How to do keyword research for SEO?

Joran Hofman
March 1, 2020
SEO
Education
How to do keyword research for SEO and the best SEO tools you should use

Nowadays, when you’re running an online marketing campaign, there is no way that SEO isn’t part of that campaign. SEO—short for search engine optimization—helps you increase the number of visitors to your website. If you do it right, SEO will help you increase the visibility of your site in the search engines. And as you probably know by now, having a top ten, or even better, a top-three position on the world’s most popular search engine, Google, is what all companies want and strive for. 

For your SEO efforts to be successful, keyword research is incredibly important. You want to find out what it is that your target audience is searching for and what it will take to rank for those keywords. In this blog, we’ll guide you through three essential steps for doing keyword research for SEO.  

Step 1. Discover keywords 

Keyword research starts with discovering a number of keywords that your target audience uses to search for products like the ones you offer. There is a chance that a good old brainstorming session will give you some keywords that you suspect your audience use. However, always make sure you validate those ideas and find more keywords with the tools available; 

is a great tool to help you find keywords for your SEO efforts. All you have to do is enter a keyword or phrase in the machine. What you’ll get in return is an overview of the keywords’ volume, cost per click and the degree of competition. On top of that, you’ll see a list of different variations of your keyword with that same information. This makes it easy to compare keywords. For example, you might find that a variation of your keyword has a higher volume and less competition, and is, therefore, a better choice for your SEO efforts.   

This is not really a tool since you only have to navigate to Google.com for this. If you type a keyword into the search box, Google will give you a list of ten phrases related to your keyword. These suggested search phrases are more targeted and are great for formulating long-tail keywords. The more words you enter into the search box, the longer and more detailed the phrases that Google generates. 

This might be the most commonly used tool to use for keyword research. You’ll get the best results if you use it with your Google or Google AdWords account. Like Ubersuggest, you can enter a keyword and get information on the average amount of monthly searches for that keyword, the competition and the cost per click. You’ll also see a list of different variations of your keyword with that same information. In addition, there are some filters you can use to search for a broader or narrower range of keywords and to go for a broad, exact or phrase match.

Within Semrush you can see create new keywords you want to rank for. If you are looking for a free alternative to get some quick ideas, try out Keyword Tool. No matter which tool you use; get insights in new interesting long-tail keyword suggestions for every search term you enter. It will give you new keyword ideas instantly. SEMrush can become your tool to go regarding everything SEO related.

Step 2. Find out what keywords you already rank for

If you already have a website online, you can check for which keywords you already list for. There are several tools you can use for this:

In this tool, you can generate a report called Search Analytics. It shows your average position for each of the keywords you rank for and how many impressions and clicks this brings you. See below a screenshot on how this will look.

This tool is excellent if you need more data. You can generate a report called Organic Keywords in the Ahrefs Site Explorer Tool. Like Google Search Console, it shows your average position for each of the keywords you rank for and how much traffic and how many clicks this brings you. Ahrefs also gives you insight into keyword difficulty, which informs you about which keywords you could adjust to reach a top-ten position in the search results. Ahrefs also gives you the possibility to search for the keywords your competitors rank for and lets you do standard keyword research, just like some of the tools we mentioned in Step 1. 

See above a screenshot of Google Search Console

Step 3. Choose the best keywords 

Once you have a collected a list of the keywords, you’ll need to choose which ones are the best for your SEO efforts. You need to prioritize and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is the estimated traffic potential of this keyword? 
  2. How tough is the competition? What would it take to have a better ranking than they do?
  3. How many resources should we invest in building a competitive page, and how much should we spend to promote it?
  4. What’s the ROI of the traffic we will get? Does it only lead to brand awareness, or does it convert into leads and sales?

It’s good to note here that you shouldn’t choose the keywords that are the easiest to rank for. Although this seems tempting and a smart thing to do, you want to select the ones that have the best ROI. Some other things to think about when making your final keyword choices are:

  • Search for keywords that have a high search volume and low difficulty/low competition. 
  • Search for keywords that have a high search volume along with top competitors who have lower domain authority and backlinks. 
  • If your website already ranks on the first page of search engines but not in a top-five position and the keyword has a good search volume, then you should focus on getting that keyword and phrase to move up. 
  • If you offer products or services and thus have a commercial website, you should focus on keywords that seem to have the most commercial intent based on current ranking websites. If you have a blog, and thus have a more informal website, you should focus on keywords that have the most informational intent. 
Find out everything about the keywords you want to rank for with Semrush

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