If people aren’t seeing your articles, you might as well be yelling into a black hole.

That’s why you need to know about keyword research. Keyword research is a fundamental aspect of search engine optimization (SEO). It involves identifying the most relevant keywords and phrases that users enter into search engines when looking for information, products, or services.

By understanding how to do keyword research effectively, you can optimize your website's content and improve its visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Key Takeaways

  • What makes keyword research important is that it helps you confirm which words and phrases actually have traffic.
  • The higher you show up in search results, the more likely it is that users will click on and read your stories.
  • Analyze keywords on things like monthly search volume, but also on things like keyword intent – some phrases are more valuable than others.

Let’s do a quick crash course on keyword research: What it is, how it works, and how it can help you reach your online goals.

Why Care About Search Engines and Search Volume?

When a user is looking for something online, they typically use a search engine like Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo. These users have search intent; they are actively looking for something.

When someone uses a search engine, the term or phrase they type in is known as a keyword. Search engines will then show results based on the target keyword of the search queries.

If you have a blog post or web page that shows up in these search results, there’s an opportunity to fill your organic search traffic bucket with interested users.

Pro Tip:Google Search Console and Google Analytics are two free SEO tools you can start using today.

What Is Keyword Research?

Keyword research plays a crucial role in your search engine traffic strategy. By targeting the right keywords, you can attract highly relevant traffic to your website, increase your organic search rankings, and generate more leads or sales. Keyword research for SEO helps you ensure you write articles or content that has user intent.

By identifying the keywords your target audience is using, you can tailor your content to match their needs and establish your brand as an authority in your industry. Keyword research also helps you uncover new niches and opportunities, allowing you to stay ahead of the competition.

The 3 Types of Keyword Intent

Before diving into keyword research, it's essential to understand the intent behind the keywords. Keyword intent refers to the goal or purpose of a user when searching for a particular keyword. There are three primary types of keyword intent: informational, navigational, and transactional.

No. 1: Informational Intent

Keywords with informational intent indicate that users are looking for information, research, or answers to their questions. Examples include "how to do keyword research," "best keyword research tools," or "benefits of keyword research."

Creating informative content around these keywords can help you attract users seeking knowledge.

No. 2: Navigational Intent

Navigational intent keywords are used when users are searching for a specific website or brand. These keywords typically include company names or specific product names. An example for me is making sure my website shows up when someone searches “nick wolny.”

While navigational intent keywords may not be directly beneficial for driving organic traffic to your website, they are crucial for brand recognition and visibility.

No. 3: Transactional Intent

Transactional intent keywords indicate that users are ready to make a purchase or take a specific action. These keywords often include terms like "buy," "discount," or "coupon." Optimizing your website for transactional intent keywords can drive high-quality traffic with a higher likelihood of conversion.

There are no “best keywords;” prioritize keywords that are in line with your overall content strategy when conducting keyword research.

Top Keyword Research Tools to Consider

To effectively conduct keyword research, you need reliable tools that provide accurate data and insights. Here are three popular tools to help you get started:

Google Keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Planner is a free tool provided by Google Ads that allows you to explore keyword ideas, search volumes, and historical data. It also offers information on competition levels and suggested bids for paid advertising, which can help with analyzing keywords and long tail keyword selection.

Google Trends is also a great free tool to help you anticipate trending terms and dial in your SEO strategy. Overall, Keyword Planner is one of the best free keyword research options.


SEMrush is a comprehensive SEO tool that offers a wide range of features, including keyword research. With SEMrush, you can find keyword ideas, analyze keyword difficulty, and compare your website's performance against your competitors. It also provides insights into related keywords, search volumes, and trends.


Ahrefs is another popular SEO tool that offers an extensive suite of features, including a powerful SEO keyword research tool. Ahrefs provides detailed information on search volumes, keyword difficulty, and SERP analysis. It also offers insights into top-ranking pages and organic traffic potential.


SurferSEO (aff link) can power your keyword research process using AI-assisted tools. The tool can help you determine keyword difficulty, and its crown jewel is a Google Doc extension that helps you optimize your blog posts on the go as you write them.

You can also provide a seed keyword, then get new keyword ideas based on historical search terms data.

How to Do Keyword Research in 6 Steps

No. 1: Brainstorm Relevant Topics

Start by brainstorming the main topics or themes related to your business or industry. Think about what your target audience might search for when looking for information, products, or services.

