How to Do Keyword Research: A Complete Guide for Beginners

How to Do Keyword Research: A Complete Guide for Beginners

Keyword searches are an essential part of SEO. Even at a time with advanced search algorithms like Google Hummingbird, keywords determine the theme of a website for search robots. Below we will discuss in detail how to do keyword research and talk about tools that will help you with this task. You can learn more about algorithms in Google BERT Update and Google Algorithms That Affect SEO articles.

Keywords as a Search Engine Optimization Tool

Before answering the question of how does keyword research work, let’s deal with the concepts.

Keywords can help influence site ranking. They do this by telling search engines which requests will influence the page ranking. Keywords form the semantic core. For more information, see What is the SERP in 2020?

The semantic core is made of the words and phrases that determine the profile of the site and what it specializes in. More information on the topic can be found in What Is Semantic Search? To compile keywords, competitor sites are usually analyzed and typical search searches are determined using special software tools. How to do a full analysis of competitors and get all the necessary data can be found in the article SEO Competitive Analysis.

In the following paragraphs, we will elaborate on this in further detail.

Basic Query Research – A Mandatory Step in Composing a Semantic Core

Basic or marker requests are user requests that closely match the theme of your site. For example, if we are talking about an online store selling automotive parts and accessories, there will be requests like: “car tires”, “fender for BMW x6”, etc. In general, just study what phrases your target audience will enter into the search engine and write them down.

The second step is to collect secondary or non-marker requests. These are the same basic searches or their synonyms with additional qualifying words (usually between one and three words). These searches are generated when adding words such as “buy”, “buy in New York”, “price”, “buy used”. If you don’t even roughly understand what might fall into this category of searches, use search tools like Google AdWords. We’ll talk about them later on.

Also, studying the content of popular sites with similar topics can be helpful. In product descriptions or articles, you can definitely find at least a couple of previously unseen requests. For information on how to properly analyze your content, see Website Content Audit.

Keywords Everywhere

And finally, as an additional measure, to confirm your guesses, you can enter interesting search searches on Google and look at what the “People Also Ask” category shows. You can find more information on the topic in the article People Also Ask.

Why Is Keyword Diversity Important for Driving Organic Traffic?

Despite the fact that SEO experts advocate for quality and not quantity, it is very important that the keywords be different. The search procedure for keywords implies the division of the semantic core into clusters or groups of requests in similar niches and directions.

Because of this, you can correctly distribute keywords across the pages of the site. For example, informational searches are better for blog pages, and commercial searches are better for landing pages of goods or categories).

How Often Do You Need to Do Research?

Usually, the most global work on the compilation of the semantic core is carried out at the very beginning of website promotion. However, the core may replenish with new requests over time, which may contain trends.

For example, when the iPhone XS was presented, there was a resonance in the world of technical equipment. All sites selling smartphones began to create a massive amount of reviews on this new product. Of course, this was reflected in the semantic core of trading platforms – it was replenished with at least one new keyword – iPhone XS

Therefore, there is no definite answer to the frequency of the revision of the semantic core. It should be done immediately as soon as some new trend has affected your niche.

How to Compose Keywords: Types of Custom Requests

Now, it’s time to figure out how to find the best keywords for SEO. Essentially, you need to know what types of searches come in search engines from users.

From there, you can use them as part of different phrases in order to reduce their frequency and increase the relevance of the site pages.

There are five types of keywords:

  • Commercial: This is a broad category of various keywords that provide a large percentage of organic traffic. For a travel agency website, the keyword “guidebook” will be useless. However, if you provide some information about tourism, this word would be much more appropriate. In order to understand whether your potential keyword falls into this category, simply enter it into the search and see which sites on this topic are displayed in SERP. If their business niche is identical to yours, then everything is in order and you can safely use this keyword as well. For more information on this topic, read the What is the SERP article.
  • Transactional: This is another type of keyword that is also ideal to use on commercial sites. Transactional keywords describe targeted actions for those users who intend to buy a product or service. They are ideal in cases where a person has already been looking for information, managed to make a positive decision, and finally embarked on the buying process. Such keywords always contain “buy”, “sell”, “subscribe”, etc.
  • Informative: This type of keywords is used to attract users who are looking for information. For example, to compare products with similar models to find out their characteristics, we can talk not only about the product but also general educational searches, such as, “Sights of New Jersey”. Often, such keywords contain auxiliary words like “like,” “vs,” “compare,” etc.
  • Navigational: This is another kind of keyword that relates directly to a particular brand, company, or famous site. In this case, users turn to the search engine with a specific request and mention the site name. Such keywords are usually useful when a brand is well known and popular.
  • Local: And finally we have local keywords. These are the keywords that are focused on a specific location. Most often, they contain the name of a particular geographical location such as “buy shoes in Oregon.” For more information on the topic, see Local SEO Checklist 2020.

