The Ultimate Guide to Keyword Research in 2021

Great SEO begins with understanding what your audience wants to find. Here’s how to do keyword research that’ll elevate your organic search performance.

You probably know that keyword research is an integral part of your SEO strategy

But many people either don’t know how to identify keywords that’ll help them grow or else make finding them unbearably complex.

In this article, we’re going to break down step-by-step what you need to do to locate the most valuable keywords that will bring you search ranking success.

Sounds good? Then let’s jump in!

Why Keyword Research Matters

If you’re like most curious business owners then you like to start with the ‘why’. So you’re probably wondering – why is it worth investing resources into digging up keywords at all?’

Well for starters, keyword research allows your business to better understand what your potential customers are searching for. Knowing this helps you to optimise your website to deliver better search results for those keywords.

That means more traffic for you as well as a pat on the back from the search engines for being a more relevant site for certain search terms. Higher rankings here we come.

The fun doesn’t stop there though – good keyword research slaps direction onto your content strategy which helps you produce more relevant content that resonates with your audience.

Solid keyword research also lets you see how you stack up compared to your competitors as well as revealing the areas where you can most easily outperform them by owning a specific keyword.

Lastly, keyword research helps you to discover new business opportunities by finding terms and phrases that may not be a perfect match but are related to the products or services you’re offering.

All in all, keyword research offers you a tremendous amount of benefits for something that requires a relatively low investment in terms of both time and money.

In fact, after optimising your Google My Business listing, keyword research probably offers you the most bang for your buck when it comes to local SEO.

So if you’re ready to learn more, let’s keep going!

Step 1: Discover What Your Customers Are Searching For

The first step of top-tier keyword research lies in gaining a solid understanding of your target market and figuring out what they’re typing into the search bar when they’re looking for services or products like yours.

While you have a straightforward way of describing your business, is that the same thing that your audience is searching for? This is the first thing to determine in the keyword research process.

It’s likely that you have a number of specific keywords that you’d like to rank for. These will usually be related to your product or service offerings. 

For example, let’s say you’re in the business of keeping bees. It’s less likely that your customers will be searching for ‘experienced beekeeper’ and much more likely they’ll be searching for ‘Best place to buy local honey’.

Once you’ve got an idea about what your customers are looking for, a super simple way to find out related keywords is by jumping over to google and inputting terms related to your business into the search bar.

Straight away you’ll unearth a few avenues for further investigation by looking at the ‘related searches’ section. Make a note of a few useful and closely related topics for more in-depth research down the line.

Googling keywords like this also show you the top ranking pages for the terms you want to rank for. Put the terms of interest you jotted down into google one by one and spend a few moments checking out the top rankings for each search term. 

Write down any websites that consistently appear in the top 5 rankings. These are the websites who’re dominating the rankings and who we’ll be looking to dethrone a little later on.

Step 2: Assess Keyword Search Volume

Keyword search volume refers to the number of people who are searching for a given term over a set time period. The more people searching for a term the more competitive it becomes to rank for that term.

One of the best ways to discover keyword search volume is by using a free chrome extension called ‘Keywords Everywhere

This handy extension pulls data directly from GoogleAds lets you instantly see related keywords and search volume every time you run a search in Google.

It’s important to understand that ranking for terms with high monthly search volume can be challenging and take years of persistence. At the same time going after terms that have very low search volume is easy but doesn’t draw the traffic we want.

Given that both high and low volume search terms can help you shoot up the rankings, assessing the search volume helps you decide which specific keywords you should be targeting to give you the best chance of success.

Often, one of the wisest approaches is to target highly-specific, less competitive search terms known as long-tail keywords.

Step 3: Define Your Long-Tail Keywords

Lots of folks start out wanting to rank for keywords with massive search volumes. But that’s often not the smartest approach.

For example, let’s say you’re a restaurant and you want to target the keyword ‘pizza’. You might think that ranking no.1 for ‘pizza’ would lead to a never ending stream of customers. 

