Keyword Research Basics

Great on-page SEO starts with thorough keyword research. It’s the foundational element to onsite optimization, and if you ignore it, you’re stepping up to the plate with one – maybe even two – strikes against you from the start.



There are scores of ways to research keywords that align well with how and what your ideal user searches within your niche. The problem is that there are so many it can be a bit overwhelming. So where does the responsible marketer whose goal is to grow and expand his or her audience and customer base turn for help? Look no further. Here are a couple quick tips that can help you discover the right keywords for true search engine optimization.


Understand the Basics

Tons of sources out there generate keyword data, but we recommend sticking with keyword planners designed by the power players in search technology. Here are a few we highly recommend checking out.

Google Keyword Planner is typically the best place to start. It was developed with PPC in mind but it’s just as useful for researching organic keywords. Here’s a helpful article on how to properly use the tool.

Keyword Tool is also one of our favorites. They claim to be the best alternative to Google Keyword Planner. For the most part we definitely agree. It always provides a plethora of keywords along with search volume which is extremely useful. We find this one most handy for digging up variations of keywords and figuring out what content to build for our clients. Lastly, its extremely reliable and you can use it without creating an account. Icing on the cake!

SEMrush is last but not least. This one is incredibly powerful for competitive research amongst many other things. Great way to locate keywords you might not be targeting now based on what your competitors are up to. Also a fantastic way to research converting ads and landing page copy.


Go Local

If your business is a traditional brick-and-mortar operation or if you provide services only within a specific geographic area, you need to rank well in local search results. That means coupling keywords with information like your city and even street. You can get as specific as you want with this, but be sure your geographic identifiers are always accompanied by keywords that are popular in searches right now. Remember, you only want to rank for terms with search volume accompanied by buyer’s intent.


Synonyms and Similarities Spell Success

Do not add monotony to your pages by incessantly repeating the same keyword over and over. Again, basic keywords should remain the same, but mixing up the language is a must for both good page ranking and overall readability. Here’s an example:

  • Exciting business opportunities in San Francisco
  • Lucrative business opportunities in San Francisco
  • San Francisco franchise business opportunities


Consistency Is Key

The concept of synonyms also works well here. Your core message should be reflected in your keywords as well as in your URLs, meta descriptions, title tags, and H1 tags. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need exact-matching keywords in all of these places. In fact, the top search sites prefer you don’t. Rich, well-delivered keywords that capture the spirit of your message without repeating the exact same phrases over and over is the goal here, but all must agree with your core brand message.


Long-Tail Keywords

You just saw a few examples of this above. Long-tail keywords are the ones that hone in on very specific search criteria. Want to emphasize the location of your business? How about the services you offer? Launching a whole new product? In all of these cases, long-tail keywords are your friend. They pinpoint precise traffic and help you focus on people who are most likely to want to interact with your brand.


Use Keywords Proportionately

So, you’ve done your research. You have some AWESOME keywords, and now you want to use them. Just a few words of advice about that…

For starters, don’t overdo it. Maintain a keyword density of no more than 1.4-1.5 percent. Although “keyword density” used to be a thing years ago but now its mainly about how well does it read? At the end of the day you just want it to sound natural. If you do that, you’ll be a-ok!

Also, be sure to develop keywords that are page-specific, especially if you market a variety of products and services, and use them at about a 1.5 percent density, as well.


Switch Things up a Bit

If you haven’t done any keyword research in a while, it’s probably time to go back and see what people searching within your niche are searching for right now. When you have discovered a few current trends, amend or add to your content to reflect those changes. It’s a sure-fire way to stay relevant, increase traffic and be more visible in search results.


Final Takeaway

A winning combination of good keywords and the proper use and placement of those keywords is a formula for real success in your SEO efforts. Need help figuring out where to start? Need some good advice? We’re here to help. Click here to schedule a quick discovery call with us.


Want to work with us?

Schedule a Free Consultation