What is keyword research? Simple! A practice that marketers use to find the right keywords to improve search engine results. Today we’re going to dive into exactly how this works

After finding a niche keyword, marketers use their research to generate other keywords, aiming is to come up with as many terms as possible that are relevant to a certain keyword without being obvious.

The goal here is, of course, to improve the ranking of their site.

IN A RUSH?! Click for our <90 second snapshot

What is Keyword Research

Keyword research is, in its most basic definition, when SEO professionals try to find alternative search terms for subjects people search for using popular search engines. 

Ranking high on Google with keyword research

Still not clear yet? Alrighty, how about an example?

This very same article you’re reading right now revolves around the keyword “keyword research.” Bet you didn’t notice that one. 

Ideally, people would come to view it based on their search for “keyword research.” But that’s simply not enough to rely on if one were to want more visits from the right crowd. So after a process of diligent research and various scientific methods, a list of alternative keywords was generated. 

These keywords are ultimately relevant to what this article is trying to rank for and are the most used search terms when people on the internet decide to read about this specific subject.

What is a Keyword?

It’s worth briefly explaining what a keyword actually is. You’d be forgiven to think that it’s just a single word that governs your entire online presence’s traffic. Keywords can be anything from a couple of words to entire sentences.

They’re basically what people use to search for whatever topic comes to their minds. The more organic search terms are usually what people go for, somebody wanting to learn about cat fashion tips is going to search using things as simple as “cat fashion tips” or “top cat fashion tips,” or even “what are some of the best cat fashion tips 2021.”

different ways to carry out keyword research
Keyword research is important when trying to achieve any SEO goal but it is not something you only do once. It needs constant review. Credit: William Iven

But what’s the point of varying your keywords and doing all this keyword research? It sounds like a lot of effort for something so simple, but you’d be mistaken.

Keyword Research: What are You Looking for?

Of course, before we dive into how to research keywords, we need to discuss what actually makes a keyword good or bad.

Let’s look at the main variable you should look out for.

Keyword Competition

Keyword competition is the measure of how difficult it will be to rank for a particular keyword. The competition for a keyword can vary depending on how popular the keyword is and industry competition.

Competitive keyword research is one of the highest return activities in the search marketing field. Ranking for the right keywords can make or break your website. By researching your market’s keyword demand, you can also learn more about your customers as a whole.

Most of all, it’s not always about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the right kind of visitors.

The value of this cannot be overstated. With keyword research you can predict shifts in demand, respond to changing market conditions, and produce the products, services, and content that web searchers are actively seeking.

Keyword Difficulty

In order to know which keywords to target, it’s essential to not only understand the demand for a given term or phrase, but also the work required to achieve high rankings. 

If big brands take the top 10 results and you’re just starting out on the web, the uphill battle for rankings can take years of effort. This is why it’s essential to understand keyword difficulty.

Search Volume

Search volume is simply the amount or quantity of searches that occur for a particular keyword or term, often expressed as searches per month. The ideal combination is a term with high search volume and low search competition. These terms are hard to find.

Often the popular search terms already have a significant amount of competition, making them very difficult to achieve top position search engine rankings.  The competition is already there and has been there a while.

How To Research Keywords

Next, let’s look at the stages of keyword research.


This involves looking for as many keywords as possible that can be used on your website. You can use online tools to find as many of them as possible fast. 

They also make it possible for marketers to find out which ones are the most popular

Return On Investment (ROI) Analysis

After you have found a number of keywords that can be used on your website, you need to find the ones that would be most beneficial. Return on investment is a performance measure to find out how effective an investment is. 

The investment, in this case, would be your chosen keyword. If you want to yield really high returns on investment, go for phrases that offer accurate and specific descriptions of the qualities of a site. Generic keywords are great too but they do not always yield high returns.

Competitive Analysis

This involves using tools to find out the strength of competitors for your possible keywords. You need to find out how much attention competing sites pay to optimization issues and how many inbound links they have been able to get.

It is advised to use keywords that are related, have low competition and can still yield high returns on investment. This gives your website a good chance of achieving a higher rank in search engines and therefore, to generate high web traffic.

