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what is keyword research in seo

What is Keyword Research In SEO: Zero To Hero Guide

Keyword research is the process of finding the effective and popular terms that people type on search engines and then you add those terms strategically on your web pages and in your content to make it rank higher on a SERP. 

Today in this article, I’ll discuss with you what is keyword research in SEO in brief. 

However, before you can understand what keyword research for SEO entails, you must first understand where it all began.

What is keyword by the way? 

Keywords are the very first bricks in the skyscrapers of effective search marketing strategies. The whole of SEO and SEM starts with keywords. Making keyword related content gains you rewards from search engines like higher rank on search engine result pages.

Keywords are the centre of all the search engine’s (complex) ranking algorithms. Keywords are basically the term a user types while searching for a specific thing on a search engine. 

Let’s figure out how a search engine uses a keyword to show results to a search query:

  1. A query is typed by a user into a search engine such as Google. 
  2. The search engine goes through all the crawled sites on its index. Then it specifically searches for the content that includes the keywords or phrases that exactly answers or heavily relates to the query. 
  3. It shows the best results on the SERP to the user. 

The keywords are grouped into two sorts to help you comprehend them better. The short ones and the long ones namely the short-tail keywords and long-tail keywords respectively. 

What Are Short-Tail Keywords?

Everyone loves a huge volume of traffic. But only traffic doesn’t ensure your potential leads, huge conversions or great engagement stats. The reason for that could be a few things but most of all what matters are how your content engages with customers. 

You have to know that all searches are not equal. All the users go through different phases of the consumer engagement cycle. And a business must need to know which phase its targeted users are going through.

Before doing keyword analysis and creating an SEO strategy around them, one has to understand “What is the intent of consumers who are searching these terms? ” And “Do the intent of your content match with that?“. The stages a user go through in a consumer engagement cycle are:

  1. Discovery Phase
  2. Research Phase
  3. Purchase Phase

In the initial phases of engagement, short tail keywords usually do exceptionally well i.e, discovery and early research phase. They are not quite good for the later stage as this stage search terms are generally a bit lengthy and specific.  

When a user wants to learn about any topic or niche, their search terms are broad and short. Short tail keywords are called “head terms” too and they are usual length is between one to two words. 

Due to the broad nature of short-tail keywords, they drive a huge volume of search traffic to the website. But this also turns then highly competitive. Short tail keywords usually face a big competition among other websites of the same niche as it’s the first step of the consumer in the consumer engagement phases.

What Are Long-Tail Keywords?

Long-tail keywords as the name suggests are longer than short ones. They are the combinations of words or phrases that are in length lies in between three to seven words. This is due to the specificity a user wants in the answers about a topic or product. 

Long-tail keywords surely open numerous doors for the websites to generate high engagement with targeted content. Another positive thing it brings is due to its specific nature, it is less competitive which makes it easier to rank.

For example, the keyword “Waterproof women’s shoes” will have to compete with the sellers who provide the product with the same quality whereas the keyword “Shoes” or “Women’s Shoes” will have more competition as it is covering a broader topic. 

The biggest positive long-tail keywords have is that their conversion rate is quite higher. 

The use of long-tail keywords is usually at the later research phase or purchase phase of a consumer’s engagement cycle. And that makes a long tail keyword more personal and specific. You would be amazed to know that 70% of the whole of the search traffic actually contains long-tail keyword searches.

And the fact that Google tries its best to give the best possible results, a user gets more specific while searching for a specific thing or product to buy. 

What Is Keyword Research In Seo? 

Keyword research is the practice of collecting the keywords from using different tools and tactics that present your business including the services, products or information that you offer. These analysed keywords can then be used in an SEO, SEM or Content Marketing strategy. Keywords are supposed to match or heavily relate with the search term typed by a consumer to attract more traffic. 

A keyword analysis is the most important thing for a business or website in order to make an effective presence online. Either getting an audience from a good SEO strategy or getting visitors as the pay-per-click audience through SEM, keywords are the centre of all the work. 

Search engines match keywords with the search term to evaluate which web page has the best result. So keyword search in SEO should be the very first step to start with. The researched keyword integrated with the effective SEO and SEM strategies can surely increase the traffic on your website a lot better than you expect. 

History of SEO Keyword Research

The history of keyword research has its tail back to 2005. SEOs have performed a lot of tactics since then to plan keywords effectively. But keyword planning in SEO is not the same as of 2005, surely it has evolved a lot. Now for content to rank, it has to be well-written around the search intent.

There was a time when keyword density was the most important thing in SEO keyword optimization, but now it is left behind a long series of factors. The keyword analysis tactics have evolved through time to match the pace of continuously changing search engine algorithms. 

Keyword research for SEO is usually done at the start of a campaign and can serve as a platform for upcoming projects, campaigns, or content. Keyword planning can be used to assist you to come up with ideas for a fresh piece of content you’re creating, choosing how to label your product features, or optimising your website after it’s been published.

Asking Questions Before Keyword Research

Before planning and researching your keywords, you have to understand who are you gonna target and what is your goal? 

This is an important step that you shouldn’t miss, there might be keywords that you can rank for but that doesn’t mean it’s enough, you have to rank in front of your targeted audience and that’s where all the different stands. 

There’s a thin line of difference between them named conversion rate. You might get a higher rank on different keywords but that won’t bring you conversions and there might be keywords where you won’t rank on the first or second or sometimes even third page But that would still make a better conversion rate. 

Here’s an example. Antique named Cafe has thought of making an online presence and increasing its sales by using SEO and content marketing. Now to get started, they have to know the answers to some particular questions like:

  • What types of coffee are users searching for?
  • When are users searching for coffee? 
  • Are there seasonality trends throughout the year?
  • What words do they use?
  • What questions do they ask?
  • Are more searches coming from mobile devices?
  • Why are people seeking cafes?
  • Are individuals looking for health-conscious coffee specifically or just looking to have some caffeine?
  • Where are potential customers located — locally, nationally, or internationally?

And then from this, the work starts – How can you provide the best possible content about coffee that answer their queries and meanwhile create a community? These questions will help you lay out a mind map that would keep you aware of what your customers want and what should you give them. 

Learn about: Keyword Cannibalization


Keyword Research is no doubt one of the most important parts of an SEO, SEM or Content Marketing strategy. And no one by any chance should miss that out. The process can surely be long and tiring sometimes but I can assure you, it is worth the work.

Performing SEO keyword research is the very first step before creating a piece of content or before planning a campaign. And asking questions is what makes it meaningful, once you know what your potential audience wants you can create the content fulfilling their requirements which will keep you on demand. 

You should consider reading our post on Seo Keyword research mistakes that we have personally faced in our initial levels.

I hope you would have found all the answers you were looking for and if not then the comment box is wide open for you or you can mail us your query at [email protected] We will be more than happy to help you. 

Thank you for reading along, it means a lot to us. 

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