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Keyword Research for SEO: A Complete Guide

How to do Keyword Research for SEO

By
Sanjoli Arora

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Getting your content noticed in the massive digital world of SEO is like finding the perfect key for a lock. And that magical key is your keyword. Without the correct one, your top-quality content might get overlooked, lost in the infinite maze of the internet.

Finding the right keyword or list of keyword clusters is the thrilling yet challenging game of keyword research. A small misstep can cost you time, energy, and resources.

Mastering keyword research isn't an impossible task. It's quite simple once you understand the basics. In this blog, we will learn how to perform keyword research for SEO and the best practices to do so.

The right keyword research can decide between your content being ignored on search engines or getting clicked and seeing a conversion. So, why wait? Dive into the keyword research guide to get a solid grasp of keyword research and turn your content into a powerful traffic magnet.

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of finding and analyzing search terms that people enter into search engines when searching for specific products, services, or general information.

The objective of keyword research is to understand the audience's search intent and find the keywords that will drive traffic to a website.

It can help you identify the topics people are interested in and the phrases they use to search for those topics. It can also help you understand how competitive certain keywords are and how difficult it might be to rank for them. Google stated, "Keyword research is one of the most important, valuable, and high return activities in the search marketing field."

Google suggests that businesses should focus on identifying relevant and high-traffic keywords that are relevant to their industry, products, and services.

You might wonder if performing keyword research is relevant to a few industries. As long as a business has an online presence and aims to increase its visibility, keyword research is crucial. Regardless of the industry, keyword research can provide valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences.

3 Key Aspects of a Good Keyword

A good keyword selection has three key aspects: Relevance, Authority, and Volume. These three play a significant role in SEO and can impact your site's visibility, ranking, and overall online presence.

The big question is, "Should I prioritize relevance, authority, or volume when choosing a keyword?" The answer is that all three are equally important and should be balanced. Each of these attributes serves a specific purpose.

Relevance connects your content with the target audience, authority boosts your SEO rankings, and volume determines the potential traffic you can draw to your site.

Balancing these factors requires strategic planning, continuous testing, and refining your keyword selection based on data and performance metrics. Let us understand each of these aspects in keyword selection and usage.

Keyword Relevance

Relevance means how closely a keyword relates to your site or business's content. A keyword will only be effective for SEO if it is highly relevant to your content and audience. It plays a vital role in aligning your content with users' search intent, which is a critical factor for search engine rankings.

Determining if a keyword is relevant is not a complex task. Ask yourself: does this keyword accurately represent my business or the content I create? If the answer is yes, then it's relevant.

Keyword Authority

Authority refers to the credibility of a keyword or website in the eyes of search engines. Search engines like Google determine the authority of a keyword based on the quality, number of backlinks, consistency & relevancy of your content.

Search engines prefer highly authoritative websites, leading to better visibility and higher rankings.

It is important to note that building authority takes time and effort. You can increase your website's authority by following:

1. Creating high-quality content

2. Building relationships with other websites

3. Promoting your content on social media.

Keyword Search Volume

Volume is the third aspect of a good keyword. It refers to the number of times a particular keyword is searched for within a certain period.

When choosing a keyword, consider its search volume to determine its popularity. The higher the search volume, the greater the potential for increased traffic to your site. However, they are also more competitive and harder to rank for.

Keyword Research & SEO Importance

Here are some reasons why keyword research is important for SEO:

1. Understanding User Intent: Keyword research examines your audience's interests and search patterns. It helps you tailor your content to match their needs and boost search result relevance.

2. Content Optimization: Penning down content that resonates with your target audience is only half the battle won. Keyword research provides a guide for incorporating valuable phrases to enhance SEO efforts.

3. Competitive Analysis: By conducting keyword research, you know what keywords your competitors rank for. It allows you to strategize and optimize your content around these keywords, effectively seizing opportunities your competitors might have overlooked.

4. Increase Conversion Rate: Right keywords equal right traffic. Ranking for keywords that align with your product or service boosts traffic and increases the likelihood of visitor conversions.

