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How to Perform Keyword Research for SEO (with FREE Tools)

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How to Perform Keyword Research (with FREE tools) - Video Walkthrough

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is an important element of SEO for any business or e-commerce site looking to improve their search engine optimization.

The benefits of implementing keyword research include increasing your search engine rankings, and allowing you to ultimately reach more potential customers.

You should understand the importance of the keyword research process, and make an effort to include the best keywords in your content. Your business won’t see positive SEO results until you are implementing the most relevant search terms.

An effective strategy to generate more keyword ideas is to start with brainstorming your keyword research. This will allow you to discover new keyword ideas that are most likely to convert.

Before you can research the keywords that you should implement within your website content, you should understand the type of keywords that will provide the most benefits to your business.

Given the saturation of the online market these days, most standard keywords have much higher keyword difficulty scores, and tend to be implemented by many websites across the internet.

For example, an online clothing store may implement the seed keyword ‘fashion’. As you can imagine, this particular search term is used by a multitude of other websites, and may prove very difficult to rank for.

Online businesses are facing increased competition when attempting to use standard keywords to attract a target audience.

To increase your chances of ranking highly within SERPs, businesses must ensure their content is a very high standard and preferably written by a skilled SEO specialist.

This can give you the best chance of outranking your competition. The technical SEO aspects of your website’s backend, and the layout of any written blog post, should also be optimized to fit Google’s standards. 

Use Keyword Research To Outrank The Competition

So, how do you gain the edge over the competition within your niche or industry if you lack those technical SEO skills? How do you keep up with keyword trends without the funds to hire a digital marketing specialist?

We’ll give you some great tips on tools you can implement within your website that will help you analyze keywords and read your keyword metrics, without the need to spend thousands on hiring an SEO professional.

Why Is Keyword Research Important?

Keyword research provides valuable insight into the queries that your target audience is actually searching for on Google.

The keyword research process can show you the questions that your customers want answers to, and give you the tools to answer those questions for them. It allows you to determine the best possible target keyword that you should be implementing.

This insight can also help you to inform your digital content strategy, as well as your larger marketing plan.

More and more, we are hearing how much SEO has evolved over the last decade, and how seemingly unimportant keywords themselves have become to our ability to rank well for the searches our customers are performing.

However, there is another aspect to SEO and keyword research that is growing in importance, and we should attempt to implement it to best meet our customer’s needs.

Using keywords that exactly match a person’s search query is no longer the most important ranking factor in the eyes of SEO professionals.

Rather, it’s the intent behind the keyword search that matters.

Keyword research tells you what topics people care about and, assuming you use the right keyword tools, see how popular those topics actually are among your customers.

We’ll discuss the importance of search intent when it comes to keyword research, and how you can best utilize the algorithm of search engines to help you rank for the intent behind your keyword phrase.

How To Carry Out Keyword Research

List Your Important Business Topics

To kick off the keyword research process, you first need to determine the topics your website should rank for.

Aim to determine these topics, and split them into smaller groups that you can discover seed keywords for. Seed keywords are short search terms that will give you a great jumping-off point for discovering more long-form search phrases that may increase your position within SERPs.

Aim to come up with between 5 and 10 topic groups that you think best represent your business, and then you can use those topic groups to help come up with specific keywords later in the process.

Where do you start when it comes to determining these topic groups?

It may help to think of your website through the eyes of your customer.

What problem are they trying to solve? How does your business address this problem? And through what means? What are the most popular blog post topics your website has published?

Your topic groups could consist of keywords stemming from these questions, accompanied by their monthly search volumes. This gives you a better idea of the keywords that you should be focusing on.

Your list of topics and search volumes could look something like this:

  • “digital marketing” (11K)
  • “social media marketing” (10K)
  • “CRO ” (21K)
  • “SEO” (200K)
  • “social media management” (71K)
  • “marketing analytics” (20K)

From here, it may be helpful to determine a list of further topics that address the queries your customers are searching for, to ensure you create content that will appear in Google’s SERP.

