What Is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the first step in any SEO campaign. 

It’s the process of identifying and analysing terms that people enter into search engines to find specific information or answer specific queries. Keyword research tells you how your target audience is actually searching Google and can help inform your strategy to make sure your website shows up in these search results.

Getting keywords spot on is difficult, competition is tough, and what worked last year might not work today. According to the stats, 92% of keywords get ten monthly searches or fewer. Meanwhile, 0.16% of the most popular keywords are responsible for 60.67% of all searches. 

Luckily, there are some simple steps you can follow to make sure your keyword research process is thorough and effective. 

Here are six steps to get your started..

  1. Make a list of topics that are important to your business  

You’re not trying to come up with a final list of keywords; at this stage it’s more of a brain dump. To kick off this process, think about the topics you want to rank for in terms of generic themes and think of keywords and phrases related to those topics that people may use in an online search.

2. Review the keywords that are currently driving traffic to your website

There are many tools (often free) which will help you identify which terms are already ranking well, and which ones need more support. You should focus initially on keywords that are within striking distance of page one in search results as these are opportunities for quick wins.

3. Identify new keywords that align with your products or services

The same tools will be able to help you populate your generic topic themes with more specific keywords being used in searches, showing the popularity of these queries and more.

You should keep an eye out for low-hanging fruit – keywords with good search volume but little competition. Many SEO tools will use a difficulty score or percentage to estimate how much traffic a subcategory is worth and how hard it would be to rank your website for the keywords in that group. Groups with high Total Volume and low Average Difficulty should obviously be prioritised.

4. Look at your competitors’ keywords 

If you want your business to rank #1 on Google, you need to have a solid understanding of what your competitors are up to. Again, there are many tools on the market that allow you to explore what keywords are performing well for your competitors and identify the gaps that could be exploited.

It’s also worth looking at your competitor’s title and description tags, the sites that are linking back to them, and how their site navigation and pages are structured.

5. Get to grips with search intent

Stop worrying about how many people used a search query and start focusing on why they are searching (aka search intent). In terms of keyword research, intent behind a particular search is crucial, so you need to be really careful about how you interpret the keywords you’re targeting.  

For example, imagine someone Googles ‘house painting’. What do you think they’re looking for? 

  • A painter and decorator 
  • Tips on how to paint a room 
  • A painting of a house 
  • A painting to hang inside their house 

Unless you know what people mean when they type a search query, you could end up targeting the wrong keyword or serving up the wrong information. Figure out which search query your keyword falls into – informational, navigational or transactional – and drill down from there.  

It can also be useful to search for keywords yourself and see what kind of results come up. 

6. Use keywords wisely in your web content 

Once you have your list of keywords and phrases, you need to make sure you’re putting them in the right places. This requires careful and methodical content planning. 

Ideally, you want to target between two and three specific keywords for each web page. Make sure they appear in meta titles, descriptions, headings and subheadings, as well as within your content where appropriate, not just haphazardly. If possible, use them towards the front of the copy and ensure they are spread across the whole site (not just the homepage). 

Remember, you don’t just want your content to be searchable, it also needs to be well written, engaging and have genuine value to the reader.  

A list of ‘handy’ steps seems straightforward in theory, but not always in practice. If you’d like a helping hand, the team at Q are here to help. Q is a content marketing agency based in Bristol & Bath specialising in all things content. We’d love to hear from you