Keyword Research 2020: A Definitive Guide

Written by Shreoshe Ghosh

Updated on Jul 30, 2020
Category: On-Page SEO

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is a prevalent practice in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) where SEO professionals try to find the best possible keywords or phrases that could be incorporated into the content of a webpage to satisfy user and search engine queries. 

Doing keyword research by using powerful SEO tools help marketers understand the demand for specific keywords. The more the competition associated with a particular keyword, the more difficult it is for a web page to rank for that keyword in the 1st SERP. 

Importance of Keyword Research

One of the significant factors that differentiate two similar websites in terms of popularity is keyword research. Keyword research helps businesses understand the search intent better. 

Search intent of a user has become more critical than ever before as search engines like Google are prioritizing user experience above everything else. 

By understanding the intent of keywords or search phrases that people use to find information, businesses can create better content strategies and deliver targeted content that can drive traffic to their sites. 

There are three types of Search Intent:

  1. Informational: Users with informational intent want to find more information about a subject. Informational keywords are used by users to educate or update themselves about a given topic. An example of an informational search would be “types of bank deposits.”
  2. Navigational: A navigational search query helps find pages or websites by entering brand keywords instead of entering the target URL in the address bar directly. An example of a navigational query can be “Facebook login.”
  3. Transactional: A transactional query is one that is carried out with the intent to purchase a product or service. Transactional queries may not always imply a purchase but rather denote the readiness of a user to make a conversion. 

Stages of Keyword Research

Keyword Research is a comprehensive process that starts with keyword identification and categorization.

Create a Seed List

You can begin the keyword research by identifying a list of keywords that are relevant to your business. This will be your seed list. A seed list will form the baseline for the keywords or phrases for your expanded keyword research.

You can get ideas for words or phrases to be included on your seed list by identifying terms that are directly related to your business. These are usually the terms that are used by your target audience. If you check your competitor’s websites, you will find the same terms used to optimize it. 

Expand the Seed List

Expand the seed list by using tools like Google Keyword Planner, and understand the search volume of your keywords to determine the popularity of each keyword against one another. 

Depending on your niche market and the competition, there could be as low as ten high priority keywords or as high as a hundred top priority keywords.

Categorize Your Priority Keywords

Once you have the list of priority keywords with you, you’ll have to categorize them based on your business goals. You can categorize keywords based on the type of product or service that you offer. 

For example, if you’re a car dealer, then you can categorize keywords based on brands, physical condition, or model number. 

Identify Preferred Landing Pages

Once you have your priority keywords categorized, you can begin mapping them to specific web pages based on relevance. As you go ahead with on-page optimization, you may notice that, on average, there are one to two priority keywords that are most relevant to a given webpage.

At this point, you can add the additional keywords from the expanded seed list that did not make it to your priority keyword list.

Usually, these additional keywords are generic terms or phrases that can be included with your priority keywords and optimized. In case you come across multiple keyword opportunities for a given webpage, you need to analyze the user intent and prioritize the ones that justify the content on your webpage. 

Rework on Your Keyword List Over Time

You should necessarily take a note of your PPC and analytics data to find new keyword opportunities that might be waiting for your business. This is especially important for new business owners as well as businesses that are driven by seasonal behavior. 

A monthly review of your website data could pave the way to find new keyword opportunities that can be integrated into your ongoing SEO campaign for better search visibility. 

Types of Keywords in SEO

While doing keyword research, you should be familiar with the different types of keywords that exist in SEO. Without the right understanding of the different types of keywords, your optimization strategies may not yield the intended benefit. 

Let us take a look at the nine different types of keywords that exist in SEO. 

Short-Tail Keywords

Short-tail keywords are short phrases consisting of only 2-3 words. Short-tail keywords have high search volume due to which they are highly competitive. 

Short-tail keywords are used by people when they are at the initial stage of research, which is why the search intent of such keywords is not so obvious. These keywords are troublesome to rank for since they don’t match the search intent of the user. 

Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords consist of search terms or phrases that are more than three words in length. They have lesser search volume compared to short-tail keywords, but they tend to be very specific in nature and reflect the search intent clearly. 

Additionally, these keywords are less competitive than the short-tail keywords, but since they are precise, the conversion rate is also pretty high. 

Short-Term Fresh Keyword

As the name suggests, short-term fresh keywords are those keywords that are currently trending. Events such as the Oscars or Olympics are when such keywords can give a sudden boost to your existing traffic, but such a hike comes with its own limitations. Once the hype is over, the surge in organic traffic declines quickly. 

Long-Term Evergreen Keyword

Evergreen keywords are those phrases that always hold relevance irrespective of the time or season. When you use long-term evergreen keywords in a piece of content today, you can be assured that even after 2-5 years, people will still look for that content.

