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How to Perform Keyword Research

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How to Perform Keyword Research

Read time min read
How to Perform Keyword Research

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Keywords remain a crucial aspect of SEO strategy. Here you will learn about keyword research definition, the process, keyword research tips, and how it can guide you to make a data-backed decision on the right SEO topic. 

Keyword research is increasingly becoming a significant skill in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Digital marketers not only need to understand how they can develop a list of good keywords but also know how to use keyword research tools to analyze the topics to talk about or phrases to use when coming up with content. Research may be a time-consuming task requiring a lot of effort comparing several keywords. However, it remains extremely important to every digital marketer as it forms the foundation of every content development and SEO strategy. 

Did you know? That even in the age of paid advertising, organic search traffic is still one of the most lucrative digital marketing opportunities available. 

Keyword Research Definition and Significance

In SEO, keyword research refers to the process of analyzing and finding a list of relevant keywords that can be used for effective SEO copywriting. These search terms, what we refer to as keywords, form the guide for content creation and marketing strategy. Keywords can either exist in single word form or as a phrase of several words such as “best search tool.” 

When you Google keyword research, you will learn that it is a significant process for digital marketing. It is the only way that you can figure out what your audience is looking for in search engines. This information is very crucial as it guides you to avoid creating content on topics that are irrelevant to people. 

The process of researching keywords also helps you to answer a variety of SEO questions such as: 

  • How will this keyword be ranked?
  • How much traffic can the keyword generate? 
  • What type of content is necessary to rank this keyword?
  • Are individuals looking for this keyword likely to become part of my audience?

Answering the above questions will enable you to pick the perfect list of keywords for your content marketing. By research and listing keywords for their general intent, search volume, and popularity, you will be able to address the questions that most of your audience wants to hear about. 

How to Do Keyword Research

The process of researching keywords can be complex and engaging. But with the following outlined steps, you can uncover the important keywords to help you meet your SEO goals. Here is a great example of a keyword research tool provided by Moz:

How to Perform Keyword Research


Step 1: Understand Your Niche

Before determining the best keywords to apply on your page optimization, it is crucial to first learn about your topic of interest or niche. This process will help you think outside the box and generate new ideas as well as discover marketing angles that you might not have otherwise thought about. Ideas on how to study a niche include: 

  • Meet and talk with your clients to get to know them better. Get to know the terms that they use to describe your company, brand, services, and products. 
  • Put yourself in the shoes of your potential clients. If you were to market the brand to a friend, what words would you use?
  • Participate in your niche or topic’s online communities such as media networks and social forums. Go through the discussions and identify any highlighted pinpoints regarding your niche. 

Other ways to extract insights from customers or clients include chatting with them one-on-one, looking through their past emails, checking their support requests, and trying to retrieve common questions they posed in past conversations or interviews. Also, ensure that you pay close attention to the type of language used, as this might differ with what your audience uses. For example, when selling computers online, your customers may be searching for specific computer models, such as “Which is the best, Windows or MacBook pro?” 

Did you know? That keyword research should be a continuous process, as new processes and services are constantly evolving. 

Step 2: Create a Seed List of Keywords

A seed list refers to the initial list of keywords you will generate for your research. These keywords define the niche or topic you choose and will help you to identify competitors in your field. This list can also be plugged into keyword tools to generate other keyword ideas. 

If you have a business already, coming up with the seed keywords will not be difficult. Just think about the possible words that your potential customers will be looking for in Google to locate your products or services. For instance, if you are selling computers, then the common seed keywords would be: 

  • PC
  • Laptop
  • Computer
  • Motherboard 

In case you are finding it difficult to come up with seed keywords, use Google Search Console to narrow down your search. The site will show up to 1,000 keywords that you are trying to rank. Alternatively, you may use Ahrefs Site Explorer to derive keywords. All you will have to do is plug in your site or content to generate the Organic Keywords report. For example:

You will be interested

How to Perform Keyword Research


Generating seed keywords should not be too stressful. It should only take a few minutes, and with a handful of ideas, you should be able to move to the next stage quickly.

Step 3: Use Keyword Research Tools to Expand the List

Once you have identified the seed keywords for your content, it is time to expand the list using keyword research tools. Pop open your preferred research tool and enter the keywords. You may be able to start with the Google Keyword Research Tool, which is commonly used in the US to generate traffic. Other options include Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Moz. These give more details and help in narrowing down the search terms in the right direction. 

Google’s Keyword Planner is a great way to keep track of your selected keywords:

How to Perform Keyword Research


In order to search the keyword (seed keyword), consider the following tips: 

Group Words by Niche

As you key in the search term, you can add more than one keyword at a time. However, the words should be topically grouped. For instance, if promoting ketchup and mustard, you can key in both “mustard” and Dijon mustard” as keywords, but put ketchup separately because it is a different item altogether.

Select the Exact Match Types

By using Exact Match, you will get the number of searches for the inserted terms or keywords only. This is a more conservative approach in estimating the search traffic of a keyword. 

Select Language and Location as Advanced Filters

In case you are targeting Spanish speakers in a particular location, use advanced filters to narrow down your search. The numbers will reflect the keyword search from those audiences.

Create Columns

When using Google, you can select local monthly and competition searches. These columns offer useful data, including CPC approximates. 

Use the keyword research tools to flag terms in your list with little or no search volume. However, before eliminating anything from the list, check the trend history as well as the projection from Google Trends. This will help you determine whether the low-volume terms might present you with an opportunity for investment. Furthermore, Google Trends can help in determining the keywords that are trending upward, and as a result, will help you focus on them. 

Did you know? Keeping an eye on your competitors is one of the most important aspects of a successful marketing campaign.

