Keyword Research for SEO – The Ultimate Guide For Beginners (2024)

keyword research for seo
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Use the proper keyword and you will get more search engine traffic…

Optimize your website keywords and you will reach your business goals…

How many times have you gotten such advice in your journey as a business owner or wannabe SEO?

Probably a lot.

That’s because keywords and keyword research are the first things you should learn about when you want to grow your online business using search engine optimization.

I have been in your situation a long back, and I know how fruitful keyword research could be for anyone like you or me.

And hence,

This guide is written for a beginner like you to understand the most fundamental concept of SEO – keyword research.

Keyword research
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Even if you never understood what is the purpose of keyword research, and how do you actually do it, this guide will help you understand every aspect of it.

My goal today is to help you learn about:

  1. What is Keyword research?
  2. What is the importance of Keyword research?
  3. How Keyword research could benefit you?
  4. How to perform Keyword research?

Let’s start with the basics…

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of finding keywords that would drive targeted traffic to your business. Mostly, this is done by identifying how your target users are finding a website like yours.

Let me simplify it,

when we are looking for a solution to any of our problems, we use a search engine like “Google” “Duckduckgo” to find an answer to that.

We expect the search engine to give us a solution within the first page of search, which is also known as SERP (Search engine results page).

Keyword research helps us to identify those “phrases”, “words”, “queries”, that the mass is asking using a search engine.

As a business or even a blog, when we know what kind of queries users (mass) are asking via search engines, we can optimize or create new pages, helping users to find the answer, and use that traffic to grow our business.

Alternatively, using the same keywords (queries) you can also run PPC ads on platforms like Google ads or Facebook ads, to drive traffic to your or your client’s websites.

In technical words;

The purpose of Keyword research is to find those “topics”, and “ideas” and assign a business value to them, which is commonly used by your target audience. Another way to look at Keyword research is: It helps you to discover those questions and queries that your target customers are asking on the web, and gives you the advantage to speak the language your customer will understand.

Let us understand this with an example:

A simple example is, let’s say a recently became father wants to buy a stroller for his kid. He uses this query “Best baby stroller” in Google search, to find the best brand. Something like this…

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Since Google search is smart, it auto-populates a lot of frequently used queries to help the father ask the right question.

Now, depending on the father’s location, and his understanding, he will stick with his query, or perhaps pick one that is suggested by Google.

Now, the search engine keeps a log of how many times these queries are being asked by millions of users around the globe.

The process of keyword research shows the most popular query, along with geo-location, and the number of times these queries have been asked within a specific time (ex: 30 days).

Now, as a business owner, these stats would help you understand which of these queries, you should answer on your website, and in turn, it will help users to discover your website and the solution.

The solution ultimately helps owners to drive more targeted traffic from search engines, which converts into direct sales, ad sales, or even affiliate sales.

Well, this is how SEO keyword research helps.

With a little preparation, you could drive significant traffic to your blog or business and hence make most out of your hard work.

The process of optimizing your keyword for search engines is called “On-Page SEO“.

That’s a topic for advanced users, but today we dwell deep into keyword research.

Performing keyword research, helps you experience the business in a record time. Since you are using data with your emotions, it would help you maximize your work.

Let’s understand this with an example…

Earlier I talked about a father looking to buy a “Stroller” for his son. Now, let’s assume you are a business that is into selling baby strollers. (You could be anyone, and replace the baby stroller with your product).

By using keyword research tools, we could find data like which keyword “Also known as queries, question, the search term” a parent is using on a search engine to find a solution.

The following result is from a tool called “Semrush“, which shows similar queries with a lot of data as shown below:

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Let’s try to understand what’s happening in this image. (Even if you don’t understand 100%, don’t worry as this is normal for a beginner.)

