How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner’s Guide 2020

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how to do keyword research for SEO

SEO Keyword research is not a new practice in the digital marketing landscape. Most beginners are only yet to adopt it.

If you really want to know how to do keyword research for SEO in 2020, this guide will walk you through the process.

The practice started gaining prominence after Google rolled out the BERT framework in November 2019.

So, you can’t exempt yourself from the SEO trend.

How is the BERT model a concern of SEO?

Or better put,

What are the effects of BERT on SEO?

Following the new core algorithm update, the relationship between SEO and content creators has taken a new shape.

You need to bring the two together while creating your content.

In the bid for Google search AI to understand your content and serve it better to searchers, Google introduced the BERT framework.

As a result of this, your web content MUST meet up with the new model before breaking through the search engine result page (SERP) challenge.

The bottomline of the BERT framework is to ensure people get as much clearer and relevant content when they search for something on Google.

This phenomenon places much emphasis on the need for every web content to meet search intent.

That doesn’t change SEO strategies or render them useless in the contextual race.

In fact, knowing how to do keyword research for SEO will help you get the most of the BERT after reading this ultimate guide till the end.

In a simple term, keyword research will help you bid for long-tail keywords and informational (RICH) content, while you don’t lose focus on search intent.

If you know how to do SEO by yourself, this is the time to find new opportunities in writing great quality content for your audience.

In the last post, where I discussed the 13-point SEO blog post checklist, you can find all the strategies you need to start writing engaging blog post.

One of the points mentioned in that article is learning how to do keyword research for SEO.

So, in this guide, we want to look at the best way to do keyword research in SEO.

What is SEO keyword research?

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SEO keyword research is a practice that makes you study and target what search terms or queries people search for to increase your rankings on search engines such as Google.

When you know searcher intent, you’ll be able to create a blog post or content that is very relevant and specific to what your audience is looking for.

This practice is a content marketing strategy for leading searchers to your blog and increase your traffic.

Benefits of doing keyword research for SEO

Google constantly updates its algorithms. As a result of this, the strategies to rank on search engines are not stable.

Meanwhile, the use of a keyword could be dangerous if not done appropriately.

In the past, one could stuff his content with a keyword and feel comfortable with it. That is not how to do keyword research for SEO.

If you try that now, Google will penalize you.

So, there is more to SEO keyword research if you want to rank your website or blog on search engines.

You need to know the intent behind every keyword which people search for on Google. That will make you write for value not just filling the space of your page with jargons.

In that case, the benefits of knowing how to do SEO keyword research include:

  1. It helps identify relevant topics people search for on Google. 
  2. It helps get insights into search volume and difficulty level of a keyword.
  3. It helps you to write within the scope of a topic.
  4. It helps you to identify a primary keyword and its variances such as keyword synonyms or LSI keywords.
  5. It helps send traffic boost to a website or blog.

That is just a few of the benefits you get when you research a keyword to find its competitiveness, monthly search volume and search intent.

However, knowing how to do keyword research in SEO is to help you answer important information queries on search engines with relevant, SEO optimized and researched content.

Why is search intent important in keyword research? 

By now you must have known the importance of search intent.

We said search intent plays an important role in content marketing. It defines what benefits a searcher hopes to get in content he follows from the SERP.

If you click on a search result and land on a website, Google receives a signal immediately and pays attention to what happens subsequently.

If your search intent is met on that website, you are most likely going to dwell and engage further on the website.

The more search intent a website meets, the better it ranks on Google.

As a matter of fact, a high bounce rate could be a symptom of website content that lacks search intent.

Read how to optimize your website’s bounce rate

So, in this section, we want to dissect the importance of search intent in keyword research. 

Why do you need to know the intent of a search query while doing SEO keyword research?

If you misinterpret a search query you want to write on, you are likely going to miss the search intent behind the keyword.

That shows that a keyword can have different meanings – be it a surface or contextual meaning.

If your research aims at the surface meaning of a keyword, you will be wasting your time and effort on a context which is irrelevant to your audience.

As a result of this, there won’t be anyone reading the post since it can’t lead the right audience to your site.

Assuming you want to write on a keyword “How to make money”, you have to be aware of two meanings in this aspect.

“How to make money” can mean how money is actually produced in an apex bank. “How to make money” can equally mean what business to do to earn money.

The two contexts are saying two different things.

Meanwhile, your type of audience will determine what search intent behind the keyword to research.

And that forms the basis of knowing how to do keyword research in SEO.

To know the right context to form out of a keyword, you need to conduct keyword research.

In the following section, you will learn the best way to do keyword research and improve the quality of your content.

How to do keyword research for SEO, the best way

Here is the step by step guide on how to do SEO keyword research for beginners:

#1. Make a list of topics that is relevant to your niche

The list should consist of topics which your target audience would like to read if they stumble upon your blog.

You can split your niche into various categories and find relevant topics for each of the categories.