A good way to find keyword ideas can be to carry out a ‘keyword brainstorm’. This can help you to determine other keywords for searches related to your original topics.

Read on to find out how to get the ball rolling on a keyword brainstorm!

Keyword Brainstorm

The best way to start a keyword brainstorming session is to discuss your product or service with people who understand its purpose.

Why did you create it in the first place? What about your product sets it apart from your competitors? When you create content for your website, what is the main message you’d like to spread to your customers?

It’s important to understand that most internet users begin a search by typing the name of the product or service they want to buy. Most online businesses understand this, and are all vying to rank for their chosen keyword.

Thankfully, you are an expert in your product. This should simplify the process of keyword research, and make it easy to come up with a list of similar keywords.

Keyword Brainstorming Goals

The goal of brainstorming is to come up with as many keywords as possible that your potential customers might use within Google or other search engines. These keywords don’t have to be perfect, the goal is simply to generate as many keyword ideas as possible.

To generate as many potential keywords as you can, you should consider all aspects of your business.

While your product should be a big focus, don’t forget to include topics like your location, and related products or services.

For example, if you’re a dog groomer from Dublin, your list of keywords might include:

  • dog grooming
  • pet care
  • veterinarian
  • family pet
  • dog groomer
  • pet groomer

You can include your location in conjunction with many of these terms, and potentially the surrounding towns, to ensure you maximize your chances of being discovered by potential customers.

Web-users who search for specific features like the above are typically the most likely to make a purchase, and those are the kind of users you want to discover your website. The potential of conversion is much higher with a user like this.

Know Your Niche

Another effective tip that can help when performing keyword research, is to generate niche keyword ideas.

Niche keywords will help to drive qualified traffic and more highly converting leads to your business.

How do you find and implement niche keywords?

Niche keywords are considerably specific keywords that focus on a particular area of your industry.

A niche keyword is also typically a long-tail keyword, which contains three or more words. These can also be referred to as keyword phrases.

Niche keywords tend to have lower search volumes because they are more specific, but the traffic that they draw to your website is of a higher quality.

Niching Down: How Can It Help Your Keyword Research?

Another element of keyword research that can help in your keyword brainstorming process is to ‘niche down’.

Niching down can be described as modifying the keyword ideas you have generated by adding more specific descriptors.

To niche down, start by generating a list of keyword ideas based on the products and features you have to offer, whether it’s “at home pet grooming,” “dog grooming service,” or “dog nail trimming.”

Adding more specific descriptors allows you to phrase match what your customers are searching for, and appear in front of the people most likely to buy your product. Niching down gives you a higher chance of appearing on the first page of Google’s search results.

The searches performed for these more specific search terms will be smaller in terms of search volumes, but much more likely to convert.

Consider different types of specific descriptors to niche down:

  • Location (city, town, county)
  • Age (what age is your target customer?)
  • Gender
  • Price point

What is an example of a niche keyword?

For example, let’s say you own an organic skincare product business.

Some great niche keywords for this type of business would be “organic skincare products for women” or “skincare products for oily skin.”

These keywords are considered highly specific keywords and appeal more to a smaller volume of people, within the larger consumer group interested in skincare products.

These keywords apply to people who are looking for a specific type of product, and are more likely to purchase from your website when using these search terms. These search terms are unlikely to attract web users searching for a more generic query, who are less likely to convert.

Where do I use niche keywords?

Niche keywords also play a critical role in your SEO campaigns as well as your keyword research.

With SEO, niche keywords help you to rank in relevant searches without the need to invest in pricey ad campaigns. By putting time and effort into research keywords, you will likely see a much higher return on your investment by ensuring they relate to your niche.

Your link-building efforts may also be rewarded by using niche keywords, as other websites within your niche will more easily discover your content and are more likely to share backlinks to your website.

Why are niche keywords important to my business?

You may also be wondering why niche keywords are relevant to your business. What makes niche keywords more important than broader search terms that generate a large amount of search volume?

