Keyword Research for SEO: The Definitive 2021 Guide

Talk about SEO and one of the first topics likely to come up is keyword research. And with good reason. Small businesses who ignore this won’t make an impact with their digital marketing. Doing effective keyword research is STILL how you get your website to the top of Google’s results pages.

Also, if you’ve done it in the past, remember it’s actually a continuous process as part of Search Engine Optimisation. Keyword research is all about your audience and their preferences and needs may change over time. In addition, when search engines adjust their algorithms, it could influence how effective your keyword usage is. So, for newbies and everyone else, here’s what you need to know about this topic in 2021.

What is Keyword Research?

If you’re serious about optimising your website so it will be discovered by online browsers, you need to use relevant keywords in your content. Keyword research tells you how your audience talks about and searches for information relating to your industry.

Keyword research can provide you with single words or short phrases.

Why Do You Need Keyword Research?

With SEO keyword research showing you how people research your niche, it’s often the first step for marketing campaigns. It’s also the foundation of many SEO strategies.

A main focus is to create content that naturally contains these words, so search engines will know your pages are relevant to people’s searches. When you get noticed more, you’ll improve your search engine rankings.

However, the information is valuable for other aspects of advertising campaigns too. For example, using keywords as clues, you can pick blog content topics that are more relevant to your audience’s needs. This increases the chances of engagement with them. The research also helps you understand your audience better and this insight you can use elsewhere, such as email campaigns. 

Where to Use Your Keywords

As mentioned, content on your website is one of the most important applications for keywords you discover through research. It’s also vital to use these phrases and words in the right places. Apart from the text on the page—where you should use it as anchor text—also use it in these areas:

Now how do you research these keywords that will be the key to successful marketing?

Example of keyword usage in meta tags

How to Find the Right Keywords for SEO Purposes

There are different methods and strategies to find the best keywords for your specific business.

Know Your Industry

A first step in discovery is a manual process. The goal is simply to create a list, using methods like:

  • As an expert in your niche, write down terms, words and phrases you consider to be relevant to your brand or website.
  • Type in your industry or one of the relevant phrases on websites, such as Wikipedia or Reddit. See what words, topics and phrases others use when discussing your niche.
  • Start typing in your industry, a phrase or your product in Google’s search bar and see what the search engine’s suggested searches are.

Take note that this shouldn’t be your final list of keywords. You’ll likely need SEO tools to make this list work for you.

Using Keyword Tools

You’ll find both free and paid keyword research tools these days. Google has its own free keyword planner. Most of them are user friendly, so you can try them even if you’re new at this.

Screenshot from

Type in your industry or one of the words or phrases you already have on your list. Now, these tools will provide you with a long list of keyword ideas. This data can reflect information like:

  • Which words and phrases your audience uses when they browse online.
  • Which terms people search the most, helping you identify popular keywords easily.
  • Information about your competitors. You can see which keywords they use. This helps you understand your niche better, because chances are your leading competitors already did lots of research on which phrases are most relevant. So, use that to your advantage. You’ll also use this knowledge when you start streamlining your keyword list, as discussed below.
  • What advertisers pay for an ad click related to that keyword. It’s expressed as CPC (Cost Per Click). This helps you gauge the value of a certain keyword.

Identifying the Best Keywords for Your Purpose

These research methods will leave you with a long list of keywords and phrases to use. However, don’t try and use all of them. It’s impractical to incorporate everything into your content. Also, you can filter that list to obtain a shorter, more dynamic list that has a better chance of getting good results.

For this process, it helps to understand certain terms:

  • Search volume: The number of times per month people searched that specific keyword.
  • Keyword difficulty: How difficult it is for your content to start ranking for that keyword. If many competitors already use and rank for that keyword, it will take more effort to outperform them.
  • Long tail keywords: Usually phrases of four words or more. They’re more specific in intent and less competitive, so it’s easier to rank for. Long tail keywords tend to convert better, however, they have less search volume.
Screenshot from

Your next step in keyword research—and to make sure it benefits your SEO process—is to pick the best keywords, using these strategies:

  • Find a balance between search volume and difficulty: If you use the most searched for phrases and can start ranking for them, you’ll draw more traffic. However, pick high volume with lower difficulty to give yourself a better chance to outperform the competition.
  • Use keywords your competitors don’t rank for: Knowing what your competitors are using will tell you which keywords aren’t focused on yet. Ranking for those will be easier than trying to beat competitors that already rank for very popular phrases.
  • Consider your region: If you hope to draw traffic from your immediate environment, use regions such as your state or city when using the keyword tools. This will be more relevant to your niche audience than using data that applies to a national or global audience.
  • Use keywords with relevant intent: Use keywords that are relevant to the purpose of your website. Categories of intent can be informational or commercial. For example, if you’re selling a certain product, use keywords relating to those products, not how to make such a product. You want to attract people who want to buy, not manufacture.
  • Pick the RIGHT long tail keywords: Find the phrases that represent your audience’s needs. ‘Where to buy a winter jacket’ makes sense for an online retailer, while ‘how to wash a winter jacket’ is more relevant to a laundry service.

Based on this data and considerations, pick the keywords that have the most potential of drawing the audience you’re after, without making it too difficult for your pages to rank. 

You can see that picking the best keywords from your research requires you to know your industry and your audience.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot you can do to optimise your website yourself but understand that this article is only a simplified representation of what keyword research entails. To ensure optimal results in visitor numbers, engagement and bottom line for your business, it’s worth partnering with experts in the field.

Digital Insider offers a comprehensive SEO service and thanks to our knowledge of implementing keywords correctly, our clients see positive results. For some this means new user numbers increasing by as much as 60%. Want this type of benefit for your business? Talk to your dedicated digital marketing agency on 0459 845 633 or request your unique strategy online today.

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