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Oct 9, 2021

How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner's Guide

Suman Samal, Asst. Marketing Manager
Suman Samal
How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner's Guide


The internet has made finding information easier than ever before.

But how do you find the right information?

And more importantly, how can you make sure that your website is ranking well for the keywords relevant to your business?

SEO is important to digital marketing and it can make a lot of difference in traffic and income.

Furthermore, Google keeps us on our toes with all the algorithm updates they keep rollin' out; one thing that has stayed pretty consistent for inbound marketers looking to optimize their websites for search: keyword research.

With this guide, we hope to demystify some of the key components of this process and help you create a solid strategy for your SEO and keyword research needs.

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of finding out what people are searching for and how they search. It is an extremely important step in any digital marketing campaign because it's the foundation on which all of your other tactics rest.

As you may know, Google and other search engines will only show your website to people looking for something related to your keywords.

As well as just helping people to discover and share your content, using good keywords in articles and blog posts can also help you achieve high search engine rankings for those keywords.

The algorithms that Google and other major search engines use to rank websites take into account how many times a keyword appears on a page and how competitive it is.

The more times a keyword appears in an article and the less competition there is for each one, the better chance your page ranks well. It means that you should use your chosen keywords in your titles and headings and within the content itself.

How to do keyword research for SEO?

Now, you know what keyword research is but all that comes up to doing the keyword research and finding the best keywords for your content.

We can't just pick any keywords to use for our content; we need to find the best keywords to bring us more traffic and help us rank higher in Google.

Read further to find how to do the keyword research for SEO.

Step 1: Make a list of important, relevant topics based on what you know about your business.

The first step is to create a list of important, relevant topics that you want to rank. You need to know what your business is about, and the content you will be writing should relate to this topic.

To get a better understanding of this, understand the buyer's persona and what they are looking. It will be easier for you to create content that relates to your business when you know this.

Step 2: Fill in those topic buckets with a list of keywords.

After you have found the topic, choosing the seed keyword related to your parent topic is next.

Keyword phrases that people use a lot when they search for something are the best way to know what your customers are searching for most often.

Here is an example; let's say your main topic is 'email marketing.'

There are some keyword ideas that you can brainstorm and think with a broader perspective.

  • What is email marketing automation?
  • Email marketing tools
  • How to do email marketing and so on.

The goal is to find the bunch of key phrases that your potential customers might be looking.

Step 3: Analyze Search Intent

The key to success in SEO is by knowing the user intent. You can't hit the first page of Google unless your article has an intent.

More than using the keywords, it is important to understand that what problem do these keywords solve?

In our example, we will look at the keywords' email marketing automation.

It is easy to find a keyword like this because it has a lot of words and a few searches.

But it's important to know what problem does this word solves?

A few comment intent related keywords are:

Know - terms that help people get to know what things are all. Search volume can be very low, and keyword competition tends to be high.

Consider - terms where searchers want more information to decide if they like the idea or not. Search volumes are usually medium to high, and competition can be either low or high.

Buy - keywords where people want to make a purchase right now. Competition tends to be very competitive because people are actively looking for something they are willing to pay.

Step 4: Know what your competitors are ranking for

To get a better understanding of your target audience, the best way is to know your competition.

Knowing what your competitors are ranking for will help you to determine which keywords they are using.

Head to Google and type in your target keyword. On the first page of Google, look out for the pages that ranking on the SERP results.

Sometimes, the ranking pages might not be typically the site like yours. Use the Google autosuggest feature to find out the actual page that your competitors are ranking.

If the ranking keywords are Amazon and The New York Times, you should not consider them your direct competitors. Your competitors are the ones with comparable domain and page authority, backlinks, and other referring domains.

Step 5: Use keyword research tools to your advantage.

At this point, you've come up with a list of important, relevant topics based on what you know about your business and also analyzed searcher intent.

You also understand that content is not just something that keywords are good for and instead should be the answer to a question.