5. Long-Term SEO Strategy: Keyword research is not a one-off process but a continuous one that helps craft a long-term SEO strategy. Regular keyword research ensures your content stays relevant and continues to draw in traffic over time.

SEO Keywords v/s Topic Clusters

SEO keywords and topic clusters are two important concepts in SEO, but they are not the same thing. Here is how they both are different:

Aspect SEO Keywords Topic Clusters
Definition SEO keywords are specific words or phrases in your web content that make it possible for people to find your website via search engines. Topic clusters are a group of interlinked web pages. They are built around one pillar content targeting a broad keyword linked to several related but more narrowly focused pages.
Searcher Intent SEO keywords aim to match the exact phrases searched by users. They focus on the accuracy of the query. Topic clusters cater to the context & the broader intent behind user searches, not just the exact phrase.
Content Organization Content is often organized in a linear fashion. Each page is optimized for a unique keyword. The content structure resembles a cluster. A pillar post covers a broad topic and interlinked sub-topics.
Ranking They are intended to rank individual pages higher on SERP. They aim to improve the visibility of the entire domain, making it an authority on a broader subject.
User Experience They can sometimes lead to keyword-stuffing, negatively impacting user experience. They provide a more organic user experience through the natural linking of related content.
Scalability Expanding keyword targeting may lead to keyword cannibalization and content fragmentation. It provides a scalable structure, allowing for the organic growth of content while maintaining coherence.

Types of Keywords

There are several types of keywords that you can include in your content, and a combination of all of these will bring you the best results. Let us look at each one of them:

Head Term or Seed Keyword

Seed keyword(s) are the foundation of your keyword research. They are the most basic and broadest keywords that describe your business, products, or services and help you identify your competitors.

These keywords are broad, generic, and usually one or two words long. Finding seed keywords isn't an arduous task. Simple brainstorming about your product or service can help you list down a handful of them.

Primary & Secondary Keywords

Primary keywords are the main keywords you want your content to rank for, while secondary keywords support those related to your primary keywords.

Clustering your keywords together helps create a keyword-rich environment and increases the relevancy of the content. These keywords should be identified keeping in mind the goal of your content and can be found using keyword research tools.

Optimize by strategically placing primary keywords in important on-page elements like titles and headers. Use secondary keywords to support the primary ones throughout your content.

Keywords by Search Intent

These keywords are based on the intent behind the search query. These are classified into four categories:

1. Informational: These keywords are used by searchers looking for more information on a topic. These keywords are significant because they make your website a trusted information source.

You can find these keywords by exploring commonly asked questions or topics within your industry.

2. Navigational: Navigational keywords are used when users already know the website they want to visit but may not remember the exact URL. These keywords often include brand names or specific services and are important for businesses to capitalize on their brand identity.

By identifying navigational keywords relevant to your business, you can optimize your site to cater to these users. Use SEO tools like Quattr to find these keywords and include them in your website's meta tags, headings, and content wherever relevant.

3. Commercial: Search terms users use in the research and comparison phase of their buying journey. These users are interested in gathering information, comparing products or services, and evaluating their options before deciding. Commercial keywords may include words like "best," "compare," "reviews," or "top-rated."

Users using commercial keywords are still in the consideration phase and may not be ready to make an immediate purchase.

4. Transactional: Transactional keywords are those used by searchers who are ready to purchase or perform an action. The significance of these keywords lies in their high conversion potential.

To find transactional keywords:

1. Look for common phrases or words associated with purchasing in your industry.

2. Focus on terms that include "buy", "discount", "deal", or even specific product names.

3. Ensure these keywords are prominently featured on your product pages or sign-up forms.

Understanding search intent is crucial because it helps you create content that matches what users seek. It helps you effectively target different stages of the user's search intent and guides them through their search journey to promote conversion.

Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are more specific and usually longer than seed keywords. They are usually three or more words long and are used to target a specific audience or niche. These keywords have lower search volumes, but they also have less competition and a higher conversion rate.

