SEO Keyword Research

Wednesday, April 28th, 2021

Keyword research is the process of identifying the words and phrases that people use to search for your product or service in search engines like Google. Choosing the right keywords is one of the main factors that will determine the success of your SEO campaigns.

If your website is not optimised for the right keywords you will be missing out. Read on to find out more about the importance of building an extensive keyword list and how to choose the right keywords.

Why Is Keyword Research Important For SEO?

If you think of keywords as the building blocks for SEO, then keyword research is all about laying the solid foundations that you’re building upon. Good quality content and keyword optimisation are two of the most important factors in improving your Google rankings.

Finding Your Optimum Keyword List

There is more to keyword selection than just the most obvious choices. It is also worth investigating fringe or related areas, to make sure you have all your bases covered. First up create an extensive list of all of the possible keyword phrases and terms that you think people might use to search for your product or service.

Google It!

While there are a multitude of places to research keywords online, over 90% of online searches are carried out using Google – therefore it makes sense to start with Google. If Google suggests a keyword or phrase centred on your keyword this means lots of other people are using that phrase in their searches for the same or similar keywords. Think of it as seeing through Google’s eyes or taking a bit of an insider’s shortcut.

When entering your keyword into Google Search you want to take notice of four things (more on these below):

  1. Search Suggest. Similar search phrases that appear in a drop-down list before you hit enter.
  2. People Also Ask. A small section part way down the first page that provides a series of questions relating to the keywords you have entered.
  3. Related Searches. The ‘Related Searches’ list at the bottom of the page containing variations on your search terms. 
  4. Page 1 Results. The types of listings that are appearing on the first page of the search engine results pages (SERP’s).

4 Things We Learn From Google Search

1. Search Suggest

The Search Suggest phrases often offer a great source of long-tail keyword phrases, for example, if we enter “Search Engine Optimisation” we get the following results from Google Search Suggest. All of which offer slight variations on the initial keywords and offer insight into common search terms.



2. People Also Ask

The People Also Ask list is always phrased as questions. These questions are a good way to figure out exactly what the searcher is trying to find. They also provide good topics for content that include your keywords and more insight into the searcher’s intent.

3. Related Searches

From the Related Searches section at the bottom of the page, we learn a few more suggestions that closely relate to our original search term. Clicking on these similar search terms and viewing their ‘Related Searches’ at the bottom of that page is also a great way to dig a little deeper.

4. Search Results Pages

Lastly, taking notice of the types of web pages that are appearing in the search results helps you to understand if your keyword phrase is hitting the right target market. Are the listings showing on page 1 similar to what you are offering? Do they match the intent behind your keyword use?

Using our example of ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ below you can see the kinds of results that have appeared. Because SEO is a broad search term, Google is assuming we want to know more about the topic and bringing us helpful results explaining the term and what it means.  

However, if for example, we were actually looking for a company that provides SEO services nearby, the keyword search term would be better phrased as ‘Search Engine Optimisation services Christchurch’ or something similar.

Using this simple process of trial and error in Google Search helps us refine the specific keyword terms and phrases that form the basis of a definitive keyword list. You can refer back to this list when building content, setting up Google Ads campaigns, and carrying out on and off-page SEO.

Other Keyword Research Ideas

This same process we have used above in Google Search can be applied to various other platforms including You Tube, Wikipedia and various forums.

How To Determine The Best Keywords

Now you have put together an extensive list of potential keyword terms and phrases you need to narrow it down to the ones that will provide the best return on investment. To do this you need to take the following factors into account:

  • Search Volume. The more people search for a keyword, the more potential traffic you can get right? Yes, and no. Focussing solely on high volume keywords means more competition, don’t underestimate long-tail keywords with lower search volume as they often convert better because the search is more specific. If your site is relatively new or you are just starting out it may be wiser to target low competition terms to begin with. Then, as your site grows in authority, you can start to target more competitive stuff.
  • Click Through Rate (CTR). Organic CTR’s are also helpful in determining the value of keywords, there are some great online tools out there that can help you with this. CTR’s provide a good estimate of how many people will actually click through to the website link if you rank well for the keywords.
  • Cost Per Click. Knowing the cost per click answers the question of how likely it is that someone searching for this keyword will turn into a paying customer? Search volume and click-through rates are helpful, but if people aren’t actually converting at the end of it all then this keyword term may not be worth the effort. The higher the CPC the more willing businesses are to pay for better ad placement the more likely they are getting good returns.
  • Location Specifics. Targeting a specific location can improve your chances of ranking higher in that location. Narrowing down your keyword research to specific cities, districts, or the North or South Islands can help make your keywords more relevant to your target audience.
  • Competitor Analysis. Prioritising high-volume keywords that your competitors are not currently ranking for is always a good place to start. This means capitalising on your competitor’s missed opportunities, however, don’t forget to loop back around later on and take a swing at the keywords your competitors are already performing well for. You may not have a shot at outperforming them but you do need to cover all the bases.

Example Keyword Research Tools

Need some extra help figuring out the best keywords for your business? Any of these 7 keyword research tools are a great place to start – some of them are even free!

  1. Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
  2. Semrush
  3. Wordstream
  4. Ubersuggest
  5. Moz Keyword Explorer
  6. Google Keyword Planner
  7. KWFinder

Ultimately, good keyword research helps you understand exactly what keywords will best help you engage with relevant traffic providing the best return on investment over time. For more information on keyword research for SEO see here.

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Mark is the managing director of Avatar, a Christchurch-based web design and marketing company, that has served a wide range of clients in different industries.

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