How To Do Keyword Research The Right Way: A Step-By-Step Guide

Let’s face it: the internet – and the digital world as a whole – has changed exponentially from a decade ago. Just think, 15 years ago, we were really only just starting to get our hands on the very first iPhones, and the concept of streaming through the internet through services like Netflix was barely blossoming.



Think even further back – remember MySpace and AOL? The digital age is always evolving, and things we think are novelties can grow into an entire industry in a few years – and things we think will be around forever fade into the background forever.


As the internet evolves and search engines grow more intuitive (yet stay impressively simple), many are finding the act of keyword research to be an intimidating concept and aren’t sure where to start. Even if you know how to do keyword research, how do you do it the right way and see results?


As it turns out, keyword research isn’t going anywhere. It’s an integral part of building a successful website and ranking high in search results. Many commend search engine optimization (SEO) for its role in successful websites, but without proper keyword research, how can you optimize your website and take advantage of SEO effectively?


If keyword research and terms like SEO have been intimidating you, or if you’ve been hoping to start optimizing your website, this blog is for you. Whether you’ve never tried keyword research before, or have been doing so for years, we’ll take a deep dive into everything you need to know to learn how to do keyword research the right way.


We’ll cover everything from keyword research basics, finding keyword ideas, analyzing keywords, targeting and prioritizing keywords, and even taking a closer look at keyword research tools. This is the definitive step-by-step guide to doing keyword research the right way.


What Even IS Keyword Research?


You may have never heard of the term “keyword research” before, and that’s okay! It’s often overshadowed by its older SEO brother, but it plays just as important of a role in optimizing and creating a successful website.


Keyword research is the act of finding and researching search terms typed into search engines – often for the purpose of funneling those keywords into building an SEO-friendly website. Businesses will often research keywords related to the products/services they offer to see how often those terms are searched (popularity) and how difficult these keywords are to be used and yield results.


By utilizing keyword research, you’ll be able to take a closer look at what exactly your target audience is searching for without having to follow a trial-and-error formula for your website and guess what your audience is searching for. Keyword research sets the excellent groundwork for what your keywords website should be optimizing and emphasizing.


Now that you know what keyword research is, it’s time we take a deeper dive into how to do keyword research the right way.


The Groundwork – Where Do You Start?


Proper and effective keyword research is always done with a careful strategy and efficient planning process. You don’t want to be wasting precious time researching keywords that hold little value to your end goal or your business website. When building a strategy for keyword research that works well for your business, where should you start?


  • Create A List Of Relevant Keywords + Topics



If you’re a business that prioritizes selling mountain bikes and relevant accessories, you’re probably not going to want to be researching keywords that would cater to skateboarders or BMX enthusiasts. Instead, think of keywords and topics that would catch the eye of someone looking for mountain bikes or accessories related to mountain biking.


If you write a blog or have customer testimonials on your website, what topics do you (or the testimonials) write about the most? If they are relevant, add that to your list of keywords and topics.


You shouldn’t be thinking of keywords that would solely get your website a lot of clicks – you’ll also need to get in the mindset of the average consumer going on their buyer’s journey. What is it they want? What are they looking for? How can you reel them in and make them choose your product or service over other competitors?


Remember, most consumers aren’t going to click on a website with the immediate intention of buying a product – especially not the first thing they see. By not catering to the buyer’s journey of consumers, your keywords may get your website clicks, but converting consumers to customers won’t be happening nearly as often.


Building a list of topics and keywords is only the beginning. Next, you’ll want to be taking a closer look at the analytics of the keywords and topics found in your list.


If one of your keywords/topics is “mountain biking” you’ll likely find a high volume of searches. That keyword alone isn’t going to be winning you any customers, so it’s time to start honing in on the specifics.


  • Hone In On Keywords That Work Best For You



Let’s say you prioritized the search term “mountain biking” and want to surround most of your keywords around that. Now is the time to start honing in on specifics and creating similar keywords. Are you a local shop?


