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How to do Keyword Research?

Struggling with keyword research? Check our proven strategies to find high-value keywords that drive traffic and boost your website ranking.

Effective keyword research is the foundation of a winning SEO strategy. Choosing the right keyword helps you attract qualified organic traffic, improve rankings, and boost conversions.

Our detailed guide will walk you through the latest tips, tools, and techniques for optimising your keyword research and leveraging it to dominate search results.

Importance of Keyword Research in SEO

In today’s increasingly competitive digital landscape, comprehensive keyword research is more crucial than ever for SEO success. 83% of organic clicks go to the top 5 search results, so appearing on that first page for your target keywords is important. 

Websites ranking at the top have likely conducted extensive keyword research and optimised their pages accordingly. Thorough keyword research provides insights that allow you to:

  • Identify relevant topics and keywords your target audience is searching for. This enables you to create content that ranks for searches that convert.
  • Uncover keyword opportunities your competitors may be missing or not fully optimising for. You can swoop in and claim that traffic.
  • Gauge the level of difficulty for ranking for specific keywords, so you know how to prioritise your efforts.
  • Discover long-tail variations of keywords that help you go after low hanging fruit in the SERPs.
  • Create content around keywords that have high commercial intent and are likely to drive conversions.
  • Structure your content in a logical, semantic way that search engines can easily understand.

Step-by-Step Keyword Research Process

Follow this comprehensive process to extract maximum value from your keyword research:

  1. Identify Seed Keywords
    Start by coming up with a list of core “seed keywords” that are relevant to your business. These should be 2-3 word keyword phrases that summarise your main offerings, products or services.
    For example, a dog food company may have these seed keywords:
  • dog food
  • organic dog food
  • dog treats

    Seed keywords serve as the basis for discovering longer-tail variations using keyword research tools.


  1. Perform Competitive Analysis
    Leverage keyword research tools like Ahrefs and Semrush to analyse what keywords your competitors rank for.
    Start by identifying their top-ranking pages in organic search and the terms those pages target. Look for keyword gaps – opportunities where they don’t fully rank for all relevant long tail variations.

    You can then create content focusing on those open gaps where you can outrank competitors.

  1. Generate Long Tail Keyword Ideas
    Use the seed keywords you gathered to find longer, more specific long tail versions that are easier to rank for.
    For example, long tail keywords for “dog food” could be:
  • grain free dog food
  • freeze dried dog food
  • organic dog food delivery

    Long tail keywords typically have:
  • Less competition, allowing you to rank more easily.
  • More commercial intent, driving better conversions.
  • More specific user intent, resulting in higher engagement.

    Prioritise long tail keywords with at least 500 monthly searches and under 80 Keyword Difficulty in your toolset.

  1. Analyse Keyword Metrics
    Dig into essential keyword metrics before deciding which ones to target:
  • Search Volume: Monthly or global searches. Higher is better.
  • Keyword Difficulty: How hard it is to rank for a term. Lower is better.
  • CPC: Cost Per Click i.e. how much competitors bid for a keyword. Higher indicates commercial intent.
  • Competition: The number of competitors bidding on a keyword. Lower is better.

    Filter for keywords with sufficient search volume and manageable difficulty. Give priority to ones with higher CPC.

  1. Analyse Search Intent
    Figure out the search intent for your keywords using tools like Ubersuggest. Intent can be:
  • Informational: Searchers want to learn more about something.
  • Transactional: Searchers want to complete an action, like a purchase. 
  • Commercial: Searchers look for specific businesses, products or services.
  • Navigational: Searchers seek a specific website or webpage.

    Match your keywords to pages that satisfy searcher intent. For example, use transactional keywords on product or pricing pages.

  1. Organise Keywords into Topic Clusters
    Group related keywords into logical topic clusters or pillars. This forms the outline for your site’s information architecture.
    For example, the dog food company could have these clusters:
  • Dog Food Brands
  • Dog Food Types
      – Dry
      – Wet
      – Freeze-Dried
  • Dog Food Ingredients
      – Grain-Free
      – Organic
  • Dog Treats

    Creating organised keyword clusters also helps search engines better understand your overall site structure.

  1. Track Keyword Performance
    Continuously track how your target keywords perform after you optimise for them. Tools like Semrush Rank Tracking and Google Search Console provide data on:
  • Current ranking positions in search results.
  • Search visibility for your site.
  • Clicks and traffic from keywords.
  • Click-through-rates from search engine results.
    Analyse this data to identify new opportunities and underperforming keywords that need re-optimisation.