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Step 4: Understand the Role of Intent

One of the key factors that influence SEO ranking is user intent. Your content should always address the problems that your audience aims to solve, rather than simply highlighting the keywords. Most people, marketers, and audiences alike, take keywords for face value, yet these words may have different meanings when analyzed. As such, the intent remains crucial in the rankings, and you must be careful when interpreting the keywords. 

When searching the keyword “How to begin an SEO,” for instance, the term “SEO” would seem ambiguous. SEO can mean a website or an article content, and what the intent of the audience is would influence the direction of the content. Does your audience want to learn how to create SEO content? Or do they want to learn how to launch an SEO website with an individual domain? Depending on your content strategy, you must ensure that your intent is clear before committing to it. 

There are different factors that influence a person’s search intent or habit, including: 

  • Why are they searching the keyword? 
  • Are they searching to get an answer or have a question?
  • Are the searches targeting a particular website? 
  • Are the searches directed towards the purchase of a product or service? 

Once you establish the perfect search intent behind your audience or customers, you will be able to improve your keyword research tips. Getting a high volume of related keywords towards your niche or brand is a great SEO tool.

How to Perform Keyword Research


Step 5: Refine the List with Competitive Research

Now that you have an expanded list of keywords, it is important to refine it to remain only with the best keywords. There are no specific rules on this, but you should only always target the most relevant keywords. 

  1. Keyword category

It is important to only consider the search terms that are closest to the search target. Let the categories help you understand the purpose of your search. For example, when promoting B2B financial products, the term “financial management” would be a product keyword while “financial management jobs” is targeting the audience, making it a less interesting keyword. 

  1. Your competition

Keyword search tools help you rate your keywords from Low to High. With the numbers ranging from 0 to 1, the higher values reflect higher competition and vice versa. Such tools help in identifying words that are most relevant. Don’t ever be discouraged about hunting for more competitive words, although chances of winning might be harder. 

If your competitors are ranking for a particular keyword on your list, it is important that you work towards improving your ranking for the word. However, never assume the keywords are not used by your competitors, as such words may present an opportunity for you to gain a competitive edge.

How does one figure out the keywords that competitors rank for? This is a very crucial question in generating the right keywords particularly when performing keyword research for youtube. Apart from searching for the words manually using a browser and seeing the competitor positions, you can use Ahrefs to identify the top keywords for your searched domains. This way, you will get a list of the terms your competitors are ranking for. 

How to Perform Keyword Research

(Moz competitor analysis)

  1. Landscape of Search

Test some of the keywords by keying them into Google or other common search engines to see the content brought out. If campaigning for The Body Shop, for instance, until you do a search you might not be informed that “body shop” is also used to refer to cards. When having ambiguous or marginal terms, it is advisable to drop them off the list. You may also be able to identify negative words that are off-topic to your content. 

  1. Semantic Grouping

While reviewing the list of keywords, create a semantic column that groups the words. For instance, words such as “free website tool,” “free website creation,” and “free website” should all fall under the column of “free website.” These groups are important in developing PPC ad groups and can help in selecting only those with the highest search count. 

Categorizing keywords will help you capture the intent and interest of the audience, which in turn, helps in refining and analyzing the list.

Choosing the Right Keywords for your Website

Before choosing the keywords for your content, here are three things to consider.

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Google and other search engines rank content for its relevance. Your content can only be ranked for keywords that meet the needs of customers or audiences. Additionally, the content must directly address the query for most searchers. After all, Google only considers content that offers the highest value on the web. 


Content that proves to be authoritative also gets Google recognition. This means that your content should be as authoritative as possible. This can be achieved through enriching the content with informative, helpful data and promoting it to gain social backlinks and signals. If you are not as authoritative as you should be in the niche, your chances of ranking will be very low. 

How to Perform Keyword Research

(Moz domain authority)


Your keyword may rank on the first page of Google, but if no one searches for it, then you will not get enough traffic to your content. The search volume is usually measured by monthly search volume (MSV), which refers to the amount of times a keyword is searched by audiences per month. 

Best SEO keywords

While developing keywords is a crucial content marketing process, keep in mind that there is nothing like “best” keywords. The only difference is that some keywords are more searched than others by the intended audience. It is, therefore, your role to craft a research strategy that will help you gain high rankings and drive traffic. 

For specific content such as when conducting keyword research for youtube, the best keywords for your SEO strategy would consider authority, relevance, and volume. Finding highly searched words to compete with will be based on your ability to generate content of high quality, and the level of competition you are facing. 

In summary, this is a critical step in the SEO process. It ensures that you have the right strategy to attract traffic since your keywords would have a major impact on your audience. A research strategy also helps your audience throughout the purchasing process as well as in addressing their questions and needs. You need to identify your niche, use research tools to collect data, and consider factors such as competitors and search volume to be able to identify the right keywords. By understanding how to do keyword research, you will be able to reach your content marketing goals. 

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specific keywords targeting a specific query

keyword analysis is analyzing various popular searches in your niche, and targeting that keyword in your blog posts.

Perform a comprehensive search analysis
Utilize keyword research tools
Continually perform keyword research as part of your digital marketing strategy.

Keyword research is at the pinnacle of any digital marketing strategy, and should be the first step in whether you are targeting organic traffic or paid ad campaigns.


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Daniel Urmann

Author Bio:

Daniel Urmann is the co-founder of Diib.com. Over the past 17 years Daniel has helped thousands of business grow online through SEO, social media, and paid advertising. Today, Diib helps over 150,000 business globally grow online with their SaaS offerings. Daniel’s interest include SMB analytics, big data, predictive analytics, enterprise and SMB search engine optimization (SEO), CRO optimization, social media advertising, A/B testing, programatic and geo-targeting, PPC, and e-commerce. He holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) focused in Finance and E-commerce from Cornell University – S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management.

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