  1. Keyword: This is the query users are asking to find the best baby stroller. When doing SEO, this is the phrase that we “target”, so we often call this “target keyword” or “Focus keyword”.
  2. Volume: This tells you roughly how many people are searching for that particular keyword in a given month. This is a very important metric as even if you assume a search term will be popular, search data will tell you otherwise. In the above example, you can see two similar keywords which have a considerable difference in monthly search volume:
    • Best rated baby stroller: 140 searches/month
    • Best rated baby stroller 2019: 30 searches/month
  3. Trend: This one helps you to see if the keyword trend is going up (more people are searching) or going down (fewer people are searching). For example, iPhone 11 Pro could be a popular term in 2019-2020, but as they release a new iPhone, this term will lose value. You will understand this in-depth, as we move ahead in our keyword research guide.
  4. Keyword difficulty: This is an important metric that helps you understand, how difficult or easy it is going to be rank for a target keyword on the first page of Google. These tools, compare all the existing ranking pages for things like “On-page SEO”, “Backlink profile”, “domain authority” and a few others, to rank such queries. The lower the keyword difficulty is, easier it would be to rank for.

Like this, there are many matrices you will be getting when you start with Keyword research.

In a nutshell, Keyword research helps you to make data-driven decisions. In case you are not aware, data is the new oil.

Before we move ahead,

Do read my earlier guide on the difference between SEO keywords and queries, it will help you create a better mindset for keyword research.

Moving ahead, let’s look at the benefits of keyword research.

What is the Importance of Keyword research?

Not all keywords are equal, and let’s try to quantify this. The process of Keyword research could help your business (Blog, ecommerce, service, or any other) in the following ways:

  1. Keyword research helps you understand the language used by your target audience on a search engine. We typically use Google search as a base, since it is the biggest search engine.
  2. It helps you discover untapped queries, that could directly help you get paid customers from organic searches such as Google search, Baidu, and others.
  3. Engaged audience: The audience that you will be receiving is already hot (ready to buy), and you will get high engagement in the form of comments, sharing, or even a sale.
  4. Market and customer trend: Periodically, performing Keyword research will help you to understand in which direction the market and customers are heading.
  5. Competitive advantage: Incorporating keywords and SEO before your competitors, will give you a solid advantage. If done right, in a less crowded niche, it could help you earn a lot of backlinks as a first-mover advantage.
  6. Reduce PPC Cost: Keywords SEO will help you drive those traffic for free, which a business, usually pays for in the form of PPC. Such organic ranking could significantly reduce your business’s digital marketing cost.
  7. More Ad revenue: Marketers and bloggers who rely on income from Google AdSense or Setupad, could use Keyword research to find high CPC keywords and thus increase their ad revenue significantly, with the same effort.

There are many more advantages of Keyword research, the above few are the prime ones.

Here is a less known fact about Keyword research:

A lot of people mistake keyword research as the process of finding only high-volume keywords, which is not the fact.

Your task as an SEO professional is to remove those keywords which are not going to benefit your business in any way. Moreover, after finding profitable keywords, you will also learn how do you prioritize them for maximum benefits in a shorter span.

Now, I’m not going into details about how you should target it, but if you are curious, you should read these two guides:

The good thing about Keyword research skills is, that once you put this into practice, it just keeps getting better.

Now, it’s time to get into the technicality of KW research.

Types of Keywords based on the users intent

Moving ahead with our previous example “Baby stroller”, a parent could ask this question with different intent. For example:

  • A parent could ask to understand how to pick a baby stroller.
  • A parent just wants to know which one is the #1 baby stroller in today’s time.
  • A parent is ready to buy the best baby stroller right away.
  • A doctor could be using this query for his research.

Do you see, how the same query meant different when used for a different purpose? This is what is known as search intent.

This brings us to the point, Keywords could be sub-divided into different types, based on the users’ intent.

These are the 4 most common types:

  1. Commercial keywords
  2. Transactional keywords
  3. Informational Keywords
  4. Navigational Keywords
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These 4 types determine, which keyword is directly going to affect your revenue. This is also closely related to the content funnel (TOFU, MOFU, BOFU), which is a learning for some other day.

Keywords could also be categorized in a few other ways, such as…

A number of words:

  • Short tail Keywords a.k.a Head Keywords: (Ex: Baby stroller)
  • Long-tail keywords. (Ex: Best baby stroller in Australia)

Also check out: Long-tail keywords finder tools

What do you need for Keyword research?

Here at ShoutDreams, I follow a unique style of researching keywords.

You need the following things for performing Keyword research:

  1. A tool (free or paid) for researching keywords
  2. A list of Seed Words or a list of SEO competitive domains/businesses. (More on this further)
  3. Using seed words to create a list of SEO keywords or using competitive websites to find profitable keywords
  4. A document (excel or similar) to capture, and cleanup the keyword.
  5. A system to delegate the final keywords for production ( Creating blog articles, eBooks, video content, product page)
  6. Measuring the ranking using a keyword rank tracking tool.

