What is Keyword Research?

There are many different factors that come together to determine the success of an SEO campaign. Not only does this include the performance of your website but it also includes your link building approach, as well as your social media presence.

However, there is no denying that one of the key elements in any SEO strategy is the keywords that you use. Knowing how to conduct effective keyword research is imperative if your company is going to be successful online.

After all, competition is fierce and you need to do everything in your power to out-rank the businesses you are competing against. This begins with targeting the right keywords.

So, with that being said, in this comprehensive guide, we are going to reveal everything you need to know about conducting effective keyword research.

This involves taking a look at different types of keywords, various research techniques, as well as the sorts of keywords that you should be avoided.

What is the Main Purpose of Using Keywords?

Before we can establish the best ways to go about keyword research, it is first important to discuss why it is important to use keywords in the first place.

Keywords are phrases and words that Internet users will type into the search box of a search engine when they are searching for something specific.

Article in a laptop.

For example, you may type in ‘Accountant in Brisbane’ if you are, indeed, looking for a Accountant in that part of Australia.

The main reason for inserting keywords into your content is so that you can make your website visible on the search engine result pages, whether this is Google, Bing, or any other type of search engine.

It helps to ensure your website is visible if the users insert any sort of search term that is related to the keywords that you have incorporated throughout your content. 

Some keywords are going to get hundreds of thousands of unique searches per day. Other keywords may only get around one hundred searches.

This impacts the competitiveness of a keyword. If a keyword is being searched an excessive amount, a lot of businesses are going to try to rank highly for it.

This can make it much more difficult to get a prime spot on the Google search engine result pages. This is why effective keyword research is needed to make sure that you always get the balance right and select the correct keywords for your business.

Man working on graphs in a laptop.

What is Keyword Difficulty Level?

One of the first things you need to understand about keywords is the difficulty level. Keyword difficulty can sometimes be known as keyword competition.

It is one of the most critical metrics that you need to consider when you are conducting keyword research.

The higher the keyword difficulty is, the more difficult it is going to be for you to rank on the 1st SERP (search engine result page).

This is because a lot of other high ranking websites are going to be competing for this keyword, which leaves you with a mammoth task on your hand. It is, therefore, a key metric alongside with SERP analysis and monthly search volumes.

It helps you to decipher the range of keywords that are going to give you the best chance of enhancing your SEO efforts, bid on keywords on Pay-Per-Click campaigns, and much more. 

So, how do you calculate the difficulty of a keyword? There are a number of metrics that will be considered.

This includes trust flow, citation flow, page authority, and domain authority. You do not need to consider these manually, though.

There are many tools out there that will calculate the keyword difficulty, often giving you a score out of 100 in terms of how possible it is going to be for you to rank highly for these keywords.

The lower the value, the easier it is going to be for you to rank for the keyword. Of course, you do need to check on the specifications of the exact tool you are using, as some may have a different format.

What is Keyword Density and is it Important?

Another important area of keyword research and use that you are going to need to understand is keyword density. You may sometimes see this referred to as keyword frequency.

Keyword density is a term that is used to describe the number of times that a keyword appears on a given webpage or within a certain piece of content. It is determined as a percentage or ratio of the overall word count. 

There is a formula that you can use to calculate the specific keyword density of a piece of content. There are also tools available that can do this for you.

However, if you want to determine the keyword density of a piece of content or webpage yourself, the formula is easy.

You simply need to divide the number of times a given keyword is mentioned by the total number of words. The figure you are left with is the density for that page. 

That’s all well and good, but what is the right keyword density and why does it matter? Firstly, let’s look at why it is important.

If you have been marketing online for quite some time now, you may remember the days of keyword stuffing. This is when business owners and marketers would simply stuff as many keywords as possible into content in order to try and get to the top of the search engine result pages.

The quality of the content did not matter. In fact, often the content would be duplicated or it would not make any sense. It would simply be stuffed with so many different keywords without any care for the grammatical side of things.

For example, you may have a piece on visiting Brisbane, and inside this content, you’d see ‘hotels Brisbane’ and ‘Brisbane hotels’ stuffed in about 15 times each.

Google quickly caught onto this tactic, and now any website that is viewed to be keyword stuffing will be punished and this will hurt your search engine ranking.