Do you sell a certain brand of mountain bikes and/or accessories? Research and create keywords that emphasize these aspects, such as:


“Mountain bike shop”


“Mountain biking shops near me”


“Mountain biking shops near Portland, ME”


“[Insert brand here] bike accessories”


“Best mountain bikes”


“What are the best mountain bike accessories”


And so on. Keep in mind that these are purely examples! Your business may need to hone in on a different set of keywords and topics, but follow this step and you’ll find results regardless of industry.


That’s not all though. You aren’t going to want to just think of some new keywords – you’ll also want to take a look at your current website and ask yourself what existing keywords your target audience is already finding your website from? We recommend taking advantage of analytical tools (more on that later) such as Google Analytics.


  • Cut Out The Confusing Keywords – Know What Your Audience Wants



Let’s pivot a bit. Suppose you’re a bike repair shop and you’re optimizing your website and picking some keywords that work best for your business after doing the necessary research. That’s awesome! Now it’s time to do a little bit of QA – cut out any confusing keywords that don’t get straight to the point and clearly describe what your business is offering.


What do we mean? Consider the keywords “bike repair shop” or “bike repair shop near me” – that can very easily lead consumers in the wrong direction. Is the consumer looking for a motorcycle repair shop? A shop that caters to dirtbike/off-road repairs?


Or a bicycle repair shop? Instead, alter the keyword to cater to your business as well as what the consumer will want to see when they’re searching for. If you specialize in repairing motorcycles, consider “motorcycle repair shop” as a keyword to hone in on.


Not sure if a keyword can be interpreted in multiple ways? It happens! And there’s nothing telling you that you can’t do a bit of testing yourself. Search up a keyword you aren’t sure about and see what results show up!


  • Don’t Be Afraid To Take Advantage Of Google


Have you ever searched something into Google and seen “Searches Related To [Insert Your Search Term Here]” towards the bottom of the page? As it turns out, we’ve become so accustomed to scrolling right past it that many forget that it can do plenty of the leg work for you.


If you’re researching keywords and are coming up short of ideas, feel free to search for one of the keywords you’ve already chosen and scroll down to the bottom of the Google search results page to see what Google has thought of that are related to your search result – you’ll often find more ideas than you may think!


The Real Deal – Choosing And Using Using The Right Keywords


If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You now know how to choose keywords that are relevant to your business and/or website and how to cut out the ones that won’t get you the results you’re looking for.


Now it’s time for the real deal: choosing the most beneficial keywords that suit your strategy and using them in ways that really drive results.


You may have chosen and honed in on a list as you set the groundwork for your keyword research strategy, it’s time to refine those keywords even further and pick the very best of the best.


Remember – there is no room for second place (in this case, second page) when optimizing your website with the right keywords because 71 – 92% of ALL search traffic clicks come from the FIRST PAGE of Google alone.


With that being said, let’s dive into what you should do to choose the perfect keywords:


  • Relevance, Volume, Difficulty



Throughout the digital world, there are three aspects of a good keyword: relevance, volume, and difficulty. Understanding and adapting these aspects into your keyword research strategy will make the difference between picking keywords that convert to great SEO – and being lost in the stream of search results.


  • Factor 1: Relevance



If you want a keyword to be good, you’re going to need to cut out anything that isn’t 110% accurate, relevant, and meets the needs of the audience. To outrank the competition, make sure the keyword you’ve chosen is the most relevant keyword for your content.


For example, if you’re writing a blog post about the benefits of adding an inground pool to your backyard instead of an aboveground pool, a keyword such as “diving board” or “gardening” is not going to suit the article really well and can be considered irrelevant. Google isn’t going to rank your blog post high if the keyword you’re focusing on isn’t relevant to the contents of your webpage.


  • Factor 2: Volume



This factor is self-explanatory: if you picked a keyword that’s receiving 0 – 5 monthly searches, you’d essentially be better off getting customers by writing a message in a bottle and throwing it out to sea. Make sure you’re picking keywords that are popular enough to actually warrant results – otherwise you won’t be seeing results!


However, that doesn’t mean you should automatically throw away keywords that only get a few hundred or thousand searches a month. The best and highest-ranking websites combine a mixture of highly-used keywords and less competitive keywords.