You should consider niche keywords as generating the most relevant leads for your business.

A user who searches for “skincare products” doesn’t give much away regarding the intent behind their search. Do they want to find a skincare product recommendation? Are they looking for more information about skincare products? Or do they want to buy a skincare product?

With a generic, short-tail keyword like the above, it can be a challenge trying to determine a user’s search intent.

Niche keywords, however, have a clear intention behind their search.

When a potential customer searches for “organic skincare products for women”, you know the searcher is likely a woman looking for organic skincare products for herself.

By implementing those same keywords within your keyword strategy, you are creating a higher chance of reaching your target audience.

Additionally, niche keywords are easier to rank for in search results. They have less competition and more relevant leads than short-tail keywords.

Define your niche

Before you start your niche keyword research, it is important to identify exactly where your business sits within your niche market.

You will not be able to establish a well-performing set of relevant niche keywords if you don’t know what your niche is!

Use the following steps to discover the correct niche that your business is a part of:

  • Establish your segment of the market: What market segment do your products fall within? To stay within our example of a skincare company, you could say they fall within the beauty or wellness industry.
  • Analyze your product: Your product is the essential element of your brand that determines your niche, and the relevant keywords you use. When you know what your product or service offers, this helps to determine the niche you fall within. An organic skincare company, for example, will work in the organic sector of the skincare industry.
  • Identify the problem your product solves: Whether you offer products or services, you solve a problem for your clients. An organic skincare company, for instance, helps people who don’t want to use skincare products that contain chemicals or non-natural elements. When you identify your customers’ problems, you can find your niche.

Analyze Your Keywords

Once you have a list of keywords, it is important to analyze them to see which ones you should prioritize.

Hopefully, by now, you have done the work to generate a long list of new keywords to use for searches related to your niche.

Good news – you don’t need to use this entire keyword list! The important thing is that you have a list of potential keywords that are relevant to your business, which is a great jumping-off point for you to improve your search rankings and implement SEO tools.

You can analyze different keyword data to gain a better insight into how they’ll perform.

This data could include the monthly searches performed for your keywords, ranking difficulty, and other data. You can gain these insights by using a keyword tool like Ubersuggest, which we will go into detail about below.

Is Search Volume Important?

Search volume is a keyword metric that shows the number of people who are searching for a certain keyword.

When creating your digital content strategy, you should ensure to take search volume into account to determine the popularity of your keyword.

The ideal keyword is one that has a high search volume and a low rate of search competition.

However, finding long-tail keywords that appeal to your target audience with low competition can also be an effective digital marketing strategy. It also gives you an idea of the fluctuation in popularity that can affect your keywords throughout the year.

This can be helpful if your business relies on seasonal keywords, such as “Christmas Decorations” or “Halloween Costumes.”

Accurate search volume data is one of the most effective keyword metrics to give an insight into the potential performance of your keywords.

Does Search Intent Matter?

Your keyword research should always factor in search intent. This is the reason why your customer is carrying out a Google search.

Without factoring this in, your keyword research may be far less effective than it should be.

Without knowing exactly what your customer means when they perform a search, you may end up implementing the wrong keyword within a blog post or other website content. Your content will not end up in front of the right web users.

There is no way of reading a customer’s mind to know exactly why they are searching for a certain keyword, but there are a few technical ways you can figure out the reason behind their search.

There are three main intentions behind a Google search query:

  • Informational: These are searches performed by people looking to increase their knowledge on a certain subject. They may use words like ‘how to’, ‘why’, ‘when’, or other question words.
  • Navigational: A navigational query is carried out by a user who knows exactly where they want to go on the internet. For example, a user may search for ‘Amazon’, or ‘Facebook’.
  • Transactional: A transactional search query involves web users who are searching the internet with an intent to take a specific action, usually to purchase a product or service. A keyword phrase that has high commercial intent will fall into this category. These include terms like ‘buy’, ‘purchase’ or ‘online’ or specific product names or models.

