How To Get Started With Keyword Research

All marketers, new and experienced, must embrace keyword research. Let's hit it!

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Last updated on December 19, 2023

Marketers, new and experienced, must embrace keyword research. It is essential to keeping your website ranking high and bringing in leads, new clients, and sales.

There have been many changes to SEO practices over the years: some drastic, some minor, but keyword research has remained a top priority for marketers and will continue to be an essential part of marketing your business.

Keyword research remains the starting point for all marketing professionals and business owners, regardless of experience, because the information gathered helps determine other marketing factors, including content creation and link building.

If you are going to improve your marketing skills, learning the best methods for keyword research should be at the top of your to-do list.

This Keyword Research Guide is just the beginning – there’s way more UppercutSEO content and videos to absorb, so start here and keep swinging!

how-to-get-started-with-keyword-research-for-seo - Tom Desmond, uppercutSEO

What Is Keyword Research?

Anyone that uses Google to find a product, service, or information does the same thing – they type a query into the search engine field and hit GO.

Keyword Research is simply finding the phrases that YOUR ideal customers are searching for in Google.

This can be done using a handful of online tools and a little mental elbow grease.

The goals of keyword research:

  • Uncover the phrases ranking in the top spots and pulling in leads and sales that you want for your business.
  • Learn the keyword phrases that your direct competitors are crushing.
  • Learn how many times a specific phrase is searched. (search volume)
  • Learn how difficult it is to rank for each of your desired phrases. (competition level)
  • Find little cracks in the web that are ripe for grabbing new clients quickly. (long-tail keywords that have low search volume but are easy to rank)
  • Define your business and bring some ranking gold to the surface.

Keyword research is your jumping-off point for generating your website content that will rank in Google and bring in new leads and sales.

Let’s sit down and get it done!

Why Do I Have To Do Keyword Research?

Keyword Research is the only way to know what your targeted group is searching in Google when researching your product or service.

You cannot afford to assume that you know what your ideal customers are searching for.

This research could also reveal important facts about your target market’s search trends and patterns.

For example, folks looking for a personal injury lawyer in Chicago will search “Chicago personal injury lawyer” more often than “Chicago personal injury attorney” – yet they will search “Chicago medical malpractice attorney” more than “Chicago medical malpractice lawyer”.

Along the same lines, without keyword research, you might miss many opportunities like “Chicago car accident lawyer” (gets 1700 searches per month), “Chicago auto accident lawyer”( gets 150 searches per month), and “Chicago auto injury attorney” (gets 80 searches per month).

how to do keyword research

And, guess what, “Chicago Illinois car accident lawyer” gets almost zero searches per month, so without keyword research, you could spend a ton of time and money on the wrong phrases.

Plus, it’ll help you choose anchor text to use in your link-building – more on that in the link-building guides.

Dig deep and pick 25-50 killer keywords…

Oh, and get excited and LOVE your list of keywords because it is your business launch pad.

What’s The Best Way To Tackle Keyword Research?

Make a list of what you do, what you sell, who buys from you, who hires you, what their needs are, where they live and work, and more… then, hit the online tools in uncovering your gold.

The basic plan of attack starts here:

  • Define your target market and identify their needs.
  • Review your current keyword list and ranking. Hint: read the The Ultimate Google Search Console Guide
  • Examine your competitors to determine what keywords they are ranking for.
  • Select the keywords that offer the best value for your investment.
  • Ensure the selected keywords align with your business goals and customers’ needs.

Come back to do keyword research every few months because needs and desires change, search patterns change, and search algorithms change.

Quick Note:
This guide is written with business websites used as references. I often refer to “your product or service” when discussing the need for good keywords. However, even if your website is not selling an actual product or service, you are still trying to “sell” or “promote” your information. The concept of how and why you need good keywords remains the same.

STEP 1: Define your target market and what their needs are

Establishing a list of products and services before doing any research is essential to finding the right keywords for your site.

Marketers often overlook this step because they think they already know the keywords that will bring in the best leads and sales.

Creating this list can eliminate a lot of the trial-and-error process and reduce wasted time.

Get it all in a spreadsheet.

Bing, bang, boom.

To determine this list, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What products or services do we sell?
  • What makes us unique in the market?
  • Who is our target market?
  • What do our ideal customers need?
  • What is their secondary need once they have our product?
  • Where are our ideal customers located?

You can continue to answer these questions as your business grows and continue to expand your reach.

STEP 2: Look at your current keywords and ranking

Even if you’re starting a site from scratch, you probably have a list of keywords in mind. Make a list of these words and phrases before researching and seeing how they rank.

You can use one of the many free keyword-ranking software programs if it is a small list of words. These programs will provide you with detailed information about the keywords you entered.

You can use a paid service for this part of your research if you have a long list or an extensive and complex site. These services can help establish all of your best and worst keywords.

Google Search Console is a great tool to help you discover what keywords your site already ranks for.

You want to find a baseline of how keywords are performing so that you can eliminate non-performers and enhance the use of better keywords.

Once you have established the good and the poor-performing words, you can search for new keywords.

Don’t eliminate the inadequate performing words; they can still come in handy later, but focus on the top performers and find new words to generate organic traffic to your site.

STEP 3: Check your competitors and see what keywords they’re crushing

Your competitors are a great source for keyword information.

Run some Google searches to get a broad picture of your competitors’ keywords.

Start with an everyday item that you are selling.

For example, if you’re selling motorcycle helmets on your motorcycle-themed site, you would search that term to see what comes up.

Look past the paid ads to see who the first two ranking sites are.

The websites in the top 10 of Google have the appropriate keywords for a motorcycle helmet to rank the highest.

Next, search for a helmet by brand name and see what sites come up.

If you continue to see the same two or three sites ranking highest, you now know your competitors!

If they have a more significant site or have been in business longer than you, they’ve probably done the keyword research and optimized their website for the performing phrases.

Now, flip open the hood of their websites and discover what brings in their leads.

There are free tools out there that can help you examine the keywords that your competitors are using.

The paid tools are WAY better and will allow you to dig deeper and find most of their golden nuggets.

Get aHrefs and SEMRush, put in your competitor’s domain name, and have fun.

STEP 4: Choose the keywords that will give you the biggest bang for your buck

The final step is reviewing your gathered information and determining which keywords will bring the best ROI.

Sift through the lists of keywords you found in your competitors’ analysis and get them into a spreadsheet.

Go back to Step 1 to see which keywords from this list fit your business and your customers perfectly.

Three things to keep in mind:

The most popular keywords are not always the best investment because unless your website is already powerful, it’ll be difficult and time-consuming to rank them in Google.

Focus on keywords that will not only generate traffic but will help generate profitable traffic. In other words, meet your customers’ needs as much as possible with your choice of keywords.

Google has mastered “related topics” for keywords. Now, a keyword is associated with a product or service and connected to various topics. For instance, the term motorcycle helmet may be a keyword for a selling site and a motorcycle insurance site, a safety site, or even a legal site.

Add these keywords to your ranking strategy!

Final Thought on Keyword Research

In conclusion, keyword research is a critical aspect of digital marketing that can significantly impact a business’s online presence, visibility, and profitability.

By identifying the right keywords, YOU can rank higher in search engine results, generate traffic to your website, and attract potential customers.

Like everything in SEO, keyword research is an ongoing process that requires regular review and updates to stay on top of your customers’ needs, changes to search algorithms, and competitors.

Embrace keyword research!!! And learn the best methods for its implementation.

By doing so, you can develop an effective digital marketing strategy that yields significant results and keeps you ahead of your competition.

Knock ‘em out!!!!

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