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What is Keyword Research?

Here's a step-by-step process of conducting keyword research including the tools you should use, the types of keywords out there, and how to best find them.

Ben Kazinik
By Ben Kazinik
Natalie Stenge
Edited by Natalie Stenge

Updated December 10, 2023.

What is Keyword Research? main image

Keyword research is the process of finding the best keywords to target and rank for. It involves analyzing the company's website to find all the keywords that the site already ranks for. These could include regular search, image search, and video search. It could also include rich snippets like the questions and answers snippet, the author/article snippet, etc.

It also involves researching your competitors and seeing what keywords they rank for. The goal of keyword research is to finalize a list of keywords that are the most suited to write content for or optimize existing pages, in order to meet the company's marketing and sales goals. It’s one of the most important aspects of SEO and can also serve as a foundation for your market research.

What is the process of keyword research?

Keyword research is the process of identifying the language your customers use to search for your product, services, and content. It then involves analyzing, comparing, prioritizing, and optimizing your content for the best possible keywords for your business.

Here is a step-by-step process to conduct keyword research:

Don’t have an SEO consultant handy? No worries, use our process to find the best keywords for your business.

  1. Analyze your site for existing keywords you rank for
  2. Use a keyword tool like Ahrefs or Keywords Everywhere
  3. Analyze 3-5 competitors in your industry and find the keywords that they rank for
  4. Make a list of all content topics that you are missing on your own blog
  5. Look at keyword difficulty, search volume, and CPC.
  6. Create a shortlist of broad and long-tail keywords
  7. Start optimizing existing content and create new content around those keywords
  8. Put everything into your content calendar
  9. Track your results using an SEO keyword tool
  10. Conduct a thorough SEO audit regularly to track your progress and find new areas you can optimize

What are the 4 types of keywords?

There are four types of keywords that you should include in your keyword research and they are classified by the searcher's intent. These are - transactional, commercial, informational, and navigational.

Informational keywords

These are keywords that searchers use when they are looking for an answer to a question or general information about a topic. These keywords typically have the highest search volume and include things like:

  • How far do electric cars go
  • National Earth Day

This is when someone types in a brand or company name into the search. It could include things like:

  • ‘YouTube’
  • ‘Mayple blog’
  • ‘Where’s the closest coffee shop located’

People doing navigational searches already know what they are looking for so these are a great way to tell how popular your brand is.

A great tactic is to use Google ads to better convert some of this traffic that’s searching for your brand name.

Commercial keywords

Commercial searches happen when the user is in the shopping stage of the buyer’s journey. It’s when a person wants to know more information about a particular product or service and compare them to other brands.

Commercial keyword examples:

  • ‘Ben & Jerry’s flavors’
  • ‘Bose headphones reviews’
  • ‘AirPods 2 vs. AirPods Pro’

You could target these searches with how-to articles, comparison pages, or reviews of your product.

Transactional keywords

These are keywords with the highest intent. These searches happen when a user has set out to purchase a specific product or service and include things like:

  • ‘Buy Toyota cars online’
  • ‘Chinese places near me that deliver’
  • ‘Buy crypto online’

How do you find keywords?

There are several ways to find the best keywords for your business.

  1. Google Trends - this is a great place to find out what’s trending in your industry.
  2. Google’s “People Also Ask” - a great place to find the most asked questions about any topic.
  3. Google’s autocomplete - this is the dropdown menu that shows up when you start typing something into the search bar. It provides great ideas for the most popular searches on any given topic.
  4. Keywords Everywhere - a great cheap tool that provides basic information on search volume and competitiveness.
  5. Ahrefs / Semrush - these are two of the most popular SEO tools for keyword research and they provide the most comprehensive data on each keyword.
  6. Use a keyword Chrome extension.

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