Keyword Research for SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for driving qualified traffic to your website. But how do you know which keywords and search terms you should be targeting to boost your organic rankings? The answer lies in conducting in-depth keyword research. In this post, I’ll explain what keyword research involves, outline the key steps in the keyword research process, highlight the top tools you can use, and work on an example of doing keyword research for a website. Whether you’re new to SEO or want to optimize an existing strategy, understanding keyword research is essential for maximizing the visibility of your site in search engines. With the right keywords, you can attract more visitors, leads and customers from Google and other search engines.

Keyword research for Search Engine Optimization

What is Keyword Research?

At its core, keyword research involves identifying the terms and phrases your target audience uses when searching for products, services, or information online. These keywords are the lynchpin that connects your online content with your audience. While working on SEO, understanding and using the right keywords is akin to speaking the same language as your potential customers.

Keyword research is the process of identifying high-volume, relevant keywords that you want your website to rank for in search engines. The goal is to find keywords that get a lot of searches and have low competition, so you can more easily rank on the first page of Google, Bing or Yahoo.

When doing keyword research, you want to find keywords that are:

  • High search volume – Gets a lot of monthly searches so you get more traffic
  • Low competition – Easier to rank for these terms
  • Relevant – Closely matches your products, services and website content

What are Different Types of Keyword Research for SEO?

By Length

  • Short-tail: 1-3 words, high search volume, but fierce competition. Think “SEO” or “marketing.” Great for brand awareness, but less targeted.
  • Long-tail: 4+ words, lower search volume, but less competition and more specific intent. Think “best digital marketing agency in USA” or “how to do keyword research for SEO.” Excellent for driving qualified traffic and conversions.

By Search Intent

  • Informational: These keywords answer questions. Think “how to bake bread” or “best places to visit in New York.” Target these with informative content like blog posts or guides.
  • Navigational: These keywords lead users to specific websites or pages. Think “Facebook login” or “Apple official website.” Optimize landing pages and internal linking for these.
  • Commercial: These keywords indicate purchase interest. Think “best laptops for students” or “buy Nike sneakers.” Craft product pages and reviews around these.
  • Transactional: These keywords scream “buy now!” Think “order pizza near me” or “book a hotel room.” Focus on clear CTAs and smooth checkout processes for these.

Branded Keywords

Include your company or brand name like “XYZ Homes”. Help build brand visibility and awareness.

  • Shine a Spotlight on Your Name: Include your brand name, products, or services in search terms. Think “Nike shoes” or “Acme widget reviews.”
  • Attract Loyal Fans: Reach existing customers and brand enthusiasts actively seeking you out.
  • Build Brand Authority: Dominate search results for your own name, showcasing your online presence.
  • Protect Your Turf: Prevent competitors from stealing your thunder in search engine rankings.
  • Fuel Conversions: Target users closer to purchase, ready to engage with your brand specifically.

Branded keywords are your golden ticket to brand loyalty and targeted traffic. Use them wisely!

Geo-Targeted Keyword Research

Include a location like “New Jersey Digital Marketing Agency” or “digital marketing agency in Middlesex county”. Help you rank for local search.

  1. Location, Location, Location: Add city, neighborhood, or zip code to your keywords. Think “pizza delivery near me” or “best dentist in Brooklyn.”
  2. Attract Nearby Customers: Capture searches from potential clients in your specific area.
  3. Boost Local Visibility: Climb the rankings in local search results, putting your business on the map (literally!).
  4. Target with Precision: Reach users ready to buy or engage locally, minimizing wasted traffic.
  5. Embrace Local Lingo: Include local slang or landmarks in your keywords for extra relevance.

Geo-targeting attracts customers ready to do business with you now. Unleash the local power, and watch your neighborhood searches flourish!

Non-Branded Keywords

General keywords that do not contain brand-specific terms. Useful for attracting a broader audience and increasing top-of-the-funnel traffic.