Assuming your niche is digital marketing, your audience will be interested in categories such as:

  1. Blogging
  2. SEO
  3. Social media marketing
  4. Email marketing
  5. Search engine marketing and so on.

Anything short of this won’t be suitable for this category of the audience if your niche is related to digital marketing.

So, whatever your niche is, each category found relevant to your niche definitely has thousands of sub topics you can search for.

Hence, you can form your proposed list of topics among the sub topics relevant to your niche categories.

For blogging, for example, you could find relevant topics such as:

  1. How to start a blog
  2. How to launch a blog
  3. How to monetize a blog
  4. How to rank a blog

Explore the web to get as many sub topics as you want.

It’s important to ensure that your topics are related to each category of issues you proposed to address in your blog.

#2. Assign a primary keyword to each topic

Having gotten a topic for your next post, find which primary keyword will be suitable for developing the topic.

Before that, it’s good to evaluate what a keyword means in SEO.

What is a keyword?

According to Brian Dean of Backlinko, keywords are the backbone of SEO.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that without keywords, there’s no such thing as SEO.Brian Dean

Keywords are search terms people use on Google or other search engines to find answers to their search queries.

They are sets of phrases gathered by search engines to determine what people are searching for.

Meanwhile, keywords aren’t necessarily the same as a topic.

They can be used across a post title and the main content with each word forming the keyword scattered in the post strategically.

Types of keywords

There are different types of keywords.

Based on findings, the most common used keywords include:

  1. Short-tail keywords
  2. Long-tail keywords
  3. Trending (short-term) keywords
  4. Evergreen (long-term) keywords
  5. Product defining keywords
  6. Customer defining keywords
  7. Geo-targeting keywords
  8. LSI keywords
  9. Intent targeting keywords

I won’t be able to explain each of these keyword types here in order not to digress too much.

If you want to learn more about these 9 types of keywords, you can get the full gist on Seopressor.

How to assign keywords

Assuming the next topic you want to write on your blog is “10 things to know before writing a blog post”, the following illustration will show you how to assign the right keywords to the topic.

If the search intent behind that topic is to know “what to do before and after publishing a blog post”, then your primary keyword can either be “how to write a blog post” or “blog post checklist”.

Before choosing any keyword, it’s very important to know its search volume.

There are keywords with zero search volume and some with extremely high search volume. Search volume, however, indicates how important a keyword is to the searchers.

So, a keyword with higher search volume is more relevant to the searchers than the one with lower search volume.

But because the keywords whose search volume is too high are extremely competitive, you need to choose between the keywords with high and low search volume.

And that calls for the need to use long-tail and LSI keywords for your topics. They both have a potential impact on your rankings.

More on this will be discussed in the next section.

Let’s say you eventually choose the keyword “blog post checklist” for the topic, that shows that the post will rank for the keyword.

The implication is that whenever anyone searches for that keyword on Google, your post is expected to show up on the SERP.

That shows the essence of knowing how to do keyword research for SEO.

When you assign the right keyword to a topic, your post will be indexed in the category of search query which you focus on.

#3. Find synonyms or LSI keywords

After assigning a primary keyword to your topic, the next thing to do is to find the right synonyms or LSI keywords for your primary keyword.

This won’t be difficult to do. 

The fact is you can’t get the exact search queries people search for. For that reason, it is advisable to use a series of key terms that are near in meaning to the primary keyword.

Using keyword synonyms or LSI keywords will save you from stuffing your post with a primary keyword.

At this stage, this is where keyword research and planning tools come to play.

A typical keyword research tool will give you a bunch of relevant keywords for any topic you intend to write.

For example, Ubersuggest will give you several information to help you plan and decide on which keyword is suitable for your topic.

The findings include:

  1. Search volume
  2. Backlinks of other pages ranking for that keyword
  3. LSI and so on.

There are several other opportunities you can explore on Google.

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If you type your primary keyword in Google search, the list of other search terms suggested by Google can be used as LSI keywords.

#4. Mix short-tail and long-tail keywords

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Found on: RavenTools

This strategy is the next to consider in your quest to know how to do keyword research for SEO.

Combining short-tail and long-tail keywords in developing a post will significantly increase your traffic.

How?

Let’s first look at the difference between a short-tail and long-tail keyword by defining each.

What is a short-tail keyword?

A short-tail keyword is made up of one to three words, which is also known as a head term.

Examples of a short-tail keyword are:

  1. “Marketing” – A one-word keyword
  2. “Digital marketing” – A two-word keyword 
  3. “Digital marketing strategies” – A three-words keyword

They are generic in nature with extremely high search volume and highly competitive. Head terms are confusing because they lack search intent.

As a result of this, to rank for a short-tail keyword can be very difficult.

Assuming a searcher searches for a keyword “marketing”, it’s most certain he’s not going to get the exact answer he needs.

Reason is that his search query is short and confusing. Google might give him something different from what he expects.

His intent might be to learn “marketing process”, but because the term is short, it lacks the context to help the search AI answer his query correctly.

Against this problem, it’s suggested to research long-tail keywords instead and strategically place the two together in a post for both short-term and long-term value.

