A guide to effective keyword research

keyword research

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of attracting specific types of traffic to a website or page, from a search engine’s results page.  SEO includes content creation and optimisation, obtaining backlinks, optimising for voice search, and keywords.  It also includes more technical aspects such as improving your page speed, image load, and site architecture, so search engines can more easily crawl your site.

The three most important things you should aim to do if you want to improve your search engine ranking should be:

  1. Make sure your site is easy to access and crawl, 
  2. Have high quality content that includes relevant keywords,
  3. Get as many backlinks from high authority sites as you can.

If you struggle with content creation and the ways to optimise your content for search engines, then this blog is for you. I’ll talk about how to find the right keywords, how to use the popular keyword research SEO tools as well as some advanced keyword tips.

The basics of keyword research

Let’s start with the basics of finding the right keywords or phrases, why it is important to optimise your website with the right terms and the process of discovering the right phrases for search engines, including Google, Bing and YouTube.

Keyword research is a vital element to get your site ranking. The keyword research is the backbone of optimising your site correctly for organic search results, as getting it wrong impacts your website ranking and other tasks related to SEO. This can include your on-page SEO, finding and creating content as well as email marketing and promotion.

Keyword research is a step to understanding your target audience and visitors, this is why keyword research should be done before any other task on your website.

Before you investigate your keywords, you must take time to understand the type of visitors you aim to attract and target on your website. This is important so you are able to tailor your SEO strategy and website to your ideal visitor, and choose content that they will like and hopefully convert to a paying customer.

Customer Research

Customer research helps you as a website owner learn what your audience REALLY search for.  You’ll be able to find out the precise phrases they use when they search, so you can include these in your site and content, to help it rank for those keywords. 

You might know roughly who you should be targeting, especially if you sell things online or have a blog or business profile on social media. They may already interact with you, like your blog posts and comment on your work.

It’s good to think about the demographic these people fall into. Are they mostly male, female, or mixed?  What interests may they have?  These insights help make up what is known as the customer persona, and it’s important to define your customer persona if you want to do well in your keyword research and SEO strategy..

Without this key information, you won’t be using the keywords the people you want to attract are searching for.  You won’t be able to create content that’s structured around these keywords, as you won’t know what they are.  And your content won’t be structured in a way that is most appealing to the people you want to visit your site and engage with it.


Hub Spot has a handy tool you can use to find out about your ideal visitor, called Make My Persona.  It makes the process of creating a customer profile simple, allowing you to create an in-depth profile quickly. The best part is – it’s completely free.

keyword research phrases

Get started with keywords

Let’s look at keyword ideas for your business.

The first step is start brainstorming a list of topics that you think your target audience will be interested in.

For example, if you are a yoga teacher, it may be topics like exercise, meditation, keeping fit or nutrition. If you are in the digital marketing industry, it could be topics around social media, marketing, content marketing, blogging or pay per click (PPC).

Keywords can be split into two main types: 

  1. The type of keywords people use to find products
  2. The type of keywords people use to find information

If you sell yoga mats you would use terms like this for products:

Yoga mats free delivery

Organic yoga mats

Yoga mats for children

And if you were writing a blog article on yoga positions, your informational keywords might be:

Yoga positions for weight loss

How to perform yoga

Proper yoga posture

Ideally, any page that’s properly optimised for SEO should include several sets of BOTH types of keywords so however people search, your website always appears as an option.  You’ll also be more likely to appear for other, related keywords.

Brainstorm your topics

One free way to brainstorm is to use Wikipedia’s table of contents, as it holds a goldmine of research and topics. Add a broad term into Wikipedia and the content box provides a list of subtopics which you could use as keywords.

Another valuable tool can be the “searches related to” feature on Google. When you search for a topic, Google will suggest related topics given at the bottom of the page.

Of course there are dedicated tools to use for keyword research and they do make the process easier, however, they aren’t all free.

Google keyword planner – This is the number one reliable source as the keyword data comes straight from Google itself. It is primarily made for those who use Google ads for their ad campaigns, but many still use it to get keyword ideas and search queries that get higher volume.

You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to discover keywords for your SEO content and webpages, even though it was primarily created for Google Ads campaigns.  This is a free to use feature within Google Ads, so you’ll need a Google Ads account to use it.  

Once inside the Google Ads dashboard, open Keyword Planner, and type in a keyword.  You’ll get search volume data on that phrase, along with a selection of related keywords and phrases.

Search Volume Range gives you an idea of how often people have searched for the keyword you typed in that month. By entering your selected list of keywords into Google Keyword Planner, you’ll be able to use Search Volume Range to see what keywords are popular – and what ones aren’t often searched for.

Exploding topics – A great tool that scrapes the web and shows popular keyword ideas from around the web, including YouTube, Bing and Google Analytics. There is a very easy chrome extension that will list out keywords when you visit a site it supports.