  • Cast a Wider Net: Attract potential customers who don’t know your brand yet, using words related to your products or services. Think “best running shoes” or “SEO tips for beginners.”
  • Boost Discoverability: Expand your reach to a broader audience searching for solutions you offer.
  • Drive Organic Traffic: Attract qualified leads by appearing in searches for general terms relevant to your niche.
  • Lower Competition: Often less competitive than branded keywords, making it easier to rank higher.
  • Focus on Intent: Understand the user’s purpose behind the search (informational, buying, etc.) to tailor your content accordingly.

Non-branded keywords are your gateway to new audiences and organic growth. Use them strategically to build brand awareness and attract valuable customers!

Competitor Keywords

Keywords your competitors are ranking for. Useful for tracking and benchmarking.

  1. Know Your Enemy: Analyze keywords your competitors rank for to understand their target audience and SEO strategy. Think “Acme competitor reviews” or “alternatives to Brand X product.”
  2. Uncover Hidden Gems: Discover new keyword opportunities your competitors might be missing, expanding your own SEO reach.
  3. Benchmark Your Performance: See how your keyword rankings compare to your competitors, identifying areas for improvement.
  4. Outsmart the Crowd: Learn from their successes and adapt their strategies to your own brand voice and audience.
  5. Focus on Uniqueness: Differentiate yourself by targeting niche keywords your competitors overlook, attracting a specific customer base.

Competitor research is all about learning, not copying. Use their insights to inform your own strategic approach and build a winning SEO game plan. Good luck!

How does Keyword Research Process Work?

Brainstorm broad keyword themes and topics relevant to your business. For a real estate site, themes might be “homes for sale”, “apartments”, “new construction”, etc.

Use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush or Ahrefs to generate more specific keyword ideas and view search volume data.

Organize keywords into groups and categories. Look for common topics and themes.

Analyze competition for your top keywords using a tool like SEMrush. Identify low competition keywords to target first.

Prioritize keywords by search volume, competition, relevance and commercial intent. Focus on 3-5 top keywords first.

Map it out: Assign keywords to website pages. For example, “best beachfront condos in Miami” goes on your condo listings page.

What are Useful Keyword Research Tools?

Google Keyword Planner – Free tool to find keyword volume and suggested ideas. Part of Google Ads.

SEMrush – Robust paid tool for keyword data, competitor analysis and tracking rankings.

Ahrefs – Powerful paid SEO tool with keyword research features. Provides search volume and difficulty data.

Ubersuggest – Free keyword idea generator from Neil Patel. Helps expand keyword lists.

Answer the Public – Generates keyword questions and ideas based on search autocomplete data.

Moz Keyword Explorer: Provides keyword suggestions and SERP analysis.

Keyword Research and People Also Ask

Keyword research and the “People also ask” feature are two sides of the same SEO coin. Researching keywords helps you understand what people are actively searching for, while the “People also ask” feature reveals the specific questions, concerns, and long-tail variations associated with those keywords. By analyzing both, you can craft content that directly addresses those user queries, increasing your chances of appearing in the coveted “People also ask” box and boosting your site’s visibility for related searches. It’s like having a crystal ball showing you not just what people are looking for, but the specific details they’re curious about, allowing you to tailor your content for maximum impact.

Keyword Research Example

Let’s walk through an example keyword research process for a real estate agent looking to rank better locally.

After brainstorming, we might identify “homes for sale” and “real estate agent” as our top themes. Using Google Keyword Planner, we search for more keywords under those themes to generate ideas like:

  • homes for sale in East Brunswick
  • East Brunswick real estate agents
  • real estate agents in East Brunswick

We group keywords by location, type of property and real estate agent themes. Looking at search volume and competition data, we identify “East Brunswick real estate agent” as a potential focus keyword with good search volume and low competition.

After researching keywords, we can now optimize our real estate website for our target terms and track rankings over time as we work to improve visibility.

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