You're now going to want to use keyword research tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Ubersuggest to find out more about the keywords that your competition is ranking.

So, how do you find the best keyword research tool?

Why is it important?

Keyword research gives insight into what people are searching for on Google. It can help you with content strategy and marketing strategy. But keywords themselves may not be as important to SEO as you may think.

As well as helping your articles to rank better for specific keywords, using the correct ones can also help you attract the right audience. This is because search engines use algorithms that consider how many times a keyword appears on a page and whether or not people are clicking through to it.

Therefore, if your article ranks high for good keywords, people are more likely to click on it because they match the search phrases that they've typed in.

If your site is relevant to their queries, then that's where you want them to go!

Keyword research also helps you understand what topics people are interested in discussing online. It can be really useful to look at your website and decide what you need to improve or change.

How to do keyword research for niche sites?

The best way to do keyword research for niche sites is by doing a competitive analysis. It involves looking at the websites already ranking in your niche and seeing what keywords they rank.

You can then use this information to determine which keywords you need to target and create content around. Let's dive in deeper to understand how keyword research works for niche sites.

Identify niche topics

The first step in the keyword research process for niche sites starts by identifying your main niche and topics around it. It is done by finding out what topics are being discussed online about your niche.

Start by using Google trends to find the most popular topics around the niche sites. After that, you can also look at how many people are searching for those keywords.

Brainstorming the niche topics is another good way to get started. Make sure the chosen topic has some content around it, and you can inject the relevant keywords into it.

Use keyword tools to see the competitors.

To get a better understanding of the topic, spy on your competitors and their content.

You can use social media to find out what keywords your competitors are targeting. This is especially useful if you're working on a new niche site and want to make sure that you target the same keywords as your competitors.

Spy on other sites in the niche to see what they're doing and how their content is structured. It helps you develop a good structure for your site, including keyword research and other factors like the writing style.

Now, the manual research would take up a lot of time, and that's too much effort! Instead, choose a keyword tool like SEMRush, Ahrefs, or SERanking to check the competitor's ranking keywords.

Keyword tools analyze the competitor's site and find metrics like the monthly search volume, organic traffic from each keyword, and the sub-topics to include. You can then use this information to create your content around the same keywords without spending a lot of time in manual research.

Find a mix of long-tail keywords and head keywords

Spying on the competitor's strategy isn't enough. Following the SEO algorithm, you need to include a mix of long-tail keywords and the exact keywords and head keywords.

The mix of long-tail keywords and head keywords will give you a good balance in the content.

Now, you can either create a sub-topic for the long-tail keywords or sprinkle these keywords in your content to get better organic traffic.

Consider search volume, keyword difficulty, and other metrics

But, keyword research doesn't stop here!

Keyword research tools filter and find the keywords along with some valuable metrics that are important in SEO.

You can consider these metrics to choose the keywords that are easier to rank for and bring more organic traffic to your page.

These metrics are:

  • Keyword difficulty: Keyword difficulty measures how difficult it will be to rank high on the first page of Google's organic search results for a certain term. It depends on the other parameters like domain authority, page authority, and content quality.
  • Organic Search volume: Search volume measures how many times a keyword is searched every month on Google.
  • CPS (cost-per-sale): The amount of money you make per sale is called the cost-per-sale.

Besides this, it is also important to consider other SEO metrics like social media presence, domain authority, etc.

Now, you have curated the keywords; it's time to create a list of keywords to include in your content because not every keyword from your competitor would make sense to your topic.

Create a Spreadsheet with list of keywords

Create a list of keywords that you feel are good enough to include in the content. Research around each keyword and create a rough outline of the content to include under each sub-topic.

Check off these keywords from the tool and download these keywords in a spreadsheet. It is a step that many people skip and end up with a bad content strategy. But, you must make sure to include the keywords from the list in your blog post and those you can use later on for further keyword research.

How to analyze keywords?

