The Keyword Research Process

What is Keyword Research?

To better navigate the world of SEO, keyword research is a fundamental process that involves examining the words and phrases that are used when looking up information about products or services you offer. This practice enables businesses to understand their target audience and refine their marketing efforts accordingly.

There are various reasons why conducting keyword research is crucial to your business’s success. Doing so allows companies to gain insight into the precise language their target audience uses, enabling them to make content that resonates with them. Using the proper keywords for your business and industry considerably elevates your organic search results and overall visibility.

The algorithms that drive search engine results rely heavily on targeted keywords to rank webpages for organic, unpaid searches. This makes keywords the driving force of search engine algorithms. Therefore, strategically incorporating relevant and correct keywords into your website’s content will substantially boost your search result rankings and increase the possibility of new organic visitors.

Through extensive keyword research, businesses can not only attract the most relevant website traffic but can also boost their conversion rates. When businesses select search terms that correspond to potential customers’ intent, they can be confident that those coming to the website are more likely to complete a purchase, book a call, or take other desired actions.

Types of Keywords

When conducting keyword research, it’s essential to understand the different types of keywords, what they mean, and their significance in SEO. Carefully selecting the types of keywords to spend your money on is how you can optimize your online presence, attract relevant traffic, and boost conversions.

Here are the main types of keywords to consider:

1. Short-tail keywords

These are generic, short keyword phases composed of one or two words, like “marketing” or “digital marketing.” Although they typically have extraordinarily high search volumes, they are highly competitive, meaning they will cost a lot of money and may not always result in the most relevant visitors.

2. Long-tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific phrases designed to reach a narrower audience. These phrases are more detailed and targeted than the typical short-term keyword. For instance, “digital marketing agency in Raleigh, NC” or “best search engine optimization services.” Long-tail keywords have lower search volumes but high conversion rates as they appeal to people who have specific needs or preferences.

3. LSI Keywords

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are words and phrases semantically related to a primary keyword. Search engines use LSI keywords to understand the context and relevance of web content. This improves the accuracy and precision of search results. For example, if the main keyword is “SEO,” LSI keywords could include “search engine optimization,” “keyword research,” or “link building.”

4. Location-based Keywords 

Consider incorporating location-based keywords if applicable to your business. For example, if you have a physical store or serve customers in specific regions or areas, including area-specific keywords can help target and attract local traffic. These are search terms such as “Raleigh Digital Marketing” or “SEO Services Near Me,” also referred to as “near me searches.” 

5. Branded Keywords

These keywords refer to phrases or terms that include your brand or product name. To ensure maximum visibility for your target audience, many businesses choose to use brand and product-specific keywords within their content. For example, “Edge Digital digital marketing services” or “Apple device.” This way, users familiar with the brand or actively looking for your products can easily find you online. Although this method is popular when selecting keywords, it is optional. It isn’t uncommon for a more successful brand that has already established itself to choose not to spend its dollars on these terms. However, an SEO professional familiar with your brand should continually revise the decision to include these keywords. 

The Step-by-Step Keyword Research Process


Define Your Goals and Target Audience

Before starting your dive into keyword research, defining your desired outcomes is essential. Firstly, ask yourself if you want to amplify organic traffic, improve search engine rankings, or pinpoint specific customer audiences. Having a clear initial vision in mind will allow you to properly execute the rest of your keyword research.

Thoroughly understanding your target audience is critical to selecting the best keywords. Examine their demographics, preferences, and search behaviors to distinguish the language they use while browsing the internet. This data will facilitate the efficiency of your keywords to meet your customer’s desires and demands.

Brainstorm Seed Keywordskeyword process research

Next, come up with a compilation of fundamental search terms related to your most popular services. These general phrases should relate to your business, industry, products, or services. For instance, if you own a digital marketing agency, your core keywords may include “SEO,” “content creation,” or “social media management.”

Assess each seed keyword’s search volume and relevance to your target audience. Online SEO tools are available to provide valuable insights into the search volume and competition for each of your desired keywords.

Brainstorming seed keywords makes detecting potential unexplored opportunities and areas of interest possible. Looking at relevant words and their long-tail variations, you may bring to light new niches left untouched by other players in the field.

