Whether you are content marketing or conversion optimization
expert, keyword research is a crucial task that you need to be
doing on a regular basis.
In this article, I will walk you through the process of
keyword research, from start to finish, offering tools, templates
and tips on how to discover the best keywords, optimize your
content and/or landing page, and get the most of organic search
- What Is
- Why Is Keyword
- How Do I Get
Started with Keyword Research?
Should I Organize My Keyword Research?
- How Can I
Use Keyword Research to Increase My Traffic?
- How Much Does
Keyword Research Cost?
What Is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the the process of discovering a
list of words and phrases your target audience uses when discussing
or exploring an idea or a topic that is relevant to your business
and/or your website.
Many marketers assume keyword research is just about Google and
understanding which words your potential customers or leads type
into the search box. But keyword research can also be based on
social media behavior (understanding how people discuss your topic
on social media)
For the sake of focus, this guide is based on search
behavior because it provides us with the most structured
and easy-to-use data. For more
SEO basic concepts and terminology, read here.
Why Is Keyword Research Important?
Keyword research is important for many reasons:
- Keyword research gives the marketer actionable data on how to
build organic search visibility (i.e. increase the website
rankings) and what topics to build content around.
- Keyword research helps us analyze and understand our
competitors (what they are focusing on, which tactics seem to work
best for them and how we can do better)
- Keyword research helps us improve our offering (by
understanding what our potential customers are struggling with,
what they like/dislike and how to serve them better)
How Do I Get Started with Keyword Research?
Keyword research always starts with a core term that is
the main topic of your business or website. You know it
Now, take that word and run through a keyword research tool of
your choice. Here are a few options.
The best free keyword research tools:
Console (this one is useful for those websites that are already
ranking for some queries)
The best paid (freemium) keyword research tools:
- SEMrush ($99/m)
- Serpstat ($19/m)
- Ahrefs ($99/m)
- Spyfu ($39/m)
- Moz PRO ($99/m)
The noted price is for the lowest-tier product. Each of the
above tools offers many packages based on your needs.
Most of the tools above will provide you with Google search
volume number: The higher it is, the more people search for that
word/phrase on a monthly basis.
The paid tools also offer some form of organic competition
metric, i.e. keyword difficulty. Read more
about keyword difficulty here.
Your goal is to find keywords with at least some search
volume (no use optimizing for keywords no one searches for) and
How Should I Organize My Keyword Research?
Coming up with an effective keyword research organization
routine is the most important step here: It will define all your
future content marketing and conversion optimization routine.
After running one or more of the above tools, you are likely to
end up with hundreds (if not thousands) of keyword suggestions. So,
The next step is to go ahead and run Serpstat’s clustering
tool to make sense of that list. Serpstat uses a unique
clustering algorithm identifying groups of keywords based on
It uses Google SERPs to identify relevancy: the more identical
results two SERPs have, the more related the search queries are.
This way, it groups keyword phrases by how closely they are related
instead of grouping them based on a common word.
about keyword clustering here.
Once you identify groups of your chosen (i.e. focus) keywords
(most of those groups can be included in one piece of content), go
ahead and use Excel or Google Spreadsheets to plan your
There put your focus keywords (and keyword groups), one by one,
and use all kinds of labels to define your future actions:
- Type of content / page (e.g. old / new content, category page,
product page, lead generation page, etc.)
- Seasonality (read more on this here)
- Search intent (read more on
search intent here)
- Local keywords (read more
on local keyword research here)
- Branded (read more on
branded keywords here)
You can have as many of those spreadsheets as you need. I use
Cyfe to keep all of them
together within one dashboard to optimize different sections of my
website and monitor my organic traffic:
How Can I Use Keyword Research to Increase My Traffic?
Now that we have done all the footwork, how do we
actually use keyword research to optimize content and increase
No, it’s not about keyword density. Google has moved away from
exact-match keywords and we should too. For more information on
how SEO has evolved, read here.
To create and optimize your content, use Text Optimizer.
This tool uses semantic analysis to extract related terms from
Google SERPs, as well as break your chosen article idea into
Just grab the keyword from your spreadsheet and run the tool.
Text Optimizer will analyze Google SERPs and return:
- Terms you need to include in your future article — pick
around 20 of those to include into your content
- Topic categories (those work great for better understanding and
structuring your content as well as, in most cases, breaking your
content into subsections using H2/H3 subheadings)
- Popular questions (those are great for building content around
them). In fact, this whole keyword research FAQ was built
utilizing “Topic ideas”/”Editorial Suggestions” from Text
Once your content is created, run the tool again to see how well
it’s optimized and written.
Text Optimizer drives your whole content optimization process
encouraging you to include more related concepts, cover popular
questions, and break your content into meaningful subsections. The
easiest way to use the tool is using its
Google Chrome plugin.
When it comes to optimizing for your focus word, you can handle
the basics using plugins like Yoast SEO (or any of the
alternatives). They will prompt you to include your focus
keyword in the title, meta description, URL slug, etc.
How Much Does Keyword Research Cost?
For professionals, the minimum cost of keyword research is $79
per month ($19/m for Serpstat + $60/m for TextOptimizer)
Those are two tools a serious content marketer needs (Serpstat
being the most affordable one out of its closest alternatives), at
the bare minimum.
With that being said, keyword research can be free, but if you
are working on content on a monthly basis, you do need at least
those two tools.
On the other hand, if SEO is your profession, the more keyword
research tools you have, the better, because they will all have
slightly different results and will complement one another.
And what’s your keyword research process? Please tweet to
@seosmarty with your feedback and questions!