This is known as a black-hat technique, which essentially means you are going against the search engine’s terms and conditions and trying to manipulate your way to the top.

This often results in short-term gains but it causes a huge amount of damage to your SEO campaign and online brand in the long run, which is why it is imperative to make sure that you get the keyword density right and you do not stuff too many keywords into your content. 

The trouble is that there is no set figure when it comes to choosing the right keyword density for your content. This is the case with most things when it comes to SEO; there are no clearly defined rules.

You are not going to find any guidelines from Google that will tell you exactly how many keywords should be inserted into your content. However, there are some factors to consider here.

Firstly, of course, you will never want to over-do it when it comes to keywords, as you can then fall into the keyword stuffing bracket.

Moreover, the nature of your content can also dictate how many keywords are going to be used. For example, a syndicated and timely news article is going to need a lower number of keywords to rank highly when compared with an older, evergreen blog post. 

In addition to this, there have been some ‘Unofficial Keyword Density Guidelines’ that have been created by experts in the SEO industry, and these can help you to get a better understanding of how many keywords to use.

For example, a lot of professionals recommend that you should include one keyword per around 200 words of your copy. Using keyword variants, which are slight variations of the keyword in question, is also important.

The Different Types of Keywords

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of some of the most important elements that need to be considered when it comes to research and using keywords.

Aside from this, you are going to need to think about the types of keywords you are going to use.

There are many different types of keywords. Some of the most common are as follows:

  • Short-tail keywords
  • Long-tail keywords
  • Short-term fresh keywords
  • Long-term evergreen keywords
  • Product defining keywords
  • Customer defining keywords
  • Geo-targeting keywords
  • LSI keywords
  • Intent targeting keywords

It is likely that different types of keywords are going to be created all of the time. Nevertheless, in the upcoming sections, we are going to take a look at two of the most significant keyword types. 

What are Long Tail Keywords?

There is no denying that long tail keywords play a very important role in marketing today. This refers to those keywords that tend to include three or four words, or sometimes more, and they are very, very specific to what you are selling.

They are important because when someone is searching for something like this online, they are going to be looking for exactly what you are offering. Because of this, conversion rates are much higher for long tail keywords when compared with short tail keywords.

For example, if you run an antique jeweller’s shop in Melbourne, someone who searches ‘antique jeweller in Melbourne’ is going to be much more likely to purchase from your business than someone who simply searches ‘jeweller’ on Google.

To help illustrate this phenomenon, looking at the typical step-by-step process that a customer takes when buying will help you to get a better understanding…

  1. A consumer becomes aware of a service.
  2. This person then begins to look for information about the service in question to determine whether or not this is something that they want to purchase.
  3. They then evaluate alternatives to the service in question.
  4. The person will make their purchase decision.
  5. The customer then gets their card information and finishes the transaction.
  6. The customer will then receive the service and they will determine whether they are satisfied with the service, or if they want to request a refund. 

Now, think about the different search times that a customer would input into Google during this process. They are going to be very specific, right?

Therefore, by incorporating long tail keywords into your marketing campaign, you can ensure that your website features high up on Google while customers are engaging in the sales process. 

How do I Use Long Tail Keywords?

If you are going to make the most of long tail keywords and incorporate them into your content, you need to know how to find the best long tail keywords for your business.

There are a number of different ways that you can go about this. Here are some suggestions…

  • Use Google Suggest
  • Use Google’s Related Searches
  • Use More and Different Keyword Research Tools – there are plenty of them out there!
  • Steal From Competitors 
  • Browse Wikipedia 
  • Browse Q&A Websites such as Quora and Answer The Public
  • Search eHow
  • Mine Your Search Query Reports
  • Mine Your Analytics 

What are LSI Keywords?

Another type of keyword that you need to understand is LSI keywords. LSI stands for latent semantic indexing.

LSI keywords are important because they can bridge the gap between the manner in which content is being created now and how content is going to be created in the future.

After all, if you think about the face of marketing today and compare it with five years ago, the difference is astounding.

The Internet is progressing at a rapid pace and this is something that we need to take into account when putting our SEO campaigns together today. 

So, what exactly are LSI keywords? Firstly, you need to understand what LSI is. This is a system that search engines utilise in order to assess the other words people use surrounding a certain topic.

This means that LSI keywords are phrases and words that have a high level of correlation to your target topic. 