UberSuggest – A fantastic SEO tool that has been recently upgraded. It generates keyword ideas and topics and also provides search volume, and keyword difficulty.

SEM Rush – This is a paid tool that gives precise keywords with the full data. It also provides a range of other tools like SEO content templates, tracking your rankings, site audits and much more.

Ahrefs – Although it is primarily a link building tool, it is also a fantastic keyword research tool too. It can provide valuable data on each keyword, how competitive the keyword is and much more.

Keyword difficulty

So, what is keyword difficulty? It is the data that helps you make the decision on whether it is worth targeting for or not. If you choose a high competition keyword, you have a lower chance of ranking for it on Google, but a low competition keyword will be much easier to rank in the top three with the right strategy.

Keyword difficulty is important to analyse, but generally long tailed keywords are normally your best bet for ranking. Keywords can be divided into three different categories:

Head terms: Single word keywords tend to have higher search volumes and more competition, and as a result they often don’t convert that well.

Body Keywords: Two to three word phrases that get a good amount of traffic. They are more specific than head terms and tend to be less competitive.

Long tail keywords: They tend to be four plus word phrases that are very specific. They may not get as much traffic, but they are often used in conjunction with other long tail key phrases that make up the majority of search terms online.

So, how to choose a keyword?

Unfortunately there is no tool that will choose for you. Deciding on your keywords relies on your own judgement and knowledge based on the factors below.

  • Search volume – The more people who search for your keyword, the more traffic you can attract. Search volume is also dependant on your industry and services. Some industries may have a lower search volume but higher return on investment or conversion
  • Organic click through rate (CTR)- Search volume isn’t 100% reliable, you can also look at the click through rate for the search term to see how many people are actually clicking to your site. A good rule is to check the keyword, and if there are lots of featured snippets on the first page or ads, it’s unlikely you get to number one. Tools like Ahrefs or Moz pro to calculate the CTR.
  • CPC and search intent – It is a metric which answers a question – so the people searching for your term actually intend to spend? There is no point in ranking for a keyword if it’s unlikely to convert or provide ROI.
  • Is the keyword fitting for your business or niche – Check Google trends to make sure that your key term is still relevant for your business or niche.

Keywords for Voice Search SEO

It’s important to include keywords in your content that will help you get found by people conducting searches using voice. Google states that almost 50% of all adults use voice to search daily, and this number is growing.

The two biggest differences between keywords for voice and other keywords are….

  1. Most people using voice to search tend to use longer, more detailed keywords 
  2. Voice searchers ask a LOT of questions when they search

A lot of people think they don’t need to optimise for voice search because they assume most of these types of searches will be carried out by people using smart speakers.  They think that no one will be visiting their website, but this is simply not true.  

Research has shown that 20% of all searches made by smartphones are voice searches. More people are also now using their laptop and desktop computers to conduct this type of search, so it’s crucial to include voice search friendly keywords in your SEO strategy.

You might be wondering how to choose the best keywords for voice search.  Here are four top tips that will help you prime your content for voice search:

Optimising your content for Voice Searches

Remember to optimise for Google’s Rich Answer Box – Here there is only ONE answer displayed, so you want to make sure yours is the best one.  Research has found that 75% of the top Rich Answer voice search results rank in the top three for desktop searches. By optimising your SEO approach to ensure you rank highly in Google Search for your niche on desktop, you’ll be maximising your chances of getting found in voice search.  The tips and techniques in this video will help you boost your general Google Search score, improving your chances of appearing as the best result in Google’s Rich Answer Box.

Remember to optimise for Featured Snippets – Priming your content for Google’s Featured Snippets is one of the MOST effective ways to rank highly in voice search.  Snippets are small pieces of essential information, that Google automatically pulls from your webpage. To have a chance of getting your content featured as a snippet, you should include clear questions that have relevance to your topic.  Make sure they are questions that people who are looking for information on your topic would ask.  You can use tools like Ask the Public to find out what topical questions people are already using to search.

Remember to include numbered list posts – Using numbered lists will boost your content’s chances of appearing in voice, and it will also help you maximise the chance of appearing in featured snippets.  Try creating blog posts such as “Top Ten Ways to Improve Your Memory”, then bullet point each of the tips you include using numbers.

Use long-tail keywords – Longtail keywords will GREATLY improve your content’s chance of getting selected as one of the top voice search results.  You can use Google’s Search Suggest Tool straight from the Google Search Box to find suitable questions using Google’s autocomplete feature.  Just type in a question then look at the bottom of the search results page, where you’ll find a Searches Related to section. You’ll get a handy list of related and relevant questions people have already searched for, that you can include in your content.

Keyword Research Conclusion

Keyword research is the most vital element to a successful content and SEO strategy. If you are looking to ensure that your website is not only found, but found by the right audience with a high probability to convert into a customer, you have to spend time looking at the right search terms, search intent and high competitive the search term is.

If you are looking for help with keyword research, SEO Strategy or looking for training in SEO, contact me today!

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