  • Factor 3: Difficulty



Difficulty (also sometimes referred to as authority) determines the authority of your domain in tandem with keyword difficulty. If your website is high in quality, has frequent updates, contains excellent inbound and outbound links, and functions perfectly, then Google will put more emphasis on your website/webpage.


If you’re using an authoritative keyword and your website has an informative track record, you’ll be prioritized over other websites and will inherently rank higher.


However, make sure you’re also factoring in how difficult it would be to make your mark on the search results if there are already filled with some huge competitors.


A small business using relevant keywords won’t get far if said relevant keyword is being used in the same way by a company with a huge social media presence, reliable website, and a long track record of authoritative features.


But much like how the highest-ranking websites will combine a good mix of popular and less-competitive keywords, they’ll also combine an excellent mix of difficult keywords and easy ones.


When you combine and prioritize the relevance, volume, and difficulty of a keyword, you WILL see results. However, good keyword research doesn’t end there – and you shouldn’t be picking keywords based on these factors alone. You should also:


  • Pay Attention To Keywords Used By Competitors



The business world is no stranger to taking notes based on what other businesses are doing, and the same thing applies to keyword research. It’s a no-brainer that, if a competitor is seeing BIG results based on certain keywords, then you should be making adjustments to your keyword strategy to implement and/or improve upon those keywords in your own unique way.


But you shouldn’t just be using other competitors as vessels to pick and choose great keywords – you should also be paying attention to keywords they AREN’T focusing on.


Take a look at the keywords that competitors aren’t focusing so much on, and if they meet that relevance, volume, and difficulty requirement and check all the boxes in your keyword strategy, then there’s nothing stopping you from putting those keywords into your own website as well.


  • Long-Tail Keywords And Head Terms – The Perfect Balance



Perfectly balanced, as all keywords should be. When you combine the perfect balance of head terms and long-tail keywords, you’ll see results that span from short-term to long-term success. However, if you’re just getting started with keyword research, you may have never heard these terms before:


  • What ARE Head Terms And Long-Tail Keywords?



To put it simply, head terms are shorter and more common/simple keywords. “Best Snowboards” is a prime example of a simple head term. It’s short, it’s sweet, and searched on a much more common basis. Long-tail keywords are longer, less-commonly searched keywords that won’t yield as many immediate results.


“Best snowboards for beginners” may not be searched as often as the “best snowboards” counterpart listed above. That doesn’t mean long-tail keywords are less desirable, however.


  • Why Should You Balance Them?



A good mixture of head terms and long-tail keyword research allows your website to get quick, desirable results through long-tail keywords while also continuously leaving your mark on head terms that are searched much more often. Refining your keyword strategy and list of keywords to feature these will help you both with short and long-term SEO.


After all, while long-tail keywords like “best snowboards for beginners” aren’t searched as often, that doesn’t mean they won’t play a role in successful SEO. There are plenty of beginners out there who want a beginner-friendly snowboard and will search that exact term – and if you just so happen to be a business that sells beginner-friendly snowboards? You have a high chance of earning yourself a customer!


  • Understand What Keywords Work Best For Your User Intent



There are 4 main types of user intent: commercial, navigational, informational, and transactional. Let’s take a closer look at each one:


  • Commercial



One of the more common forms of user intent you’ll want to be if you’re shooting for selling a product. Commercial searches often include brand names and/or specific products and categories, but may also include terms like “sale” or “discount” to add an organic sense of urgency.


For example: “motorcycles for sale” is a commercial keyword you can take advantage of (and hone in on) if you’re a motorcycle dealer. For the purpose of this example, we’re assuming your brand is not a household name and cut out the brand name aspect of a commercial search.


However, if your brand sells certain well-known brands of motorcycles and you want to emphasize this, “Yamaha motorcycles for sale” may suit your business better.


  • Navigational



Usually not a search term businesses should inherently focus on, but navigational user intent often consists of consumers searching for info such as days a business is open and/or the hours of a business.