To find them, consider user questions and problems within your niche. Tools like AnswerThePublic can help. Incorporating long-tail keywords into your content can help you rank higher on SERP and attract more quality traffic.

Low Competition Keywords

These keywords are just as they sound; they have low competition. Even though they might not generate much traffic, they can help your content rank higher in SERP and increase your visibility. They are usually long-tail keywords that are less competitive than seed keywords.

You can find low-competition keywords using keyword research tools, which will present you with a list of keywords with low difficulty. Using these keywords in your content helps you rank easily, increasing your site's visibility.

Niche Keywords

Niche keywords are highly specific to your business & target audience. They are the keywords that your specific audience is likely to use while searching.

For instance, 'SEO for large organizations' could be your niche keyword. These keywords can attract highly targeted traffic, leading to high conversion rates.

Branded & Non-Branded Keywords

Branded keywords contain your brand's name, while non-branded keywords relate to the products or services you offer without mentioning your brand. Both are equally important!

Branded keywords help maintain your reputation and attract customers looking specifically for your product. On the other hand, non-branded keywords help you reach out to potential customers looking for the services or products you provide but don't know your brand yet.

By using a combination of both branded and non-branded keywords, you can effectively promote your brand and attract a wider audience.

Competitor Gap Keywords

Competitor keywords are keywords your competitors use to rank higher in SERPs. It provides insights into market trends and helps identify growth opportunities.

You can use the tools available to identify your competitor's keywords. However, remember not just blindly to use these keywords; ensure they align with your brand and audience. Use this information to improve your content and strategy, potentially outranking them in search results.

Tools to Perform Keyword Research

Using the right keyword research tools is crucial in boosting your website's SEO. It can help you understand what your potential customers or audience are searching for and align your content strategy accordingly. It can also offer in-depth insights such as keyword metrics, competition, and search volumes.

You can use numerous tools to conduct keyword research, each offering different insights and metrics. These tools range from free services to premium, subscription-based software.

Understanding Keyword Metrics and Their Significance

Before moving to the keyword research steps, it is important to understand the metrics that you should consider when performing keyword research. Here are some keyword metrics that you should consider:

1. Search Volume: Search volume tells you how often a keyword is searched for. It's essential to gauge the potential traffic a keyword can bring. High volume means more traffic potential, but it might also mean fierce competition.

2. Keyword Difficulty: It measures how hard it is to rank for a keyword. A lower difficulty score indicates easier ranking, while a higher one suggests more competition. Finding a balance is crucial for your success.

3. Click-Through Rate (CTR): CTR indicates the percentage of users who click on a search result after seeing it. High-CTR keywords are more likely to increase organic traffic, making them attractive targets.

4. Cost-Per-Click (CPC): CPC shows how much companies might need to pay for advertising a specific keyword. It also helps you identify keywords with commercial intent that could lead to conversions.

5. Keyword Trend: It shows the popularity of a keyword over time. Seasonal keywords might have spikes in interest during specific periods, impacting your content planning.

Free and Paid Keyword Research Tools

As mentioned earlier, numerous keyword research tools are available in the market. Each has unique features and functionalities that can aid your keyword research process. Let's dive into some of the top ones:

Free Keyword Research Tools

1. Google Keyword Planner: This free tool allows you to find new keywords, analyze search volume, and estimate the cost of running ads for specific keywords. It is an excellent tool for beginners, providing a basic understanding of your target keywords. It is also helpful in finding long-tail keywords that can help you rank for specific phrases.

2. AnswerThePublic: Answer The Public is another free keyword research tool that provides keyword ideas phrased as questions. It helps you understand what people are searching for and what content you should create to answer their queries.

3. Google Search Console: GSC provides the actual search queries people use to land on your page. It offers insights from Google’s database, giving you direct access to how Google views your site and which keywords it associates with your pages.

