What is Keyword Research?

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By Oier Gil, on 1 July 2022

Keyword research is a fundamental step of any SEO strategy or PPC campaign. We’ll explain what it is, how to apply it to your brand, and what tools you can use.

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What is a Keyword?

Keywords are the terms that users enter in the search bar on search engine websites, like Google; think of them as the "questions" that the search engine has to answer, although they do not necessarily have to be questions.

Sometimes these searches are composed using a single word, but more often they combine several words or even form a complete phrase. Therefore, sometimes a distinction is made between keywords and key phrases, although in this article we will use “keyword” to refer to both.

In general, keywords tend to be longer in long tail searches (e.g., size 9 trail running shoes) and in voice searches. Additionally, it is common for users to use questions and full sentences in voice searches.

Understanding how important keywords are for search engines, it’s clear to see why keyword research is so important.

  • Keywords are the main way for users to find blogs or web pages, as very few people write URLs directly in the browser. Therefore, keywords are the first step to guaranteeing visibility of your brand online.
  • A good selection of keywords make it possible for your website to appear higher in the search engine results and therefore attract much more traffic. Keep in mind that the first three Google results account for the majority of visits and very few users go beyond the first page of results.
  • Web positioning also contributes to your brand image. More or less consciously, users tend to assume that the websites that appear in the first results are better or more important than those of the competition.
  • Choosing your search terms well will help you define the structure of your website and your content strategy. You can think of them as a kind of "map" that guides the steps to follow to build your brand online.
  • Avoid wasting time and resources. If you try to use a word with high competition or low search volume, you will be wasting time and money. For example, the term may have too much competition, be too generic or attract users who are not interested in your products and services.

What Is Keyword Research?

Keyword research consists of identifying a series of keywords or search terms that are interesting for your brand, in order to get your website to appear in Google when users search for them.

These search terms will be the basis around which we will organize all our SEO strategy, so keyword research will always be one of the first steps to be taken.

A good keyword research is based on balancing different requirements:

  • The relevance of the keyword, that is, that it is really related to our products and services.
  • Your marketing objectives. For example, if you want to convert, you must look for terms with high purchase intention.
  • That it has a sufficient number of searches.
  • That it does not have too much competition.

How To Do Keyword Research Step By Step

  1. Identify long tail and short tail keywords. Short tail keywords (red car, baseball hat) are the most generic, and usually have one or two words at most. They tend to attract a high volume of searches and competition. On the other hand, long tail keywords (red Honda CRV, blue Atlanta Braves baseball hat) are much more specific. Although the volume is lower, they are valuable because they are relevant and can have high conversion rates.
  2. Look for ideas. Using the keywords you have identified in the previous section, try to create a list with as many related keywords as possible. Brainstorm with your team and use some of the tools in the next section.
  3. Evaluate the value of each keyword. Take into account both the volume of searches for each keyword and the level of competition. The idea is to get relevant traffic while not having to compete for very basic words. The ideal keywords feature low competition and high search volume.
  4. Analyze your competitors. In addition to seeing if a particular keyword is highly priced or not, it is also convenient to use competition analysis tools to see what other brands are doing and how easy it can be to beat them for each keyword.
  5. Make the final list. With all the information you have gathered in previous steps, you are now in a position to select the keywords you are most interested in and start working with them. To get the most out of your keyword research, you can create a database of all the keywords you have analyzed so that you can refer back to it when you need more ideas in the future.

5 Keyword Research Tools

  1. Google Keyword Planner. This is the classic and basic keyword research tool. But if you are not investing in Google Ads, it will not show you concrete data but ranges of values.
  2. Google Trends. Fundamental for identifying seasonal keywords and trends.
  3. SEMrush. A very useful tool to find related keywords. To start using it, you only have to enter a term in its search engine.
  4. Ahrefs. To detect links, analyze the competition and find related terms.
  5. Keywords Everywhere. A free add-on for Chrome and Firefox that shows search volume, CPC and competition data on the web pages you visit.

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Oier Gil