A Straightforward Guide to Keyword Research

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is a popular phrase and a dominating practice in Search Engine Optimization. Identifying the right keyword is a process used to find popular ‘words’ and ‘phrases’ (Keywords) people enter into search engines to find relevant information. These keywords are then used to create and optimize content so that it ranks in the search engines. It helps you to identify search queries of your target audiences.

It becomes increasingly difficult to optimize and drive traffic to your website without knowing the keywords for which you need to rank. The target phrases for link building, content creation, and overall digital marketing strategy revolve around keyword research.

For example, if you are a photographer and you have created a website offering photography services, then you know everything in and out related to your profession. You are aware of what unique services or skills you have and what people are looking for in photography services. Then portrait photography, pre-wedding/post-wedding photography, baby photography, aerial photography, candid photography, etc. constitute primary keywords for your website. A little research around these keywords helps dig deeper into other keywords that can be used strategically to optimize your website.

Why keyword research?

Keyword research has immense potential to impact every SEO activity you will be performing to increase the reach and traffic of your website. A keyword is not limited to on-page optimization or content creation, but it also has an important stake in link building, email outreach, search engine ranking, and so on. Keywords are like a fuel of your SEO strategy, they decide where to reach and whether you are moving ahead or not. Keyword research is the epitome of market research.

Here are a few reasons to understand why keywords are important

To get quality traffic

  • Lower website traffic and increased bounce rate is a food example of lousy keyword research.
  • Optimizing the precise keywords used by audiences to search for a product or service helps in getting more traffic.
  • Quality content leads to quality traffic and quality traffic leads to more qualified leads.

To create high-quality content 

  • Researching keywords in the right manner helps you identify the market and questions asked by the customers.
  • When you are aware of important keywords, you get ideas to create content around them serving the intent of audiences.
  • Good content having a dynamic range of context to the queries related to the keyword will make your content rank in the search engine leading to increased traffic and repeat visitors.

To rank higher in search engines

  • A better keyword-optimized content that is superior to your competitors makes it easier to rank higher in search engines.
  • The best practice is to search keywords in a search engine and analyze the first five or ten results. Understand what they did, how they did, and then outsmart them by creating something unique and valuable.
  • Target ranking on the first page of search results because not many people search beyond the first page of search results.

To get qualified leads

  • Apart from quality content, clear-cut offerings help a great deal in attracting more visitors leading to more leads.
  • Content is not the only source of drawing traffic or getting leads, but you can use it for PPC, ads, and other content marketing strategies to reach the right people.
  • Using specific keywords in your marketing strategy and SEO campaigns targets the right set of audiences having greater chances of conversions.

Top five keyword research tools

The keyword research tools you use could directly impact the quality of data you will be gathering. A good keyword research tool offers actionable insights for specific keywords or a specific search query.

Additionally, it also helps in identifying potential keywords that otherwise would be neglected.

But the question is which tool to choose? To make an informed decision you need to have an in-depth understanding of popular keyword research tools. That is why we will be discussing the top five keyword research tools available in the market. Based on the information provided you can make a decision and proceed with the most effective keyword strategy.

Check out this article for the top 13 free keyword research tools.

1)    Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner, previously known as Google Keyword Tool is an insanely powerful tool. It suggests keyword ideas that you will seldom find with another tool.

  • Pros
    • Google keyword planner is a free keyword research tool. Use your Google account credentials to log in.
    • It is easy to navigate and can be used to identify base level insights about the popularity of certain keywords.
    • You can search for keywords based on a text phrase or a website domain.
    • Performance forecast for keywords can be seen based on your budget and average bid price.
    • Drill down to keywords based on location, language, and date.
  • Cons
    • The flow of information is controlled by Google, hence you won’t find promising keywords and phrases used by other search engines in paid ads.
    • The inability to show exact Monthly Search Volumes makes it difficult to understand the importance of a specific keyword.
    • It bypasses the competitor information leaving you guessing if the keywords you are planning to bank on are used by your competitors or not.
    • Even if the tool shows you the results for a certain keyword it fails to show the search intent behind a specific search query.

2)    SEMRush

SEMRush is an excellent keyword research tool if your business does not have any physical boundaries. The keyword ideas you get through this tool.

  • Pros
    • It offers thorough and comprehensive research results allowing you to pick the best and the most promising keywords as per your niche.
    • Gap analysis allows you to research your competitors to find the best keywords to target.
    • The Keyword Magic Tool provides broad keyword analysis, find semantically relevant long-tail keywords broken down into topic-specific subgroups.
  • Cons
    • It’s a paid tool. The free version lasts only for a week.
    • Complicated navigation makes it overwhelming to understand the full functionality of the tool.

