Effective keyword research: A beginner’s guide

Knowing the ins and outs of the keyword research process really is key to optimizing digital content in today’s landscape full of users going to Google with a wide range of questions.

The first thing you may be wondering is what is keyword research? This is the process of discovering the specific words and phrases real people are looking up in search engines.

Researching actual search terms being plugged into Google reveals what topics are trending and the more frequently searched phrases – for example, ‘Sydney wedding photography’ vs ‘wedding photography in Sydney’. This knowledge informs content creation and digital marketing strategies.

Effective keyword research: A beginner's guide

The goal is to narrow down a list of keywords to target so that your content appears at the top of Google’s results, when that specific term or phrase is searched. With content optimized in this way, you can really boost your search engine ranking and drive more traffic to your site.

The next thing you may be asking is how do you do keyword research? We’re going to give a basic breakdown of how to find your keywords…

Step 1: Find your seeds

Every project needs an idea to get the ball rolling. In keyword research these starting points are called ‘seeds’. A ‘seed list’ is a list of basic keywords and phrases that are most relevant to your business. These can be inspired by your products, services, business goals and values.

For example, say we’re a small wedding photography business. We may start with key phrases like ‘wedding photography’, ‘wedding photography in Sydney’, ‘engagement photographer’, ‘couple portraits’, etc. The list goes on, and can be added to by considering things like:

  • Terms directly related to your business
  • Relevant words or phrases used by search engine users
  • Competitor keywords

Step 2: Get to know your audience

Effective keyword research: A beginner's guide

Arguably the most crucial aspect is to find the terms being searched by your audience as you need to know what they want in order to attract them to your site – by providing relevant, informative content that’s specific to their queries.

A good way to do this is to use site search functions to analyze user behaviour, such as what they are searching on your site. This tends to be a good reflection of organic search patterns.

You can also learn about the language and online behaviours of your target audience from comments on blog posts, social media shares, online forums, sites like Wikipedia, and more.

Step 3: Analyze terms for traffic potential

Plug your seeds into keyword tools, such as ‘SEMrush’, to generate information about how frequently the term or phrase is searched. Knowing the search volume (how large is it?) can be a strong indicator of the traffic you could bring in by using that keyword in your content or metadata (labeling data such as tags and captions).

Step 4: Observe the metrics

Effective keyword research: A beginner's guide

Generally speaking, keyword metrics provide you with an indication of:

  • The frequency of searches for that keyword
  • CPC – average cost per click of the keyword
  • PPC – competition in PPC advertising
  • KD – the difficulty of a keyword

There is usually a filter option for you to look at these individually. Find too various keyword management tools where you can add useful tags, drag-and-drop files, export and more.

Step 5: Analyze the competition

Where there are keywords ranking well, chances are you’re not the only one intending to use them. This is where keyword analytic tools come in handy yet again, as they are able to generate a list of search competitors. You can double check these by with the search results for your seeds.

The trick is to find frequently search key terms or phrases, but find a specific version or ordering that has less competition out there for the top ranking in search engine results.