Your 8-Step Process to do Keyword Research in 2021

What’s the most crucial step of successfully building and creating a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy? Of course, you need outstanding content to attract and retain website visitors. Likewise, you need to build your inbound link profile to demonstrate trust and authority.


However, even the best SEO strategy will fail to deliver the right outcomes unless you target the right keywords. In other words, rock-solid keyword research is the foundation of every high-performing SEO strategy.


In this blog, we’ll delve deeper into the concept of keyword research and outline the best approach to do it. Let’s get started.

Keyword Research: A Closer Look

Keyword research is a framework used to shortlist, evaluate, and validate target keywords for your SEO strategy. In other words, it’s the systematic approach used to shortlist the search queries, terms, and phrases your SEO strategy should target.


It’s essential to understand that keyword research isn’t just about finding a few generic terms related to your brand. Instead, you must put yourself in your target audience’s shoes and identify the words and phrases they’re most likely to use when looking for information related to your brand, product, and/or industry.


The reason this is an indispensable part of SEO is that it helps your website grab the top spot in relevant search engine results. This, in turn, helps you drive qualified organic traffic to your website. When correctly implemented, keyword research also helps boost conversion rates and revenue.


The importance of keyword research is further emphasized by the fact that more than 90% of websites don’t receive any organic traffic from Google. Even if you build the most stunning website with outstanding content, it won’t attract any visitors unless you’re targeting the right keywords.


Optimizing your website content using relevant and popular keywords is the key to achieving SEO success. Also, keyword research gives you a glimpse of your audience’s content preferences and helps identify topics/themes that’ll resonate with them.


So, what’s the best way to get started with keyword research? Let’s find out.

How to Do Keyword Research?

The best way to approach keyword research is to break it down into simple steps, such as:

  • Selection

  • Analysis

  • Validation

  • Tracking


If you don’t have the right skills and resources to perform keyword research, you can always outsource it to someone who knows it very well or a specialized SEO agency. It’s always good to hire someone in your local area. For example, if you’re living in New York, you’ll find a lot of reliable SEO services in New York, because New York is one of the states in the US that has the most businesses. This same applies to other states and cities. 


However, thorough knowledge of the keyword research workflow will come in handy even if you’re outsourcing the work. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide you can follow to perform keyword research:

1. Find Out Whether Your Website is Ranking for Any Keywords

Have you been publishing blog posts and articles on your website for a while? Then chances are you’re sitting on a goldmine of potential keyword opportunities. This is because your website is likely already ranking for a few keywords.


Targeting these keywords will always be more worthwhile than conducting keyword research from scratch. You can easily find keywords your website is already ranking for using tools, such as:


  • Google Analytics (Free)

  • Google Search Console (Free)

  • SEMRush (Premium)

  • Ahrefs (Premium)

2. Identify Seed Keywords

Depending on the keywords you find in the first step, you may want to expand your list of target keywords. The easiest way of doing this is to make a list of seed keywords or core terms. These are generic words or phrases that loosely describe your niche.


For instance, if you own a home decor brand, you could use the following seed keywords:


  • Home decor

  • Interior design

  • Home architecture

  • Home renovation

  • Furniture

3. Find Keyword Variations

This is going to be the most critical step in keyword research. Now that you have a list of core terms, you need to turn them into specific keywords that are relevant to your website. Start by typing one of the seed keywords in the Google search bar. Check out the “auto-suggest” keywords for relevant keyword ideas.


Likewise, you can enter a seed keyword into Google and explore the “Searches related to” section for relevant keyword variations. You can also consider adding modifiers, such as “best”, “top”, etc. to your seed keywords.

4. Utilize Keyword Research Tools

Here’s some good news - you don’t have to manually carry out every step of keyword research. Instead, you can use tools, such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, Ubersuggest, etc. to identify suitable keyword variations and validate them. 


Even if you don’t have the budget for paid keyword research tools, you can use free tools, such as:


  • Google Keyword Planner

  • Google Trends


Apart from providing you with numerous useful keyword ideas, these tools give you access to insightful metrics, including search volume, competition, cost, etc. associated with each keyword. This, in turn, makes it easier to evaluate each keyword and determine whether it’s worth ranking for.

5. Expand Your Keywords List


To expand your keywords list is a way of getting more traffic to your website and better positioning on the search engine results pages. A keyword research tool can help you identify your ideal keywords for online marketing campaigns, identify your competition's keywords and expand your keywords list.


The keyword research tools (free and premium) can be very effective when it comes to keyword research. You should be able to identify your ideal keywords and be able to make your website optimized for those keywords. Once you have your ideal keywords and keyword competition, use a keyword research tool to track and monitor your rankings in the top search engines for those ideal keywords.


Another way to expand your keywords list is by doing a brainstorming session with your staff or colleague. If your business provides several offers or services, then brainstorming for the most appropriate keywords for each department can be very productive.


You can conduct keyword research tools surveys of your staff and ask for their opinions on keywords that pertain to their department such as a keyword for accounting staff versus a keyword for sales staff. Once you have a keyword list then brainstorming for keywords that pertain to your department will give you the best possible chances at keyword optimization.

6. Prioritize your keywords list


One of the best things about Google AdWords is that you can prioritize your keywords list and make it easy to identify keywords with better conversion rates. Throughout the time, Google AdWords has come out as one of the best keyword research tools.


It works great for both beginner and advanced marketers, it will show you which keywords are producing for you the most sales. It also allows you to see at a glance which keywords are bringing you in the most money, while also showing insights on how a keyword will cost you in the Paid SERPs section - in simple words - Google Ads. This helps you prioritize and optimize your keywords list for the highest ROI.

7. Don’t Ignore Voice Search and Local SEO

Did you know that there were 3.25 billion digital voice assistants in use across the globe in 2019? This figure is projected to reach 8.4 billion by 2024. This means it’s high time you modify your keyword research strategy to make room for voice search queries.


The advent of smart devices and virtual assistants has transformed the average consumer’s search behavior. Today, many people use their phones/tablets to dictate search queries instead of typing them into Google.


Consequently, their queries are longer and framed as questions. Also, many consumers use voice search queries to find hyper-local information on the go. This means you need to optimize your website for “near me” queries.


Let’s say you’re looking for a trusted SEO agency in Vancouver. Traditionally, you’d type “SEO company in Vancouver” into Google’s search bar and check out the results. However, when using voice search, you’ll frame your query into something like “What’s the best SEO company near me?”.


Depending on your target demographic and niche, it might be a wise idea to include relevant voice search queries in your keyword research strategy. You can use a tool, such as AnswerThePublic, to identify the questions your audience is most likely to ask about a particular topic.

8. Monitor Your Competitors

You can’t perform keyword research in 2021 without conducting competitor analysis. The best way of doing this is to use a competitor analysis tool, such as SpyFu or Soovle. The idea is to keep a close eye on the keywords your competitors are targeting. If a particular keyword is working for them, chances are it’s also going to work for you.

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