SEO Keyword Research Guide [2020]

4.9 / 5 ( 505 votes )A successful SEO strategy starts with keyword research.Keywords help you determine your entire SEO marketing plan. A comprehensive keyword research plan is needed to generate the best results from your SEO campaign.This SEO keyword research guide will help you understand what are keywords and how you can find the…

4.9 / 5 ( 505 votes )

A successful SEO strategy starts with keyword research.

Keywords help you determine your entire SEO marketing plan. A comprehensive keyword research plan is needed to generate the best results from your SEO campaign.

This SEO keyword research guide will help you understand what are keywords and how you can find the best keywords to acquire more leads and conversions.


  • How To Find Keyword Ideas
  • What is Keyword Research in SEO?

    Keyword research is the process of finding the terms and phrases people are using to find businesses similar to yours. By optimizing your content around those keywords, you can increase the chances of ranking on search engines. 

    What Are The Types of Keywords?

    Keywords can be of various types depending on your business goals.

    The different types of SEO keywords are:

    1- Market Segment Keywords

    Market segment keywords include the generic terms that your target audience uses to search for general information within a vertical, industry, or brand. These phrases are usually very broad and highly competitive. 

    For example, if you are selling travel insurance then some keywords related to your market will be:

    • Travel insurance
    • Travel insurance premium
    • Travel insurance for USA
    • Travel insurance tips

    2- Customer-Defining Keywords

    Customer-defining keywords are the phrases that your target audience uses to define themselves. 

    Some of the examples of customer-defining keywords are:

    • Gym shoes for men
    • Bluetooth headphones for bikers
    • Where can I use Amazon pay
    • how to prepare a chocolate cake without eggs

    3- Product/Branded Keywords

    Product/branded keywords are the terms associated with specific brands or products.

    For example, if you are selling products of Adidas then some of your product keywords will be:

    • Adidas shoes
    • Adidas yeezy
    • Adidas jackets
    • Adidas sneakers

    4- Competitor Keywords

    Competitor keywords are the terms that people are using to find your direct competitors. For Moz, SEMrush is a direct competitor because they are both selling SEO software. Moz would like to know the keywords on which SEMrush is ranking so that it can optimize its own website and defeat them. The SEMrush team will also think the same.

    When we do competitor keyword research, we generally exclude the branded terms and include the generic terms in our keyword research sheet. The team of Moz will exclude the terms having the word “SEMrush” in them when they are doing competitor keyword research. This is also known as “Keyword Gap Analysis”. We will learn more about this in the later sections.

    5- Geo-Target Keywords

    Geo-targeted keywords are the terms associated with a location. Most of the geo-targeted keywords include the phrase “near me” or the name of the city in them. 

    For a bakery shop selling cakes in Los Angeles, some of the geo-target keywords will be:

    • Bakery shop in LA
    • LA cake shop
    • Buy mooncakes in Los Angeles
    • Mooncakes near me 

    6- Short-tail Keywords

    Short-tail keywords are usually one or two words long and are very broad and generic. 

    For an internet marketer selling SEO services, some of the short-tail keywords will be:

    • SEO services
    • SEO consultant
    • SEO company
    • SEO agency

    7- Mid-tail Keywords

    Mid-tail keywords are usually two or three words long and are slightly more descriptive than short-tail keywords. 

    For an amusement park business, some of the best mid-tail keywords will be:

    • amusement park
    • amusement park for kids
    • best amusement parks
    • adventure parks
    • roller coaster ride
    • adventure park for kids

    8- Long-tail keywords

    Long-tail keywords are more than three words long and are very specific. These keywords have the highest conversion rate amongst the three. 

    For a business selling online laptops, some of the best long-tail keywords will be:

    • asus laptop i7 8th generation
    • dell laptops with backlit keyboard
    • apple macbook air 13 inch
    • best laptops for students

    9- Primary Keywords

    The primary keyword is the main term that you target and is used before any other keyword on a blog or page. 