Leveraging Long-Tail Keywords for SEO Success

Long-tail keywords are more specific, multi-word phrases like “healthy homemade dog treats“.

They offer huge Search Engine Optimization (SEO) benefits compared to short, generic keywords:

  1. Increased Relevance
    The more specific the keyword, the more precisely it matches searcher intent. Pages targeting long tails offer the exact information users want.
  1. Less Competition
    Short keywords are extremely competitive. Long tails allow you to rank with less effort.
  1. Lower Keyword Difficulty
    Related to less competition, long tails have lower keyword difficulty scores in keyword tools.
  1. More Conversions
    Long tail traffic converts better because you exactly meet their needs.
  1. Improved Click-Through-Rates
    Your landing page precisely satisfies the searcher’s query, boosting click-through from SERPs.
  1. More Total Volume
    Collectively, long tail variations account for 70% of search queries. Targeting them gives you more volume.


Follow these tips to maximise your usage of long tail keywords:

  • Brainstorm a list of long tails around your seed keywords.
  • Use keyword research tools to find long tail opportunities competitors miss.  
  • Prioritise long tails with sufficient volume and low difficulty.
  • Create highly targeted, optimised content for those long tails.
  • Include long tail keywords in metadata to boost relevance.
  • Track performance to identify new long tail possibilities.


For local SEO, don’t just focus on broad keywords like “London plumber“. Target longer, localised long tails too.

Benefits of local long-tail keywords:

Hyper-targeted relevance – connect with local searchers specific intents

Lower competition – rank locally for niche long tails competitors miss

Increase rankings potential – more opportunities to rank different keywords

Geo-modified optimisation – tailor pages for different cities, zips, neighbourhoods

For example as a London plumber target:

  • “emergency plumber 247”
  • “water heater replacement birmingham”
  • “clogged drain repair London Borough”

Mine keyword tools for these localised long tail gems hiding in plain sight that will draw targeted, converting traffic.

How to do Keyword Research?

Optimising for keyword intent, clusters, and long-tails arms you with the latest tactics to win search rankings and traffic. But creativity and insight separate SEO experts from amateurs.

As algorithms and AI advance, the human touch of ingenuity, empathy and strategic thinking becomes even more important. Combine left-brain analytical keyword research with right-brain creativity for unbeatable SEO results.

Simply put, keyword research is step one for any successful SEO campaign. It provides the data-driven insights you need to optimise your pages and win the search rankings battle.

Step 1 - Keyword Research Tools: Your Keys to SEO Insights

The best place to start your keyword research journey is equipping yourself with the right set of tools. 

Here are the top 3 keyword research tools we recommend based on in-depth testing and client results over the years:

1. Ahrefs

Ahrefs offers one of the largest databases of keywords thanks to its incredibly vast crawl of the web. Some standout features include:

  • Keyword Explorer: View search volume, CPC data, keyword difficulty, and other metrics for 100M+ keywords to identify the best targets.
  • Content Explorer: Discover new keyword opportunities by analysing the content of any URL for words and phrases they rank for but you don’t.
  • Competitor Keywords: See all the keywords your competitors rank for so you can find overlooked opportunities.

Ahrefs is our top choice for in-depth organic keyword research and tracking competition.

2. Semrush

Semrush is another robust keyword research platform we often utilise. Key features include:

  • Keyword Difficulty: Accurately gauge how hard it will be to rank for keywords based on unique Semrush data.
  • Keyword Magic Tool: Generate keyword ideas by entering seed terms, URLs, and other inputs. Useful for content brainstorming.
  • Topic Research: Explore keyword ideas grouped into topics so you can create content around specific themes.

Semrush excels at providing strategic keyword data tailored to different stages of the SEO process.

3. Google Keyword Planner

While not as powerful as paid tools, Google’s free Keyword Planner deserves a spot in every SEO specialist’s toolkit. Benefits include:

  • Search Volume Data: See monthly search volumes for keywords using Google’s exclusive data.
  • Suggested Keywords: Get keyword recommendations based on your seed list. Helpful for brainstorming.
  • Low Competition: Filter for low competition keywords optimal for targeting.

Use Keyword Planner for initial research before diving deeper with paid tools. The data directly from Google provides helpful insights.

Armed with a combination of these keyword research tools, you can extract the rich insights needed to build an effective SEO strategy.

Real-World Example: Keyword Research for an Plumbing Company

Here’s an example of how we utilised keyword research tools for a client – an plumbing company providing plumbing and heating services around the United Kingdom.