Paid Keyword Research Tools

1. Quattr Content AI: Quattr functionalities deliver strategic and actionable suggestions derived from your data and your competitor's. It assists you in achieving your marketing objectives. It's 'Plan Keywords' tool lets you perform keyword research and create a keyword list for your content strategy.

2. Semrush: SEMrush's keyword magic tool helps users find millions of related keywords and phrases. It can also give you with a comprehensive understanding of the keyword landscape within your niche.

3. Ahrefs: Ahrefs's is renowned for its robust backlink analysis, but it also excels in keyword research with features like keyword difficulty scores. It is an excellent tool for finding low-competition keywords that can help you rank higher in SERPs.

How to Choose the Right Keyword Research Tool

Choosing the right keyword research tool depends on your specific needs and budget. Here are some factors to consider:

1. Your Goals: Determine whether you are seeking high-volume keywords to boost traffic or focusing on long-tail keywords for better conversion rates.

2. Budget: Assess your financial capacity for a paid tool subscription. While free tools are excellent for beginners, paid tools often offer more comprehensive insights.

3. Features: Look for tools that offer a broad range of features, including competitor analysis, trend tracking, and keyword difficulty assessment.

4. User-Friendliness: Ensure that the tool's interface aligns with your level of expertise and is easy to navigate.

5. Support and Community: Check for available customer support and an active user community. These can be invaluable for assistance and staying updated.

SEO Keyword Research Step-wise Process

1. Understand Your Business and Its Goals

As an initial step, understanding your business's nature and its goals is paramount. It includes gaining a complete understanding of your products or services and identifying your target audience.

Then, establish the objectives of your keyword research - boosting organic traffic, improving SEO performance, or increasing conversion rates. These objectives will influence the type of keywords you are searching for.

The more accurately you define your goals, the more effective your keyword strategy will be. This step forms the foundation for your entire keyword research process, so take the time to ensure it is solid.

2. Brainstorm Head Term & Primary Keywords

Next, you can start brainstorming seed keywords directly related to your business. To come up with primary keywords, start by considering the different products or services you offer. What are the different ways that people might search for those products or services?

For example, if you are an enterprise SEO platform, some primary keywords might be "SEO Platform," "Enterprise SEO", etc.

These underlying topics will guide your keyword generation process and should align with your business, the issues your target audience faces, and the content you produce.

3. Utilize Keyword Research Tools

After identifying your primary keywords, it's time to use keyword research tools to find related keywords. Use keyword research tools like Quattr, Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Ahrefs to find related keywords.

These tools can provide insights into average monthly search volumes, keyword difficulty, and potential return on investment for each keyword. These tools can significantly enhance your keyword strategy, providing a data-driven optimization approach.

4. Analyze Competitor’s Keywords

The next step is to analyze your competitors and see their target keywords. Your competitor's keywords can offer valuable insights into your industry's SEO landscape. This analysis can reveal viable keyword opportunities that you may have missed.

While competitor analysis is valuable, your chosen keywords should always align with your brand and audience. Focus on relevance and how well a keyword fits your goals.

5. Prioritize and Categorize Keywords

Based on the insights you have gathered, start prioritizing your keywords. Consider factors such as relevance to your brand, search volume, and difficulty level.

Then, categorize the keywords into informational, transactional, or navigational categories based on searcher intent. This process enables a more focused and goal-oriented approach to your SEO strategy, ensuring you target the right audiences with the right content.

6. Implement and Monitor

The final step involves implementing your chosen keywords into your website content and monitoring their performance. SEO tools, like Quattr, can help track your web page ranking over time, providing valuable feedback on your strategy's effectiveness.

Remember that SEO is a long-term, ongoing process, and adjustments may be required. It's not just about attracting more traffic to your site, but attracting the right kind of traffic that will convert to sales. You can continually optimize for the best possible results by monitoring and adjusting your strategy as needed.

How to Use Keyword Research for On-page SEO?

Here are some of the best practices for using keyword research for on-page SEO:

Using the Primary Keyword in the Page Title, URL, and Meta Description

The page title, URL, and meta description are essential elements that search engines consider when determining the relevance of your content. Incorporating your primary keyword into these elements can signal to search engines what the page is about, increasing its chances of ranking higher in relevant search queries.