    For a business into software development, the primary keywords will be:

    • software development
    • app development
    • software development company
    • app development company
    • custom software development
    • mobile application development

    10- Related or LSI Keywords

    Related or LSI (latent semantic) keywords are the terms that are semantically related to or are the synonyms of the primary keyword. 

    11- Informational Keywords

    Informational keywords are the terms people use when they are looking for answers to their questions or to learn something. 

    Example: how to optimize a website for SEO, the best ways to make the most out of email marketing. 

    12- Navigational Keywords

    Navigational keywords are the terms people use when they want to reach a particular site.

    Example: Facebook, Nike official website. 

    13 – Transactional Keywords

    Transactional keywords are the terms people use when they are ready to make a purchase. 

    Example: buy groceries online, medical insurance quotes.

    There are two other types of keywords that you must consider while doing keyword research. They are: 

    14- Local keywords

    These are the terms associated with a particular location. It also includes the term “near me”. For near me searches Google uses the searcher’s location to deliver the best possible results. 

    Example: Pizza store in Seattle, Calvin Klien store near me. 

    15- Seasonal keywords

    Seasonal keywords are terms that people search for most at certain times of the year. 

    Example: Ice cream, NFL playoffs. 

    1 – Establish Your Seed Keywords

    Seed keywords are the base or foundation keywords that fit your business or niche. They are very generic and serve as the main content categories that you can later narrow down into more specific keywords/blog post ideas. 

    It’s still crucial to place your keywords strategically in your page title, URL, meta description, ALT tag, and content. 

    The only thing that has changed over the last few years is the placement of the keywords. Stuffing your content with irrelevant keywords will do more harm than good to your SEO efforts. 

    For example, in the image shown below, “keyword research” is the seed keyword that can be then combined with various modifiers for new content ideas, such as tools, tips, and more.  

    To identify the seed keywords for your website, think about the words that represent the overall goal of your company. These could be things like your products, services, brand name, or other topics your website addresses.

    For example, if you sell shoes. Your seed keywords would be shoes, sneakers, sandals, boots, Nike shoes, Reebok shoes, etc. 

    If you offer digital marketing services, your seed keywords would be SEO services, email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, etc. 

    List out five to ten keyword phrases that best represent your business goal. You can then enter those terms into a keyword research tool to find average monthly search volume and similar keywords.   

    This is an excellent way to identify whether your seed keywords are worth investing in or not and to find related keywords. 

    Let’s say your seed keyword is “dog food”. Open the tool (I’ve used Ubersuggest for keyword research, you can use any paid tools to do that for better comparison because most of us are always looking for free alternatives) and enter your seed keyword (in this case I’m using “dog food”). The tool will return metrics, such as search volume, SEO difficulty, and the number of links needed to outrank competitors. 

    2 – Use Google and YouTube Suggest

    Now that you have an extensive list of seed keywords, type each of them into Google and YouTube. 

    Google and YouTube suggest are the best way to find keywords that your potential customers are entering into the search engines. 

    Check the terms Google suggests to you. 

    Additionally, look at the “people also ask” and “people also search for” section to find new content ideas and keywords related to your seed keywords. 

    Another way to find keywords is to check out the “Searches related to [your search term]” at the bottom of the search results page. 

    Click on one of the “searches related to” term to find additional keywords. 

    Then scroll down to the bottom of those results to find a new list of related keywords. 

    But don’t stop at Google suggest. You can also find keywords with YouTube suggest. Enter your seed keywords in the YouTube search bar and it will start suggesting the most searched terms. 

    These are the terms that lots of people are searching for. You can then add relevant keywords to your list. 

    Continuing the example of “dog food” from the first point. Here are a few keywords Google suggested to me when I entered dog food in the search bar.

    3 – Give Importance To Long-Tail Keywords

    Long-tail keywords are very specific, have less competition, and have the highest conversion rates


    With more and more people using voice search, long-tail keywords have become more important than ever. In fact, 50% of search queries are four words or longer. 