  1. Started with Google Keyword Planner to get an initial list of purchase-intent keywords around drones, filters, batteries, and accessories. Looked for low competition keywords indicating opportunities.
  2. Imported these seed keywords into Ahrefs to get more expanded keyword ideas and additional metrics like CPC and search volume. Identified several untapped long-tail keywords around specialised parts.
  3. Also used Ahrefs Content Explorer to find relevant keywords their competitors ranked for but they didn’t yet target. Great for discovering gaps.
  4. Compared keyword metrics between Semrush and Ahrefs to get a more accurate picture before finalising keyword targets.


The process above yielded hundreds of highly relevant, low competition keywords that became the foundation of the client’s SEO strategy and content calendar for the year. Traffic and revenue increased as they used this keyword research to optimise their site and go after previously untapped terms. How about a free consultation call to help your website rank at the top?

Now let’s move onto the next critical phase – analysing the competitiveness of your keyword list.

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Step 2 - Assessing Keyword Competitiveness

Whole point of ranking #1 in Google is to attract visitors more effectively than the pages currently ranking on the first page.

That’s why analysing the existing keyword competition is crucial.

Here are 3 tips for gauging competitiveness:

Research the existing top 10 results for each keyword

Evaluate the authority and quality of current top ranking domains. Ask:

  • Does this keyword seem dominated by authoritative sites like Wikipedia, YouTube, etc?
  • Or Is there a mix of lower authority sites indicating opportunity?
  • How optimised/relevant are their pages for the keyword based on on-page factors?

Use Metrics like Keyword Difficulty and Search Volume

Tools like Semrush and Ahrefs calculate unique difficulty and search volume metrics.

  • Difficulty quantifies how hard it is to rank for a term based on overall domain authority of competitors.
  • Shoot for keywords with difficulty around 30-60 to balance competitiveness and opportunity.
  • Search volume indicates how many monthly searches a keyword gets. Higher is better, but low-competition terms with 100-1k searches can be the “low hanging fruit“.

Check Google Keyword Planner for Competition Levels

Filter Google Keyword Planner results by low, medium or high competition to identify “easy wins“.

Pro Tip: Don’t just look at 1st page results – also analyse pages ranking in positions 11-30. Getting onto page 1 only requires outranking enough of those sites.

Real-World Example: Competitor Analysis for a Law Firm

We recently conducted an SEO competitor analysis for a law firm trying to rank for keywords like “personal injury attorney” in their city.

Here were the key findings:

  • Many 1st page results were directories or lawyer rating sites instead of individual firm websites. This presented an opportunity.
  • Keyword difficulty scores around 40-50 indicated competitiveness but opportunity.
  • Competitor pages lacked dedicated optimization for the target keywords based on thin content and weak metadata. 


Based on this competitiveness analysis, we determined strong potential to grab the top spots with an optimisation strategy tailored to ranking intent and search volume. Do you want to grow your website traffic as well? Then Contact Us Now for free consultation.

Doing this analysis will allow you to set realistic expectations for potential keyword rankings. Now let’s look at an advanced tactic – analysing search intent.

Step 3 - Digging Into Searcher Intent

SEO ultimately comes down to one key factor: Does your content satisfy the searcher’s intent for a given keyword?

That’s why making search intent analysis an integral part of your keyword research process is crucial.

Start by categorising your keywords by the four key types of search intent:

Informational Keywords

The searcher wants to discover information about something.

Examples:how to lose weight“, “keto diet explained

Optimise for E-A-T by creating comprehensive, well-researched guides. Include statistics, expert perspectives, studies etc.

Navigational Keywords

The searcher wants to find a specific website, brand or product.

Examples:amazon.com“, “coca cola website

Focus on technical SEO and brand-building to become the authority site searchers think of.

Commercial Keywords

The searcher intends to purchase something.

Examples:buy laptop online“, “men’s running shoes

Tailor the content to each stage of the purchase funnel – awareness, consideration, decision.

Transactional Keywords

The searcher wants to complete an online transaction.

Examples:order pizza online“, “book airline tickets

Make conversion easy by optimising pages with online ordering capabilities and clear calls-to-action.

Analysing search intent will clarify the type of content you need to create and optimise for each keyword.

