Keyword Research; An Effective Step by Step Guide

If you run a website and would like to research keywords, there are some best practices that are recommended to help you find the best keyword phrases to use. In this article, we’ll focus on the several research methods and provide hints on how to carry out effective keyword research.

Keep in mind that getting ranked for a keyword phrase depends on how relevant the content is around the much sought-after phrase. Choosing the right keywords can easily get overwhelming in your quest to create the best SEO strategies. That is why we came up with this step by step guide that you can use to find the best keywords for your website.

Researching keywords

Keyword Research methodologies


Different marketers have different methodologies of finding keywords; each marketer chooses tools and strategies depending on how well they work for them.

Finding the best keywords for your content is, to some extent, more important than the content itself. Keyword research is the foundation of search engine optimization. Keyword ranking provides a way of tracking SEO progress which would otherwise, be so hard to monitor. This helps you to stay on the right path and points you towards the right direction.

There are three ways in which you can carry out keyword research:

  1. The traditional way
  2. The agile way
  3. A combination of both ways

The traditional method is the old school approach used to find high-search volume keywords. This method is still commonly used by most marketers today. The agile method is recommended for “on-the-fly” keyword research and is mostly used if you want to know the specific terms that are commonly used by competitors.

When it comes to analysis of keyword phrases, you need to take into account the total number of words in the phrase. You stand a better chance of ranking higher if there are more words in the keyword. For example, four-word phrases are much easier to rank high and bring you higher conversion rates than a single-word keyword.

Head keywords


These are also referred to as vanity keywords; they’re single-word keywords that are great in building your brand if you find a way to rank high for them.

Head keywords are extremely competitive.

Body keywords


These keywords are a step narrower than the head keywords. They’re mostly comprised of two or three terms.

Many searchers conduct searches using two terms. Body keywords are mainly targeted by established businesses that are well-known.

Long-tail keywords


Long-tail keywords contain four or more words. They entail lower competition and are ideal for connecting newer sites to their target audience.

Long phrases make up the majority of search terms. The only problem, however, is that these keywords may only get about 100-1000 searches every month; sometimes even less. What you need to do is focus on the questions that are most frequently asked by your target audience.

When you have an idea of the questions that are asked the most, you can come up with content that provides useful answers to your customers. This can really give you an edge over your competition.

Keyword Research Steps


Here is a step-by-step guide to keyword research that’ll help you grow your website:

1. Understand your location


Understand the geographical area that you’re targeting. Are your keywords targeting searchers at a local, national, or international level? As you come up with the list of keywords, you should keep in mind that search engines can tell where you’re located. If you lie about representing a certain location that you do not represent, this will hurt your ranking.

2. Brainstorm potential keywords


This is a really important stage; it’s actually a very crucial stage that marketers shouldn’t gloss over.

Take your time to compile an exhaustive list of topics that are related to what your business (website) has to offer your customers (audience). It wouldn’t be wise to jump into the keyword research process with just one or two keywords in mind.

At this stage, there’s really no right or wrong keyword. Write down as many keywords as you possibly can. If you need help brainstorming some keyword ideas, you can check out come business journals that are related to your business or ask your sales reps for suggestions.

You could also check out which keywords your competitors are using on their websites. Choose some of your competitors that rank well and find the keywords that they use. Some of the competition-tracking tools that you may use include Mazen, SEMrush, and SpyFu.

brainstorming keywords

The list that you come up with cannot, at this point, give you an indication of how popular a certain keyword is or how difficult it is to rank for it. What you did was just come up with terms that are broadly relevant to your website’s content.

3. Identify keywords that are related to your website’s content


The next step is to select the most relevant keywords from your list, based on your business and website’s niche. Ensure that all the keywords in this list are woven throughout the content of your website

These keywords will help you create content that is more relevant and will help you rank higher. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes; ask yourself what terms/phrases they would most likely use to look for your content. After carefully considering all the keywords in the list created in step 2 above, further narrow it down to more highly-relevant terms.

choosing the right keywords

4. Create keywords phrases


Now that you have the final list of keywords, the next thing you should do is combine all your keywords to come up with keyword phrases. Mergewords is a free online tool that you can use to do this.

5. Add questions


Due to the rise of Google Voice Search, search engines are now evolving- turning into intelligent answering machines. Structure your content in such a way that it effectively answers questions depending on your customers’ queries.

Some of the tools that you can use to help you get content ideas and get more qualified traffic include BuzzSumo and AnswerThePublic. These allow you to find questions that searchers might ask and the trending topics as well.

6. Add keyword suffix/prefix terms


Include the general terms that are usually used around your industry. For example, if you own a law firm, use terms such as “attorney”, “lawyer”, and “law firms” to your keywords.

keyword bulk search

7. Organize your research results


As you gather your results, organize them into a format that is easy to understand and analyze. An Excel document will let you compile your keywords with so much ease. You should also ensure that you create a hierarchy within your list.   

Next, you should group the keywords as either primary or secondary. A primary keyword is a general topic whereas a secondary keyword is a variation of a primary keyword. The idea of primary and secondary keywords is probably the most important notion in keyword research.

Secondary keywords are really important in helping you keep track of your ranking. If the results show that you only rank for a small segment of the keywords, this means that your page is not very relevant and that you should consider improving your content.

If you rank for the primary and also for about 80% of the secondary keywords, this means that your final traffic for the page will be far more significant.

8. Check your keywords on Google Adwords


Take the final list of keywords and find their value within Google using Google Adword. This free online tool will help you figure out if your keywords are highly sought after.

This tool helps you research a hundred keywords at a time. All the keywords that you check are saved to a separate document and made available for you to make a final choice later.

You could also have a look at the “Google Suggest” list.

9. Find Keyword Variations and Related Terms to Incorporate into Your Content


Each piece of content that you include in your website should include different variations, synonyms, and long-tail keywords that are related to your topic. You shouldn’t just use one or two main keywords per article.

Keyword research Variations

As Google’s algorithms become more sophisticated, sites that do a thorough job of covering all angles of a topic tend to rank best.

10. Compare your results over time


You should always follow up on your keyword research process to determine its effectiveness.

Always remember to save your searches. This way you will be able to compare results over time and see what keywords worked for you and those that did not work.

What is the end goal of keyword research?


The real goal of keyword finding is to find out the real user intent for the keyword in question. After you have successfully managed to craft that and build a content plan around it, you will double your chances for success with every topic that you pursue.



Keyword research is an essential component of your overall market research. Keyword targeting is another pivotal part of the SEO strategy for most sites.


Once you master the keyword generation process, you should be able to easily come up with a list of lucrative top keywords that are bound to bring a large volume of searchers to your page. Keyword research helps you build your content strategy in a unique way that your competitors just can’t keep up with.