Keyword Research 101 – A Handy Guide

Keyword Research Guide

Do you want to grow your site and increase traffic? Keyword research is your starting point.

It’s the first step to creating relevant content for your audience – and climbing up the rankings. 

This guide will take you through the fundamentals and explain what you need to know. 

What is Keyword Research?

First things first – keyword research is the strategic process of finding the terms and phrases your audience are searching for.

The aim is to then use these terms to optimise content and start ranking for them. 

Keyword research influences a number of things, including:

  1. Content topics and titles 
  2. Link building 
  3. Search engine rankings
  4. Traffic
  5. Site growth
  6. Campaign building

What Does It Tell You?

In a nutshell: keyword research will tell you what people are searching for and how many people are searching for it. 

How to Choose a Keyword

There are a number of things to consider when choosing a keyword:

  1. Search volume
  2. Keyword difficulty
  3. Relevancy
  4. CPC (cost per click)

Don’t just pay attention to search volume alone. While this number is hugely important, you should also look at keyword difficulty. The lower this number is, the easier it will be to rank for it.

Knowing when a keyword is too difficult to rank for can be tough. Of course, the higher your domain authority, the more likely you are to rank for certain keywords. 

Step-By-Step Guide

Wondering where to start? Here’s a step-by-step:

Ask Questions

Like all things content, your audience should shape what you do and define your strategy. 

So, start by asking questions that help you better understand what your users are looking for. 

Identify these by:

  • Work out your values & priorities
  • Carry out competitor research
  • See what your site is already ranking for
  • Look at ‘Google Suggests’

Brainstorm Topics

Take general topics related to your brand and website.  Build upon these to then help you begin your keyword research. 

Again, looking at competitors can be a good starting point here. You could also search for a particular topic and see what ranks highly. Analyse what others have done – and how you can do it better.

Seed Terms

These are ‘base’ terms directly associated with your brand to help you find important keywords that will increase traffic.

The terms themselves will differ widely depending on your industry, website, goals etc. But, they are a useful starting place to enter into a research tool of your choice. 

Pick Your Tool

There are a number of different tools you can use to help you find your keywords, including:

Consolidate the Information

Collect all the data together: keyword, its search volume, its difficulty etc. This will help you effectively:

  • Build content strategies 
  • Plan website layouts
  • Optimise content 

Things to Watch Out For

Every website is different, so there aren’t many clear ‘do’s and don’ts’ when it comes to keyword research. But, there are some guidelines that can help steer you in the right direction. 

Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords tend to have lower difficulty, and make great head terms. These are longer phrases, e.g. 4 words or more. 

This isn’t to say they’re the ‘best’ type of keyword, but they’re a good one to keep an eye out for. 

Think Seasonally 

The amount of people searching for a particular term will fluctuate and change with the seasons. Bear this in mind when carrying out your research.

For example, if you work in the travel industry, people will want different things at different times. This is where a tool like Google Trends will be particularly helpful. 

Don’t Ignore Synonyms 

The days of black-hat keyword stuffing are long behind us. However, that doesn’t mean we should be ignoring synonyms. 

Including keyword variations can be a good optimisation tactic and help you rank for your target. 

Heleana Neil
Hey, I'm Heleana. For me, it all started with a copywriting internship at a digital marketing agency after finishing university. I'm here to share my tips on all things SEO and content.