    To find long-tail keywords, use Google suggest (as mentioned in the second point). You can continue typing in Google to get more detailed suggestions. 

    Another way to find long-tail keywords is by using KWFinder and WordTracker. Enter your seed keywords in the tool and it will return with long-tail keywords. 

    Here’s what KWFinder returned with when I entered the term “blogging” as my seed keyword. It shows the average monthly search volume along with keyword difficulty (KD). 

    Here’s what Wordtracker returned with for the same keyword (i.e., blogging). 

    I used Google’s “Searches related to” section to find long-tail keywords for my seed keyword i.e., dog food

    4 – Search For Question Keywords 

    8% of the search queries (out of the 3.5 billion searches Google receives per day) are phrased as questions. 

    Besides, people using voice search tend to ask questions as compared to using text-based searches. Most of the voice search starts with “How”, “Who”, and “When”. 

    Use tools like Answer the Public and SEMrush to find question keywords. Type your seed keyword into the tool, and it will return with the questions that people tend to ask about the topic. 


    Another way to find question keywords is via Q&A sites such as Quora. Enter your seed keywords in Quora and browse through the questions. You can then include the ones that are most relevant to your business. 

    Google’s “People also ask” section is an excellent place to find question-based keywords. I entered “dog foods” in Google and here’s what I found in the people also ask section. It is filled with questions. 

    5 – Don’t Ignore Synonyms and Shoulder Keywords

    Apart from the main keyword, Google also uses synonyms and LSI keywords while delivering results. 

    The screenshot below displays Google returning results having the keywords “athletic shoes” and “training shoes” when searched for “gym shoes”. 

    Therefore, it is crucial to use synonyms of your seed keywords. One of the best ways to find synonyms is through Power Thesaurus

    Enter your seed keywords in the search bar and the tool will return with most relevant synonyms. 

    Another way to improve your keyword research is to find shoulder keywords. 

    Shoulder keywords are the ones that aren’t directly related to what you sell. These are the terms and phrases that your target audience searches for. 

    Let’s say you offer a marketing analytics tool. You would want to optimize your site for keywords like “marketing analytics tool” or “analytics software”. 

    But don’t stop there. Someone interested in marketing analytics tool might also search for:

    • marketing analytics benefits
    • Why track the performance of marketing campaigns?  
    • How to analyze the performance of marketing campaigns? 
    • How can analytics help optimize your website?
    • Key marketing metrics you should track

    You would want to create content around the shoulder keywords. This will help you get in front of your prospects, and they’re likely to buy from you in the future. 

    For my keyword (dog food), I used its synonym and changed it to pet food. I then used Google suggest to find LSI keywords. 

    6 – Check What Your Competitors Are Ranking For

    Checking what keywords your competitors are ranking for will give you additional ideas for evaluation. 

    However, this doesn’t mean you should take all the keywords that they are ranking for. Make sure that the keywords you choose are highly relevant to your business. 

    One of the best ways to find your competitors (if you haven’t already), enter your seed keyword in Google and check the first ten results. Those are your top competitors. 

    One of the best ways to find your competitor’s top keywords is by entering their domain in SpyFu. You will then see a list of top keywords along with searches/month, est. Clicks/month, ranking difficulty, and rank. 

    You can filter the keywords to find the most valuable keywords, newly ranked keywords, keyword rank gains, page one keywords, keywords that just made the first page, and more. 

    I entered my keyword (dog food). I then entered my competitor’s domain (first three results) in Ubersuggest and the tool returned with their top keywords. 

    7 – Use Keyword Research Tools 

    Keyword research tools help you find the top-performing keywords in your niche along with the keyword difficulty, monthly search volume, and organic click-through rate. 

    1- Keyword Sheeter

    Keyword Sheeter is the best tool to pull thousands of Google Search Predictions. All you need to do is enter one or more seed keywords and click on “Sheet Keywords”. 

