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Keyword Research – The Beginner’s Guide to SEO

Updated on June 17, 2024
Posted on November 30, 2020 by Michael White

Read here for keyword research and beginner's guide to SEO. Icons - lightbulb, gears, bullseye, graph, envelope, rocket.

Search engine optimization (SEO) and keywords go together like wine and cheese. It’s nearly impossible to talk about one without discussing the other.

Keywords are what attract search engine crawlers to your website. When someone searches for “ice cream,” Google heads out into the internet for every instance of “ice cream” or related terms and brings back the best results. If your web page doesn’t mention any terms or phrases related to ice cream, you’re not going to show up.  

The idea behind keywords is simple, but finding the right keywords to attract traffic is an entirely different matter. Over 92% of keywords get ten or fewer searches per month. If you want to rank online and get more than ten searches, you need to find the perfect keywords. That takes research.

Let’s take a deeper look into SEO keyword research so that you can boost your website’s ranking in no time.



What’s an SEO Keyword?

Yes, the term “keyword” is singular, but that doesn’t mean you’re limited to a single word.

Important: SEO keywords can range from a single word to a complex phrase (called long-tail keywords). 

For instance, “SEO” and “SEO keyword research” are both considered SEO keywords. The important part of keyword research is finding the most effective iterations and combinations of words and phrases to connect your audience with your website.


Seed keywords are the base on which you build your SEO empire. [graphic] A phone displays a checklist showing seed keywords.Make a List of Seed Keywords

Once you understand what your ideal customer is looking for, it’s time to come up with a list of seed keywords. Seed keywords are the base on which you build your SEO empire. They’re simple, usually one-word keywords related to your brand or products.

If you managed a shoe store, your seed keywords might look something like this:

  • Shoes
  • Sneakers
  • Tennis shoes
  • Boots

List out as many simple seed keywords as you possibly can, as long as they’re related to your business. Your existing website is a good place to look if you get stuck. See which words are repeated most often and add them to your list.

Another good place to look for keywords is in your Google Search Console under the “Search Results” report. It’ll show you thousands of keywords and phrases for which you already rank on Google. If you haven't yet signed up, you can set up Google Search Console for your website quickly here.

Don’t worry too much about your seed keywords. Once you have a decent little list, you can move on to the next step of the process.


Conduct a Competitive Analysis

Your competitors are already ranking for keywords in your niche, so why not benefit from their hard work? Head over to Google and type in a few of your seed keywords. Make a list of the websites and brands that float to the top. These are your keyword competitors. 

Look through their sites one by one to see the type of content they have and which keywords they like to use. You can also use a keyword research tool to further analyze the sites for more in-depth information about their keywords and SEO strategy. They might have some ideas you hadn’t thought of.


Use Keyword Research Tools

Keyword research requires a lot of time and effort to do properly. Luckily, there are hundreds of helpful tools available to simplify the process. All you need to do is plug in your seed keyword, and the tool will spit out hundreds of related keywords for you to use.

Here are some of the best SEO keyword research tools to boost your keyword game:

  • Google Keyword Planner – When it comes to SEO help, it never hurts to go straight to the source. Google’s Keyword Planner is a free service that can help you identify related keywords using a phrase-match. It’ll offer keywords not only containing your seed word but also other relevant words and phrases.
💡Pro tip: While Google's Keyword Planner is free, you do have to create an AdWords account and an ad campaign in order to access this tool. Don't worry: you don't have to publish or spend money with the ad campaign; you simply have to create one.
  • SEMRush – 
    This is a paid service, [Graphic] A devise displays a toolbox containing the best for SEO keyword research tools. Read here for more information.but it’s great for more than just keyword research. It can help you plan and implement your entire SEO strategy. It won’t produce a giant list of keywords like Google. Instead, SEMRush offers about five to ten very specific keywords and phrases that your competitors already use. Take this knowledge and beat them at their own game!
  • Ahrefs Keyword Explorer – This one is similar to Google Keyword Planner but with much more information. Not only does Ahrefs Keyword Manager give you hundreds of new keyword ideas, but it will also give you detailed reports about keyword search volume and competition. You can run competing sites through the explorer to identify the keywords they’re ranking for, which is very helpful for competitor research.
  • Google Search – The simplest and most straightforward keyword research tool. Just go to Google’s homepage and type in a seed keyword, but don’t press enter. A dropdown box will appear with a bunch of popular searches you can use to create new keywords and phrases. It’s free, fast, and easy.

SEO Keyword research is an intensive process. Using tools can save you tons of time and energy and help you create an effective SEO strategy to get the website traffic you deserve.


Know Your Audience

You might know what you want to rank for, but what if that’s not what your audience wants? Learn about your ideal customers and use the information to hone your keyword game.

To learn about your audience, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who’s your ideal customer
  • What topics are they searching for?
  • How is your audience phrasing search queries? (specific words, phrases, questions, etc.)
  • How is your audience searching? (mobile devices, computers, etc.)
  • Why are they searching?
  • Where are they located?

Let’s say you own a frozen yogurt shop. It sounds reasonable that you’d want to rank for keywords related to having the tastiest frozen yogurt in town, right? You write blogs about how great your product tastes, how it’s made, and why it’s the best, but you still don’t get any traffic. Why? Because your audience is more interested in healthy rather than tasty

They’re searching for terms like “Healthiest frozen yogurt” or “Is frozen yogurt healthier than ice cream,” and you’re missing out because you didn’t focus on what your audience really wants.

Answering these questions will help you identify the perfect keywords to attract your ideal audience. When you understand your audience’s needs, you can produce better content filled with the keywords they’re actually searching for.

Social media, forums, and Q&A sites are great places to learn about your audience. You can identify the latest trends and topics potential customers are interested in. Use the information to generate timely and culturally relevant keywords to beat the competition.



Use SEO Keyword Research to Boost Online Visibility

There’s a lot that goes into SEO keyword research and it can be quite time consuming. But all that effort is worth it in the end when your website earns the most coveted real estate on the internet: the top of the Google results.

If you need help perfecting your digital marketing strategy, we can help! We offer strategic SEO services to assist with everything from keyword research to content strategy and we'd love to help you get the online traffic you deserve.

Check out our SEO and keyword research services

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