Expand Your Keyword List

Leverage digital keyword research tools to broaden your initial set of keywords. These tools offer alternatives for associated words, long-tail expansions, synonyms, and other variations with different word orders. 

An easy way to grow your keyword list is by incorporating location-based keywords and brand keywords. 

Analyze Keyword Metrics

Evaluate each keyword’s search volume, competition, and difficulty. Search volume indicates the average monthly search frequency for a particular keyword, while competition and difficulty metrics measure the level of competition for that keyword among advertisers or websites.

keyword processesAim for a balance between high search volume and manageable competition. Targeting highly competitive keywords may make it challenging to achieve top rankings, especially for new or small businesses. Focusing on keywords with moderate competition but still significant search volume is often a more effective strategy.

How to Apply User Intent Keywords

Analyzing the intent behind each keyword is crucial to ensure alignment with your content and landing pages. Sort the keywords based on informational, navigational, or transactional intention. By adequately targeting keywords that match the intent of your target audience, you can create content and landing pages that fulfill their needs at different stages of the buying process.

1. Awareness Intent Keywords

These keywords indicate that users seek information or answers to their questions. Informational search intent means that the user wants to learn something. These searches are often phrased as questions and use words like who, what, where, why, and how. For example, “What is SEO?” or “How to fix a broken website.”

2. Consideration Intent Keywords

Navigational keywords are typically used when the intent is to find a particular page instead of just seeking information or looking to make a purchase. For example, a phone number, location, address, or brand name could all be categorized as navigational keywords.

3. Decision Intent Keywords

Transactional or buyer keywords are words that searchers input into search engines specifically designed to signify they’re ready to buy or complete some conversion. Generally speaking, these transactional words show the most substantial intent to buy, making them very valuable to most companies. To give a few examples, common transactional keywords include terms such as “buy,” “purchase,” “deal,” “cheap,” “download,” “sign up,” “where to buy,” etc. 

Assess Competitor Keywords

Investigating the competition and researching your opponents’ websites can give you important knowledge about their keyword methodology. Identify the words they are attempting to optimize for, explore their highest-ranked pages, and evaluate their process for optimizing content.

Look for gaps or chances to differentiate and target unique keywords your competitors may have overlooked or missed. Uncovering competitor keywords and breaking down their approach can help you refine your own keyword targeting and gain a competitive edge.

By utilizing the proper resources and strategies, you can continually keep an eye on your biggest rivals and stay ahead of the game. Be aware of changes in their keyword targeting and identify opportunities to refine your own keyword methods.

Refine Your Keyword List

After extensively brainstorming all the possible keyword options for your brand, it is time to begin trimming down your keywords based on relevance, search volume, competition, and user intent. Discard any terms or phrases that are too broad, don’t make sense, are irrelevant to your company, or have low search volume.

When deciding which keywords to prioritize, go for those with high specificity and intent, as they have a much higher potential to attract the right kind of visitors to your website. Long-tail keywords often have less competition, providing more opportunities to gain visibility in search results.

Group Keywords into Themes

Arrange your keywords into clusters or groups by topic or theme. This tactic assists in organizing your content and website architecture, thus resulting in a more streamlined optimization.

Organizing keywords into themes allows you to create distinct landing pages or content pillars that address particular subjects and subsections. This design provides users with an improved experience while also conveying to search engines the importance and range of your material.

Map Keywords to Website Pages

Assign one primary keyword to each landing page on your website across various elements, including page titles, headings, meta tags and descriptions, and body content. Optimizing on-page content and metadata based on keyword relevance allows search engines to crawl your site more effectively, maximizing your visibility and improving your search engine ranking.

Monitor Regularly and Adapt as Needed

Don’t just stop your keyword strategy there. Continuously monitor keyword performance using analytics tools like Google Analytics, or regularly have an SEO professional keep an eye on how your keywords are doing with SEO software. Measure the impact of your keyword research, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions to enhance your website’s visibility and performance. Track alterations in keyword rankings, traffic levels, and conversion rates to assess the effectiveness of your keyword analysis and optimization efforts.

Stay up-to-date with industry trends and search engine algorithm changes that could affect your rankings and audience behavior. On a consistent basis, reassess your keywords and adjust your overall strategy as needed.