6 Keyword Steps

Now, here’s a look at six consecutive steps that will explain how to find SEO keywords.

Step One: Do a Terminological Research

If you perfectly understand the niche in which you are promoting the site, you have already taken an initial step. You need to conduct a large-scale terminological SEO keyword research. Any niche, be it cosmetics, automobiles, or rocket science, has a number of brands, specific key terms, and searches that most often arise among Internet users involved in it. Therefore, you will have to research the terminology in order to thoroughly understand the specifics of a particular type of business.

For example, if you plan to promote a cosmetic website, searches such as: “Most popular cosmetic brands”, “Popular cosmetic ingredients”, “Types of skin care products”, “Skincare procedures”, “Skincare”, etc. will help you do this.

Step Two: Start With High-Frequency Keywords

This step is called basic keyword research. Therefore, you will need to identify the most high-frequency keywords. Usually, they contain one to three words. If we continue the theme of the cosmetic site, then high-frequency keywords will be options such as “lipstick to buy”, “L’Oreal”, “hair mask”, etc.

Of course, when it comes to collecting the semantic core for a very large site with a large product range, there may be thousands of such requests. In this case, it makes sense for you to select the basic searches, starting with the most important categories for promotion (the most marginal and relevant to seasonal demand).

Step Three: Monitor Keyword Competitors

Following SEO research on the most and least popular keywords, you will find out which keywords your competitors are using. To do this, you can use one of the software tools, which we will tell you about below.

Step Four: Consider Geolocation

Also, when compiling a semantic core, it is important to focus on the locations where your target audience lives. After all, the same articles about sunscreen will be much more popular in warmer places with a lot of sun.

Step Five: Generate Longtail and LSI Requests

After collecting the basic keywords, you have to formulate medium and low-frequency searches. These include longtail searches and LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) searches. Both LSI and longtail one very well influence the contextual (semantic) search, which is especially important from the moment the Google Hummingbird search algorithm based on artificial intelligence came into force (read more in the LSI Keywords article). Let’s talk about them in more detail.

LSIs are indirect keywords. They are keywords that are contextually related to the basic composition of your semantic core but have a different word form. They are typically synonyms, geo-dependent words, or other words on the same subject.

The easiest way to find them is by using special services (a list of them is presented in the next paragraph), but you can also try manual selection if you are familiar with the subject of the website that you are promoting. You can check the PAA (People Also Ask) and SRT (Searches Related To) checkboxes to find out the possible LSI options without using third-party software.

For example, if your semantic core contains the Android keyword, the phrase Google Play can be attributed to LSI.

What else can be said about longtail requests? In fact, we have repeatedly mentioned them above: these are marker searches with qualifying prefixes. The easiest way to find them is to enter one of the basic searches on Google and see all the suggestions for autocomplete.

For example, when entering the search “skinny jeans women” you will see the following longtail keuwords:

On their basis, it is already possible to compose entire clusters of keywords, which will be discussed in the next step.

Step Six: Cluster

Once the keywords that are potentially useful for your site are found, it is worth starting the clustering of requests (grouping). This is necessary in order to avoid piling all the keywords together and making mega-overview articles. This way, you can add the maximum number of keywords while also distributing the words from the group into separate landing pages.

In addition, clustering allows you to narrow the specifics of certain web pages because the aggregation of requests in groups occurs by topic and word form. This approach enhances relevance.

How to cluster? Very simple. To do this, you take any high-frequency keyword and add tails to it to form medium and low frequency keywords. These tails are usually words describing the location, action (purchase, for example), color, season, and other specifying characteristics. We explained how to do this in detail at the previous step.

And in order to avoid guessing what words can be used as keywords, we suggest learning more about automated search tools. They will help to conduct the most informed research of keywords.

Popular Keyword Search Tools

Let’s consider ten most popular keyword search software solutions.

Google Adwords

Google AdWords is perhaps the most popular keyword search and grouping tool. Despite this, SEO experts are not very fond of it. This is because the planner very obsessively offers to launch advertising, Even though this is its main task, Google AdWords is also looking for keywords very well. In addition, there is no option to view the monthly frequency of keywords searches.

All the shortcomings are completely paid off by the fact that you can find keywords that no other tool will show. You can lso learn to get around the proposal to launch a campaign without paying Google a penny.

You can learn more about how Google AdWords works as a keyword tool in this Youtube video.

