Keyword research is the process of highlighting priority terms, phrases, and queries to optimize your content. These conditions are the foundation for optimizing your metadata, on-page copy, and even internal links.
Keyword research is one of the building blocks of SEO. And, indeed, any successful digital marketing. By highlighting and optimizing how people know about your product or service, you are making sure that your content speaks the same language as your users.
As an added benefit, search engines are more likely to understand the contextual relevance of your page. This means that you are more likely to rank for the questions you want to rank for – meaning you get the quality of traffic you want.
There are three primary considerations for including a keyword in your target for the page:
Do the search results for the query match the intent of your page? Sometimes while doing keyword research, you will come across a query where Google shows results that you did not expect.
For example, you might think that a keyword you’ve searched for is a low-funnel, shopping intent. But when you search, Google only shows educational, high-funnel content on the first page. This means that you should exclude this keyword from your goal or change the intent and content on your page.
Another factor to keep in mind when doing keyword research is competition within search results.
Leave out the keyword you are considering targeting in Google, and take a look at the domain show. What are the chances that you will be able to rank here with a strong piece of content? Or is the quality of the domain so high that you’ll have trouble breaking up on page 1? If so, it might be worth taking a look at some long-tailed questions where the competition may not be that much.
You want some sort of priority for the questions you want to optimize. Typically, SEO practitioners will look at monthly search volume (MSV) for this. Tools like SEMRush and Google Keyword Planner provide their own estimate of how often a query is searched in a month.
When Should You Do Keyword Research
In an ideal world, keyword research should be one of the guiding, fundamental activities, whenever you create a new content. Sometimes, however, deadlines and workflows simply do not work that way.
In these cases, keyword research can be done once a piece of content goes live. In fact, in some ways it will make your work a little easier as your content has probably already established some keyword ranking so that you can start to get a sense of context and intend to look behind the Google page.
How do I do keyword research for SEO?
There are many tools and procedures for conducting keyword research. In fact, every SEO practitioner who is likely to talk to you has their own how to do it.
How you do keyword research is probably an emerging process and will probably vary depending on the project. Here are some tools (some free and some paid) to help you get started:
SEMRush Moz Keyword Planner Keyword tool Keyword surfer
Often however, the best place to start is the search result itself. Throw your targeted key words into Google and browse the results you see. Is the content you see as the most relevant result for Google?
If “yes”, have a look at the “Searches related to [your query]” section at the bottom of the results page. Chances are that there will be some more keywords worth targeting with your content.
If “no”, this is an opportunity to dig into how users are searching for your topic. If Google does not follow the intent of your keyword with the results you have made, then it takes a step back. The users you want to attract can search for your chosen topic using other keywords.