Analyzing keywords is an important part of keyword research. If you cannot analyze the keywords effectively, you can lose a lot of time and money.

The main reason for this is that it's all too easy to get caught up in optimizing for one metric and forget about others. SEO metrics help you narrow down your keyword ideas to a handful of top-performing keywords.

This way, you can then focus on the most promising keywords and improve your search ranking.

Look for the monthly search volume

Monthly volume is a key indicator of the popularity of a keyword. It is important to understand how much traffic your competitors are getting from this keyword and whether you can compete with them for that traffic.

However, people are confused between the monthly search volume and organic search traffic.

The monthly search volume tells you about the number of total searches, but this can be searched by only one person also. It doesn't tell you about the traffic that you will receive from this keyword.

Traffic potential

Estimate traffic potential is one of the most important aspects to consider while selecting keywords.

Analyzing your site's keyword traffic is a good way to determine where much of your traffic comes from. You can then use this information to improve search engine optimization efforts in the future.

By digging into your keyword traffic, you can find out where many visitors are coming from and tailor ads to them, so they see more relevant ads on their search results page when they look for something else online later that day or week.

Check for PPC keywords

It is also important to see how much advertisers are willing to pay for your target keywords along with organic search traffic.

CPC (Cost-per-click) shows what amount of money people are willing to pay each time someone clicks on an ad posted by a website searching engine like Google AdWords or Yahoo.

To have a successful PPC and an SEO campaign, you need to know the CPC of your target keywords.

Including the keywords with relatively high CPC in your content can prove to be more lucrative.

That's because the words with high CPC tend to get the buyer's attention more. For example, a keyword like "automatic dishwasher" will have a higher CPC than a keyword like "how to use an automatic dishwasher."

That's obvious because people with the former search intent are looking to purchase the keyword. That doesn't mean you should ignore the latter one.

Understand the relevance of keywords

Apart from these metrics, keyword relevance is of utmost importance for SEOs. Search engines use keyword relevancy to decide what pages will rank for when searching.

If you don't target the right and relevant words, your chances of getting better rankings will be limited. Because you won't be able to get enough traffic from potential customers using those keywords in their searches for that kind of information about your product.

Make sure to use the keywords wherever it seems fit.

Tools for keyword research

SEMRush Keyword research

SEMrush is one of the best keyword research tools to help you easily understand which ones are ranking well and where your competitors are getting traffic.

This tool also has many other useful features, such as a "What's Hot" tab that will show you the top keywords on a particular topic.

Another great feature is SEMrush API, which allows users to track and access data from their site without going through an accounting process.

SEMRush also has a helpful blog section where you can learn more about the tool and its features.

SEMRush gives the historical keyword search volume in databases with over 3 million keywords per day.


- The keyword database in SEMRush is powerful, with over 3 million keywords per day.

- You can see what keywords people are searching for in Google and Bing.

- SEMRush tells you which keywords have a high competition score and which ones will be hard to rank for.

- It also provides you with the cost of ranking in Google Adwords for certain keywords.


- You can't see the recent data of keyword search.

- The historical data varies from a couple of days to a couple of months.

Ahrefs keyword explorer

Ahrefs is another keyword research tool with great information on the search terms people use to find your website. This tool helps you find keywords with high competition and provides suggestions for possible keywords to use in your content so you can rank higher.

This tool is useful because it allows you to see how your competitors are ranking for certain keywords. You can use this information to find new keyword ideas and improve your SEO skills.


- The database of Ahrefs has over 1 billion data points per day, so you'll always have fresh data available for your keyword research.

- It provides you with 1,000 monthly search volume keyword suggestions for each search term, allowing you to see the long-tail keywords that are being searched.

- You can sort by different metrics like difficulty, search volume, search volume, estimated traffic, and SERP competition which will help you identify high competition keywords for which it may be hard to rank.

- Ahrefs also provides you with the cost of ranking in Google Adwords for certain keywords, so that will give you an idea of how much money you'll have to spend on advertising.


