In our previous chapter, we explored search engines and how they work. Now, we shift our focus to the crucial role of keyword research in driving SEO outcomes.

Keywords are the foundation of effective SEO strategies. They act as a compass, guiding search engines and connecting users with relevant information, products, or services. However, selecting the right keywords is a common struggle for businesses, often leaving them lost amidst fierce online competition.

This comprehensive guide presents eight simple steps to master keyword research. Whether you’re a digital marketer, a small business owner, or an SEO enthusiast, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools to bring your SEO efforts to new heights.

What is a keyword?

Keywords are crucial in SEO. They are words or phrases that describe the main topic of the content. When people search for something, they enter keywords into search engines.

Search engines analyze web pages to determine if they are relevant and of good quality. They look at the content and the keywords used. This analysis affects how well a website or web page appears in search engine results.

As a website owner or content creator, you want the keywords on your page to match what people are searching for. This similarity enhances the likelihood of your audience finding your content on the search engine result page (SERP). By optimizing your website or content with relevant keywords, you improve its visibility in search results when users search for those terms.

Read more: SEO Fundamentals: Key Definitions & 4 Best Practices

Where should your keywords be located?

Strategically placing your keywords in different areas on your website or web page can help improve its visibility. Here are some key locations where you should include your keywords:

  • Page title: Put your main keyword or phrase in the title of your web page. This helps search engines understand what your page is about.
  • URL: Include your keywords in the web page’s address. This makes the URL more descriptive and helps search engines see the relevance of your content.
  • Heading tags: Use keywords in headings (like H1, H2) to highlight important sections. This helps organize your content and makes it easier to read.
  • Content body: Naturally, include your keywords throughout the text. But remember to keep it natural and readable. Avoid stuffing too many keywords into your content.
  • Meta description: Write a short and catchy description for your page that includes relevant keywords. Although it doesn’t directly affect rankings, it can influence click-through rates.
  • Image alt tags: Optimize image descriptions by adding relevant keywords. This helps search engines understand what the images are about and improves accessibility.

Different types of keywords

There are different types of keywords you can use for SEO. Here are some common ones, along with their examples:

Types of keywords used in keyword research, as well as their examples.
  • Short-tail keywords are short and general phrases with one to three words, like “shoes” or “digital marketing.” They have a high search volume but lots of competition.
  • Long-tail keywords are specific and longer phrases with three or more words, like “running shoes for women” or “digital marketing tips for small businesses.” They have a lower search volume but attract targeted traffic with less competition.
  • Exact match keywords are specific words or phrases that match the search query exactly. For example, if the keyword is “red high-heeled shoes,” your page appears when someone searches for that exact phrase.
  • Broad match keywords include variations, synonyms, or related terms to the main keyword. For example, if the keyword is “running shoes,” your page may appear for searches like “best running sneakers” or “athletic footwear.”
  • Phrase match keywords include the exact phrase within a longer keyword. For example, if the keyword is “affordable digital cameras,” your page may show up for searches like “buy affordable digital cameras” or “affordable digital cameras for beginners.”
  • LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are related keywords and phrases that give context to your main keyword. They help search engines understand your content better. For example, if the main keyword is “email marketing,” LSI keywords could include “email campaigns,” “newsletter subscribers,” or “email automation tools.”

Elements of keyword research

Now, let’s head to the keyword research process. When conducting your research, you must consider these three main elements:

1. Relevance

When you use search engines like Google, they focus on showing you the most relevant content. To understand what people are looking for, they consider search intent, which is the reason behind a search. There are four types of search intent:

  • Informational Intent: The user wants to find information or answer a specific question. For example, they might search for “How to bake a chocolate cake” or “What is the capital of France?”
  • Navigational Intent: The user looks for a particular website or web page. For example, they might search for “Facebook login page” or “YouTube homepage.”
  • Transactional Intent: Users planning to buy something or do a specific activity online. For example, they might search for “Buy iPhone X online” or “Book flight tickets to London.”
  • Commercial Intent: The user researches products or services before deciding. For example, they might search for “Best laptops under $1000” or “Top-rated hotels in New York City.”

Your content will only rank well for a keyword if it fulfills what searchers seek. Moreover, your content needs to be the best among other resources available. Otherwise, Google won’t prioritize it over more valuable content on the web.

2. Authority

Google values authoritative sources, so it’s crucial to establish yourself as one. To rank higher on Google, you must:

  1. Create valuable content: Make your website informative and helpful.
  2. Promote your content: Get social signals and backlinks by sharing and attracting attention.
  3. Stand out: Even if you’re competing with big players, quality content can still give you a chance to rank well.

3. Volume

Ranking on the first page for a keyword won’t help if nobody searches for it. It’s like having a store in a deserted town. MSV (monthly search volume) measures the number of times everyone searches for a keyword each month.

