SEO keyword research

Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are crucial aspects for any business that wants to have an online presence. Understanding an SEO keyword research , search intentions and long-tail keywords is vital for creating targeted content and optimizing your website for search engines. By identifying the right keywords, content and call-to-actions, you can drive targeted traffic to your website and increase your conversion rates.

In this article, I discuss what keyword research is and why it is important for SEO and SEM, as well as the different types of search intent and how they can be used to create targeted content. In addition, I also cover how the approach to a keyword research is influenced by the type of site or market you are conducting it for. I also discuss the importance of finding out search intent and how they can be used to drive targeted traffic to your website.

Finally, I discuss several tools available for keyword research, including Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs and Keyword Tool. By understanding these issues and using the right tools and strategies, you can improve your online presence and generate more targeted traffic and conversions.

What is an SEO keyword research?

A keyword research (also called keyword research) is a process in which you research what keywords people use to find information on the Internet related to your products or services. The purpose of keyword research is to create a list of relevant keywords and search terms that you can use to optimize your Web site for search engines and create targeted marketing campaigns.

During a keyword research you will look at what keywords people are using, how often these keywords are used, how competitive these keywords are, what other websites are targeting these keywords and which keywords are most relevant to your business.

Based on these insights, you can determine which keywords are best suited to target in your SEO and PPC campaigns, and which keywords to avoid because they are too competitive or not relevant enough for your business. Therefore, conducting keyword research is an important part of an effective SEO and marketing strategy.

The importance of keyword research

Keyword research is important for several reasons:

  1. It helps you understand how people search for your products or services: by conducting keyword research, you can identify the keywords and search terms that people use to find information related to your products or services. This will give you insight into the language your target audience uses and what their intent is when searching for information. Based on this, you can optimize your content to better match your target audience’s searches.
  2. It helps you determine which keywords are most relevant: by performing keyword research, you can determine which keywords are most relevant to your business and which keywords to avoid because they are too generic or not relevant enough for your business. This helps you focus your SEO efforts on the keywords that are most valuable to your business and produce the best results.
  3. It helps you analyze your competitors: by researching what keywords your competitors use and what they target, you can develop your own SEO strategy to outrank your competitors and achieve higher search engine rankings.
  4. It helps you set up effective PPC campaigns: by conducting keyword research, you can also identify the keywords that are most suitable to advertise on through paid ads. This helps you set up targeted and effective PPC campaigns that result in higher conversion rates and better ROI.

Keyword research is essential to developing an effective SEO and marketing strategy that will help you better reach your target audience and grow your business.

The potential impact of good keyword research.

A keyword research can have several positive effects on your website, SEO and marketing efforts:

  • Better visibility in search engines: by using the right keywords, you can ensure that your website is better found in search engines such as Google. This can lead to higher rankings in search results and more organic traffic to your website.
  • Better conversion: using the right keywords can lead to higher conversions on your website. People who search specifically for your products or services are often already further along in the buying cycle and more likely to convert.
  • Better content: by understanding which keywords are relevant to your target audience, you can create better content that matches their searches. This can lead to higher engagement, a higher rating of your content and more repeat visitors.
  • Lower costs for paid ads: by knowing which keywords are most relevant and valuable, you can advertise more targeted and avoid spending money on irrelevant keywords. This can lead to a better ROI on your PPC campaigns.
  • Better competitiveness: by conducting your keyword research, you can also identify the keywords your competitors are targeting and use this information to improve your own SEO strategy. This can lead to increased competitiveness and market share.

In short, keyword research can have a positive effect on various aspects of your website, SEO and marketing efforts.

Conduct thorough keyword research

Keyword research is an important part of search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). The purpose of keyword research is to determine which keywords are most relevant to your business and how to use them to optimize your online presence and reach your target audience.

Effective keyword research involves several steps, including keyword brainstorming, using online tools, competitive analysis, keyword data analysis, creating a list of relevant keywords and using them in your content and marketing efforts.

By following these steps, you can identify the keywords to focus on and how to use them to improve your online presence and generate more traffic and conversions.

Step 1: start brainstorming

Brainstorming keywords is an important first step in conducting keyword research. It is important to think of all possible keywords that are relevant to your business and your target audience.

This includes both general keywords and long-tail keywords. By thinking broadly and brainstorming, you can generate ideas for keywords you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. In addition, brainstorming keywords can help you discover new content ideas and help you better understand what your target audience is looking for.

It’s a good idea to do this brainstorming session with colleagues or people outside your company who represent your target audience to get a wide range of ideas.