Not only will ranking for ‘pizza’ require a monumental effort, but it’s also an ambiguous search term. That means you run the risk of bringing in traffic who’s goals aren’t met by your site. 

For example, the searcher could have been looking for a pizza recipe, pizza memes, the nutritional values of pizza or the history of pizza. And Google really doesn’t like when your site fails to make searchers happy – you’ve made them look silly and they’ll get you back for it.

That’s why long-tail keywords are your best friend. They’re easier to rank for and they’re more specific to your searcher’s enquiry. It’s a double win.

More specific long-tail keywords have the advantage of bringing in more qualified traffic too. For example, somebody searching for ‘Best pizza in Sydney for less than $20’ is extremely likely to be looking to chow down on a pie in the next couple of hours.

One of the best ways to come up with long-tail keywords is to use a handy tool called ‘Answer The Public’. Just input your generic keyword and it’ll churn out a bunch of informational keywords, questions and comparisons.

Once you’ve picked a few that look like they have potential – stick them back into google and assess their search volume using the ‘Keywords Everywhere’ extension. You should now have a bunch of long-tail keywords you can target.

Step 4: Check Out Your Competition

An essential part of good keyword research is assessing the state of your competition and discovering what they’re doing to rank in the search engine pages. 

‘Keywords Everywhere’, the extension you installed in step 2 can also help you analyse competitors pages to see which keywords they’re ranking for.

Sistrix is another great tool for analysing pages and finding out what keywords they’re ranking for. Doing this helps you to identify keywords that you might have previously glossed over or terms that they’ve neglected to target.

Using it is dead easy – simply copy and paste your competitors URL into the search bar and hit go. The software isn’t free (subscription is about $99/mo) however you also have the option to also just pay for what you use.

Step 5: Devise a Keyword Strategy

By now you’ve got a list of search terms and their corresponding search volumes for your website. But what’s the best strategy to implement these keywords into your webpages – how do you know which ones to prioritise first?

The truth is there’s no one keyword strategy that works best 100% of the time. There’s a great number of variables that can alter your approach. Having said that, one tactic that usually works is prioritising the higher-volume search terms that your competitors are not ranking for. This takes advantage of their missed opportunities and improves your rankings without putting you in direct competition.

Another popular strategy is to target the same keywords your competitors are ranking for. This is a more aggressive approach and involves optimising your site so that it directly outranks the competition for their target keywords.

Also, keep in mind that certain keywords might be affected by seasonal trends and you can use this to your advantage. For example ‘Halloween decorations’ see a huge surge in interest towards the end of October. Creating content that targets seasonal search terms in advance can be a great way to shift yourself up the rankings ahead of your competition.

Lastly, consider that keywords can vary by geographic location too. Searchers in different parts of the world use different languages when searching for the same thing. If you’re growing an international business it’s important to make sure you’re targeting relevant keywords form around the globe. 

For example, while Aussies might be searching for ‘bathers’ to go swimming in nobody in the USA will have a notion what you’re talking about unless you say ‘swimsuit’ – so keep that in mind!

In Conclusion

And that’s a wrap! Hopefully, by now you’ve got a much better idea about how to conduct successful keyword research. We’ve shared some of our best tips, tools and strategies to help you get the most from your keywords.

Remember, good keyword research is the backbone of any SEO strategy and when done right has the power to move you up the search rankings, beat out your competition and pull in more qualified traffic.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start digging out those top keywords!

Get in Touch With The SEO Experts

Getting a handle on your digital marketing can be challenging to say the least. Especially if you don’t have the resources to fund an in-house team. If you’ve been spinning your SEO wheels and getting nowhere, why not get in touch with one of our dedicated SEO experts?

At TocToc we’ll help you build an industry-leading SEO strategy from the ground up that’ll bring you more traffic, more customers and more profits. We focus on your digital marketing, so you can focus on running your business.

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