Read more: Search Engines: Inner Workings & 6 Ways to Rank Higher

8 steps for conducting keyword research for SEO

To conduct effective keyword research and improve your website’s visibility in search engine results, you need to follow a strategic approach. Following these eight steps, you can identify the keywords that match your goals and target audience. Let’s explore each step in detail:

1. Define your goals

To begin, grasp the purpose of your keyword research. Clearly define your objectives and identify your target audience. 

You can customize your keyword strategy by understanding what they are searching for. Set clear goals for your keyword targeting to guide your research process efficiently.

2. Brainstorm word ideas related to your topic

Create a list of seed keywords representing your main topic or business. These core terms capture the essence of your content or business. 

To expand on this list, consider the phrases and words your potential customers will likely use when searching. 

Additionally, it may benefit you to research related search terms and analyze your competitors’ use of keywords. By doing so, you can uncover new keyword opportunities.

3. Analyze for search volume

Now that you have a list of potential keywords grouped by topics you want to focus on, it’s time to evaluate their search volume. Search volume tells how many people search for a particular keyword monthly.

Look for keywords with high monthly searches, as they can increase your website’s traffic.

4. Consider keyword relevance

Besides search volume, it’s crucial to consider the relevance of keywords to your website and target audience. 

Choose keywords that match your goal, content, products, or services. Relevance helps attract the right audience more likely to engage with your website and become customers. 

Think about the purpose behind the keywords and how well they fit with what you offer. 

It’s worth noting that user intent can be inferred through the process of analyzing the top-ranking pages associated with those keywords

5. Evaluate keyword difficulty

Keyword difficulty measures how tough it is to compete for a specific keyword. Assessing keyword difficulty is crucial to see if you can realistically rank for those keywords. 

Higher-difficulty keywords are more competitive, making it challenging to reach the top ranks. Targeting a mix of high and low-difficulty keywords is a good idea. Low-difficulty keywords offer better chances for visibility and ranking. 

In contrast, as you gain authority and enhance your SEO efforts, you can target high-difficulty keywords.

6. Keyword selection

Select keywords that match your goals and target audience after analyzing search volume, relevance, and difficulty. 

Give priority to keywords that balance search volume and relevance to your content or business. Remember the competition for these keywords and ensure they align with your available resources and capabilities.

7. Keyword mapping

After selecting your keywords, it’s important to map them to your website’s right pages or content. 

Assign keywords to specific pages or articles that are closely related to them. Optimize important on-page elements like titles, headings, meta descriptions, and URLs by naturally including these keywords. 

This seamless integration improves the user experience and helps search engines find and rank your content better.

8. Monitor and adapt

Keyword research is a continuous process. Use analytics tools to monitor how your chosen keywords perform.

Monitor changes in search volume, competition, and keyword rankings. Analyze how your keywords drive traffic, engagement, and conversions. Based on the results, adjust your keyword strategy as needed. 

Stay flexible to adapt to new trends, user behavior, and search engine updates. It will help you improve your SEO efforts and reach your goals.

5 recommended keyword research tools

When it comes to keyword research, there are several highly recommended tools available online. Here are five popular options:

  • Ahrefs: A comprehensive SEO tool that gives detailed keyword information like search volume, difficulty, and related suggestions. It also offers competitor analysis and backlink research.
  • SEMrush: A popular tool for keyword research that provides in-depth analysis, including search volume, difficulty, and competitive data. It offers features like competitor analysis and backlink analysis.
  • Moz: A well-known SEO platform with a keyword research tool called Moz Keyword Explorer. It suggests keywords, provides search volume data, and shows difficulty scores. Moz also offers site audits and rank tracking.
  • Google Trends: A free tool by Google that shows the popularity of keywords over time. It helps identify rising or seasonal keywords and provides insights into search patterns.
  • Google Keyword Planner: A Google Ad tool that helps find relevant keywords. It provides data on search volume, competition, and suggested bid estimates. It can be useful for keyword research, even though it’s primarily for advertisers.

These tools have different features and capabilities to help you find valuable SEO or content strategy keywords. Look at each to see which suits your needs and budget the best.


Mastering keyword research is crucial for successful SEO outcomes. Keywords are a compass connecting users with relevant information, products, or services. However, selecting the right keywords can be challenging due to the intense online competition.

In the next chapter, we will explore on-site optimization or on-page SEO. This aspect of SEO focuses on optimizing individual web pages to improve search engine rankings and enhance user experience.

Impact Insight Team

Impact Insights Team is a group of professionals comprising individuals with expertise and experience in various aspects of business. Together, we are committed to providing in-depth insights and valuable understanding on a variety of business-related topics & industry trends to help companies achieve their goals.

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