While it may seem that companies should focus on transactional queries when performing keyword research, it is important to evaluate your business goals before you decide the intent to focus on them.

For example, if you have a content-based site and are interested in increasing traffic or engagement on social media, you’ll want to focus more on informational queries. These will be easier to rank for and will allow customers to discover you who are seeking the information that you provide.

If, on the other hand, you have an e-commerce business and are looking to sell your products, you will be best to focus mostly on transactional search queries.

All sites benefit from informational keywords as well as navigational and transactional. While not all searches instantly lead to conversions, you will increase your brand awareness and eventually guide your customer towards your sales funnel.

Understanding Long-Tail Keywords

‘Long-tail keywords’ can be a fantastic driver of traffic to your website when implemented effectively.

Long-tail keywords provide more context to a customer’s search query and usually encompass three or more words. 

For example, ‘dog groomer’ is a keyword; but ‘dog groomers in Dublin’, is considered a long-tail keyword. 

These keywords may have less competition and ranking difficulty and could better match your customer search intent. 

Long-tail keywords are specific queries that give more context to a customer’s search.

When you carry out your keyword research, it’s easy to be attracted to short-tail keywords.

These are the keywords like “SEO” or “keywords,” and they’re likely to have a high search volume, attracting the attention of many marketers.

However, search volume must also be considered. The level of competition amongst short-tail keywords is usually much higher. Long-tail keywords with slightly less search volume tend to be a little easier to rank for.

It’s much easier to rank for long-tail keywords than for more common, generic keywords. There are fewer websites competing for high rankings in the search engine results pages of Google.

Longer, more specific search terms are much easier to rank for. Due to the oversaturated market on the internet, it is hard to find an audience for your content by focusing on a particular niche.

Focusing on a small group of long-tail, high-performing keywords can result in a significant boost in traffic.

Another benefit of focusing on long-tail keywords is that, although these keywords are used less in search queries, the user that discovers your website through a long-term keyword is far more likely to buy your product or service.

For example, think of a customer in the market for a new television. You may start your search with the term ‘television’ or ‘TV’. After some research, you discover that you’d like a television that’s 52 inches wide, with 4K capabilities.

You continue to carry out an internet search, but now make your search more specific by using the term ’52 inch TV with 4K’.

And let’s say, for example, you live in Dublin and want to localize your search. You could further specify your search term by adding ’52 inch TV with 4K for sale in Dublin’.

This is a long-tail keyword. By using these keywords, you will discover search results that show your search intent more clearly. The chances of this customer purchasing a television have likely increased since carrying out this search.

Prioritize & Organize Your Keywords

Once you have gone to the effort of generating a long list of keywords, keeping them organized and ready to implement in the most effective way is a must.

Failing to organize your keywords will make it difficult to test how effectively your search terms are performing.

A great place to start organizing your keywords is by splitting these keywords into groups according to your products and services.

This will allow you to gain some perspective on your keywords in terms of what your brand is offering, and allows you to make any final adjustments.

Having taken a more broad look at your keyword list, you may discover if you have focused too much on a single product or service offering or that the location you have focused on is too broad.

By altering your list of keywords to best suit your business offerings, your SEO efforts are far more likely to pay off.

For any business looking to pave their way in the e-commerce world, keyword research is an essential element of SEO.

The most effective way of implementing the right keywords that will work to attract the largest target audience is to carry out focused keyword research and place your search terms at focal points within your content marketing.

Once you identify the right keywords and start using them, don’t forget to track how well they’re performing and decide on your next SEO steps accordingly.

The following keyword categories are a great jumping-off point for generating an effective keyword list. In order to make your keyword research more productive, you should ensure that you consider them.

Keyword Categories

  • Brand – Keywords that mention your brand specifically.
  • Niche – Niche-related or specific industry keywords. For example, a kitchen appliance wholesaler could have ‘refrigerator’ as a keyword.
  • Competitors – These keywords include search terms users may query when searching for your competitor’s business.
  • Related keywords – Keywords that are related or similar to your niche or market segment keywords.

