Keyword research: start your On-site SEO here

Keyword research is one of the most important, valuable, and highest return activities in the SEO field.

It’s not just about getting visitors to your site, but even more important, about getting the right visitors.

And keyword research, combined with optimal keyword usage, does just that.

Whenever you find a keyword you like to use, ask yourself…

  • Is the keyword relevant to your website’s content?
  • Will searchers find what they are looking for on your site when they click on your link in the search results?
  • Will they be satisfied with what they find?

If the answer is yes for all these questions, then go ahead and use that keyword in relevant content.

Finding the right keywords

Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that can help find similar keywords, find out which keywords are difficult to rank for, and how competitive they are.

Keep in mind that the tool is designed with Adwords advertisers in mind. So there are a lot of features in the tool that you won’t use if you are conducting keyword research for your website or blog.

The only problem with keyword planners is that they give you relevant ideas that are close to your actual keyword. For example, if you enter “Formula 1”, you get results like “Formula 1 schedule” or “Formula 1 car”. But what is your first thought about Formula 1? Ferrari, McLaren, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, right? None of them come up with keyword planners.

So to find the right keywords, you have to find out what’s in your reader’s head first. Create different buyer personas for more keyword ideas.

What else can you do to find relevant keywords?

Another keyword research tool is Wikipedia’s table of contents for inspiration. You can also click on some of the internal links on a page to check out the Table of Contents of other, closely related entries.

In this example I typed “Formula 1” and it gave me a lot of ideas about that single keyword.

What type of keywords should you use?

Header Keywords:

These are usually single-word keywords with decent amounts of search volume and a lot of competition, (for example, “SEO” or “marketing”). Ranking well for a header keyword is pretty difficult.

Body Keywords:

Body keywords are 2-3-word phrases that get decent search volume (at least 1,000 searches per month), but are more specific than Header keywords. “SEO Audit Checklist” or “entrepreneur’s marketing” are examples of Body keywords. These almost always have lower competition than Header keywords but can still be very competitive.

Long Tail Keywords:

Long Tail keywords are long, 4+ word phrases that are very specific. “SEO Audit Checklist for beginners” and “Market research for entrepreneurs” are examples of long tail keywords. Even though they don’t get a lot of search volume individually, if you have a lot of Long Tail keywords, it adds up fast, and can bring a decent amount of traffic to your website or blog.

The only downside is that for this, you need to publish dozens (or even hundreds) of articles. And each of these need to be optimized for a single Long Tail keyword.

Competitor research

After you find some strong keywords you wish to use, check out the competition on Google’s first page.

If you take the time to evaluate keyword competition, you can find keywords that get great search volume and have little or no competition.

If you find keywords like this, and optimize your article for it, you need less content, links, and promotion to claim your spot on the first page of search results.

Investigate your competitor’s titles, URLs, and meta description tags.

If you want to dig deeper into this topic, look for Page Authority, how many different domains link to the page, and Domain Authority. You can use free SEO tools for these tasks, for example MozBar.

Read more: Are Scroll-Triggered Animations Worth Your Time?

When should I do keyword research?

Keyword research isn’t just a one-time task.

You communicate with search engines through keywords, so they are the building blocks of your communication, and therefore require regular re-evaluation and maintenance.

Keyword research is a job worth doing whenever you create new content or update  existing content. This includes when you start a new website or product page, if you write a new blog post for your site, before every promotion, and with any market research.


Proper keyword research gives you a clear place to start with your new content.

If you choose the right keywords, and optimize your page for them, you will have a better chance of ranking highly in search results.

While keywords are not the only factor that affects rankings, they are one of the most important and most used factors.

Take your time to find the best keywords and integrate them naturally into your content.

Read more: What Is Google Bombing? Does It Still Work?

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