How To Do Keyword Research & What Tools To Use


Since the early days of SEO, keywords have been used to help both people and search engines sort through content. In order to make keywords good for your brand and bottom line, you need to have a solid plan in place to perform keyword research. So, if you are wondering how to do keyword research about now, here are some tips to help you out along with recommendations for tools you can use to make this task more productive and less time-consuming.

Create ‘Keyword Buckets’ for Your Keywords

To get started, come up with keyword categories to fill with keywords you want to rank well for on Google and other search engines. These “topic buckets” can be used to help you select keywords to meet specific online marketing and content goals. For instance, you might have keyword buckets devoted to such things as:

  • Email marketing
  • Blog content
  • Organic search
  • Paid search
  • Lead generation
  • Social media marketing

Fill Up Your Topic Buckets with Related Keywords

Next, put specific keywords into your individual keyword buckets. One method for doing this is to go through each bucket and brainstorm keywords or phrases that would fit into each one. If you need some help coming up with keywords, consider doing a Google search for your own business, products, or services to see what comes up.

Find Out What Keywords Your Competitors Are Using

Use competitor analysis tools like BuzzSumo, SpyFU, Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, and SEMRush to see what terms your competitors are already using. Just because your competitors are using certain keywords doesn’t mean you have to use the same ones. Instead, use this info to get an idea of how they are targeting the same online searchers so you can come up with keyword solutions right for you.

Mix Up Your Keyword Buckets with ‘Head’ and ‘Long-Tail’ Terms

“Head terms” are shorter, more generic keywords. “Long-tail keywords” are longer keyword phrases that are more conversational based on the groups of terms people actually use to perform searches or do voice searches. Both generic and more specific keywords have their place. So, ideally, you want keyword buckets that have a healthy mix of both.

Understand How Your Existing Keywords Are Performing

Use Google Search Console (GSC) to see how your existing keywords are performing to learn where you need to make improvements. Specifically, the Search Analytics Report provides useful keyword details that include:

  • Clicks per keyword
  • How your existing keywords are ranking geographically
  • Click-through ratios per keyword and other useful data
  • Search position per keyword
  • Comparisons of keywords

Also, Google Search Console shows you how each webpage on your site is performing. These metrics will let you know which pages you need to focus on with your keyword research efforts. You can even use the data filter tool to compare date ranges to see if you have keywords that are no longer performing as well as they once did.

Research Related Terms

An easy way to find related search terms people are also using to find you online is to enter your main keyword on Google. Scroll down on the results page to see what’s listed under “Searches related to [your entered keyword].” Use these additional keywords to get more ideas for related keywords to include within your various keyword buckets.

Use the Right Keyword Research Tools

Google Keyword Planner is an excellent tool you can use to narrow down your keyword list. It can be used to investigate locations you wish to target with certain keywords, identify search volume for each of your keywords so you can determine the level of competitiveness for each one, and ID keyword trends. You’ll need a Google Ads account to use Google Keyword Planner, but you don’t have to actually set up ads to gather useful data. Here are some other keyword research tools to consider:

SEMrush

This highly recommended tool has an entire suite of tools ideal for gathering both paid and organic keyword data. Enter a term and you’ll be rewarded you with thousands of keyword suggestions.

Ahrefs

Well-known for its backlinks features, this tool also has an excellent Keywords Explorer feature. You’ll be shown multiple layers of keyword data along with data points that include intent, search volume, and search engine results page (SERP) ranking.

Ubersuggest

This free tool will give you both alphabetized and numerical keyword variations based on your original keyword. For each term entered, Ubersuggest provides a summary showing search volume, perceived competition, and estimated cost-per-click.

Moz Keyword Explorer

The Keyword Overview feature shows you expected searches per month, estimated organic click-through opportunities, and competitiveness for each term entered. You’ll also get an idea of how hard it is to snag a page one ranking for your desired keywords.

Now that you have a better idea of how to do keyword research, feel free to explore other aspects of SEO. Just remember keywords need to be updated on a regular basis, especially if you change your brand’s focus or decide to target different online searchers. Contact us if you need assistance with your keyword research or SEO efforts.