Step 2: make use of online tools

There are several online tools available to help you conduct keyword research. The tools offer several features, such as giving keyword suggestions, providing search volume and competition data, and analyzing your competitors.

For example, Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that allows you to get search volume and competition data. Ahrefs, SEMrush and Moz are paid tools that offer a wide range of features, including keyword analysis, competitive analysis and finding new keywords and opportunities.

Using these tools can help you gain a better understanding of which keywords are most relevant to your business and how to use them to improve your SEO and marketing efforts.

Step 3: analyze your competitors

Competitive analysis is an important part of conducting keyword research. By analyzing the keywords used by your competitors, you can determine which keywords may also be relevant to your business. Analyzing your competitors can also help you understand their SEO strategy and determine which keywords they are successfully targeting.

Tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush and Moz can help you get this data. By analyzing this data, you can make better decisions about which keywords to target and how to improve your SEO strategy.

Step 4: analyze keyword data

Analyzing keyword data is an important part of conducting keyword research. By analyzing this data, you can determine which keywords are most relevant to your business and which keywords are too competitive.

It is important to look at search volume, competition and related searches. Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that lets you get this data. Ahrefs, SEMrush and Moz also offer this data, among other keyword analysis features. By analyzing this data, you can identify which keywords to focus on and which keywords to avoid.

It is important to focus on keywords with high search volume and low competition because these are the keywords that are most valuable to your business. It is also important to understand the intent of the search query, as this can help create the right content for this search.

Step 5: create a list of relevant keywords

After you have identified the keywords that are most relevant to your business, it is important to list them. It is important to keep this list up-to-date and review it regularly to ensure that you are always targeting the most relevant keywords.

It is also important to remember that keyword targeting is only one aspect of an effective SEO strategy. It is also important to focus on creating quality content that matches your target audience’s search intent and to obtain backlinks from other websites.

Step 6: Use keywords in your content and marketing efforts

After you have created the list of relevant keywords, it is important to use them in your content and marketing efforts. This helps search engines understand what your content is about and connect it to relevant searches(1).

Also use these keywords in your paid advertising campaigns to drive targeted traffic to your website and boost conversions. It is important to integrate keywords into your content naturally, without overdoing it.

It is also important to remember that creating quality content that matches your target audience’s search intent and obtaining backlinks from other websites is also important for an effective SEO strategy.

Step 7: Bet on long-tail keywords as well

Long-tail keywords are searches consisting of three or more keywords that often have less search volume than broader keywords. The advantage of targeting long-tail keywords is that they are often less competitive and can bring more targeted traffic to your website.

This is because long-tail keywords are more specific and therefore attract more targeted searches from users. Long-tail keywords also tend to be less expensive to bid on when advertising on search engines.

Using long-tail keywords is an effective strategy for search engine optimization and search engine marketing because it helps you target specific audiences and understand their search intentions. By targeting long-tail keywords, you can tailor your content to the needs of your target audience and achieve higher conversion rates.

Long-tail keywords can be used at different stages of the sales funnel, from awareness to purchase. By using long-tail keywords related to specific products or services, you can target users who are looking for exactly what you offer. This increases the likelihood that these users will convert into customers.

Thus, keyword research is an important tool for identifying long-tail keywords that are relevant to your business and your target audience. By using these keywords in your content and marketing efforts, you can improve your online presence and generate more targeted traffic and conversions.

The steps of a keyword research in one overview

StepDurationPriorityExplanation
Understand your niche2-4 hoursHighSpend time understanding your market and target audience. What are their interests? What are they looking for? This helps identify relevant topics and potential keywords.
Make a list of relevant topics2-3 hoursHighBased on your understanding of your niche, create a list of general topics relevant to your business that your audience is likely to be looking for.
Search for keywords4-6 hoursHighUse tools such as Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, or Ahrefs to find keywords related to the topics you’ve identified.
Look at the competition2-3 hoursMediumResearch what keywords your competitors are using. This can help you find new ideas or see what to focus on.
Refine your keyword list3-4 hoursHighAssess your list of keywords. Consider the relevance, search volume, ranking difficulty, and commercial intent of each keyword to decide which to target.
Conduct a competitive analysis on your chosen keywords3-4 hoursMedium-HighUnderstand how strong the competition is for your chosen keywords. This helps to get a realistic picture of the feasibility of ranking for these terms.
Plan your content3-4 hoursHighPlan how you will use your keywords in your content. Each chosen keyword should be included in a relevant piece of content.
The steps of keyword research.