3)    Ahrefs

Compared to the other similar tools in the market, Ahrefs has the easiest navigation. With this tool, you can understand the value of using search traffic potential instead of focusing on the search volume.

  • Pros
    • To present the keyword research data, Ahrefs analyzes more than ten global search engines.
    • Data visualization makes it easier to understand the large volumes of research data.
    • The KD Score tells how difficult it is to rank in the first ten results for a specific keyword.
  • Cons
    • Being a completely SEO oriented tool, it is a bit costlier than the other tools.
    • Since Ahrefs is an SEO suite tool, researching keywords is kept limited to the type of license you purchase.

4)    Spyfu

Spyfu is bundled as a well-designed SEO tool that has all the important features and metrics necessary for deeper keyword research to run paid ad campaigns. For small or midsize businesses it is the best tool to generate killer keyword ideas.

  • Pros
    • The neatly laid dashboard helps in searching keywords specific for SEO, PPC, Backlinks, etc.
    • With Spyfu you get to know the monetary worth of a keyword, which is not possible to obtain with any other tool.
    • You not only get the CPC of a keyword but you also get the historical data about that keyword like daily and monthly cost breakdown, and a list of advertisers who appeared for that keyword in the past year.
  • Cons
    • Sometimes it feels that the research data is based on assumptions as it fails to analyze the intent of keyword research.
    • You can see data for the PPC details of AdWords, but you fail to see the data for Facebook, Bing, or other paid ads.

5)    Moz Keyword Explorer

The automated process of keyword research providing a holistic approach, valuable data, and actionable insights makes Moz Keyword Explorer stand taller in the competition. Use it to analyze the competitiveness of a keyword and to understand the worth of low-hanging fruit.

  • Pros
    • The research metrics made available is simply unmatched, rarely you will find the keywords any other keyword research tool.
    • Easy to use interface makes navigation easier and research simpler.
    • Scoring a keyword out of 100 considering different parameters to find the precise keyword with high search volume and low competition doubles up your SEO efforts.
  • Cons
    • To gain full access to MOZs keyword explorer you need to pay, which is a costly endeavor.
    • Many users find that a wide range of search volume results presented by the MOZ is not 100% accurate.

How to do keyword research?

Keyword research has become an integral part of online marketing. It helps website owners in creating a good keyword list for SEO and paid ad campaigns. Additionally, it also gives a fair idea for content creation.

However, if you intend to learn how to do keyword research, that is exactly what we are going to learn here.

Get keyword ideas

To get into the nitty-gritty of keyword research, first, you need to come up with a list of your keywords that are related and relevant to your business.

For example, you are offering photography services.

You definitely will have a clear idea of what search terms people might be using to find photography services or photographers.

Some of the search phrases that instantly come to mind are

  • Photography services
  • Photography services near me
  • Wedding photographers
  • Portrait photographers
  • Fashion photographers
NOTE: These are not the keywords to target. These are just a few keyword ideas based on which you will research the final keywords.

Use Google Suggest

Google makes search experience better for both searchers and digital marketers by significantly enhancing the search process.

Google suggests is an algorithm-generated process wherein if you start typing a search query it shows certain predictions based on several objective factors including how often and how common a search query was for past searchers.

The process is completely automated without any human involvement. Often you will see certain search queries appearing in autocomplete even though they are not available in trending Google search trends.

Just go ahead and copy some of the autocomplete suggestions that you think are relevant to your business or SEO motive.

Use searches related to

This is again a new and cooler method to research keywords without much effort.

After typing a search query in the Google Search box, you get all the ranking results for that search query along with few paid adverts.

Go to the bottom section of the search results where you will find “Searches related to” your search query.

There you will find a set of eight keyword phrases that are closely related to your keyword.

These are the search queries used by people when they were using your search terms.

Again, these keywords are auto-generated by Google based on search trends.

As the data is coming directly from Google, never doubt its authenticity.

Click on the suggested keywords and you will get a new search result page having new searches related to that search query.

Note down some of the most relevant search queries for further research.

For example, your search query was “Wedding Photography Services”.
Keyword-research-Google-Related-SeachesUse Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is the most trusted, reliable, and free to use keyword research tool used by many.

The best thing about this tool is you log in using your Google credentials.

Keyword Research keyword Planner 3
Unlike other paid tools, the data you receive is directly from Google. However, the only worrisome part, it is designed to offer keyword data that is helpful for paid ad campaigns and not for SEO. Still, you can use it for keyword research.

