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How to Research Keywords for SEO: Complete Beginner’s Guide

Keywords are the key to gaining online visibility with SEO. They can take your brand from unknown to dominating Google and gaining many leads each month.

A well-executed keyword research plan enables you to find high-quality keywords quickly and efficiently. But before you can develop one, you must first understand the basics of keyword research and why it matters in the first place.

That’s exactly what we’re going to teach you in the rest of this guide.

So… Let’s get started!

What is Keyword Research?

keyword research SEOKeyword research is the practice of identifying the top keywords your audience uses to search on Google. It focuses on finding, analyzing, and comparing high-volume search terms that you can use in your content creation.

Done right, keyword research can take your content from the bottom of the SERPs to ranking at the top and generating hundreds of monthly visitors to your website.

Why Does Keyword Research Matter for SEO?

Before we get to that question, let’s first understand why Google needs keywords in the first place.

Google uses crawling spiders to skim through online content and learn what it is about. These robots rely on keywords to understand the context of each page before indexing it to the database.

For example:

The main keyword for that web page is “Web Design.” So when robots scan it, they can guess what it’s talking about and how it relates to other pages on the web.

Google will then index that page as a potential result for the keyword “WordPress Web Design” and show it to users who search for similar keywords.

Now, you might be wondering:

Why is any of that important?

It’s simple.

Keyword research helps you figure out what your target audience wants from you. But more importantly, it enables you to meet those needs by creating highly relevant content using popular, low-competition keywords.

That enables you to optimize your content to meet Google’s needs and appeal to potential customers.

What Types of Keywords Should You Use In Your Content?

The main keyword is the term you use repeatedly when writing your article. It represents the primary topic of your post and the one crawling spiders will rely on to index the page.

Secondary keywords are less important or modifier keyword terms that are still relevant to your main topic. They provide further context to search engines and help them understand what you’re focusing on in your web page.

LSI keywords are a different type of keywords often associated with your main phrase in the SERPs. They’re essential to keyword variety and will help you improve SEO results by increasing relevance.

Aside from that:

Keywords can be looked at in many ways depending on your objectives. You can break them down into categories based on length, difficulty, intent, etc…

Length:

  • Short tail keywords (1-3 words)
  • Long-tail keywords (3-7 words)

Difficulty (assessed using a keyword research tool):

  • Low difficulty keywords (<29)
  • Mid difficulty keywords (30 – 49)
  • High difficulty keywords (>50)

By search intent:

  • Informational keywords (how to, best way to, where can I, tips for)
  • Navigational keywords (brand names, service locations, prices)
  • Commercial keywords (product vs product, near me, best X for Y)
  • Transactional keywords (buy, subscribe, for sale, cheap, free shipping)

What Makes a Good Keyword for SEO?

Here are three elements to keep in mind if you want to maximize your SEO results when doing keyword research:

Relevance

Is the keyword relevant to your main topic?

As we said earlier, Google relies heavily on keywords to understand page context and its value to different users. Then, it uses that to match your content with prospective clients based on search intent.

Therefore:

You must always prioritize relevance over search volume and difficulty when choosing keywords for your content.

Volume

Is the keyword worth your time?

Imagine writing a 2000 words article about a topic in your industry, only to realize that your clients aren’t interested in learning about it.

So even if you rank #1 on Google, you won’t generate any new leads to your business due to the low search volume.

Here’s the deal:

When creating new content pages, you want to focus on keywords with a good number of monthly searches to keep your brand growing.

Unfortunately, there is no universal search volume to aim for because industries differ based on the products and services they offer.

For example:

A local restaurant might need thousands of monthly customers to remain profitable. On the other hand, an HVAC business might only need a few dozen leads to thrive.

Difficulty

Can you actually rank for this keyword?

You can write all the content you want about your favorite topic. Yet, you may never rank #1 for it because more authoritative websites got there before you.

Keyword difficulty is another vital factor to keep in mind when choosing key terms, especially for your primary keyword.

Keywords with a “moderate” to “high” difficulty score are often a waste of time for brands on the path of growth. Simply because they’re impossible to rank for when you’re new and trying to compete with the big guys in your industry.

So:

Be sure to pick low-difficulty keywords that you can actually rank for.

Can You Do Keyword Research For Free?

There are many premium keyword research tools that experts recommend. So that makes it hard for you to decide if you should pay for one.

The truth is:

You can actually find high-quality keywords to craft your content for free using Google Search. And they’ll be just as good as any keywords you can find using paid tools.

After all, the best keyword tools rely 100% on Google Keyword Planner to get their data.

Does that mean all keyword research tools are useless?

Of course not!

A paid keyword tool will help you assess keyword difficulty and get accurate monthly search volume. It will also allow you to create a long list of keywords with data and export it for future use.

But:

Unless you’re planning on publishing a lot of content regularly, it’s better to use free techniques as a start. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars each month on tools you don’t use much.

Where Should You Put Keywords In Your Content?

One thing to keep in mind here is that Google doesn’t really make the rules. Instead, it looks for the best-performing articles in terms of user experience. Then, it tries to extract success rules or commonalities between them.

Therefore:

The answer you’re getting here is based on what top bloggers do to make their articles rank high.

Although Google has never given a final answer on how often you should use your main keyword, experts believe that a 2% keyword density is optimal to ensure high rankings.

Meaning:

Your primary keyword should appear once or twice for every 100 words on the page. So if you write a 1000 words article, you should use your primary keyword more than ten times.

You don’t want to use too many keywords in the same article for two reasons:

  • You’ll make it harder for Google to identify your main topic
  • It triggers a red flag for crawling spiders that you are stuffing keywords

Instead, you should maintain a natural flow of words with an engaging writing style that appeals to humans first.

Here are the best places to put keywords on the page:

  • Page title
  • Meta description
  • Page URL
  • Headings
  • Introduction (first 150 words)
  • Conclusion (last 150 words)
  • Body text
  • Image (filename, alt tags, captions)
  • Anchor texts

Three Simple Ways to Find Keywords With Google Search

Once you decide on the idea for what to write about, choose a primary keyword to use repeatedly in your blog post.

After that:

You have to come up with secondary keywords to include in your writing so that your target audience can easily find you.

Here are three simple ways to do that using Google:

Autocomplete Suggestions

By typing down your main keyword into the search, Google will show you key terms that your prospects often use when searching the web. You can use these queries to enrich your writing style and improve your SEO rankings.

Here’s an example for the keyword “tools used in plumbing”:

Google keyword research

Not all the keywords in this list will be relevant to your article. So, pick the ones you need and look for creative ways to use them in your writing.

People also ask

This method is a gold mine for finding high-quality keywords that are hard to come up with on your own. Better yet, these keywords come in the form of questions, which means you can use them as subheadings in your articles.

Let’s use the same keyword from the previous example and see the result.

search questions keywords

Each question from the list is a sub-topic you can cover to create a comprehensive content piece. You may also click on different questions to generate more ideas related to your subject.

Related searches

The related searches feature has been around for a long time and still is one of the best places to find new keywords.

At the bottom of the SERPs, Google will show you eight related keyword ideas based on the search query you entered

related search keywords in search engine results page

Want to take this a step further?

Click on any keyword from the list to generate more related phrases and expand your keyword list. That’s an excellent way to avoid keyword stuffing and target more low-difficulty terms.

Need Help Getting Started With Keyword Research?

SEO Fuel Marketing is here to help!

Check out our Affordable SEO services to learn more about our work and how we can help your business gain traction with SEO.

Don’t hesitate to contact us or give us a call at 773-672-2545 — we’ll be happy to discuss your project needs.

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