Here’s an example based on our search intent for a dog products company:

KeywordIntentContent Optimization Strategy
best dog toysInformationalIn-depth buyer’s guide comparing top toy brands
dog food dealsCommercialCategory page showcasing current deals and savings
buy dog treats onlineTransactionalProduct page for dog treats with ecommerce focus

You can leverage tools like Google itself to infer searcher intent. Pay attention to:

  • Autocomplete Suggestions when typing keywords
  • Related Searches at the bottom of results pages
  • Featured Snippets for quick answers

Armed with search intent insights, you can craft content that aligns with each keyword’s unique intent to effectively satisfy searcher needs.

Moving forward, we need to discuss the crucial tactic of analysing the SERPs themselves…

Want to know how to use researched keywords in OnPage SEO?

Step 4 - SERP Analysis for Keyword Opportunities

One of the most powerful yet underutilised areas of keyword research is analysing the pages currently ranking in search results.

Specifically, conducting an in-depth analysis of:

  • What types of pages/content are ranking
  • Common elements across top results
  • Optimization gaps you can capitalise on

We recommend thoroughly analysing at least the top 5-10 results for your target keywords.

Use a spreadsheet to capture key factors like:

  • Page type (article, list, Q&A, etc)
  • Word count
  • Media utilised (images, videos, etc)
  • Use of headers, tables, etc
  • On-page optimization (title tags, meta descriptions, keywords)

Look for common patterns across the top-ranking pages for a keyword:

  • Are they following a certain template like a comparison table or pros/cons?
  • Do they include specific elements like infographics or videos?
  • How optimised are their meta titles and descriptions?


Identify any major gaps where you could create niche content and optimise it to surpass the current results. For example, creating a comprehensive step-by-step guide for an “
how to” search if top results only have short articles.

The insights gleaned from SERP analysis inform practical optimisation decisions for your own pages to help them outrank current results.

Now let’s move onto our last step – tracking keyword performance.

Step 5 - Continual Keyword Performance Tracking

The work doesn’t stop once you identify your initial list of keyword targets. Ongoing monitoring of your keyword performance is crucial for staying ahead of the constant fluctuations in SEO. Here are 3 key metrics to track for each target keyword:

Ranking Positions

Monitor your current ranking position in search engines on a weekly basis.
  • Use rank tracking software like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz.
  • Make ranking gains? Expand your optimisation efforts around those terms.
  • Dropping positions? Troubleshoot potential issues.

Click Volume

Estimate how much search traffic and clicks each keyword drives.
  • Use Clickstream data in tools like SEMrush to get this metric.
  • Indicates commercial value – focus on boosting terms getting the most searches.

Conversion Rate

For transactional keywords, analyse the conversion rate from organic traffic.
  • Use Google Analytics goals to calculate keyword conversion rates.
  • Identify high commercial intent keywords converting at low rates so you can optimise pages.
Regularly revisiting these metrics will guide investment of resources into the keywords driving the most impact. Here is an example keyword tracking dashboard covering the key metrics:
Keyword Ranking Clicks/mo Conversion Rate
best budget laptop #5 5,300 2.7%
cheap laptop deals #8 2,800 1.8%
fastest business laptops 2024 #3 9,200 5.2%

Actionable Tips for Leveraging Keyword Optimization

Now that you’ve conducted thorough keyword research, it’s time to optimise your pages for those high-value target keywords.

Here are actionable tips and strategies for effective keyword optimisation:

  1. Include Keywords in Titles and Headers

Your title tag and H1 header should contain your primary keyword. Use primary and secondary keywords in H2 and H3 headers to reinforce relevance.

👍 DO use your target phrase in the page title.

❌ AVOID over-optimisation with multiple forced keyword mentions.

  1. Integrate Keywords Naturally In Content

Seamlessly weave target keywords into your content in a natural, conversational way. Aim for a 1-2% keyword density.

👍 DO use keywords where relevant without forcing them unnaturally.

❌ AVOID excessive repetition like a keyword stuffing robot.

  1. Optimise Images for Keywords

Include keywords in image file names, alt text, title tags, captions, and surrounding content.

👍 DO ensure images include main and supporting keywords where logical.

❌ AVOID keyword stuffing image attributes just for SEO purposes.

  1. Leverage Keywords in URL Slugs

If possible, include keywords in your page URL slugs. This signals relevance to search engines.

👍 DO incorporate highly relevant keywords in URLs.

❌ AVOID long, convoluted URLs with multiple keywords.

  1. Use Keywords in Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions don’t impact rankings but optimise them with keywords to improve click-through-rates.

👍 DO feature primary and secondary keywords in meta description.

❌ AVOID just copying and pasting keywords without good meta copy.