For example: Enter the keyword “Photography Services” in GKP and you will get a list of relevant keywords.

Now you can pick the keywords getting higher average monthly search volume and that are relevant to your business.

Use paid keyword research tools

If you are not satisfied with the results generated by Google Keyword Planner, you have an option to use paid keyword research tools.


Searching for business-relevant keywords using SEMRush is simple and saves time.

You can directly dwell into keyword research by entering your primary keyword or you can use the URL of your competitor to find ranking keywords they are using and you are missing out.
Keyword Research SEMRush
You get to know keyword variations, questions asked around your keyword and a variety of related keywords used by people in the past.

Choose keywords accordingly to strategize your SEO and content marketing campaigns.

Bank on long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are very much effective for a brand-new website or when you want to use less competitive keywords.

Usually, a longtail keyword is divided into head, body, and long tail.

For example: ‘Photography services’ act as head, because it is more competitive. ‘Photography Services in Austin’ is Body as it has medium competition. ‘Creative Photography Services Near Me’ is a long tail and will have less competition

TIP: When it comes to keyword types, there is no best category. Each, Head, Body, and Long-tail keywords have their pros and cons. However, when it comes to competition, long-tail keywords win the race due to less competition and high conversion.

Five tips to choose the right keywords

After deep keyword research, you will get a long list of keywords, but picking the right keywords is a brainstorming task as there is no tool for that.

You need to analyze each keyword independently based on different factors and then pick the ones that are more suitable, relevant, and effective for your business.

Let’s see how to analyze keywords and on what factors.

Tip#1 – Search Volume

Understanding search volume is not rocket science — the more people search a keyword the more it converts into traffic. It is hard to define good search volume as search volumes differ at much extent between different niches.

For example: When you search for a long-tail keyword “Best Action Movies” related to the entertainment industry you get a search volume of 10K – 100K.

Similarly, if you search for a long-tail keyword “Best Protein Supplement” related to the Fitness & nutrition industry you get 1K – 10K average monthly searches.

This is why you have to focus and retrospect search volume according to the industry you are working in.

Tip#2 – Click-Through-Rate

When you want to find keywords then search volume is not everything. Nevertheless, a Google search result page is packed with everything from snippets to ads. Moreover, the number of ads displayed on search pages is increasing day-by-day.

Long story short, it is mandatory to analyze organic click-through-rate for all the keywords getting clicks from first page rankings.

Here is how to do it

  • Find the Search Engine Result Page for the keyword you plan to use.

If you find a whole lot of stuff related to that keyword from multiple keyword ads to featured snippets. You better understand that you will never get estimated clicks for that keyword even if you are ranking at number one in SERP.

  • Use a paid keyword research tool to find the organic CTR of the keyword.

Tools like MOZ, SEMRush, Ahrefs are proven to provide precise organic click-through-rate.

Tip#3 – Keyword Difficulty

It is good for a website in its infancy to target low competition keywords. It helps to boost the domain authority of your website.

Once the authority of your website is increased and started receiving steady traffic, move your attention towards high competition keywords.

Tip#4 – Cost-Per-Click

Cost-per-click or CPC is a major metric to find suitable keywords as you get to know if people, in reality, are spending money on that specific keyword.

Thus, even if a keyword has good search volume but negligible CPC then it is better not to opt for that keyword.

Keywords with high commercial intent play a major role in SEO and overall marketing campaigns. Therefore, sometimes targeting a keyword that has low search volume but high CPC makes sense.
For example, the keyword ‘Pre-wedding Photography’ has a search volume of only 140 but people are spending $5.03 each time a searcher clicks on an ad containing that keyword.

Tip#5 – Business Relevance

While finding keywords, it is necessary to find if that keyword is relevant to your business or not. Focus on keywords that will convert visitors into leads.

Although CPC helps you understand the worth of a keyword, you need to analyze if it is going to help you or you are just wasting time in optimizing your website for that keyword.

For example, the keyword ‘Photography classes’ have a search volume of 22200 and a CPC of $5.5 but you do not provide photography classes. Does it make sense to integrate that keyword on your website?


Keyword research has always been the first and most critical part of a Search Engine Optimization strategy. Before you start writing content or optimizing your website, it is mandatory to identify the high-value and converting keywords relevant to your business.

This blog is meant to help you understand the basics of keyword research and how to go about it. At first, you might find it difficult to and time-consuming to go through all the details, statistics, comparisons, and lists. But over time you will master the skill. So, let’s kick-start keyword research and find the keywords that will pay off handsomely in the future.

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