However, if a website is optimized for keywords other than the main one, then it may not be very competitive. The keyword should be as closely related to the subject of the website as possible.

Keyword Research Tools

Of course, keyword research is supposed to be scientific. With that in mind, here are some essential keyword research tools.

Google Keyword Planner

You can find free tools for keyword research on Google.

Google Keyword Planner makes it possible to create new keywords using a combination of other keyword lists, to get estimates of search volumes for a keyword and to create new keyword variations from primary keywords. However, it has some limitations. 

Since it is only made for Adwords, it does not show long tail keywords which are very useful for search engine optimization. It generates keywords that are targeted to advertisers and not for search engine optimization.

Google Suggest

Google Suggest is used as a live feature. As a user types a search phrase into the browser, Google Suggest tries to predict their input before they finish typing. Suggested keywords appear below the search box and the user can just click on whichever they want and the results will be displayed. 

It makes search processes faster. These autocomplete predictions are derived from the input of other users using algorithm so there is no human involvement at all. 

Marketers can use Google Suggest since it contains many keywords that could be closely related to a full or partial keyword. It is great because there is no human involvement. It is completely automated and therefore has some great keyword ideas.


Making a modest list of keyword research tools without even mentioning SEMrush would be nothing short of a sin. 

Beloved by many as one of the premier competitor-based keyword research tools, SEMrush offered a feature around the time of its release that no other tool had in its belt – the ability to reverse-engineer the organic rankings of each and every one of your competitors. 

This gave it its everlasting edge over the myriad other keyword research tools around at the time and still to this day. Anyone remotely serious about their SEO endeavours made sure that SEMrush was their go-to tool. 


It’s not surprising at all to find something from the good folks over at Moz when it comes to anything SEO. Seeing as how they’re a veritable resource of SEO techniques, they decided to up the ante by introducing their Keyword Explorer to us humble SEO nerds. 

The first thing you’ll notice about Moz’s Keyword Explorer is a nice and intuitive interface. Not only is it easy on the eyes, but it’s also incredibly descriptive with the kinds of in it gives you a great tactic to reel in both experts and apprentices alike. 

Showing you both numeric values and visual representations of any keyword’s monthly search volume, along with priority and difficulty. In addition to giving you both SERP analyses and ideal keyword suggestions, all in a detailed and visually impressive layout. 

Did we forget to mention that over half a million businesses use Moz? 

That has to be an indication of how good it is, right?


Along with all the standards you’d expect from a keyword research tool, Keyword Explorer also gives you a “potential” metric to play with, allowing you to take all the data available into account and giving you an estimate of how close you are to a virtual sweet spot when it comes to keyword rankings. 

Keyword Research For YouTube

If you want to create a YouTube video with a lot of views, then you need to invest time and effort into it. A good video can be useful in getting more visitors to your website and improving returns on investment. 

The video itself could be a great tool for marketing your goods and services. This means that you’ve got to come up with a really good video. 

The next step is to ensure that people actually get to see it. People can’t watch a video if they cannot find it. You can use keyword tools to ensure that they do. Keyword Tool

Keyword Keg

Keyword Keg makes it possible to use searches on YouTube to filter your data. If you are looking for very specific results, you can filter by language or country. Marketers can find out the search volume of every keyword, the keyword power and the worth of each keyword.


It is most suited for marketers who rely completely or almost completely on YouTube to increase visitors to their website. It does not focus on any other software packages but YouTube. 

The keyword ideas from YTCockpit are derived from the autocomplete feature of YouTube, Google Suggest and Google Ad Words. It can be used to research competitors and to monitor the traffic trends of various keywords. It is really targeted so a lot of marketers prefer it.

A Word about PPC

PPC keyword research is different from keyword research for SEO and should be treated as such.

For SEO keyword research, the goal is to find out the keywords that people frequently search for and to find out the keywords for certain topics.

For PPC, however, the goal is to find keywords to bid on and which keywords have the potential to make you more money per click. PPC keyword research, therefore, focuses on profit or achieving certain goals.

The error margin for PPC keywords is not as large as for SEO because SEO does not cost fees per keyword and there is always a chance to adjust keywords that do not work. For PPC, every little error is money out of your pocket.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *