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How to do effective Keyword Research

How to do effective Keyword Research
Summary: It’s easy to kid yourself that you know which phrases get typed into Google Search, so how do you check which keywords are likely to drive the most traffic?

Why do keyword research?

When people type a phrase into the Google Search bar, they are writing with the intent of finding something in particular.  Relevant websites optimised for the most frequently used searches for their market will rank higher, and therefore attract more traffic.

The phrases people type in reveal what they care about at that moment in time, so it therefore makes sense that you should target these phrases in your copy.


The 3 Keyword research ingredients

  1. Relevance – Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, so it’s priority is to identify if your website content meets the intention of the searcher.
  2. Authority – Google “grades” each website based on how authoritative your site content is. This does not mean the site with the most technical jargon in it (in fact, it’s quite the opposite), but the site with the most helpful, information content which is endorsed by backlinks and social media signals.
  3. Volume – It’s really easy to think you know what people in your market search for, but it’s amazing how wrong you can be. Ranking for page 1 on google for a phrase that no-one searches for isn’t going to benefit anything other than your ego.


How to do keyword research

Step 1 :  Decide on who you want to capture the attention of (your Buyer Persona), and what stage of the Buyer journey they are at – the kinds of queries a Physician searching for Medical Research topics will be very different to queries from a new Mum looking for Baby Classes.

Step 2 : Write down the products or services that you want to be famous for. Create a mind map around those phrases of topics that your target customer might research.

Step 3 : Hone in on focused keywords, and then stand back and consider what people might want to know about those keywords.

As an example, If I wanted to research keywords to support our SEO offer, I might start with something like this :

Once you have completed this exercise you have your “seed keywords”. These are the phrases you can use to kick off your research.

Step 4 : You now need to use a keyword research tool to see how many people search for each seed keyword phrase a month – these tools give you alternative searches, so you can start to understand how people type searches when looking for products or service like yours online. Some of these tools also give you insights into phrases your competitors rank for – who doesn’t like a bit of free competitor insight!

If you have a Google Ads account, then Google keyword planner comes with it, but if not, there are many free tools to get you started – here are AHREF’s recommendations.


Hints and tips for finding the right keywords for your website

  • Your keyword research tools will show you keyword difficulty as well as volumes of searches. Prioritise the relevant terns with lower difficulty to stand a better chance of ranking highly.
  • Keyword research is not a “do it once and you’re done” activity. Think how frequently new words and phrases come into your market and make yourself a diary note to check based on that frequency.
  • Keep on top of Search features – optimising for new ones can help you leapfrog the competition. At time of writing, these are the popular ones to optimise for :

Image Packs :

Image Packs example

Paragraph snippets :

Paragraph snippet example

List Snippets :

These can be any kind of list, but are most usually answers to common questions. If you structure you keywords as FAQs, you can increase your chances of being found.

List snippet example

Video Snippets

Video snippets example

  • Make sure you have a mix of succinct and long tail keywords in your copy. Long tail keywords mean you can be really quite specific, and used in the right way, can help you get found when you are talking about something a bit more unique.
  • Remember that whole websites don’t rank for keywords – it’s individual pages that do. Make sure each page is relevant, helpful, informative, and that it stands alone for the best results.
  • Want to know more? Here’s a great beginners guide from Moz.



Remember that SEO is a dynamic landscape, so there is no perfect answer to keyword planning. The main factors to consider are :

  • Ranking for a phrase no-one is searching for delivers you no incremental traffic
  • Are the phrases you are targeting better quality than what’s already there?
  • How competitive are the phrases you are trying to rank for?

For example, a million people in the UK searched for the word “dog” last month, but so many sites use the word dog, that the keyword difficulty is 100/100.

Keyword Difficulty example


If you want some support with your keyword research, and how you apply that research to your website, we can help you. Just contact us to find out more.

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