Once you incorporate keyword research into your business marketing process, it helps you grow organically.

This the exact steps I follow to drive more than 8 million page views every year and earn close to half a million USD every year. This website “ShoutMeLoud” is the best example of an outcome of the Keyword research process.

After 10 years of implementation, I define the steps of Keyword research as:

  1. Research
  2. Cleanup
  3. Execute/Delegate
  4. Monitor
  5. Optimize

These 5 steps will cover all the aspects of keyword research.

Now, I believe you and I are on the same page, and it’s time to learn how to do keyword research.

3 Different ways to do Keyword research:

There are various techniques you could follow for researching SEO Keywords. Let’s look at some of the most popular ones, which could be executed by even a newbie.

1. Find a competitor or top site keyword:

This is perhaps the easiest way to find keywords that are already working for an existing website. In this, process, we identify 2-3 websites that are at the top in the niche we are targeting. For example: “best Baby stroller”

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A quick Google search has shown the results from these top 3 websites. You could repeat the process for your target keyword, and once you have identified the top 3-4 winning websites, head to Semrush, which is a keyword research tool.

On the Semrush dashboard, enter the domain name that you identified from the Google search and use it to find keywords that the domain is ranking for.

Semrush will show you all the vital details like:

Organic search position
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  • Which keyword is driving maximum traffic to the particular website
  • The volume, traffic %, KD, Keyword position
  • Which page on the website is getting traffic for which keyword

Semrush also gives you an option to filter keywords based on various factors. If you need a more detailed guide on this, let me know in the comment section below.

And like this, within minutes you have found Pandora’s box of profitable keywords for your business.

2. Using Keyword Gap to find easy wins

This is one underutilized Keyword research technique that could help you find keywords that your competitors are ranking for, but you are not. This is idle for an existing website to find low hanging fruits.

To understand this method, read my earlier guide on Keyword Gap Analysis – Methods and Tools.

3. Using Seed Words for researching Keywords

This is idle for any new and existing website alike. This is more time-consuming than the above two methods, but this will help you discover unique keywords that no one is targeting.

You can use this method by using Keyword research tools or even a long tail keyword tool.

We will again use Semrush for a better understanding of this method.

  • Head over to Semrush
  • Click on Keyword Magic Tool
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Enter your seed keyword and select the primary country that you are targeting.

Now, click on Search and within a few seconds, Semrush will generate a ton of keywords from your seed keyword.

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You can filter the keywords based on various parameters such as:

  • The exact match will include the exact match of the phrase ‘baby stroller’ with the same word order. So you will get ‘buy baby stroller’, ‘where to buy baby stroller’, ‘buy baby stroller in San Francisco’, etc.
  • Broad match will include all forms of the words ‘buy’ and ‘new’ and will suggest variations of the word order. So you will get all keywords from the exact match plus ‘‘buy the newest baby stroller’, ‘buy baby stroller new’, ‘buy a super-new baby stroller in New York’, etc.
  • Phrase Match
  • Related Keywords

You can do the same thing using the Google Keyword Planner tool (GKP), which is free. The only downside is that Keyword planner tool by Google is created for PPC and is not super friendly for SEO keyword research. However, for anyone who is running on a shoestring budget, the Keyword planner tool by Google is idle.

Note: In this guide, I used Semrush, as it is my go-to keyword research tool. However, you could always use similar tools, such as KWFinder to achieve the same.

The above steps will help you to capture the primary keyword. Now, once you have the vital piece of data, you need to do a few things such as:

  1. Create a cluster of similar keyword
  2. Create an SEO plan to create new content or product pages, website structure
  3. Measuring it, and optimizing it.

I will talk about keyword clustering and creating an SEO plan in the upcoming guides.

Keyword Research in SEO FAQs

How to do a Keyword analysis?

Keyword analysis is a process that involves using tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, Mangools, or similar keyword tools to identify relevant keywords for content. You can start by brainstorming seed words or performing competitor analysis, then use these tools to find keywords based on search volume, competition, and relevance to the niche. Once you’ve got a list of keywords, use a clustering tool like Keyword Insights to create a keyword cluster, and create content to attain topical authority.