Use analytics to measure your keyword research’s impact, identify improvement areas, and make data-driven decisions to enhance your website’s visibility and performance.

Keyword Research Tools

Several popular keyword research tools are available to assist in the keyword research process. When looking for the right keyword research tool for your objectives, consider factors such as available features, usability, precision of data, and cost. Look for a device that meets your financial resources and supplies the necessary analysis to refine your keyword tactic competently.

Some well-known examples include:

Google Keyword Planner

This free service from Google gives users a wealth of knowledge and insights into keyword search volume, degree of competition, and related keyword opportunities. This invaluable resource can help discover new keyword ideas and evaluate their effectiveness.


SEMrush offers an in-depth approach to keyword research, allowing for competitive analysis and domain-specific recommendations. This supplies beneficial insights into competitor tactics and untapped opportunities.


Ahrefs is an immensely effective SEO tool that offers keyword research functions, including search amount, keyword difficulty, and competitor analysis. It also supplies extensive information on backlinks, top-ranking keywords, and areas where your content can be improved.

Beyond Keyword Research

research keyword seo Keyword research is only the beginning of a successful SEO strategy. There are a multitude of opportunities to further your strategy. It is important to consider the latest trends of 2023 when producing your keywords, such as incorporating a technique to optimize for voice search and mobile search. Your business can easily do this by focusing on long-tail keywords and conversational phrases that align with how users speak naturally. Optimizing your content to cater to all platforms will produce the best results.

Search engine algorithms are constantly evolving. Stay informed about algorithm updates, industry trends, and best practices to adapt your keyword research and optimization strategies accordingly. Keep a close eye on reputable sources and stay engaged with the SEO community to remain at the forefront of changes.

Keyword research is a critical process that forms the foundation of effective SEO. By following a step-by-step keyword research process, utilizing the right tools, and considering broader SEO strategies, businesses can optimize their online presence, attract targeted traffic, and adapt to the ever-changing search engine realm.



  • Keyword research is essential for SEO success, as it helps businesses understand their target audience and optimize their online presence accordingly.
  • Types of keywords include short-tail, long-tail, LSI, brand-specific, and local keywords.
  • The keyword research process involves defining goals and target audience, brainstorming seed keywords, expanding the list using tools, analyzing keyword metrics and user intent, assessing competitor keywords, refining the keyword list, grouping keywords into themes, mapping keywords to website pages, and monitoring and adapting as needed.
  • Keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Ahrefs provide valuable insights into search volume, competition, and related keywords.
  • Keyword research is just the beginning, and other factors like voice search, mobile search, semantic search, and algorithm updates should be considered for a comprehensive SEO strategy.


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FAQs – Keyword Research

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is identifying and analyzing the specific words and phrases people use when searching for information, products, or services online. It involves understanding user intent, search volume, competition, and relevance to optimize a website’s visibility and attract targeted organic traffic.

Why is keyword research needed for SEO success?

Keyword research forms the foundation of an effective SEO strategy. By targeting the right keywords, businesses can align their content with user intent, improve organic search rankings, drive relevant traffic to their website, and ultimately boost conversions and revenue.

What types of keywords should I consider in my research?

Different types of keywords include short-tail (broad), long-tail (specific), latent semantic indexing (LSI), brand-specific, and local keywords. Each type serves a particular purpose in reaching different segments of your target audience.

How do I conduct the keyword research process?

The keyword research process involves several steps:

  1. Define your goals and target audience.
  2. Brainstorm seed keywords related to your business or industry.
  3. Expand your keyword list using tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush.
  4. Analyze keyword metrics such as search volume and competition.
  5. Consider user intent and categorize keywords accordingly.
  6. Assess competitor keywords and identify opportunities.
  7. Refine your keyword list based on relevance and search volume.
  8. Group keywords into themes for content organization.
  9. Map keywords to specific website pages.
  10. Monitor keyword performance and adapt as needed.

Which tools can I use for keyword research?

Popular keyword research tools include Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Ahrefs. These tools provide valuable insights into search volume, competition, and related keywords, helping you make data-driven decisions for your SEO strategy.

Resource: Google Keyword Planner