By organizing your keywords into these groups, you can determine which words are most valuable to your business and which words give a more broad overview of what you are offering.

Each of these keyword groups can then be further divided into search intent categories, as follows:

  • Information – These include keyword phrases that people use when first starting research into a topic or product. This user is typically not ready to buy, and is gathering information surrounding your products in general.
  • Interested – These include search terms that have already shown an interest in your products, but are looking to carry out more in-depth research or compare your products with other brands. This customer is getting closer to carrying out a purchase.
  • Transactional – Transactional search terms usually indicate that a user is looking and ready to make a purchase. These are the types of users that you should focus on heavily targeting.

While it may seem obvious to only target users searching with keywords in the transactional group, it is equally as important to increase brand awareness surrounding your product for customers who are simply searching for information or are interested in your products. It is likely that ultimately these users will become buyers.

Once you’ve generated a list of your brand keywords, you should expand your keyword research into other categories mentioned above such as niche, competitors, and related keyword categories.

These categories are a great way to capture a large segment of market share, as these keywords will likely cover all bases when it comes to your niche.

Remember to take into account the search volume of these keywords, to ensure you are not wasting your time with search terms that are either too competitive or do not have any significant monthly search volume.

Implement Your Keywords

It is important to understand that there are no hard and fast rules or list of standard best keywords that will suit all businesses. That would be too easy!

However, there are keywords out there that are highly searched by your target audience. You just have to discover them!

Having carried out your keyword research, it’s time to craft a strategy to implement these keywords. Your strategy should aim to help you increase your rankings within search engine results pages, and drive traffic to your website.

The most effective keywords for your SEO strategy will take into account relevance, authority, and search volume. You want to find highly searched keywords that you can reasonably compete for based on: 

  • The level of competition you face
  • Your ability to produce high-quality content that outranks your competitors.

Reevaluate Your Keywords

Be sure to re-evaluate your keywords every at least every quarter. Analyze the performance of your keywords to ensure you are maximizing your SEO potential.

As your keyword research pays off and increases your rankings within SERPs, you will be able to add more keywords to your list in order to build on your online presence. As your online business grows, you can also expand into new areas and grow your list of keywords.

Valuable SEO Keyword Research Tools

For small and medium-sized businesses trying to grow their online presence, it is likely that you may be short on time and resources. 

You may not have the manpower or the hours spare to spend hiring an SEO specialist to help you carry out keyword research.

So, what other tools can you use to increase the effectiveness of your SEO research without sacrificing business resources?

Well, we’ve done the hard work for you!

We have discovered the best online tools you can use to carry out that all-important keyword research. 

Better yet, you’re guaranteed to find a keyword research tool that will work for your business needs.

We’ve included a list of free tools that will help any business just dipping their toes into the world of keyword research.

Ahrefs

For any business that wants to take the next step in their SEO keyword research, and really jump-start traffic and conversions within your website, Ahrefs is one of the most popular and effective keyword research tools.

Ahrefs gives you a broad overview of the performance of your target keywords and shows you precisely which keywords you and your competitors are currently ranking for.

When you search for your keywords within Ahrefs, you will also be presented with an in-depth analysis of your keywords. 

This analysis will include the level of difficulty it perceives these keywords are to rank for, and the cost-per-click and return rate associated with them.

Other platforms that offer this level of insight are sparse, which is why Ahrefs is such a popular research tool for keywords.

Ahrefs Keyword Difficulty Tool

For any business that wants to take the next step in their SEO keyword research, and really jump-start traffic and conversions within your website, Ahrefs is one of the most popular and effective keyword research tools.

Ahrefs gives you a broad overview of the performance of your target keywords and shows you precisely which keywords you and your competitors are currently ranking for.

When you search for your keywords within Ahrefs, you will also be presented with an in-depth analysis of your keywords. 