Search intent

A search intent is the reason behind a query a user enters into a search engine. It describes the needs and wants of the user at the time he or she performs a search. By understanding the user’s search intent, you can provide the most relevant content that meets his or her needs. Search intentions can take different forms, such as informational, navigational, commercial or transactional.

Understanding user search intent is critical for search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). It can help you structure and optimize your website’s content for specific searches and drive targeted traffic to your website. By creating content that targets the user’s search intent, you can provide the user with the best experience and maximize the return on your marketing investments.

Search intent can also change at different stages of the sales funnel. For example, in the awareness phase, the user’s search intent may be primarily information-oriented, while in the decision phase, the user’s search intent may be transaction-oriented. By understanding the user’s search intent at various stages, you can provide targeted content that meets the needs of your target audience and increase conversion rates.

Types of search intent

There are different types of search intentions a user may have when performing a search on a search engine. Here are the four main types of search intentions:

Informational search intent

An informational search intent is used when a user is looking for information on a particular topic. This can be anything from news to educational content. For example, if someone is looking for information about climate change, he or she will use searches like “what is climate change?” or “causes of climate change.” Content targeting information searches should provide answers to the user’s questions and provide useful information relevant to the topic.

Actionable search intent

An action-oriented search intent is a user search where he or she is looking for specific information to complete a particular action, such as buying a product or reserving a service.

Understanding users’ actionable search intent is important to optimize your website for conversions and drive targeted traffic to your website. It is important to respond appropriately to actionable search intent by providing the right information and call-to-actions in the right place on your website. This can help increase conversion rates and improve the user experience.

Navigating search intent

A navigational search intent is used when a user is looking for a specific Web site or page. For example, if someone is looking for a specific company’s website, he or she will use the company’s name in combination with the words “website” or “homepage.” Content that targets navigation searches should help the user find the desired page and enhance the user’s navigation experience.

Commercial search intent

A commercial search intent is used when a user is looking for a product or service, but is not yet ready to buy. For example, if someone is looking for information about laptops, he or she will use searches like “best laptops under €1000” or “laptop reviews.” Content targeting commercial search should help the user make a purchase decision and highlight the benefits of products or services.

Transactional search intent

A transactional search intent is used when a user is looking for a specific product or service and is ready to buy. For example, if someone is looking for a new smartphone, he or she will use searches like “buy iPhone 12” or “best deals on Samsung Galaxy.”

Content targeting transactional search should help users find the best deals and make the buying experience easier. Identifying different search intentions is important for understanding what type of content is most appropriate for each search intent and for directing targeted traffic to your website.

Keyword research for different types of businesses

When conducting keyword research, it is important to consider the size of the market, type of business and target audience, as well as language and culture. By following the right steps, you can conduct effective keyword research that can help you increase your online presence and achieve your goals. Below I describe how a site type, location or market change the steps for keyword research.

Keyword research for a web shop:

A keyword research is an important step for any shop that wants to generate organic traffic through search engines such as Google. Here are some steps you can follow to conduct keyword research for an online store:

  • Determine the main categories of your shop: it is important to know the main categories of your shop, as this will help you identify the most important keywords to target. For example, if you have an online clothing store, you may have categories such as menswear, womenswear, children’s clothing, shoes, etc.
  • Make a list of relevant keywords: use tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, SEMrush, Ahrefs or Moz to find keywords relevant to your shop and products. Consider search volume, competition and relevance. Also make a list of long-tail keywords, which are keywords that are more specific and have less competition. For example, “red lace dress” instead of just “dress.”
  • Analyze your competitors: research your competitors’ websites and see what keywords they use in their content and product pages. This can help you get ideas for keywords you can use.
  • Use keywords in the right places: use keywords in strategic places, such as in the titles, URLs, product descriptions, headlines and meta descriptions. But don’t overdo it; using too many keywords can be considered “keyword stuffing” and can lead to a search engine penalty.
  • Monitor your keyword performance: keep monitoring your shop’s keyword performance and keep adjusting and improving your keyword strategy. You can use tools such as Google Search Console, Google Analytics or SEMrush to analyze your shop’s search performance(2).

A well-executed keyword research can help you use the right keywords to get more relevant traffic to your shop and thus generate more conversions.

Keyword research for a B2B site

A keyword research for a B2B website differs slightly from a keyword research for an online store because the target audience and search intentions are different. To conduct effective keyword research for a B2B website, there are some important steps you can follow.

First, you must define the target audience for your B2B website and understand the language and words they use when searching for solutions to their business needs. Next, identify the main services or products you offer and find keywords related to them.