With evergreen keywords, you cannot expect a sudden rise or fall of website traffic, but you can enjoy a consistent traffic year after year. 

Most evergreen keywords are informative in nature, and if you update content with such keywords from time to time, you may get a higher position in SERP for being more authoritative as time passes. 

Product Defining Keyword

These are the keywords that define your product or services. People looking for product defining keywords are almost close to purchasing a product or service and are looking for additional information related to it.

So, when you’re including product defining keywords in your content, remember to make it very detailed so that users can find all the required information about the item they are looking for. These keywords, although, have low search volume and competition, can bring high conversion rates. 

Customer Defining Keyword

Before you conduct keyword research, you already have an idea about your target audience, whether they are males or females or children or all of them. If you’re targeting a specific group of people, ensure that your content addresses them clearly.

This will develop credibility and draw more people from the category of people that you’re targeting. An example of a customer defining keyword can be “soft toys for kids.”

Geo-Targeting Keywords

Geo-targeting keywords allow you to target a specific location such as a city, state, or neighborhood. Geo-targeting keywords are beneficial for small local businesses that want to attract the local audience to their store.

Geo-targeting keywords are an important part of the local SEO strategy and can improve your online visibility drastically by featuring you in the 3-pack. 

LSI Keywords

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are those that resemble your target keyword very closely. So, suppose your target keyword is “cucumber”, the LSI keywords can be “cucumber salad”, “cucumber cooler”, or “cucumber face pack”.

You can get an LSI keyword only when you have the primary or focus keyword. LSI keywords are good for content creation and can boost the ranking signals for the main keyword. 

Intent Targeting Keyword

Finally, intent targeting keywords are those that satisfy the search intent of the user. We have already discussed the three types of search intent before, i.e., informational, navigational, and transactional. Based on the intention of the target user, these keywords can be implemented into web pages to give a clear idea to the users about what they can expect from the web content.

Advanced Keyword Research Tips & Strategies

Now that you have a fair idea about keyword research, the type of keywords, and how to conduct keyword research, here are a few tips and tricks to make your keyword research activity a smooth sail. 

Explore Beyond Google 

Every keyword research guide recommends using Google Adwords and Google Keyword Planner. However, it would be wiser if you can be open to other keyword research tools that can set you apart from others who are only using tools by Google. 

Finding Niche Keywords

Brainstorming for keywords and planning your initial keyword optimization is possible using Google Adwords. However, sites like Reddit can give you scope for mass discussion on topics related to your niche and keep a tab of the primary and secondary trends to find potential keywords that you haven’t considered yet.

Competitive Analysis

Competitive analysis is an integral part of keyword research and should be done in the right manner. Often, businesses try to track the top players in their niche market to analyze the keywords that are helping them rank. In reality, you should be keeping a close watch on competitors who have close website authority as yours. 

The keywords that work for the well-established, multi-million dollar brands in your niche market, might not bring you the traffic that you’re looking for. Instead, focus on some long-tail keywords and analyze how competitors are incorporating those same keywords in their web pages and outranking you. 

Best Keyword Research Tools 2020

AHREFS:

Ahrefs is a well know tool for SEOs. It used in website audits, backlinks analysis, competitor analysis and most importantly in keyword research.

Keyword Explorer:

Keyword Explorer:

To start your keyword research with AHREFS, you need to select a tool called keyword explorer. There you choose the search engine or platform and the country based on which you want to get keyword ideas. After that, add your term or seed keywords to get started. 

Keyword Overview:

After entering keywords, you can get the overview of your seed keyword, which includes Keyword Difficulty, Search Volume, Search Trend, Clicks, CPC and other details. Along with these, you will get variations and keyword ideas.

Keyword Overview:

If you scroll further down, you will be able to find SERP Position history for the keyword along with top search results. Here you can see the ranking trend over the past six months for competitors.

Along with the above details, you can get information on the SERP Overview of Keyword. It includes top-ranked pages Backlinks, Referring domains, average traffic, no.of ranked keywords, Ahrefs Rank (AR), Domain Rating (DR), URL Rating (UR) and title of the pages.

Keyword Ideas:

You have got all the related information and an overview of your seed keyword. Now its time to look for related keyword ideas. On the left menu, click on all keyword ideas to check possible keyword ideas. You can select options like 

  • Phrase match” to get keyword ideas related to the Seed keyword phrase.
  • “Having the same terms” to get keyword ideas which have seed keyword term.
  • “Also rank for” to get related keyword which competitors ranked for.
  • “Search Suggestion” to get search engine suggestion keywords
  • “Newly discovered” to get newly added keywords in the list.
  • “Questions” to get query-based keyword ideas

You can now export all the ideas and overview using the export option. 