If you’re in the restaurant industry, this may be a more common search as consumers will be looking at the hours of businesses – but from a business perspective, this is usually not a big focus point.


After all, if customers are looking at the hours that you’re open – then they already know about you and your business and probably want to make a purchase so long as it’s convenient to their schedule.


  • Informational



Remember learning about “who, what, when, where, why, how” in school? The informational type of search is essentially those kinds of questions all funneled into a category. Consumers searching with this type of user intent are often looking for something, you guessed it, that’s informative.


This can be applied to business keyword strategies though! If you want the consumer to learn more about a product, you can very well add some informational keywords to the product landing page. Don’t sleep on informational keywords!


  • Transactional



This type of search is a key part of the buyer’s journey as a consumer, and will include terms such as “reviews” and “best”. This is when a consumer is close to making a financial decision and purchasing a product, and if you want to reel in a customer at this stage, you ABSOLUTELY need to take advantage of keywords that include keywords that categorize as transactional kinds of keywords.


Emphasize reviews on your website and use keywords that include “reviews” in an appropriate manner and make sure you don’t overdo it. You want the customer to make a decision organically, it should NEVER feel forced!


Depending on what kind of business you have and what industry you’re in, you may want to emphasize certain kinds of user intent keywords, but you’ll often gravitate towards the commercial and transactional categories and dabble in a few informational keywords as well.


The Touch-Up Phase – Measuring And Analyzing Your Results


If you’ve made it this far, you’re now ready to put your keyword research in motion and implement it into your website! If you’ve put all the pieces together, honed in on your keywords, and made the perfect adjustments, then you WILL see results.


However, as much as you’ve earned a well-deserved rest, business trends are always changing and adapting – and one of the most important aspects of keyword research is measuring and analyzing your results. Let’s take a closer look at the touch-up phase of keyword research.


  • Use Tools Like Google Analytics



Tools such as Google Analytics allow you to view the SEO performance of your site, allowing you to view analytics such as how they found your site and how long they stayed on your page.


This plays a crucial role in your keyword strategy as you’ll be able to see what keywords are working best and how many clicks your website is getting as a result. This also means you’ll be able to make real-time adjustments and optimize your keywords to further increase reach and high rankings in search results.


This is especially crucial for small businesses that may not have a large online presence just yet. Making adjustments that are tailored for the target audience will not only increase reach and rankings but also improve the user experience which will continuously turn consumers into loyal customers who will help you grow organically.


  • Don’t Sleep On Google Trends!



You’ll find that a lot of our touch-up tips consist of making use of Google-based services and tools. There’s a reason why Google is the #1 search engine in the world, so using tools inherently built into the search engine and/or designed to help businesses rank higher on it is something that shouldn’t be underestimated.


Google Trends is an excellent place to see what search results are ranking lower and higher as well as sharing predictions and patterns. Think of it like SEO’s version of the stock market, where you can analyze results, make predictions, and take action based on what keywords might take off so you can get ahead of the competition and rank high in search results.


  • Touch Up On Keywords With Google’s Keyword Planner



Much like Google Analytics tracking results and traffic on your website, Google’s Keyword Planner allows you to take action on your keywords SPECIFICALLY. The tool lets you flag what’s working and what isn’t.


You can take advantage of this tool during your keyword research and planning phase or after, but making use of it alongside Google Analytics and Google Trends will let you master keyword optimization.


Congratulations! You Now Know How To Do Keyword Research The Right Way


With these tips and our step-by-step guide at your disposal, you now have the tools and knowledge needed to plan, research, execute, and optimize a keyword research strategy with ease.


It may seem intimidating at first, but you’ll master these strategies in no time and build a solid keyword research strategy that lets you rank high in search results and turn consumers into happy, loyal customers.


No keyword research strategy should stay completely the same forever, so be sure to optimize, research, and make adjustments accordingly every few months so you stay at the top of your game and ahead of the competition.


Need more help with optimizing your keyword research and strategy? Our team at PalmPons is ready to develop a perfect strategy for your small business and your target demographic. So contact us today, and let’s boost your business!