How to Start Keyword Research for SEO

Understanding the importance of keyword research in search engine optimisation (SEO) is the first step toward enhancing your website's visibility and reach. In the vast digital landscape, keywords act as the compass that guides potential customers to your online presence and increases visibility in Google, Microsoft Bing, and other search engines. They are the bridge between the search queries of your target audience and the valuable content, products, or services you offer. When used effectively, keywords can significantly improve your site's ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs), thereby increasing organic traffic to your site. Effective keyword research allows you to understand the language your potential customers use online, helping you tailor your content to meet their needs and interests. In essence, keyword research is not just about SEO—it's about better connecting with your audience, which leads to real business results.

Understanding SEO and Keyword Research

Definition of SEO and Keyword Research.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a set of strategies and techniques aimed at enhancing a website's visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) to increase organic, or non-paid, traffic. It involves various aspects, including site layout, content creation, and link building, all with the goal of making a site more attractive to search engines. Keyword research is a critical component of SEO as it is the practice of finding, analysing, and using the phrases that people enter into search engines when looking for specific information, products, or services. The goal of keyword research is to optimise your content around these terms, ensuring it appears in relevant search results, thus increasing your visibility and attracting more targeted traffic to your site. By understanding and implementing both SEO and keyword research, you can create a powerful strategy to boost your online presence and reach your target audience more effectively.

Explanation of How Keywords Impact SEO

Keywords play a pivotal role in SEO as they are the linchpin between what people are searching for and the content you are providing to fill that need. When users enter queries into a search engine, they are looking for specific terms that match their interests. These terms, or keywords, guide search engines to the most relevant content. By strategically using these keywords in your content, you can make it easier for search engines to index your pages, thereby improving your visibility in search results. Furthermore, optimising your content with relevant keywords helps search engines understand what your site is about, which can ultimately lead to higher rankings on the SERPs. However, it's crucial to remember that keyword usage should be balanced and organic. Overuse or "keyword stuffing" can lead to penalties from search engines. In essence, effective keyword usage is about quality over quantity; it's about being relevant and valuable to your audience while also being visible to search engines.

Importance of Keywords in Driving Targeted Traffic

Keywords are the critical drivers of traffic to your website. They serve as the connection between the searcher's intent and your site's content. When users enter a query into a search engine, they're looking for answers or solutions. If your site's content includes the keywords that match these queries, your pages have a higher chance of appearing in the search results, thus driving more traffic to your site. But it's not just about any traffic; it's about attracting the right kind of traffic - visitors who are likely interested in what you offer. By targeting specific, relevant keywords, you can attract a targeted audience that is more likely to engage with your content, products, or services. This not only boosts your site's visibility but also increases the chances of converting visitors into customers. Therefore, effective keyword research and implementation are crucial components of any successful SEO strategy.

The Basics of Keyword Research

Short-tail and Long-tail Keywords

In the world of SEO, keywords are generally categorised into two main types: short-tail and long-tail keywords. Short-tail keywords, also known as head terms, are typically one to two words long and have a broad meaning. For example, "shoes" or "running shoes" are short-tail keywords. These keywords tend to have high search volumes, but they're also highly competitive and may not attract the most relevant traffic due to their generic nature.

On the other hand, long-tail keywords are longer phrases, usually three to five words, that are specific to what the user is searching for. An example might be "women's running shoes for flat feet." These keywords tend to have lower search volumes compared to short-tail keywords, but they often attract more targeted, high-quality traffic. They are less competitive, making it easier to rank for them in search results, and users who search using long-tail keywords are often further along in the buying cycle, meaning they're more likely to convert.

By using both types of keywords, you can cast a wide net to attract a large audience while also targeting specific users who are more likely to engage with your content and become customers. This dual approach can lead to increased traffic, improved conversion rates, and ultimately, higher revenue.

Keyword Difficulty and Search Volume

Keyword difficulty and search volume are two essential metrics in SEO and keyword research.

Keyword difficulty is a measure that predicts how challenging it would be to rank on the first page of Google for a specific keyword. It's calculated based on various factors, including the number and quality of websites currently ranking for that keyword. A higher keyword difficulty score indicates a higher level of competition, meaning it will require more effort and resources to achieve high rankings for that keyword.

On the other hand, search volume refers to the number of searches that are expected for a particular keyword over a given period, usually a month. It provides an estimate of the traffic you could potentially receive if you rank well for that keyword. A high search volume indicates that a keyword is popular among users, but it might also mean more competition.