SEMRUSH:

Compared to other tools, SEMRUSH is the best option while you are doing keyword research. It is the most effective tool that keeps on updating based on the Google algorithm and real SEO world changes.

Keyword Overview:

Starting with the Keyword overview section of the SEMRUSH tool. You need to enter your seed keyword to get the details. You can choose the country, device, and date to get the overview.


Once you enter the keyword, you will get an overview of your seed keyword, which includes monthly search volume, number of results on google, CPC, Competition, Organic Trend, CPC distributions etc.

Scroll down further to get related and phrase match keyword ideas along with Volume and CPC.

Along with that, you can see top organic search results, ADS Copies and ADS History.


Keyword Magic Tool:

Access the Keyword magic tool to get keyword ideas from your seed keywords. 

  • Broad Match Keywords: It shows all related keywords containing that seed term or a similar one.
  • Phrase Match Keywords:  It shows the long-tail keywords of your seed keyword.
  • Exact Match Keywords: It shows the keywords which include exact seed term.
  • Related Keywords: It shows related keywords of Seed keyword.

You can filter the keywords using an advanced filter option or you can choose specific term keywords using the left side menu.

Keyword Difficulty Tool:

Using the keyword difficulty tool, you can get volume, keyword difficulty and SERP features for a Bulk list of keywords.

UBERSUGGEST:

Ubersuggest is a free tool available for SEOs and Digital Marketers. However, now it has become a premium tool, but compared to other tools, it is affordable. So you can consider this tool while looking for keywords.

Keyword Overview:

First, enter your seed keyword and choose the country to get started. 

In the keyword overview, you will get information about your seed keyword, which includes Search Volume, SEO Difficulty, Paid Difficulty and Cost Per Click (CPC). Mainly a search analysis of seed keyword. 

Scroll further to get Keyword trend, Organic and paid clicks details.

Keyword Ideas:

Click on the View all keyword ideas to check all the Suggestions, Related Keywords. Here you will get Keywords, Trend, Volume and other details.

Along with that, Choosing Questions sections gives all related questionary keyword ideas, and the preposition section provides seed keyword with related terms. 

Content Ideas:

Along with Keyword Overview and Keyword Ideas, Ubersuggest provides Content Ideas for Seed Keyword. It includes Titles, Estimated Visits, Backlinks, and Social Shares.

We will keep adding additional information on keyword research and update this blog from time-to-time. Keep coming back here if you want to learn more about keyword research. 

About Shreoshe Ghosh

Shreoshe has been crafting and editing content on multiple niches for more than 4 years. She specializes in blogging on SEO and digital marketing. When she isn’t writing, you can find her working for the welfare of street animals. Reach her @ Mail | LinkedIn | Facebook or View all posts by Shreoshe

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10 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Hello Shreoshe,
    Well written, full of insight and very effective. Thanks, Shreoshe.
    I have a doubt, can you please tell me how to determine a Keyword’s Commercial Intent? Also, please suggest how can I find the best keywords to optimize my Amazon listing?

    Reply
  2. Avatar

    Hi Shreoshe Ghosh, thank you for sharing an informative article, My question is about keyword difficulty, every tool showing different keywords difficulty, which is most accurate for keyword difficulty SEMrush or Ahref, which tool you will suggest for it??.

    Reply
  3. Avatar

    Hi Shreoshe, very useful post for SEO, Thanks for writing on it and sharing.
    My question is in keyword research do we have to consider the number of search results coming for a particular keyword on the Google SERP while selecting keywords.

    Reply
  4. Avatar

    Hello Shreoshe, if a keyword has keyword difficulty 50 according to the SEMrush tool, shall I go for it??. How many words count content and backlink are require to rank in the first position??

    Reply
  5. Avatar

    This is the guide that I was looking into. Thanks for the great, lengthy, informative and useful post! I have this in mind for many days, can we focus same keyword for service and blog posts!!

    Reply
  6. Avatar

    what should I give importance to while short-listing the keywords – Volume or CPC or competition or any combination out of those 3?

    Reply
  7. Avatar

    Hi Shreoshe, thanks for the useful insights!
    I have a doubt, How can I choose the right keyword when I required to write several posts on a similar topic. If I choose different keywords with similar to one, will it become keyword cannibalization?

    Reply
  8. Avatar

    Hi Shreoshe Ghosh. A great post on keyword research, I have a client website which is a location-based in NY, Which keyword research tool can give exact search volume for a particular location apart from Google ads tool?

    Reply
  9. Avatar

    I have a question regarding keyword research. For some keywords, I find a lot of business directories, review sites ranking, but the intent is clear commercial. Can I rank using those keywords?

    Reply
  10. Avatar

    This is a great article Shreoshe. Well researched, intelligent, well laid out, and highly informative. Thank you. I also just read several of your other articles. SV is lucky to have you.

    Reply

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