- The data doesn't go back any further than 6 months ago.

- It doesn't show you the recent data of the keyword search.

Moz Keyword researcher

Moz Pro is an all-in-one tool that helps businesses manage numerous aspects of their SEO campaign. It's a great tool to use in addition to Google Analytics. Moz Pro helps you better understand your audience and helps you improve your website's rankings.

The SEO software can also help you determine which keywords your site should be focusing on to improve your search engine ranking.

Above all, Moz helps you find out about your site's rankings, how it is set up, and how people see it. You can also find mistakes that might be hurting your site's performance.


- The software provides you with many tools to help you monitor your site's performance and make the necessary changes.

- It helps track different SEO metrics such as traffic, position, and keywords.

- Moz Pro also provides rankings for other search engines so you can see how your site ranks on other search engines.

- The software helps you identify problems with your website and provides a solution to fix them.


- It's quite expensive for a small business owner who is just starting in the online marketing field.

Google Search Console

A lot of SEOs tend to ignore Google Search Console (GSC) because it can be a bit confusing at first. But, there are a lot of benefits to using GSC.

Google Search console helps find ranking keywords from your website. It also shows you how many people are clicking on your website.

It lets you see how many impressions, clicks, CTRs (click-through rates), and average rankings you're getting in Google. You can check which keywords are triggering your website's URL to appear in the search results.

It provides you with historical data to see if there has been an increase in traffic to your website. It also allows you to see if any errors on your site may be causing the issues with your rankings.


-GSC is free, and it's easy to use.

-GSC is a cloud based tool. It can be used from the browser without downloading anything.

-You can also get data like referring domains and backlinks from your competitor's site, so that'll give you an idea of what to look out for when creating your content or buying links.


- It does not tell about the competitor's ranking keywords.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free tool that helps you track and analyze your website traffic. You can see where each search query is ranking, their conversions, number of impressions, and click-through rate (CTR).

It also allows you to see what pages are being viewed on your website. It's not just about the rankings, but it will give you an idea of which pages are most popular with your visitors.

You can also use Google Analytics to track what keywords people are using in their search queries.


-It's free and easy to use. You can see all the stats from your website in one place without having to visit multiple pages.

-There are a lot of tools that you can use with Google Analytics, such as Google AdWords, which will help you with your PPC campaigns.

-You can see where people are coming from and what their demographics are.


- It does not tell about the competitor's ranking keywords.

Google Keyword Planner

Google keyword planner allows you to find long-tail keywords that are not yet in the search engines.

The tool gives you an idea of how many searches per month, worldwide, for a particular keyword. You can also use it to see what your competitors are ranking for and their traffic numbers.


-It provides you with a large volume of data from advertisers on the highest paying keywords, which can help give you an idea of how much money you'll have to spend on advertising.

-It gives you a good idea of what people are searching for and how they're searching.

-The tool is completely free to use.


-It can only be used if you're signed up for an Adwords account.

-The data is limited compared to the other tools out there (only shows short-tail keywords, doesn't show long-tail or branded keywords.)


After all the hard work, you're finally done with your research. Time to put it to good use! Now that you have a list of keywords, what are you going to do with them?

You can use the keyword tool of your choice to get some insight into how well they perform for you. It's also useful for finding new keywords and tracking their performance over time.

The search engines give you the best keywords to target, but they don't always tell you which ones are worth targeting. Hence, we would recommend using the keyword research tools.

Suman Samal
Asst. Marketing Manager
ABout the AUTHOR
Suman Samal
Asst. Marketing Manager

Suman Samal is a Asst. Marketing Manager at Scalenut. She is a technology enthusiast with a keen interest in content marketing and SEO. She truly believes that with the right set of tools every organization can improve the ROI of their content marketing campaigns. She spends her time managing content operations at Scalenut and ensuring that everything we publish is of the highest quality.

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Date: Sept 12, 2023