By including the keyword naturally and properly optimizing these elements can improve search engine rankings and attract more organic clicks from users.

Creating High-quality Content With Primary and Secondary Keywords

Content is king, and creating high-quality content that provides value to your target audience is vital. Incorporating your keywords into your content is essential, but ensuring that the keywords are integrated seamlessly into the narrative is equally important.

Avoid keyword stuffing, which can negatively impact user experience and search engine rankings. Instead, focus on creating engaging and informative content that naturally includes the chosen keywords. It enhances keyword relevancy and improves search engine rankings.

Use of Header Tags (H1, H2, H3) for Content Structuring and Keyword Placement

Header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) are used to structure the content on your page. These tags make it easier for users and search engines to understand and make your content more readable.

Including keywords in header tags can help search engines better understand the content hierarchy and relevance. It also allows search engines to understand your content's structure and flow better. When these headers also contain your keyword, it amplifies the relevance and comprehension of your content, leading to better SEO outcomes.

Implementing Internal Linking with Keyword-rich Anchor Text

Internal linking is the process of linking your web page to the other pages on your website. It helps search engines understand the website's structure, and hierarchy, spreading link equity, and providing additional reading options to the user.

Use keyword-rich anchor text when linking to other relevant pages on your website. It helps search engines understand the relationship between the linked pages and the keywords used, enhancing relevancy.

It also provides your readers with more reading options, thus boosting user engagement and dwell time on your site. A well-structured internal linking strategy can improve your site's navigation, increase page views, and significantly enhance your overall SEO efforts.

SEO Keyword Research is Key to Your Content Strategy

Keyword research is the foundation of any successful SEO strategy. By understanding the keywords your target audience is searching for, you can create content and optimize your website to rank higher in SERP.

Remember to use a combination of tools and techniques to find the right keywords for your website. Regularly review and update your strategy to stay ahead of the competition.

But, as every SEO professional knows, the right tools can make all the difference in your keyword research endeavors. This is where Quattr becomes a valuable ally in your SEO toolkit.

Quattr's AI SEO Suite, equipped with a keyword research tool, can be a valuable resource for performing keyword research. It allows you to discover, organize, and manage your keywords effectively.

With Quattr's discover keyword functionality, you can create and save unlimited keyword lists on multiple topics you want to target for your domain. It saves time and resources and offers a systematic approach to SEO strategies.

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Keyword Research for SEO FAQs

How many keywords should I target on each page of my website?

When determining the number of keywords to target on each website page, prioritize quality over quantity. Aim for a concise list of 2-4 highly relevant keywords seamlessly integrating into your content. Craft each keyword variation to address distinct user intent, ensuring a diverse semantic approach to avoid keyword stuffing or repetition.

How often should I update my keyword strategy?

Optimizing your keyword strategy should ideally be a monthly task. Your keyword strategy should align with the new trends and search algorithm updates or whenever there's a sizable shift in your industry’s market behavior.

How do I avoid keyword stuffing and balance SEO and content quality?

Keyword stuffing is a black-hat SEO technique that can lead to penalties from Google. To avoid it, focus on creating high-quality content that naturally incorporates relevant keywords. Use synonyms and related terms to maintain a natural flow of language.

About The Author

Sanjoli Arora

Sanjoli Arora is a Content Strategist at Quattr and helps our customers create intent-driven content that ranks on search engines. She writes about content marketing, digital marketing, conversion rate optimization, and SEO technology.

About Quattr

Quattr is an innovative and fast-growing venture-backed company based in Palo Alto, California USA. We are a Delaware corporation that has raised over $7M in venture capital. Quattr's AI-first platform evaluates like search engines to find opportunities across content, experience, and discoverability. A team of growth concierge analyze your data and recommends the top improvements to make for faster organic traffic growth. Growth-driven brands trust Quattr and are seeing sustained traffic growth.

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