Recently updated on September 14th, 2023

Keywords play a vital role in a viral environment of eternally unfolding content. Anyone with an online presence needs to understand how to do keyword research in order to get found in Google searches. Why?

According to the WordPress posting activity log, creators around the world wrote 79,889,009 blog posts and launched 16,170,595 new webpages – and that was just in October 2020. That means you are competing against all of those new posts and pages, along with pre-existing, high-authority content. Yeah – it’s an uphill battle!

Let’s dissect how to do keyword research, so you can get your brand seen despite the ever-expanding galaxy of new content that is launched every single day.


Learning how to do keyword research with analytics


What is a Keyword?

Keywords are ideas or topics that help define what your content is about. It’s an indicator that nudges search engines to archive that page’s content in relation to that chosen keyword or keyphrase.

In turn, keywords help float webpages to the top of search engine results pages (SERP). The closer your keyword or keyphrase is to a person’s search query, the more likely it is that your content will be displayed in the search results.

Head Keywords

Let’s say you sell loose-leaf organic green tea online. When learning about how to do keyword research, you might think to identify “green tea” as your keyword since it’s broad and would capture more searches – but you’d be sorely mistaken.

Unless you have a massive backlog of pages and posts about green tea, each with its own unique and relevant keyword, using what’s known as a “head” keyword could hurt your keyword strategy and your overall search rank.

Why? Because you’re tossing an anchor into a deeper sea of competition. You must first find a shallow pool of relevant searches so your content can float to the top of the results faster.

Cartoon person wondering how to do keyword research

Well-known brands or sites with a steady flow of traffic can more easily claim head keywords, but small businesses and websites that are just starting out should dive in with a different strategy. 

Mid & Long-Tail Keywords

Mid and long-tail keywords are specific. They focus on a niche, making them easier to rank for. This is the sweet spot for both search engines and users because it increases the likelihood that your content is relevant to the original search.

Google’s mission is to organize websites and make them universally accessible and relevant. That said, you need to get into the mind of your buyer. Think about what stage the user will be in when they search for your product, service, or content. 

Let’s revisit the tea shop scenario. You want to sell your premium loose-leaf organic green tea, but your website is not pulling in the right audience. What information can you gather from your target audience simply from the fact that they are interested in organic loose-leaf tea?

First, they’re either ready to make a purchase or they’re hoping to learn something. It’s also safe to assume that they care about what they put in their bodies. With this information, generate a list of keywords like “best organic green tea leaves,” “organic loose leaf green tea,” or “certified organic tea leaves”.

When thinking about how to do keyword research, imagining the buyer journey will help you generate focused and action-oriented keywords that drive the appropriate in-market audience to your site.


Keyword research with Google

How to Do Keyword Research

  1. Think about the buyer journey. Find out what terms people are actually using to search.
  2. Research context and competition.
  3. Create captivating content that uses your keyword.

Step 1: Get into the mind of your customer.

Develop a list of keywords relevant to your services, products, demographics, location, and brand. How? Conduct a brainstorming session or survey with employees, stakeholders, social media followers, and pre-existing customers. This will help in discovering word associations and terminology that might otherwise have been lost.

Another way to search for commonly used terms is to go straight to the source. Open an incognito window in Google Chrome. Type in your industry-specific keywords and keyphrases. This won’t tell you how many searches there are for that term, but it will suggest similar search terms to add to your list.

Record the new list into an archive or keyword planner, making sure to organize keywords in alignment with what stage the customer is in when typing in that term.

 Step 2: Use keyword planner tools to chisel away at the backlog.

You should have a rather extensive list of keywords, search terms, and questions. That list alone is not enough when learning how to do keyword research and identify the phrases. It’s time to look at the true value of each of your ideas. You will need the aid of one, or multiple keyword research tools.

Keyword research cartoon with spyglass

Keyword Research Tools:

Different keyword research tools deliver different metrics. The Google Keyword Planner is widely used and delivers valuable insights, including suggested keywords by relevance, average monthly searches, competition status, and top-of-page bid cost.

Similarly, Ubersuggest delivers metrics that are even more granular and suggests both keyword ideas and content topics. Explore each of the above tools to decide which system works best for you.

Once you’ve decided which tool to use, input your list of keywords into the search planner and analyze. Focus on optimizing for high-value keywords. High-value keywords are those that are relevant to your brand or product that have a high volume of searches, low competition, and a low cost-per-click (CPC).

Prioritize keywords based on volume, organic results, low competition, and low CPC.

Step 3: Create captivating, relevant content that’s optimized for the chosen keyword.

Designate one keyword per webpage. Use that keyword in the heading title (H1), and in the meta description, and sprinkle it throughout your content. Thread it into your image alt attributes, the image file name itself, in the URL, and one or more times in those subheaders.

Be sure not to use your keyword so often that it seems unnatural. Google penalizes websites for keyword stuffing and other cheap tricks which can hurt your search engine optimization (SEO).

Keep in mind that you should not optimize multiple posts or pages for the same keyword! Using the same keyword multiple times on one website confuses Google search crawlers. You’ll wind up competing with yourself to rank for that keyword.


Two women learning how to do keyword research


A Final Look at How to Do Keyword Research

Conducting thorough keyword analysis is time-consuming, but fundamental in getting found in relevant searches. If you’re interested in learning more about the SEO ecosystem, sign up to receive our newsletter to get this series of SEO tips delivered straight to your inbox! Link to newsletter signup?

However, if you’re still a bit lost on how to do keyword research, consider reaching out to Next Horizon. Next Horizon is a digital marketing agency that delivers data-driven results and helps businesses get discovered online.

Click here to start your keyword strategy.

Next Horizon provides our dedicated team of experts to align your business goals with tangible digital marketing strategies that give you deeper insights into your ideal customer, with innovative, cost-effective services.

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