No. 2: Use Keyword Research Tools to Dig Deeper

Utilize the keyword research tools mentioned earlier to find relevant keywords and phrases related to your chosen topics. Look for keywords with a good balance of search volume and competition.

Pro Tip:Keywords with smaller monthly search volume (MSV) are easier to rank for to start. Consider prioritizing keywords with 500-5,000 MSV to start.

No. 3: Analyze the Keyword Metrics

Evaluate the search volume, competition, and difficulty of each keyword. Search volume indicates how many times a keyword is searched per month, while competition and difficulty indicate the level of competition for that keyword.

No. 4: Keep an Eye on Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific keyword phrases. While they may have lower search volumes, they often have less competition and higher conversion rates. Targeting long-tail keywords can help you attract highly-relevant traffic.

No. 5: Write and Publish Great Content

Once you have your marching orders, write clear, compelling content that will help users. Keyword research helps your posts get seen, but it will be the quality of the post that wins readers over and helps you grow your audience.

Stay on top of industry trends and regularly re-evaluate your keyword strategy. Keyword trends can change over time, so it's essential to adapt your content accordingly to remain competitive.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of identifying high-value keywords and phrases that your target audience searches for in search engines like Google.

Why Is Keyword Research Important?

Keyword research is crucial for SEO as it helps you optimize content around keywords users are actually searching for, driving more relevant organic traffic.

How Does Keyword Research Help with SEO?

Keyword research for SEO ensures you target keywords users search for. Optimizing for these keywords helps pages rank higher and attract more search traffic.

What Are the Different Types of Keyword Intent?

The main keyword intent types are informational, transactional, and navigational. Informational keywords indicate research intent, transactional indicate purchase intent, navigational target specific sites.

What Are Long-Tail Keywords?

Long-tail keywords are more specific phrases with lower search volume but less competition, like "benefits of keyword research" vs just "keyword research".

What Are Some Good Keyword Research Tools?

Top keyword research tools include Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs, SurferSEO, Google Trends, and Answer the Public.

How Do You Do Keyword Research?

Steps for keyword research include brainstorming topics, using tools to generate keywords, analyzing metrics like volume and difficulty, and optimizing content around keywords.

What Metrics Are Important in Keyword Research?

Key keyword metrics to analyze are monthly search volume, keyword difficulty, competition levels, click-through rate, and relevancy to your content or products.

How Often Should You Do Keyword Research?

It's best to conduct keyword research before creating any significant content. After that, revisit your keyword strategy every 3-6 months to account for trends and seasonality.

How Many Keywords Should You Target on a Page?

Aim for 1-3 primary keywords per page. Going beyond that risks diluting optimization. Focus on informational and transactional keywords relevant to your content.

Should You Do Keyword Research for Blog Posts?

Yes, keyword research is extremely important for optimizing blog posts. Research keywords your target audience would search when looking for that post topic.

Can You Do Keyword Research for Free?

Yes, free keyword research is possible using Google's Keyword Planner tool and Google Trends for volumes and ideas.

What Is Keyword Stuffing?

Keyword stuffing refers to over-optimizing by cramming content full of keywords, which violates search engine guidelines and can get your page penalized.

How Do Keywords Help Increase Traffic?

Optimizing content for keywords users are searching helps that content rank higher in search results, earning more clicks and traffic from search engines.

Can You Rank a Page for Multiple Keywords?

Yes, you can optimize a single page around a small handful of closely related primary and secondary keywords.

How Do Keywords Relate to Search Intent?

Keywords indicate the intent behind a user's search query, whether they want to research, navigate to a site, or purchase a product.

What Are Keyword Modifiers?

Keyword modifiers are additional words that refine a keyword, like best, reviews, cheap, etc. Modifiers help attract different types of searchers.

Should You Include Keywords in Content?

Yes, work primary and secondary keywords naturally into your content for best SEO optimization.

How Do You Analyze Keyword Difficulty?

Keyword difficulty analysis looks at competition levels, relevancy, monthly searches, and other factors to determine how hard it is to rank for a given keyword.

Keyword trends can change fairly rapidly as new topics emerge and fade in popularity and seasonality impacts search volumes.

Start Incorporating Keyword Research Today

By understanding keyword intent, utilizing reliable tools, and following a systematic research process, you can identify and target the most relevant keywords to improve your website's visibility in search engine results.

Stay up-to-date with industry trends, and continually refine your keyword strategy to ensure you are effectively reaching your target audience. ◆

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