What is Keyword in SEO with example?

Keywords in SEO are words or phrases users type into search engines to find information. For example, “best backlink checker” is a keyword that someone might use when searching for top backlink checker tools. Optimizing content around relevant keywords helps websites rank higher in search engine results for those specific keywords.

What is the best Keyword research technique in SEO?

The best keyword research technique depends on your goals. The most effective methods include:
1. Analyzing competitor keywords using tools like Semrush to identify what’s working for top-ranking websites.
2. Using Keyword Gap analysis to find keywords your competitors rank for but you don’t.
3. Generating keywords from seed words using tools like Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool or Google Keyword Planner, which help discover unique keywords relevant to your niche.

For now, I hope this guide helped you to understand what is keyword research, and how actually you could do keyword research.

I understand this is an extensive topic, and you might be having a few questions. Do utilize the comment section to ask your questions related to Keyword research.

Also, if you are an experienced SEO, share your way of performing keyword research by commenting below.

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Authored By
A Blogger, Author and a speaker! Harsh Agrawal is recognized as a leader in digital marketing and FinTech space. Fountainhead of ShoutMeLoud, and a Speaker at ASW, Hero Mindmine, Inorbit, IBM, India blockchain summit. Also, an award-winning blogger.

16 thoughts on “Keyword Research for SEO – The Ultimate Guide For Beginners (2024)”

  1. Anish Gupta

    Hi Sir
    Each has advantages and disadvantages. Ahrefs now has a more user-friendly user interface. Once a method for keyword research is established, SEMrush is a powerful tool for keyword research and could yield excellent outcomes.

  2. Hello Harsh Agrawal My Friend,

    It has been quite a long time since we talked, how are you doing. I can see that you are still doing what you best to do; keep the good works, you have raised so many bloggers.

    I quite agree with you Harsh, Keyword research is a fundamental aspect of search engine optimization (SEO) that involves identifying and analyzing the words and phrases people use when searching for information online. Conducting thorough keyword research offers several benefits for you and your website.

  3. The concept of keyword research and how to use those keywords in our articles have changed over the years. Google algorithm is ever evolving to find and show the ‘perfect’ content as per the intent of the searchers. Bloggers and content writers doing reverse engineering to find the best way to make the content google friendly (rather user-friendly). Google does penalize for Keyword stuffing or Keyword cannibalization, but again we (bloggers) find some other ways to make google happy – one of the ways is Keyword Clustering (not stuffing).

    Cheers 🙂

  4. What happens when you use same keywords for more than one posts? And secondly, can u recommend any free keywords research tool ?

  5. Sometimes I see, that my website’s many pages rank for a single keyword & which causes a lower rank for the main page. Because our other pages are ranking for the keyword. That mean we are competing with ourselves. How to track & correct this?

  6. Hey

    I was struggling with Keyword Research but this post helps me a lot to improve my keyword research skills.
    Thank you!


  7. Manoj

    Hello Harsh,

    I used Ahrefs for keyword research and SEO analysis. But I have not yet used SEMrush yet.

    Can you say which is best for keyword research, Ahrefs or SEMrush?


    1. Jeet

      Ahrefs is better for searching keywords although SEMrush shows better and more accurate Keyword volume than Ahrefs

    2. Both have its own pros and cons. Ahrefs got better UI and is simpler to use. SEMRush is keyword research powerhouse, and once you create a system for kw research, it could create great results…

  8. Divyanka

    Sir, I have 2 queries
    1) can I use same keyword for multiple posts? Or different keyword for each post?
    2) Is it wiser to buy domain & host from same provider or different providers?
    Please advice.

    1. @Divyanka
      1. You should use different keywords for different posts. Making different posts optimized for same keyword, could cause the “Keyword cannibalization” issue.
      2. Its usually recommended keeping them separate for better security. If you do pay a great deal of attention to your privacy, and security, then you can have it from same provider.

    2. although i am new digital marketer but i know that don’t target same main keyword in 2 or more posts because both posts will try to rank in same 10 results on SERP. and there is no issue in buying domain & hosting from same company, i would say it’s better to buy from same provider as you don’t have to point nameservers of domain to hosting account. it is already done if buying from same provider, i am web designer as well 🙂

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