Search engines utilise latent semantic indexing so that they can determine the quality of a page’s content by checking for words that should appear alongside a given keyword or search term.

For example, you may expect to see the words ‘holiday’ and ‘accommodation’ alongside ‘hotel.’ It gives context to the entire page, and this is what LSI keywords are all about.

How Can I Find Good keywords?

As you can see, there is a lot that needs to be considered when it comes to conducting keyword research and selecting the right keywords for your content.

So, what sort of approach should you use when you are searching for the right keywords for your website? Here are some of the things that you can do to ensure you choose the right keywords…

  • Use keyword analysis tools – The first thing you need to do is make sure that you use one or several of the keyword tools that are out there today.

It is impossible to choose keywords effectively without making the most of the software that is available.

These tools will assess all keywords so that you can get a better understanding regarding the level of competition, the relevancy, and what you are going to need to do to rank or the keyword in question.

You will get a thorough understanding of the keyword landscape for your business. In the next section, we will reveal some of the best keyword analysis tools that are out there today to help you get a better understanding. 

  • Think like a customer – Another important step that you need to take when you are choosing keywords is to think like a customer.

You need to think about what people are going to type into search engines when they are looking for a product or service similar to what you are offering.

Ask yourself: If I wanted one of these services or products, what would I type into Google?

You can also ask other people the same thing, and this should enable you to come up with a list of keywords and phrases that are suitable for your online marketing campaign. 

  • What is the competition doing? – The third piece of the puzzle when it comes to choosing the right keywords for your website is looking at what the competition is doing.

It is a good idea to simply make a list of your main competition in the industry. You can then go to their websites to discover what keywords they are targeting.

By viewing their meta tags and reading their content, you should be able to tell pretty easily what keywords they are targeting.

This step is important because it will help you to broaden your idea and make sure you are not forgetting anything. 


What are the Best Tools for SEO Keyword Analysis?

There are a lot of great tools out there that can assist you when it comes to keyword analysis. Some of the best are as follows…

  • SEMrush – With SEMrush, you can expect keyword data that will help you to locate the right keywords that are related to your main keyword search terms. There are a lot of features that come with the paid version of the tool.
  • Google Adwords Keyword Planner – This tool gives you the ability to assess monthly local and worldwide volumes for keywords, as well as an estimated cost per click and competition levels. You can also get keyword ideas by using the Keyword Planner section of the tool.

  • Ahrefs – The third tool that the vast number of SEO experts use today is Ahrefs. This is a complete suite of SEO, content, and keyword research tools. It includes everything you need for the basis of your keyword research and SEO strategy. 

  • UberSuggest – This is a free tool that provides you with an ever-increasing suite of tools. Neil Patel bought Ubersuggest in 2016 and since then he has added a free backlink checker and site audit tool to it.

  • WordTracker – The fifth and last tool on this list is WordTracker. This tool provides keyword research and analysis, helping you pick keywords that are both relevant and effective.

Is it a Good Idea to Use Low Competition Keywords?

Earlier, we spoke about keyword competition and how this plays a critical role in search engine marketing. Now, you may be wondering whether or not you should target low competition keywords.

You may think that the best thing to do is invest all of your efforts into trying to conquer one of the keywords that are highly contested at the moment.

However, this is not advised. The best thing to do is try to find keywords that have low competition yet a high volume of searches.

This means that a lot of people are searching for the terms in questions, however, not a lot of businesses are trying to rank for these keywords.

This presents you with a great opportunity to try and target the keywords in question so that you can get to the top of the search engine result pages as quickly as possible. 

Unfortunately, the reality of the matter is that your site is not going to be able to beat the big players in the industry when it comes to SERPs if you are only just getting started with your search engine optimisation competition.

Because of this, finding keywords with low competition should always be the starting point. This does not mean you cannot target the highly contested keywords later.

Once you start to win in the arena of low competition keywords, you can then move up to those that have a greater level of competition. You will be in a much better position to try and make ground in this area.

What is Keyword Grouping?

Another important part of the keyword research process is keyword grouping. Also referred to as keyword clustering, keyword grouping is a list of keywords that are semantically related.

When the list has been compiled, the keywords will be distributed throughout pages in a way that helps to drive organic or paid traffic.

For example, let’s say you have a Chinese takeaway business. You have two similar search queries – order Chinese online and Chinese delivery.