    Its positive and negative filter allows you to enter a term that you want to be included or excluded from the list. For example, if you add “how” in the “positive filter”, it will only show queries that contain the word “how”. The negative filter is just the opposite. It will exclude the terms you enter. 

    2- Keyword Surfer

    Keyword Surfer is a free Chrome extension that displays estimated monthly search volumes for each query typed into Google. 

    You can select your preferred location to see local search volumes. You can also choose to turn global search volumes on or off. 

    Keyword Surfer also shows similar keywords on the right-hand side of the search results along with the estimated monthly search volume. 

    3- QuestionDB

    QuestionDB enables you to find hundreds of questions (keywords) that people are asking about a specific topic. As of now, it pulls the questions from Reddit. 

    This is helpful when writing blog posts, as it enables you to find and answer similar questions in one content.  

    Bonus – Free Keyword Research Example Sheet

    Here’s the link to my keyword research sheet for you. Feel free to use it as a template when doing keyword research for your business. This will give you a better way to store keywords and save your time at the same time. 

    Things To Consider When Choosing a Keyword

    Now that you have an extensive list of keywords, it’s time to narrow down your results further. You would want to keep only the best keywords to increase the chances of ranking on top of search results. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a keyword. 

    1- Relevancy

    There should be relevancy, search intent should match what you are looking to promote. You would not want to drive tons of traffic that don’t convert. 

    2- Search Volume

    Avoid high-volume keywords because they are highly competitive, choose medium comp keywords, and focus on long-tail, look for keywords where you can acquire featured snippet real estate. 

    3- Voice Search

    Look for voice search focussed keywords. Also, look for keywords where you can rank your videos because the future is voice search, so videos and question keywords (long-tail) will matter the most.

    4- Organic Click-Through Rate

    Check the estimated clicks you’re going to get if you rank #1 for certain keywords. You can get an estimate of organic CTR through Ahrefs or Moz Pro. Just enter the keyword in the tool and it will return with details, such as search volume and estimated organic CTR. 

    5- Keyword Difficulty

    Keyword difficulty represents how difficult it is to rank for that specific keyword. It is scored from 0-100 (with 0 being the easiest to rank for while 100 being the most difficult). The higher the KD is, the harder it is to rank for that keyword. 

    6- Featured Snippet

    You need to find if there’s a chance of getting featured in the snippet. That’s how you’ll be found in voice search. Besides, it will boost your brand awareness. Just type your keyword in Google and check if there’s a featured snippet for it or not. If yes, then you have a chance of ranking on position zero (aka featured snippet). 

    FAQs Related To Keyword Research

    1 – Why do we do keyword research?

    Keyword research helps identify the terms people are entering in the search engines to find products or services similar to yours. We also do keyword research to later incorporate them in our website to increase the chances of ranking on the top of search results. 

    2 – Are Keywords Important?

    Yes, keywords are important. They help you increase your site’s visibility for relevant search queries. 

    3 – Where to use keywords for SEO?

    It is essential to use keywords in the page title, meta descriptions, URL, subheadings, content, images (ALT Text tag), and anchor text. 

    4 – How many keywords should be on a page?

    While there’s no specific number, but the keyword density should be anywhere between 1-3%. If your content is of 1,000 words. You can use your keywords 10-30 times (count each word of your keyword as a separate term) in your post.

    5 – What do you do after keyword research?

    Once you’ve completed the keyword research, start optimizing your content with the most relevant keywords. Additionally, create new content revolving around those keywords. 

    Don’t Wait! Start Your SEO Keyword Research

    Keyword research, when done right, will increase your chances of ranking on the top of the SERPs. Start by establishing your seed keywords. Use Google and YouTube to suggest finding keywords that people search for. 

    Relevancy should be the first thing to be considered when choosing a keyword. Use a mix of head and long-tail keywords in your content. Include question-based keywords to rank for voice search. Use keyword suggestion tools to find monthly search volume and estimated clicks for your keywords. 

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