Google Trends

This is another worthy Google Keyword Tool. Using data from a search engine determines the frequency of search for specific terms depending on the location of users, their language, and a specific time period.

In general, this is a very useful solution for those who are constantly puzzled by updating the semantic core. To learn how to use the tool and make SEO more effective, see How to use Google Trends for SEO.

Semrush keyword research

SEMrush is another keyword search application that will provide you with a free 30-day trial.

It includes a comprehensive set of tools for digital marketing and a tool for searching keywords. This is also a very powerful solution along with Google Adwords. For the sake of fairness, we note that it is much more user-friendly, and you will not find any aggressive offers to launch paid advertising campaigns.


AnswerThePublic is an add-on for your Chrome or Firefox browser. With its help, you can constantly monitor indicators such as the monthly search volume and CPC. You will also receive detailed data on the competition of keywords on several sites.

All this will appear by pressing only one button. A single click and any pages of competing sites will show you the keywords used.

SpyFu Keyword Research Tool 

SpyFu’s Keyword Tool offers a colossal list of helpful data on a really large number of keywords.

In order to get started, you will need to enter a single keyword into the search bar. After, you get a whole list of relevant phrases. Choose any of them for your site, focusing on the frequency and theme of your business.


Ubersuggest is another keyword search tool that gives you an idea of ​​strategies that work effectively for your competitors. This solution is also absolutely free.

Need more keyword ideas? With this tool, you will get everything from basic keywords to long phrases. You will also see volume, competition, and even seasonal trends for each keyword you select. Also, to simplify working with keywords, Ubersuggest generates a list of keywords that are not only based on the SEO strategy for finding keywords borrowed from your competitors, but also based on what people enter in Google search.

SEO book

This is another great free keyword tool. Among its main features are search coverage by keywords, search parameters (user localization, period, etc.), estimated search cost (offer price multiplied by monthly search volume), data on the UK and US markets, and quick exports of 1000 keywords with the greatest weight.


This is a free tool that uses the latest Google search data to generate the most accurate and relevant keywords. Instead of randomly composing key phrases based solely on Google’s auto-suggestions, you can use a simple and intuitive WordStream without going beyond your SEO budget.


This keyword tool uses the unique Tree-View algorithm. It checks the position of the pages of your site in the search results and helps to optimize them using correctly selected keywords. Also, with its help, you can define related keywords, search terms, and phrases that are semantically related to the requested keyword.

And finally, with the help of adaptable filters, you can set your own parameters to get a set of optimal keywords for your region.

What Not To Do With Keywords: 2020 Anti Trends

Following the recommendations on how to conduct keyword research, we decided to give a list of manipulations that are not worth doing. There are bad SEO practices that neglect all the efforts involved in finding keywords. Here they are:

  • Emphasizing only one type of keyword, either only high-frequency keywords or only low-frequency keywords: Sometimes newbies of SEO blindly follow the recommendations and try to avoid high-frequency searches. This negatively affects the positioning of the site in search results and hinders its promotion. Therefore, high-frequency keys must be present at least once on each landing page. It happens the other way around when keywords with a small percentage of user searches are ignored. Due to this, valuable ideas for creating content are lost, and the volume of potential organic traffic is reduced. The conclusion from this is that it is worth using all kinds of keywords in website promotion, not missing any sources of potential traffic.
  • Creating content for the sake of using the keywords themselves: Many copywriters, even in modern times, like to spam with keywords, creating completely uninformative and poorly readable text canvases. Make the main emphasis on the quality and usefulness of the content and not on the fact that it contains too many keywords.
  • Transfer of responsibility for the search for software tools: It is believed that tools such as Google Adwords are capable of doing all the dirty work of SEO specialists, including the work related to keyword searches. Of course, these are very useful tools, but you should definitely not neglect the manual analysis of keywords. The fact is that there is not a single machine algorithm so far that would be able to perform at the same level as a person when tracing the industry trends and interests of the target audience.
  • Too big set of key phrases: Sometimes software tools for searching keywords are quite complex and time-consuming when using. If you are a beginner and just starting up your site, it makes sense to spy on competitors and the keywords that they use on their site.

Now you know how to find keywords for SEO. Keyword searches require an integrated approach and involve a detailed review. Otherwise, you are unlikely to be able to achieve optimal positions in search results, unless you use black SEO instead, which you can learn more about in White Hat VS Grey Hat VS Black Hat SEO.

Tell us in the comments below about your keyword search experience. How productive was it? Have you used the software tools described in the article? How quickly did you manage to increase your site’s position in SERP?

About author
SeoQuake content manager