Should you use these terms on different pages or should they be used together on the same page? Research is needed to determine the answer to this question.

This is why keyword grouping is important. The trouble is that it can take days to conduct this research and assessment yourself, which is why you need to use one of the many effective SEO and keyword tools that are out there at the moment.

Keywords to Avoid

It is not only important to understand how to find the best keywords but you should also have an understanding of the sort of keywords that you should avoid.

These are keywords that are pointless and will do nothing for your ranking. There are then even some keywords that could harm your ranking, so you do need to be cautious.

Below, we reveal some of the common keyword errors that a a lot of businesses are making today so that you do not make the same errors…

  • Unrealistic keywords – There is only one place to begin, and this is with unrealistic keywords. A lot of niches are very competitive.

If you are just starting your business or your website, it can be extremely difficult to rank in those competitive niches.

Instead, you should not aim for the ‘head’ keywords just yet. This will come later. Instead, you should be focusing on keywords with low competition and long tail keywords.

Long tail keywords are typically a lot easier to rank for. For example, let’s say you are opening a website for your personal training business, it is going to be way too hard for you to purely rank for the term ‘fitness.’

Therefore, make sure your keyword more specific, whether this means incorporating your location or the areas of fitness that you specialise in. 

  • Focusing on one keyword per post – Another big mistake that a lot of people make is only focusing on one keyword per piece of content.

Yes, you should have a focus keyword. However, you also need to include additional keywords that are related to what you are writing about so that you increase the value and relevancy of your content. 

  • Choosing keywords that do not have traffic – Earlier, we discussed the importance of long tail keywords.

The reason why long tail keywords are effective is because they are very specific and so they boost conversion rates and, at the same time, keyword competition is going to be low.

However, you do need to make sure that you do not take things too far and go so specific whereby no one is searching for your keyword term online. There still needs to be traffic for the keyword that you select. 

  • Irrelevant keywords – You also need to stay away from keywords that are not relevant to your service or your target consumer base.

You always need to make sure that you are using the same sort of language that your customers would be using.

For example, if you sell dresses for gala events, people are going to be more likely to search for evening dress or gown, rather than searching for gala dresses. 

What is the Best Keyword Research Technique for SEO?

There is not one set technique that you need to follow when it comes to researching keywords. All businesses have different ways of going about it.

However, one thing you will have learnt by reading this guide is that it is not an easy and straightforward process. There are so many different types of keywords available today.

Plus, not only do you need to determine the keywords that you are going to use but you need to factor in how regularly they are going to be used and what other keyphrases they are going to be grouped with. 

This is why the best thing to do is align yourself with an experienced SEO company. They will have all of the tools and knowledge that are needed to determine the best keywords for your business.

They will be able to use their tools for powerful analytics. They will also be able to assess the competition. Plus, they can continue to monitor your campaigns so you can make sure that you are always moving forward and achieving more.

Is Keyword Research Important for Voice Search?

The final element of keyword research that we are going to take a look at is voice search. There is no denying that voice search is one of the newest and most important trends when it comes to online marketing today.

The statistics speak for themselves. More and more people are using voice search features via their smart devices in order to browse the Internet and perform certain tasks. 

So, is keyword research important for voice search? The short answer to this question is yes – it is. You will need to tweak your strategy to suit people that are going to be searching for things using their voice.

Research that has been conducted by Bing engineers has determined that people tend to use longer phrases when using voice search, and so voice search keywords are significantly longer when compared with text-based searches.

This is something you are going to need to account for when you are creating your campaign.

Aside from the length of the terms, other significant differences between text and voice searches are as follows: the intent is going to be stronger with voice searches, there will be a lot of questions, and the local impact will be major.



As you can see, there is a lot that needs to be considered when it comes to conducting keyword research for your SEO marketing campaign.

We hope that you now have a better understanding when it comes to the way in which keywords should be used and how to research them effectively, as well as some inspiration regarding the sorts of keywords that are going to be right for your business.

After all, if you do not understand how to research and use keywords effectively, you are never going to be able to implement a truly successful marketing campaign.

How to do Keyword Research | SEO

Steve Jaenke

Steve Jaenke is the founder & CEO of Digimark Australia. He specialises in SEO and data analytics, bringing in a background in sales and social psychology.

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