It is also important to analyze the search intentions of your target audience and use keywords in the right places, without overdoing it. Finally, monitoring your website’s keyword performance is essential to adjust and improve your keyword strategy. To develop a successful keyword strategy for your B2B website, it is important to understand and anticipate the company’s industry and target audience.

Conducting an international keyword research

Additional steps and considerations are required when conducting an international keyword research due to different languages, cultures and search habits. To conduct effective international keyword research, there are some important steps you can follow.

First, you need to determine which countries and languages are relevant to your business and which search engines are preferred in those countries. Next, you need to list the most important keywords relevant to your target markets and languages, using tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, SEMrush, Ahrefs or Moz.

It is important to translate keywords into the language of your target markets and ensure that the translations are accurate and convey the correct meaning, including synonyms and spelling differences between languages.

You also need to analyze local search intent and adjust your content strategy accordingly, taking into account local competitors and the needs and interests of your target audience. Furthermore, it is important to use the keywords in the right places in the relevant language versions of your website, such as in the titles, URLs, product descriptions, headlines and meta descriptions.

Finally, you must monitor your website’s keyword performance in each country and language and continue to adjust and improve your keyword strategy.

A local keyword research

When conducting local keyword research, the goal is to identify keywords that are relevant to your business and used by people looking for local products or services in your area.

To conduct effective local keyword research, there are some important steps you can follow. First, determine the area in which your business is located and what local searches are relevant to that area. This includes understanding the language used in that region and which search engines are most popular.

To conduct local keyword research, it is important to list the main services or products your business offers and find keywords that are relevant to your local audience. To find these keywords, there are several useful tools available, such as Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, SEMrush, Ahrefs or Moz.

You also need to analyze local search intent and adjust your content strategy accordingly, taking into account local competitors and the needs and interests of your target audience. It is important to use local keywords in the right places, such as in titles, URLs, product descriptions, headlines and meta descriptions, and to add local information to your content, such as local addresses and phone numbers.

Finally, you should monitor your website’s keyword performance and continue to adjust and improve your keyword strategy, using tools such as Google Search Console, Google Analytics or SEMrush.

A keyword research within a small market

Conducting keyword research in a small market can be a challenging task, as there is less search volume and keywords available. To meet this challenge, here are some steps you can follow to conduct successful keyword research in a small market.

It all starts with determining your niche. Clearly define your company’s niche and identify the key keywords relevant to that particular niche. You should look for keywords that are related to the specific products or services you offer.

In addition, it is essential to focus on long-tail keywords because these keywords are more specific and have less competition. Use useful tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, SEMrush, Ahrefs or Moz to find keywords relevant to your small market.

Analyzing your competitors’ websites is also a smart move. See what keywords they use in their content and pages. This can help you get ideas for keywords you can use. In addition, use terms and jargon specific to your niche and products/services. This will help to be found by potential customers looking for your type of business.

Remember to use keywords in strategic places such as titles, URLs, product descriptions, headlines and meta descriptions. But keep in mind that overuse of keywords can be considered “keyword stuffing” and lead to a search engine penalty.

Finally, it is important to continually monitor your website’s keyword performance and improve your keyword strategy. Use useful tools such as Google Search Console, Google Analytics or SEMrush to analyze and optimize your website’s search performance. This is the only way to get the most out of your keyword research in a small market.

A keyword research within a large market

In the case of keyword research within a large market, you need to put in extra effort and be more precise. This is because there are many more keywords and competition to consider. Below are some steps you can follow to conduct a thorough keyword research in a large market:

To get started, identify key topics relevant to your business and the broad market. Make a list of the main products or services you offer and use tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, SEMrush, Ahrefs or Moz to find keywords relevant to your target audience.

In addition, it is important to identify long-tail keywords, which are more specific and less competitive than broadly targeted keywords. Focus on finding long-tail keywords that are related to your main topics and relevant to your target audience’s search intentions.

Analyzing search intentions is also important. Understanding the different search intentions that exist in your market and adjusting your keyword strategy accordingly is crucial. This involves identifying the various stages of your target audience’s buying cycle, such as awareness, consideration and decision-making. Keywords related to each of these phases should be included in your keyword strategy.

Also, analyze your competitors’ websites to see what keywords they are using in their content and pages. This can help you get ideas for keywords you can use. Also look at their content strategy and how they use keywords to maintain their position.

Using keywords in strategic places such as titles, URLs, product descriptions, headlines and meta descriptions is important, but avoid keyword stuffing. Using too many keywords can result in a penalty from search engines.

