How to Perform Keyword Research

Keyword planning and strategy go a long way.

Your keyword research is one of the most important aspects of your digital marketing campaign, which is why you need to know exactly what you’re doing before you start making any big moves. Your keyword research refers to the different keywords and phrases that are used throughout your content and website to describe what your business does, who it serves, and how it can help people. If you want to see results from your efforts, use this guide on how to create a solid keyword strategy so that you can improve your rankings in search engines like Google and Bing.

What are keywords?

Keywords are the words and phrases that potential customers use to search for your products or services. To be successful with SEO, you need to carefully select which keywords you want to target. There are a few different ways to go about this process, but the most important thing is to make sure you do your research. A good place to start is by doing a competitor analysis and content gap analysis. This will help you identify which keywords your competitors are targeting and which ones you should be targeting as well.

Understanding keywords in SEO

In order to create content that ranks on search engines, you first need to understand the keywords that your audience is searching for. This process starts with competitor analysis and content gap analysis to identify potential keywords, and then conducting keyword research to validate and prioritize those keywords. Keyword planning is an ongoing process that should be revisited as your business and website evolve. But by taking the time to understand your audience’s needs, you can create a solid keyword strategy that will help you achieve SEO success.

How do you find keywords?

Finding the right keywords for your website is essential to success in search engine optimisation (SEO). You’re going to want to think about what keywords users  use to find your product or service, but also about what information is important to them and relates to your offering. Once you have a rough list of keyword that users will use to find content related to your product offering and the products themselves you will want to use a keyword research tool to get an idea of how many people are looking for the keyword you have chosen and also how well they relate to your business. For example, someone might search for “car” and they could want to buy a car, or look at a picture of a car or want to know something about a specific car. Having users find you for “car” isn’t going to help you sell cars, or sell gap insurance, depending what your product is so try and chose keywords that definitely relate to users who want to find a product or information that you provide. 

Keyword Research Tools

A free resource is Google Trends, though it’s not terribly specific it will let you know whether there is demand for the query and what category demand stems from. 

Most keyword research tools involve a subscription but mist will also include a free to use version that lets you search for a small number of keywords per day. Examples of these tools include Ahrefs, SEMrush and SE Ranking to name a few. These keyword research tools are part of a bigger suite of tools and if you’re going for paid versions, tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush will be quite expensive as they include their own keyword database, whereas SE Rnking uses Google’s database and is a lot cheaper. TA potential issue with using Google’s database is that it won’t include keywords relating to product and services prohibited from Google Ads, generally speaking, these are adult products. 

Zero Search Keywords

As each of these tools build their own database or use the Google Ads database, it can’t be expected that it has accurate data for every single keyword, what’s more, something that’s trending will like have zero monthly searches recorded by these tools because they do not reflect real time. Keyword research isn’t just about using the keywords with the highest possible search volume, I have run many niche projects in which zero search keywords have generated a lot of target traffic. When thinking about whether you should use a keyword, always prioritise user intent over search volume. 

Applying keywords to your blog posts

When you’ve done your research and collected the keywords you believe are relevant to your target audience and the content that you have written; it’s important to remember to keep your content natural. Being an expert in your field and being able to share first hand experience and knowledge is always going to prove more valuable to your users; resulting in higher engagement, return users, conversion rates and ultimately higher ranks in Google.

Choosing the right keyword density in your blog posts

Keyword density is the number of times a keyword or phrase appears on a page, divided by the total number of words. But beware: if you stuff your content with too many keywords, you’ll trigger a spam filter and your site will be penalised.

Try to over compensate for your keyword usage, does the phrase need to be included or is their a semantic keyword that could be used instead?

Including different keywords in different areas of your blog posts

One of the most important things you can do when creating content for your blog is to make sure you are including a variety of keywords. This means using different keywords in different areas of your blog posts. For example, in the title, in the meta data, body and page headings.

You will want to include your main keyword in the page heading (H1), title and meta-description as well as throughout the body of your copy as naturally as possible. You’ll also have related, or semantic, keywords that will also appear in the body of content and may be appropriate in sub-headings in the form of H2s or H3s, what are formatted headings you will find in your CMS.

You want to explain your topic throughly, investigating nuances and planning on where you will add additional blogs or pages at a later date, if it means steering away from the core subject too much. I found that doing this has allowed me to keep adding more information about my niche as I go on and build a strong site structure.


Sally, SEO consultant and Manager

About the author

Sally is a full-time SEO who started her journey into search engine optimisation in 2012, working within broader marketing roles until she specialised in 2018. During her career, Sally has gained practical experience in:

  • eCommerce SEO
  • Copy writing and content strategy
  • Local SEO
  • International SEO
  • Enterprise SEO

In addition, Sally has had the opportunity to apply her knowledge and experience to a range of sectors, from high street retail stores to law firms, FinTech, SaaS and more. Having worked both in-house and leading a team agency side before branching out on her own. 

Today Sally is as passionate about her work and the world of SEO as when she first started and continues to invest in the SEO community through projects such as:

View the author's bio.