Effective keyword research for improved SEO

Using keyword research to help sites grow organic traffic

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Table of Contents

How I use keyword research to build traffic

Keyword research is essential because it is the backbone of a successful SEO campaign. It provides valuable insights into what people are searching for to help you rank higher in search results.

I look at keywords for every new customer as part of keyword analysis, in order to understand how I can help them. You need to have a good understanding of what keywords relate directly to your business for your landing page or content marketing to be effective.


Elements of keyword research

In order to have an effective keyword strategy to boost your SEO, it’s important to understand the parts of the keyword research process.

Search volume

Monthly search volume is an important metric when it comes to the process of SEO. This means that you need to look at what your target audience is searching for in order to make sure that your page appears in the search engine results.

Keyword research tool

A keyword tool is important because they help you find clear and accurate search terms and phrases that your audience is typing into the search engine. By understanding your audience’s precise needs, you can create content that provides them with the answers they want, so you can rank higher in search engine results pages and win traffic. There are free keyword research tools, but a paid took will produce the best keyword list for your site.

Long tail keyword

A long tail keyword is a less popular, with more words. They are searches made by fewer people but they are also more specific to a searcher’s intent. For example, if someone were to search for “running” as in running shoes, it may be recommended that they add the word “women’s” or “men’s” before the search term.

Focus keyword

The focus keyword is the single word or phrase that best characterises a page, which the vast majority of that page’s content and links refer to. It is important to pick a narrow topic for your focus keyword because if it is too broad, people may not find what they are looking for on your site.

Related keywords

In addition to the focus keyword, there will also be additional words and phrases that are relevant for a page. For example, if searching for “recruitment agencies”, “jobs” is a closely related relevant keyword.

Keyword difficulty

Keyword difficulty is a measure of how difficult a specific keyword is to rank for in search engines. The difficulty level can determine which keywords you should focus on, and which keywords to avoid if you’re not interested in long-term SEO efforts.

Keyword ideas

It’s essential that we’re able to discover the primary and related keywords that your site should rank for. The data comes from a variety of sources.

Search result

One way to generate keyword ideas is to look at the actual search results – the SERPs – when searching for the focus or seed keyword. This will generate large amounts of sites that will have specific page titles and content which can give clues as to the right keyword, or additional keywords.

Keyword tool

It’s in generating keyword ideas that professional keyword tools really benefit the SEO process. They are the quickest and most effective means to gather the correct data. Popular paid tools include SEMrush and Ahrefs. There are free keyword tools, but they do not produce results equal to the paid tools. However, the Google Keyword Tool can be effective in discovering keywords too.

Questions & answers

FAQs are a huge part of SEO today, with sites like AnswerThePublic designed specifically to uncover the questions that visitors search for. These types of keyword ideas can have particular benefits in generating brand knowledge before a purchase.

Search intent and modern SEO

Google has become much more effective at matching the search intent of a search with a relevant page.

But what is search intent?

A searchers desire

Search intent in SEO is the intention of a person who has made a search query. It has been used as an indication of what the person is looking for in their search.

It is important to research your keywords because they are an indication of what someone might be searching for. Detailed keyword research is essential if you want to improve your SEO ranking, and matching the users desire – the search intent – is a key element of that.

Common search intent types

There are 4 particularly common search intent types:

  • Informational intent, where someone wishes to know something.
  • Navigational intent, where someone is looking for a specific website.
  • Transactional intent, where they’re finding somewhere to make a purchase.
  • Commercial investigation, where they’re researching for a future purchase.


Frequently asked questions

Keywords are the individual words or phrases used by visitors to Google, in order to find whatever they need.
These are the ones which can generate the largest amount of traffic, but be careful as it can be the wrong traffic. In addition, keyword difficulty should be examined since, without a strong site with powerful links, it can be nearly impossible to rank highly for difficult phrases.
The root or focus keyword for a page is something of an art to discover. Keyword research should happen around the suspected root keyword, in order to consider alternatives, and then the most effective focus chosen.