Finally, keep monitoring your website’s keyword performance and keep adjusting and improving your keyword strategy. Use tools such as Google Search Console, Google Analytics or SEMrush to analyze your website’s search performance.

Tools for keyword research

There are several tools available to perform keyword research. Using these tools can help you gain a better understanding of which keywords are most relevant to your business and how to use them to improve your SEO and marketing efforts.

Google Keyword Planner

This is a free tool from Google that provides keyword suggestions, search volume data and competitive data (3). It is one of the most widely used tools for conducting keyword research. Google Keyword Planner allows you to discover new keyword ideas based on a particular search term or URL. In addition, it provides search volume data and the level of competition for each search term. This can help you select the most relevant keywords for your business and identify opportunities for optimization.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a paid tool that provides keyword suggestions, search volume data, competition data and related searches(4). Ahrefs is a powerful SEO tool that can help you analyze the performance of your website and that of your competitors. It provides comprehensive reports on keywords, backlinks and competitors. Ahrefs also has a feature that allows you to track keywords to see how your rankings change over time.

Semrush

SEMrush is a paid alternative that also offers keyword suggestions, search volume data, competition data and related searches(5). SEMrush is an all-in-one SEO tool that helps you analyze the performance of your website and that of your competitors. It offers comprehensive reports on keywords, backlinks, competitors and site audits. SEMrush also has a feature that allows you to track keywords to see how your rankings change over time.

Moz

Like the above tools, Moz is a paid tool that offers similar features(6). Moz is a popular SEO tool that can help you analyze the performance of your website and that of your competitors. It offers comprehensive reports on keywords, backlinks, competitors and site audits. Moz also has a feature that allows you to track keywords to see how your rankings change over time.

Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest is a free tool that provides keyword suggestions, search volume data, competition data and related searches. It is a user-friendly tool that can help you identify new keywords and analyze competitive data. Ubersuggest also offers a number of other features, such as content ideas, backlink suggestions and a site audit.

Keyword Tool

Keyword Tool is a free tool that provides keyword suggestions for various search engines, such as Google, YouTube, Bing and Amazon. It offers keyword suggestions based on a given search term and provides search volume data for each keyword. Keyword Tool can help you discover new keywords and identify opportunities for optimization on various search engines. A useful tool for beginners and experienced marketers alike, it offers an easy-to-use interface that provides keyword suggestions based on your search term.

The tool also offers suggestions for related keywords you may have overlooked and provides search volume data for each keyword. This can help you determine which keywords are most valuable to your business and what to focus on in your SEO and marketing efforts. Keyword Tool is also useful for finding long-tail keywords, which are often less competitive and can generate more targeted traffic. By using these keywords in your content and marketing efforts, you can improve your online presence and generate more traffic and conversions. Using Keyword Tool is an effective way to discover new keywords and extend your keyword research to multiple search engines.

Conclusion

Conducting thorough keyword research, understanding search intentions, using long-tail keywords and implementing keywords in your content are crucial aspects of optimizing your website for search engines and attracting targeted traffic to your website. By understanding which keywords and content best meet the needs of your target audience, you can create targeted content and improve your online presence.

Using the right tools, such as Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs and Keyword Tool, can help you identify the right keywords and optimize your website for search engines. Moreover, understanding the different types of search intent and how they can be used to create targeted content is essential to achieving higher conversion rates and a better user experience.

By understanding these issues and applying the right strategies and tools, you can improve your online presence and generate more targeted traffic and conversions. It is an ongoing process of optimization and analysis to ensure that your content and website continues to meet the needs of your target audience and the changing trends in search engine optimization and search engine marketing.

My advice

The search intent behind keywords is crucial. Look closely at long tail and short tail keywords. Is your target audience really looking for what you think they are looking for?

Once you have found the right keywords and interpretations, look closely at the volumes and relevance of these keywords. Volume is important, but relevance of a keyword is leading.

After finding the right keywords, devise a content strategy for the website. You have found the right topics and keywords to write quality content for your website’s SEO.

Senior SEO-specialist

Ralf van Veen

Senior SEO-specialist
Five stars
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I have been working for 10 years as an independent SEO specialist for companies (in the Netherlands and abroad) that want to rank higher in Google in a sustainable manner. During this period I have consulted A-brands, set up large-scale international SEO campaigns and coached global development teams in the field of search engine optimization.

With this broad experience within SEO, I have developed the SEO course and helped hundreds of companies with improved findability in Google in a sustainable and transparent way. For this you can consult my portfolio, references and collaborations.

This article was originally published on 8 April 2024. The last update of this article was on 8 April 2024. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.

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