Both metrics are crucial when selecting keywords for your SEO strategy. Ideally, you want to find keywords with a high search volume (indicating interest) and low keyword difficulty (suggesting you have a good chance of ranking for them). Balancing these two factors can help you optimise your website's visibility and attract more relevant traffic.

Tools for Keyword Research

Utilising tools for keyword research can significantly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your efforts. Keyword research tools allow you to identify the most relevant and high-performing keywords in your niche, providing invaluable insights into market trends and consumer behavior. They help you understand what your target audience is searching for and how they're phrasing their queries. This enables you to tailor your content to match these search patterns, thereby improving your SEO ranking and increasing visibility.

List of Popular Keyword Research Tools

Google Keyword Planner is an invaluable, free tool that can play an integral role in optimising your website for SEO. This tool, offered by Google Ads, allows you to discover new keyword ideas related to your product, service, or website content. It presents a wealth of data, including search volume trends, keyword suggestions, and the competitiveness of these keywords. This information is critical when crafting an SEO strategy as it guides you in selecting the most relevant and high-performing keywords for your site. Additionally, Google Keyword Planner's cost-free nature makes it an accessible tool for businesses of all sizes, offering everyone a chance to improve their online presence without a hefty investment.

SE Ranking is a powerful tool that excels in keyword research, it provides an in-depth analysis of your website's keywords and those of your competitors. SE Ranking offers a detailed view of keyword rankings, search volumes, keyword suggestions, and competitiveness levels. This data-driven approach allows you to identify high-performing keywords and understand how they are being used within your industry. It can also help you spot gaps in your current strategy, providing opportunities for improvement

Step-by-Step Guide on Conducting Keyword Research

Embarking on keyword research can seem like a daunting task, but by following these steps, you can streamline the process and enhance your SEO efforts:

Step 1: Start with a broad list of potential keywords.

Begin by brainstorming a wide array of keywords related to your business, services, or products. Consider the language your target audience might use when searching for your offerings 

Step 2: Use keyword research tools to expand your list.

Leverage tools like Google Keyword Planner or SE Ranking to generate more keyword ideas, these can provide insights into search trends and patterns. 

Step 3: Analyse keyword competition and search volume.

Evaluate the competitiveness of each keyword and its search volume. This will help you evaluate the potential of each keyword in driving traffic to your site. 

Step 4: Prioritise keywords based on relevance, competition, and search volume.

Find a balance of  keywords that are most relevant to your content and have a decent search volume, and manageable competition.

Step 5: Incorporate selected keywords into your content strategically.

Once you have identified your top keywords, strategically incorporate them into your content, they should feel natural and not too forced. Avoid the common mistake of 'keyword stuffing' - overloading your content with keywords, which can harm your SEO ranking.

Best Practices in Keyword Research

Understand Your Audience: Knowing your target audience's language, interests, and search habits is crucial. This understanding will help you generate relevant keywords that attract the right traffic.

Use Keyword Research Tools: Tools like Google Keyword Planner or SE Ranking provide valuable insights into keyword relevance, search volume, and competition. They are essential for informed decision-making.

Consider Long-Tail Keywords: While they may have lower search volumes, long-tail keywords can be less competitive and more targeted, often leading to higher conversion rates.

Regularly Review and Update Your Keywords: The online landscape is constantly changing. Regularly reviewing and updating your keywords ensures your content remains relevant and competitive.

Common Mistakes

Avoid Keyword Stuffing: Overloading your content with keywords can harm your SEO ranking. Search engines prefer natural, high-quality content that provides value to the reader.

Don't Ignore Keyword Relevance: High search volume might be tempting, but if a keyword isn't relevant to your content, it won't bring the right traffic to your site.

Don't Neglect Local SEO: If your business has a local presence, incorporating local keywords can significantly boost your visibility in local search results.

Don't Rely Solely on High-Volume Keywords: High-volume keywords can be highly competitive. Sometimes, targeting lower-volume, niche keywords can yield better results.


Embarking on keyword research is a vital step in crafting an effective SEO strategy. It's not just about finding high-volume keywords; it's about understanding your audience, their search habits, and the language they use. From brainstorming initial keyword ideas to utilising advanced research tools, analysing competition and search volume, and strategically incorporating these keywords into your content, each stage plays a crucial role. The landscape of SEO is continually evolving, so regular reviews and adjustments of your keyword strategy are essential.