Understanding Keyword Research


It’s no secret that keywords are the foundation of all search engine results. After all, the purpose of a search engine is to display exactly what a consumer is looking for, based on the very words they type in.

Keywords play a key part of organically getting visitors to a website and potentially getting them involved with whatever the website is offering or promoting. The most influential search engine at the moment is Google and therefore it is vital to optimizing your website to appear high up Google’s search result pages.

The use of keywords for SEO purposes follows certain rules and guidelines which include:

  • Keyword research
  • Strategic placement of relevant keywords in the website or text content
  • Placement of relevant keywords within tags and meta tags

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization is a method of setting up a website so that search sites can index it and rank it high whenever a search is initiated using a keyword or phrase associated with the website.

What is a Keyword or Phrase?

Keywords or key phrases are words used within the text and online content so the public can search and find a website via search engines. Search engines use keywords to associate a website with a relevant topic and index it for users to find.

The process of finding the right keywords or phrases to use within website content is called keyword research. It is a very integral part of SEO that needs to be respected for maximum optimization. Use of any relevant keyword within content might work to link a website to certain topics and terms but it does not necessarily mean the said website will rank high on the search results page when users run a search using the related terms.

In order to rank higher on search results pages whenever a search is performed using the selected keyword or related terms, the keyword itself has to be chosen wisely after performing a series of analysis. In simple terms, one does not just pick a keyword randomly, thought and research is necessary for maximum results.

The Importance of Performing Keyword Research

The goal of performing SEO on a website is to get it ranked on search sites, especially Google. The importance of keyword research is to make sure a website ranks for the right word. It does not make sense for a website to appear high up on irrelevant search results pages but fail to rank for the relevant results.

In other words, a website should not just attract any kind of traffic; it should attract the right kind of traffic that can be converted into sales or that will engage with the campaign. For example, a company selling hats online will want to attract people who search for the keyword “buy hats online”, that is the kind of traffic that can be converted into sales.

If the company attracted visitors who searched for the keyword “hats”, the conversion ratio for this kind of traffic will be low. So it is about using keyword phrases that get quality visitors instead of just any kind of visitor.

So by using well-researched keywords websites can attract visitors according to:

  • Geographic location and demographics
  • Search intentions
  • Market demands

Simplifying the above information, keyword research places a key role in either making or breaking a website.

Keyword Research Analytics

There is a lot of information concerning visitors and market behavior that can be obtained from performing keyword research.

Keyword research allows you to get an understanding of potential customers; how they behave, the terms they search for, search results according to geo-locations, and more. The information also makes it possible to monitor market trends and predict demand shifts before they even occur; this right here is very important for any website looking to stay above the competition. Most website owners perform keyword research from time to time so as to adjust products and services rendered according to market changes.

It’s safe to conclude that keyword research is performed for these very important reasons among others:

  1. To get an insight into what potential visitors are searching for
  2.  To gain an advantage over other competitors
  3.  To monitor market dynamics

So among the many reasons why keyword research is performed, these 3 mentioned above are the most important and can change business returns if applied correctly. That is why keyword research should be performed regularly rather than just once.

The Basics of Performing a Keyword Research

The way people apply keywords to their content and websites differs but some basics remain the same. Before performing keyword research one must know the different kinds of keywords that exist. From this information, keyword research can be performed to suit and meet a website’s objective.

There are three main types of keywords:

  1. Primary keyword
  2. Secondary keyword
  3. Long-tail keyword

Primary Keywords

Primary keywords are the most common words that people think of whenever they want to search for something. These are probably the most searched-for keywords on the internet but the catch is that it is difficult for websites to rank and dominate for these keywords as the competition for them is very stiff.

Websites that rank for primary keywords gain lots of traffic but the downside is that primary keywords do not produce high conversions. This is because they are too general and broad.

Taking the example used earlier, a website that ranks for the search word “hats” will attract a lot of traffic but this traffic includes people who want to buy hats online as well as those who are searching for other purposes, like research, perhaps looking for certain images, and many other reasons not associated with buying.

Secondary Keywords

Secondary keywords just like primary keywords are also very common search words used by people when they think of searching for something, the difference, in this case, is that the secondary keywords are usually made up of 2 to 3 words.

Since they are popular, secondary keywords offer stiff competition for search engine rankings but they have much better conversion rates than the primary keywords since they are a bit more specific. Examples of secondary keywords include search words like “buy tools online”, “what is SEO”, “guitar tips” …etc.

Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are less common than the other two keywords described above, meaning they are less used as search words by people. But this can be GREAT for your business and website.

Because they are less searched for, the competition among websites that use them is low, hence making it easy for a website to rank for. Long tail keywords are sentences or phrases, which makes them more specific to a subject as compared to primary and secondary keywords.

Long-tail keywords offer the best conversion rate. Examples of long tail keywords include phrases like: “buy show ticket online”, “how to make bread recipe”, “winter clothes sale” …etc.

Optimizing a website using a long tail keyword is the best as long tail keywords can contain primary and secondary keywords in them.

Performing Keyword Research

Keyword research can be an automated process. There are many automated tools that can be used to perform keyword research and some even go a step further by analyzing the data and giving suggestions on which keywords are the most optimum to use.

Here is how Keyword research is performed:

Finding the best keyword

The first step to keyword research is finding the best keyword or set of keywords that best link website content to the search engines. When a shortlist of keywords is available some tools may be used to get data on the use of the keywords by searchers and competing websites.

Researching the keywords should not be a once-off task, repeated keyword research often yields better keywords that are more optimized for better rankings.

Use of Keyword Research Tools

There are many keyword research tools that can be used to perform keyword research, some of the tools are very effective but as expected in an open market there is bound to be some knock-off tools.

Knowing which tools to use over other tools can be overwhelming to say the least. To make things easier, especially for people without much experience in performing keyword research, here are some of the most-used keyword research SEO tools:

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is one of the most reliable tools for website management including keyword research. Since the tool is by Google itself, it has become one of the most used tools for SEO purposes. The tool is free to use and is very useful in analyzing web traffic per keyword and as such can be used to optimize the use of keywords on a website.

Moz Keyword Explorer

Moz has been around for a while and is very trusted when it comes to SEO issues. The Moz Keyword Explorer is another well-used and trusted keyword tool. It provides a lot of insight on keyword use that can prove to be instrumental when optimizing a website. Moz keyword explorer provides data on search volume, and search engine results page analysis and goes on to provide useful keyword suggestions. The tool is a bit pricey, costing about $99 per month to use.


SEMrush is probably one of the most reputable keyword tools to date. Many leading websites use this tool; it allows users to track the use of keyword words on their sites and compares them with competing websites. It costs about $99 per month to use SEMrush.

The Bottom Line

Understanding keyword research and the use of keywords is very important for website ranking and targeting quality traffic. Well-performed keyword research can attract traffic that is convertible into sales and engagements. Poor use of keywords usually results in poor-quality traffic with poor conversion rates or irrelevant traffic in the worst cases.

This is why many website owners are now optimizing their websites using long-tail keywords instead of primary keywords, long tail keywords make it possible to target specific traffic and they also present the advantage of containing primary and secondary keywords within, allowing for more optimization.

The great part about keyword research is that there are now many automated tools that basically do all the work and analysis. All that is needed is to have a good shortlist of possible keywords and the search tools will work to find the best word to use for maximum optimization.

One important thing to remember is that keyword research should be performed regularly for better optimization and maximum ranking. Since there are automated keyword research tools, running research is no longer a strenuous job and can be performed anytime.



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