  1. Include Related Long-Tail Keywords

Incorporate relevant long-tail keyword variations in content for increased semantic value.

👍 DO strategically use long-tail keywords where appropriate.

❌ AVOID excessive long-tail keyword density that reads unnaturally.

This structured optimisation helps search engines grasp your content’s relevance for each keyword, while creating value for users.

Monitor keyword rankings regularly and re-optimise pages as needed based on the latest search results data.

How to Conduct Competitor Keyword Research

One of the best ways to find profitable, easy-to-rank-for SEO keywords is researching what your competitors target.

Analysing competitors’ keywords reveals:

Gaps in their keyword targeting – optimise for those opportunities they miss.

Over-optimized pages – outperform pages they’ve over-optimized.

Keyword targeting patterns – emulate what works well for them.

Key Role of PPC Keyword Research

While SEO and PPC pursue different goals, PPC keyword research provides useful insights for SEO as well.

Benefits of analysing PPC keyword data for SEO include:

  • More Extensive Keyword Volume Data
    Google Ads provides more comprehensive search volume information including local monthly estimates.
  • Reveals Valuable Long Tail Keywords
    The specificity of PPC keywords surfaces hidden SEO long tail opportunities.
  • Highlights User Search Behavior
    You see exactly what keywords users typed in to trigger ads. This demonstrates direct user intent.
  • Identifies Key Competitors’ PPC Keywords
    See what your competitors are bidding on for clues on what SEO keywords to target.
  • Uncovers High-Value Semantic Keyword Variations
    The diversity of PPC keywords reveals semantically related keywords to pursue.
  • Shows Trending Keywords and Seasonality
    Google Ads tracks rising keyword demand helping you capitalise on trends.


In short, incorporating PPC keyword data gives a more well-rounded view of your SEO opportunities.

While this guide covers keyword research comprehensively, there are always new tactics emerging. To stay ahead:

  • Continuously analyse competitor actions and SERP changes.  
  • Explore new keyword research tools and features.
  • Track search algorithm updates that may change rankings.
  • Refresh your keyword strategy quarterly to capitalise on trends and seasonality.

With these steps, your SEO-driven business will reap the benefits of thoroughly researching and targeting the most valuable keywords over the long term.

Here are the 10 free ppc tools to help you with ad campaigns

Want Free Consultation

At UTDS Optimal Choice, our mission is to help businesses thrive online. As a full-service digital marketing and advertising agency, we become an extension of your team to get you results across all channels.

Want to drive more traffic and leads through SEO? We’ll conduct in-depth keyword research to optimise your site for higher rankings. Need to boost brand awareness through paid ads? Our strategists will run high-converting Facebook and Google campaigns. Want to engage your audience on social media? Our experts will create compelling content and manage your platforms.

Whether you need website design, email marketing, ad campaigns, SEO or integrated multi-channel campaigns, our team of passionate marketers has you covered. We take the time to understand your business goals and customers so we can develop data-driven strategies to generate ROI and growth.

Contact us today to learn how we can help expand your digital presence and connect you with the right audience. Let’s discuss how we can partner to take your marketing to the next level.

FAQs

Keyword research is the process of analysing and identifying the keywords and phrases that potential customers use when searching for products, services, and information online. The goals are discovering the best keywords to target to reach your audience and understanding the competition for those terms.

Keyword targeting is how you can align your content with what users are searching for in Google and other search engines. Without understanding keywords, you are essentially creating content blindly without considering what people are looking for. Keyword research allows you to optimise pages around specific terms so they appear in search results. This helps attract qualified organic traffic from SEO.

Long-tail keywords are more specific, multi-word phrases like “healthy brownie recipes with almond milk“. Here are tips for discovering great long-tail terms:

  • Use keyword research tools like SEMrush to find expanded keyword suggestions based on seed keywords
  • Analyse related searches at the bottom of Google results pages
  • Use Google Autocomplete to see phrases people are starting to type in

Long-tail terms tend to have less competition yet highly targeted traffic, making them perfect SEO targets.

Some proven keyword optimization tips include:

  • Incorporating keywords naturally into title tags and meta descriptions
  • Using keywords in the URL slug when possible
  • Including keywords in image file names and ALT text
  • Highlighting keywords through formatting like bold and italics
  • Optimising page content around keyword intent and topics

Absolutely – going after long-tail iterations of keywords and less competitive terms can help you rank even without massive authority. For example, targeting “best laptops for college” rather than just “laptops”. Leverage keyword research to find “low hanging fruit”.

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