Team doing Keyword ResearchBryan Miller

5 minute read

7 Steps to Conduct the Most Exhaustive Keyword Research (And 5 Tips That’ll Help Along the Way)

Published 2018-11-19T10:15:17 by Bryan Miller

SEO is powerful. To be more precise, keywords are powerful. According to a study by Buzzsumo and Moz, 82% of the world’s top marketers believe that focusing on a targeted keyword plan can help significantly increase the effectiveness of a marketing campaign.

The ultimate checklist to comprehensive keyword research

A keyword is only as effective as the quality of the research and marketing effort that goes into it. When it comes to doing keyword research, there are certain steps that businesses need to follow to get insight into what qualifies as premium-quality keywords:

Set keyword goals

What’s the purpose of the keywords – generate leads, increase engagement, encourage donations? The final goal of the campaign dictates the type of keywords businesses need to use and how long these keywords should be (short keyword phrases = more competition, long tail keyword phrases = less competition, and typically more conversion driven). Matter Solutions explains how important it is to set and focus on goals in a digital marketing campaign.

Make a list of the trending topics relevant to the industry

Once the objectives of the keywords have been identified, it’s important to start shortlisting the topics of discussions that are currently trending in the industry. Trends help organizations select timely and relevant keywords that are in high use at the moment and can be researched with tools like Google Trends.

Google Trends

These trends can be selected by researching what audiences post about on search engines and social media and it’s worth looking into what social media platforms themselves are considering to be the latest trends (filtering popular hashtags, mentions, etc.)

Identify the seed keywords for each topic

Seed keywords are common keywords that people regularly use on search engines and provide a foundation for further keyword research. These keywords are suggested by SERP tools and help organizations create or search for or bid on similar keywords.

When using seed keywords to find new keywords, organizations can either start with a generic and broad-based keyword and then filter down to more niches. For example, use a generic seed keyword like “animal” and move down to a more advanced or search specific keyword like “ring tailed lemur.”

You can also visit affiliate marketing or e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay and look through their “Most often searched” results to get a sense of the type of keywords customers use.

Search for or develop additional keywords for each topic

Keyword planning tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner, Moz Keyword Explorer, Google Trends and Microsoft Bing Ads Intelligence allow organizations to create an account on the tool and search for keywords.

Google Keyword Planner
Image Credit:

These tools comb through millions of websites and search results and come up with the most used and highest bid keywords. Businesses can either bid for these keywords and use them or develop their own keyword based on the information they get.

Use keyword metrics to analyze keyword value & performance

The tools mentioned above not only help organizations search for quality keywords, but they also offer analytics services where organizations can measure the performance of the keywords online.

Common metrics like search volume, click rate, cost per click, keyword traffic and keyword difficulty can all be analyzed and studied. These tools also measure optimal keyword length for different topics, telling organizations whether they need to choose a short-tailed or long-tailed keyword.

While on this vein, note that more than 50% of all searches constitute keywords that are four words or longer; meaning, it’s important to include long-tailed keywords in the list.

Structure and filter out keyword list through grouping

The keyword metrics provided by these tools are extremely helpful in selecting and discarding keywords. Once a comprehensive list of shortlisted keywords is created, organizations need to group them into smaller lists in order to ensure clarity, relevance and connectivity between keywords. Doing so will help them implement their keyword strategy more effectively with focused marketing efforts.

Keywords can be grouped in 3 ways – based on the umbrella topic they belong to (like wildlife conservation, ecological footprint, carbon emissions and so on can all come under the umbrella group of “nature”) or based on the objective they are meant to achieve (for example, search keywords, engagement keywords, share keywords, CTR keywords and so on) or based on the value they have to the industry (this is based on how highly bid the keywords are by competitors, how often they are used in searches and how often they bring backlinks).

Select the keyword

Finally, organizations need to select the keyword from these lists and implement them into their content based on the digital marketing campaign currently running.

5 Tips to select the most effective keywords

Choose different keywords for each stage of the sales funnel

Audiences who are only seeking general information about the products/services you deal in will use keywords different from those who are actively seeking your products/services. For example, a customer interested in home cleaning and still in the awareness stage may use the words “spring cleaning tips,” while someone in the decision stage may use the keywords “home cleaning products” or “home cleaning rates.”

Use on-site searches to dictate keywords

The best place to look for keywords that the audience is actually looking for is the search box on search engines. All search engines and browsers have the built-in feature of recording the digital footprint of the visitor and collect data about their activities on the website. This includes what the visitor typed into the search box.

Google Search Suggestions

If a particular phrase or word repeats in these searches, and it’s related to your marketing campaign, chances are its a popular keyword phrase worth looking into.

Include branded keywords in your strategy

Brands are a favorite component in keywords. When customers look for e-commerce sites, they seldom search for the site individually and more often search for the branded product (for example, instead of using “Men shoes Gap,” people may use “Nike shoes men” instead).

Irrespective of whether the organization stocks these branded products, using brands as secondary keywords can help them rank their website in SERPs. Keep in mind that you will find it extremely difficult to rank in the top positions for branded search terms as you are typically competing with the brand itself, which Google knows is one of the primary destinations for that search phrase — but don’t worry! Ranking below these competitors is not all that bad, you may be the next best alternative for an online shopper who may be looking for a deal outside the official branded website.

Make keywords hyper-local (location specific)

Most customers actively looking for a service search for a provider who is located geographically closer to their home (ex: searching for “best ramen restaurants near me”). This is why it makes sense to add the location in the keyword. This is an especially helpful technique for doctors, lawyers, repairmen and other local service providers since the service industry is typically more affected by location than the products-based industry.

Analyze your competitor’s strategy

Tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush offer users the opportunity to search for the keywords that their competitors use. All that an organization needs to do is enter the name of the competitor or the name of the product/service and click search. A page containing the top paid keywords bid on by the competitor magically pops up before your eyes (just kidding, not magic, just a historical view of the keyword positions and ad placement for the brand). Using this, an organization can search for opportunistic keyword phrases and gaps where they may be able to outrank their competitors.


There’s a lot to keep in mind when doing comprehensive keyword research and ensure that you’re effectively using your businesses’s marketing budget — thus converting those visitors to sales! If you or your business needs help optimizing your online marketing strategy or web presence, contact Bryt Designs and we’re more than happy to answer any questions you may have!

Bryan Miller

Bryan Miller

Bryt Designs

Bryan Miller is an entrepreneur and web tech enthusiast specializing in web design, development and digital marketing. Bryan is a recent graduate of the MBA program at the University of California, Irvine and continues to pursue tools and technologies to find success for clients across a varieties of industries.

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