This analysis will include the level of difficulty it perceives these keywords are to rank for, and the cost-per-click and return rate associated with them.

Other platforms that offer this level of insight are sparse, which is why Ahrefs is such a popular research tool for keywords.

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is a tool that allows you to gain quantitative data about your keywords. This can help you to narrow down the list of keywords you have generated.

With Google’s Keyword Planner, you can get data about the search volume and traffic estimates for keywords you’re considering implementing. You can take this information you have learned from Keyword Planner to maximize the potential of your keywords.

Use the Keyword Planner to further analyze the keywords you have generated, and allow you to eliminate any keywords or search terms that won’t benefit your business.

Before you delete any search terms from your list, you should analyze the search trend history in Google Trends. You can see whether low-volume search terms might benefit your business, or what type of search terms you should steer clear from.

Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest is one of the most powerful SEO tools that allow you to gain insight into your keywords, including monthly search volume, cost-per-click, and competitive data.

The Ubersuggest extension also allows you to gather data relating to keywords from search engines like Youtube and Amazon.

Once the Ubersuggest keyword research tool has been installed, all you have to do is go to Google, YouTube, or Amazon and perform a search for a specific keyword.

That is where you will see data surrounding these keywords and search terms.

To gain more details on any given keyword, you can click “view all” next to the search bar and get access to even more keywords and SEO insights.

This keyword tool is especially great at helping you to find keywords you hadn’t thought of before. These include seed keywords and long-tail keywords. A seed keyword is a short tail keyword model which can be modified to become more specific.

Ubersuggest SEO extension also allows you to view keyword data through graphs and trends models. This breaks down the total monthly search volume into further categories, like desktop searches and mobile searches.

This can help with digital marketing and social media marketing efforts, allowing you to tailor your content to the time that your customers are most likely to discover it.

Ubersuggest also allows you to see traffic estimations under each URL you perform a search for. You can also add to your link-building efforts by seeing the number of referring domains for each URL.

You can use Ubersuggest to improve your search engine page rankings and to get ideas on how to climb the SERPs from searches related to your business.

Keyword Surfer (Chrome Extension)

Keyword Surfer is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to gain data from Google’s own interface. One of the most accessible SEO tools, it allows you to perform a search for any query and see the global search volume as well as the volume within your own region.

  • It can show you the monthly search volume, cost per click, and the ranking difficulty for this particular keyword.
  • Keyword Surfer also shows related searches and a ‘people also ask’ element.

This can be one of the most useful and accessible keyword research tools for those not sure where to start with the process.

Keywords Everywhere (Chrome Extension)

Other tools for Keyword research include another Google Chrome Extension, Keywords Everywhere.

This extension allows you to gain a great deal of data on any search query. This data includes:

  • Search volume: The estimated monthly searches for the keyword.
  • Cost per click (CPC): How much it costs per click to set up a paid ad for the keyword.
  • Competition: How competitive the keyword is, and how popular it is amongst other websites.
  • Related keywords: A list of similar keywords you can add to your list.

The tool also shows keyword data for several other websites and tools that utilize their own search engines. For example, you can gain insight on the metrics of Youtube’s search engine, along with the following sites:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • YouTube
  • Google Trends
  • Amazon
  • Bing
  • Ebay
  • Etsy
  • Moz
  • Answer the public
  • Majestic
  • Soovle

This allows you to gain insight into the type of searches your customers are performing through a different lens.

Keywords Everywhere get its search data from the Google Ads Keyword Planner. Within this framework, you have the option to phrase match your keywords within paid ad campaigns to ensure you appear in front of the right potential customers.

Keywords Everywhere is a free SEO tool that can help you to maximize the potential of your search engine optimization.

Summary

So… excited yet?

There are so many avenues to explore when it comes to keyword research, and it holds a lot of potential for your digital marketing and social media marketing efforts.

Follow the above steps to get started with your own keyword research and watch your business grow from strength to strength.

Have you performed keyword research within your business? What benefits has it brought to your website? Reach out and let us know!

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