What is a long-tail keyword?

So, on the other hand, a long-tail keyword is a keyword containing more than a three-word phrase.

Long-tail keywords are search specific queries with low search volume. Because they easily capture the search intent of a searcher, they are less difficult to rank for.

In many search cases, the larger part of a long-tail keyword is found in most of the searches on Google.

As a matter of fact, long-tail keywords feature in most post titles found on the first page of Google search results.

They give the authors the opportunity to attract more clicks and rank higher on the SERP.

Doing the mixing like a pro

Without using a keyword research planner or tool to know the search volume and difficulty of a keyword, you can determine which is the best between a short-tail and long-tail keyword.

For example, let’s say someone is looking for “how to do keyword research in SEO” on Google, which keywords between the two below will give him the most relevant answer?

  1. “Best way to do keyword research” or
  2. “Keyword research” 

All the posts containing the first keyword will definitely capture both his attention and engagements than the other.

As a result of this, every post focusing on a long-tail keyword will easily rank for that keyword rather than the one focusing on a short-tail keyword.

Reason being that long-tail search terms have more defined search intent than the other.

This calls for the need to know how to do SEO keyword research. It suggests the need to mix both short-tail and long-tail keywords in developing a post for SEO. 

If you already have the idea of a short-tail keyword you want to use but don’t know what long-tail keywords will be suitable, you can explore the short-tail keyword using any tool.

The tool will give you the idea of what long-tail keyword to use.

#5. Analyze your competitors

Definitely you can’t be the only one focusing on those ranking keywords.

I hope you are aware there are others wrestling with you on the SERP to outrank you.

That shows you can’t be comfortable with your current position.

One of the things to do is to know what keywords you and your competitors are commonly ranking for. So that you can monitor changes that occur over time.

Before you can rank on position zero or one, you need to have your own market share and keep improving on your ranking position.

You don’t need to do what your competitors do to get to that position than to do the needful.

Your research is to make you find opportunities in their weaknesses and intensify your strengths.

Let’s say your competitors are ranking for a certain keyword, it is not necessary you rank for the same keyword.

If they are focusing on some keywords, competition analysis doesn’t mean you have to start focusing on the same keyword with them.

What matters is to know how to improve on the ones you are both currently ranking for so that you aren’t outranked.

Meanwhile, there is more to ranking for a keyword than just focusing on it.

One of the best tools for competition analysis is MOZ.

Semrush can also handle the task and give you a comparative analysis between you and your competitors.

Both of the tools have a free plan you can start with and be on top of the game.

#6. Do the final selection

It’s my belief that if you follow this guide on how to do keyword research for SEO right from the beginning up to this level, you must have gotten a load of relevant keywords for niche topics.

Because a certain amount of keywords are all relevant to your topics doesn’t mean you should select them.

In order to narrow down the list to a more useful one, you need to be strategic with the selection.

How do you know which keywords to select?

There are certain things you need to consider in each keyword on your planning list before finally selecting a keyword.

Some keywords are short-term keywords, they only trend for a while, while some, the evergreen, last forever.

They both serve different purposes.

So which one do you need?

A short-term keyword may have enough competitive advantage, but that won’t last. The moment no one is talking about it, the ranking falls.

So, if you don’t consider this factor and jump at such keywords, the moment the trend drops, don’t feel heartbroken when your traffic goes down with it. 

Examples of an event (short-term) keyword are:

  1. New products, movie or music release
  2. News events such as “Facebook libra currency”
  3. Disease outbreaks like Covid-19

Examples of an evergreen keyword are:

  1. Historical content
  2. Educational content
  3. Informative content

Any keyword found in these categories can rank your page for as long as the page remains on your website. 

So, before you can select a keyword, you have to check and ensure the trend goes well with your goal. 

There are tools for this exercise as well.

You can use both the Google keyword planner and Google Trends.

While Google Keyword Planner gives you insights into the search and traffic volume of a keyword, Google Trends shows you the graphical illustration of how the keyword trend over a period of time.

They both tell you what the past and presence of a keyword look like so that you can predict the future.

With that, you can determine if venturing into a keyword will be beneficial for you.

As a beginner, you should focus more on keywords that are futuristic in nature. This means that any keyword that has no good future should not be prioritized.

Conclusion

With the six steps discussed above, you can see that learning how to do keyword research for SEO is not rocket science.

There are many opportunities in knowing how to do SEO keyword research.

It can be used to gather and focus on relevant topics for your blog and target keywords that can potentially boost your rankings and organic traffic.

This Beginner’s guide will help you catch up with the SEO task and become an authority in your niche.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Lawal

    Indeed, Keywords are the backbone of SEO and to become a successful blogger one should learn the art of keyword research.

    You have shared an amazing post for doing the same.

    Thanks
    Amit Garg

  2. I needed this. This is really helpful for all the bloggers like me. I had never focused on keyword research while writing a post.
    Thank you for writing and sharing such informative and helpful post.

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