Keyword Research and Analyze the SERPs

The three types of keyword intentinformational, navigational, and transactionalshape the way users search. Each type corresponds to a stage in the buyer’s journey.

Informational Keywords

These are the ‘how-to’s’, the ‘what is’, and the exploratory inquiries. Users are on a quest for knowledge, and your content needs to be their grail.

Navigational Keywords

When users type in navigational keywords, they have a destination in mind. They’re looking for a specific website or page. Your job is to be the lighthouse guiding them to shore.

Transactional Keywords

The bottom line of the buyer’s journeytransactional keywords indicate readiness to purchase. These are the ‘buy’, ‘deal’, ‘discount’ terms that signal high purchase intent.

Insider Tip: Dive into the search engine results pages (SERPs) for these keywords. The content that ranks is your roadmap to understanding intent.

Step 4: Research Related Search Terms

Don’t overlook the suggestions at the bottom of Google’s search results. They’re not just footnotes; they’re a window into the related interests and queries of your audience.

Insider Tip: Use these related terms to bolster your content with additional, relevant keywords.

Step 5: Use a Keyword Research Tool to Narrow Down Your List

The right tools can transform the keyword research process from a guessing game into a strategic operation.

Google Keyword Planner

A classic, but still a heavyweight in the ring. Google Keyword Planner provides insights straight from the search engine’s own data.


An all-in-one platform that offers competitive analysis along with keyword research capabilities.


With a massive database of keywords and a user-friendly interface, Ahrefs is a favorite among SEO professionals.

Moz Keyword Explorer

Moz offers a nuanced look at keyword suggestions, SERP analysis, and more.

Ad Group Ideas in WordStreams Free Keyword Tool

WordStream’s tool is a gem for organizing keywords and identifying opportunities within ad groups.

Insider Tip: Don’t rely on a single tool. Cross-reference your findings for a well-rounded understanding of keyword opportunities.

Step 6: Find Out Whos Ranking for Your Keywords

Identify your digital adversaries. Who currently occupies the coveted first page for your target keywords? Understanding the competition is key to formulating a strategy to outrank them.

Insider Tip: Don’t just analyze the competition, learn from them. What content types are they using? How is their user experience? Adapt and improve.

How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginners Guide

1. Understand the three types of keyword intent.

Grasping the nuances of keyword intent is crucial. It’s the difference between a shot in the dark and a sniper’s precision.

2. Use long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords are the low-hanging fruit of the SEO world. They may have lower search volumes, but their specificity leads to higher conversion rates.

3. Use more specific keywords.

Specificity is your ally. It narrows the playing field and connects you with users who are looking for exactly what you offer.

4. Use Googles related searches.

These are not just suggestions; they’re insights into the psyche of your audience. Incorporate them into your content strategy to cover a broader spectrum of queries.

5. Check out your competitors.

Understanding your competition’s keyword strategy can provide you with a blueprint for your own success.

How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: Advanced Tips and Strategies

1. Use keyword research tools to identify long-tail keywords.

Sophisticated tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush can unearth long-tail keywords that you might not have considered.

2. Use Googles People also ask feature.

This feature is a goldmine for uncovering the questions your audience is asking, providing you with direct content ideas.

3. Use Googles Searches related to section.

This is not just a feature; it’s a focus group providing feedback on associated queries.

4. Use Google Search Console to see what keywords you already rank for.

Google Search Console is the rearview mirror that helps you see the keywords you’re already performing well for, so you can double down on them.

How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: The FAQs

What are the best free keyword research tools?

Tools like Ubersuggest and Google Keyword Planner offer valuable insights without the price tag.

What are the best paid keyword research tools?

SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz are the titans of the paid keyword research tool arena.

What is keyword difficulty?

Keyword difficulty is a metric that estimates how hard it will be to rank for a particular keyword.

What is keyword volume?

Keyword volume measures the number of searches for a specific keyword over a given period.

What is keyword competitiveness?

Keyword competitiveness is the level of competition you’ll face when trying to rank for a particular keyword.

Ready to Put Your Keyword Research Skills to the Test?

Armed with these insights and strategies, you’re now equipped to embark on your keyword research journey. Remember, keyword research is both an art and a science. It requires intuition, creativity, and a willingness to delve deep into data.

The path to SEO mastery is paved with keywords, and each one is a stepping stone to greater visibility, engagement, and success. So venture forth into the digital realm with these tactics as your guide, and let the words you uncover chart your course to triumph.

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Xavier Berkness

Xavier Berkness is the President of PERC, a renowned Digital Marketing Company. With an impressive career spanning over two decades since 1996, Xavier has earned a reputation as a leader in the field of digital marketing. He has leveraged his deep understanding and expertise in building websites to author a highly-regarded book, 'Mastering On-Page Optimization - The Secret Sauce of an SEO System.' Xavier's impactful contributions to the industry have been recognized in a Star Tribune feature, where he was hailed as a 'Mover and Shaker.' Outside the professional realm, Xavier is a nature lover who cherishes time spent near the ocean. He continues to fuel his passion for digital marketing, relentlessly seeking new knowledge and strategies every day. His combination of professional prowess and personal charm make Xavier a trusted authority in the digital marketing industry.