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How to do SEO Keyword Research: An SEO Beginner’s Guide

“How do we get ranked on Google?”

This is a common question from businesses of all sizes. Many understand that the concept of SEO is to get their website appearing higher in Google search results, but struggle understanding the process involved. This SEO beginner’s guide will teach you how to perform keyword research like a pro.

What is Keyword Research? And why is it Important?

A critical first step to achieving high Google rankings is to master keyword research. Put plainly, this involves the research, analysis, and identification of popular high-value key phrases – or search terms – that people search for on Google.

After high-value key phrases that are relevant to your content are identified as targets, including them strategically in both your SEO meta tags, and in your website page content will allow Google to index and rank your pages accordingly. The goal is to have your content appear on the first page of Google search results when one of your target keywords is searched – which can drive valuable free organic traffic to your website.

Before You Start

Keywords should be relevant to your page content, your products and services, and should provide value to your target audience. Google’s business is to provide the best possible search results to users, so targeting relevant keywords is critical.

Understanding search intent is also important before beginning keyword research. Will you be targeting informational keywords? Navigational? Transactional?

Different search queries reveal different search intent – from information, to navigation, to consideration, to transaction, which all represent different stages in a purchasing funnel.

  • Informational searches, like (“how to do SEO”) have a specific intent or question about a certain topic.
  • Navigational searches, like (“Campaign Sherpa”) are generally reserved for branded terms, where the searcher is already seeking a predetermined website that they will navigate to.
  • Consideration searches, like (“Best SEO agencies to hire”) are for users who are nearing a purchasing decision, but are still researching options.
  • Transactional searches, like (“buy SEO package”) are search terms with purchasing intent.

After narrowing down relevant keyword topics, and selecting target keyword search intent – you are ready to begin your SEO journey.

How to Find SEO Keywords

There are many resources available to help finding SEO keywords to target. One of the most common (and free!) tools is Google Keyword Planner. The tool helps by allowing you to “discover” new keywords related to your business, and also allows you to see average keyword search volume – or how popular specific search terms are.

Follow the steps below on how to find SEO keywords using Keyword Planner:

Discover New Keywords

  • In Keyword Planner, you can either get search volume and forecasts, or you can “discover” new keywords via site or page scans. “Discover” is detailed below:
  • Enter words related to your products or services
  • Make sure not to be too specific – this will limit your volume – or too general. 
  • Use several keywords or keyword phrases about the same topic. Don’t use keywords about unrelated topics or that give only partial information.
  • Include location in your key phrase only if necessary (if customers are not in the same location as you)
  • Read our other article on using SEO to improve conversions

Or you can start with a website or particular page to discover keywords. Simply enter a website URL, or even a particular landing page, to generate a list of potential SEO keywords to target:

Get Search Volume

Keyword Planner also allows you to manually input keywords to identify average search volume, and also average search volume by location (the average amount of searches on Google over the past 12 months). This allows you to see how many searches there are in your specific targeted market. 

Oftentimes, phrases that seem very similar have very different search volume. Using tools like Google Keyword Planner lets you select the best keywords to target, based on a number of different factors, including popularity.

For example, as this SEO beginner’s guide is related to SEO keyword research, we will look at the average monthly search volume for two similar phrases.

  1. How to find SEO keywords
  2. How to do SEO keyword research

Below, the difference in average monthly searches for the terms is detailed – showing that the phrase “how to find SEO keywords” is Googled more than twice as often as “how to do SEO keyword research” each month:

Other useful insights keyword research tools provide include the ability to look at yearly or quarterly search trends to see if search terms are becoming more or less popular over time – which allows you to capitalize on trending topics. 

Keywords that are trending positively over time, that have low competition and high search volume, are ideal to target in SEO and content optimization.

Select and Target Your SEO Keywords

After you have completed your SEO research, and finalized your selection of target key phrases, you can then include them in the page’s title, URL, header section, and body content of the page itself. 

Be sure to incorporate your target SEO keywords naturally within your website content, and match your SEO meta tags (page titles and meta descriptions) with the same target key phrases from page content. This will provide Google, and your potential audience, with an understanding of what your page is about – and provide them with a reason to visit your page instead of one of the other search results shown.

When writing your SEO meta tags, make sure to preview your Page Titles and Meta Descriptions using our free Meta Tag Preview Generator!

If you have any questions, or would like SEO keyword research assistance from a member of our professional services team, contact us today.