How To Research Keywords for SEO

What is Keyword Research

When you are researching keywords. You are really discovering keywords related to your business that users will type into search engines. Finding good keywords is the foundation of good SEO strategy.

If we do not know what users are searching for we will not be able to write relevant content. We can’t optimize pages if we don’t know what to optimize for. 

Be Relevant Based on User Intent

In the past exact keyword matches were important. Now you want to be useful to the user based on the users intent. 

So basically, we are doing market research to find out what our audience is looking for. 

Useful Resoruces

Asking The Right Questions

  • What motivates the business?
  • Who are the customers?
  • What do those customers care about?
  • What does the business sell?
  • What the business want to focus on selling?
  • What are day to day goals and how does the business operate?
  • Does the business already have customer personas / avatars?

Figure Out The Why

Once you know what the business is selling – figure out why their customers are buying these widgets. 

What is the problem the business is solving. How can the business satisfy the customers needs. 

Query Intent

The results that google serves up are based on what google thinks is the users intent and what will be most relevant in solving the users problem. It has less to do with the actual keywords and more to do with the meaning behind the search. Google breaks down user intent into 4 basic categories:

  • To know
  • To Do
  • Finding a website
  • Visit in-person query 

Intent shapes search results. Depending on the users intent, the search results look different. Such as a local intent will show local results. 

Be sure to try out your searches in google. If you understand how customers will search for the business, its easier to understand the customers search intent. Search those queries on google to see wether or not google understands the same intent. 

If you do this you will be able to write better content that more accurately address what the customer is looking for. 

Learn 16 things that can hurt your site rank 

Local Tools available through SEMrush

Create A List

Using the knowledge gained by asking the discovery questions start making a list of important topics relevant to:

  • The business
  • And to the customer
Figure out what overlaps and separate the list into ‘buckets’ of similar concepts and ideas. Then use what you know about the business to prioritize the topics. 


For example, some topics might be good for informational topics, while other ideas might actually lead to a transaction. Then once you have your concepts buckets organized. Start figuring out keywords. 

Brainstorm here and come up with keyword phases that customers will search for when they are trying to looks up what the business is selling. Be sure to check out what your competitors are already ranking for and what your site is already ranking for. 

Then use the SEMrush tools to come up with related keywords to what you want to rank for. 


SEMrush Tools

Gary explains this topic much better than I can. So be sure to check out the video here. 

The Main Tools

  • SEMrush Keyword Overview Tool
  • SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool

Use these tools to find keywords that are in the sweet spot for your business. They have a:

  • High Search Volume
  • Low keyword difficulty rating.

The best keyword difficulty ratings are usually in the 60-80% range. 

Remember to use the groups and the filters to see some hidden opportunities. Be sure to check out the questions filter if you want to get in the answer box. If you know what your customers are asking you can answer these questions. 

Once you have found keywords you want to work with in the Keyword Magic Tool. Send them to the keyword manager tool. Once you have worked through the keywords in the manager tool, you can send the keywords to other tools, such as:

  • SEMrush Position Tracking
  • SEMrush PPC Keyword tool

Hack 'Not Provided' keywords

Check out organic traffic insights in SEMrush. Set up the google analytics connection using that projects dashboard. 

Competitor Analysis

This is key when working with a local area. The tool to use is the SEMrush organic Research tool. Put in your competitors url and see what they are raking for. 

Creating Content

Create content based on each concept bucket you want to rank for. Remember those buckets we created before. This is where we are using them. 

First create higher level pages for each concept you want to rank for. Next move to more long tail keyword phrases. Structure site content like the pyramid below. 

It is even possible to create different types of content on your page for the same category knowing that different customer personas will want to engage with different types of content. Such as:

  • Video
  • Graphics
  • Podcasts
  • Written word

Good content can also help bring in links. Once you create content keep track of the performance. 

Don’t continue to re-optimize specific elements. Create new content as well. Even if it is bases on your old content that is doing well. Create a graphic or maybe even a podcast that covers a blog that is doing well. 

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