Keyword Research in SEO

Keywords are what search engine optimization (SEO) is built on. What SEO all boils down to essentially is that if you are not creating content that users are searching for, it will negatively impact your business.

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In this article, we break down the simple way to perform keyword research so you can come up with ideas for a great content strategy for any website/business you are working on. We discuss what keyword research is, why it’s important and lastly, simple tips  to perform keyword research.

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is the process of figuring out which search terms users enter into search engines to get to a specific website. The goal is to use the right keywords in content and within a content strategy so that when users enter keywords into a search engine, the respective website comes up high on the search engine results page (SERP).

Why is keyword research important?

There are a few reasons why keyword research is important.

As mentioned above, keyword research provides insights into what your potential customers are actually searching for. This is important because this will lead you to create content that your target audience actually wants to consume instead of creating content that is not fitting for them. So essentially, keyword research will help you get relevant traffic to your website.

Another reason why keyword research is important is because it helps you understand the competitive landscape of your industry .You will be able to see which websites are competing for the same keywords and how difficult it is to rank for specific keywords, which can inform your content strategy.

Another important aspect of keyword research is that it can tell you the intent of what a user is looking for.

There are four types of intent:

  1. informational: a user is purely interested in gaining information about a specific topic
  2. navigational: a user searches for a specific website, for example  “growth skills”
  3. commercial: a user is looking to find out information about specific brands or services
  4. transactional: a user is looking for a specific product or brand with the goal of making a purchase

Here is an example of choosing the right keywords based on intent:

If you are writing an informational article around social media automation in small businesses, you start by searching for keywords around this topic. For example ”social media marketing automation” and “social media automation” are phrases you can enter into your keyword tool. These two keywords have a good amount of keyword volume, however, the intent for those keywords is commercial. Users are looking for products to help automate their social media and not necessarily information about what social media automation is and how it’s helpful to small businesses. It would be better to use a keyword like how to automate social media marketing, because the intent of that keyword is informational.

How to do keyword research

Everyone may have different processes to do keyword research, but here is some guidance.

First, start with making a list of topics that are relevant to your business and for topics you want to rank for. For example, I have a city guide that I create content for and cover topics similar to:

  • best restaurants in NYC (keyword volume 18,100; keyword Difficulty 93)

I input these keywords into a keyword tool. I know these specific topics are very broad and the keyword volume and keyword difficulty show that to us. But these are a great starting point to find keywords that are relevant and less difficult to rank for.

So after delving deeper into these keywords, I found that the following terms were easier to rank for so I could use these keywords to create relevant content that still falls in the content bucket of “best restaurants in nyc.’

  • Best french restaurants in nyc (1,000; 53)
  • Best chinese restaurants nyc (1,000, 52)

The intent behind these keywords is commercial, which means users are looking to explore restaurants under these categories. These are great keywords to create content that have high volume and low difficulty to start.

Long tail keywords vs short tail keywords

Long tail keywords are more specific keywords that users search for when looking for something on the web. These are really great keywords to rank for because while they are less common, they are more niche. The audience who is reading your content around these long tail keywords is super targeted, which is great.  It is easier to rank for these long tail keywords because the competition will most likely be low.

Short tail keywords are phrases that contain one to three words and have a high amount of monthly search volume. So in our example above “restaurants in nyc” is a short tail keyword and “best french restaurants in nyc” is a long tail keyword.

The idea is to have content around a good mix of long tail and short tail keywords.


The keywords you choose at the end will be based on the overall strategy you’ve set in place for your business. But overall, the key is to choose keywords that have high monthly volume, a difficulty level you can rank against and then create high quality content that outweighs your competitors.

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