Keyword research is the foundation for every new website I build (and the first pillar of my content marketing strategy), but many people find it to be a bit scary. And I can see why! Here’s how Wikipedia defines Keyword Research:

Keyword research is a practice search engine optimization (SEO) professionals use to find and research alternative search terms that people enter into search engines while looking for a similar subject. Search engine optimization professionals research additional keywords, which they use to achieve better rankings in search engines. Once they find a niche keyword, they expanded on it to find similar keywords. Keyword suggestion tools usually aid the process, like the Google Adwords Keyword Planner, which offers a thesaurus and alternative keyword suggestions or by looking into Google Suggest.

Clear as mud, right? Let me get to my definition of keyword research and hopefully you’ll see a difference.

In this article, I’ll cover:

  • My definition of Keyword Research
  • The Four Benefits of Keyword Research
  • My Favorite Keyword Research Tools

The Playing In Traffic Meaning of Keyword Research

Keyword research is finding terms and phrases that are more likely to bring visitors to your blog. Pretty straightforward. You want eyes on your website. Finding the right keywords helps your website to show up in google results. People go to google, search for things, and find your site. Easy peasy.

Keyword Research Flow

So, there’s got to be more to it, right? Yup, you have to find the right keywords to target. For any topic you search, there are going to be a lot of variants or versions of your search term.

For example, you may want to write about dogs. A lot of people write about dogs though, so keyword research might point you towards some related keywords that you’ll be able to rank for much faster.

A quick search shows me the following keywords related to ‘dog’ that will have you showing up sooner in the google results.

  • small dog breeds
  • dog whistle
  • dog games
  • portuguese water dog

The list goes on and on, but that’s a good thing. That means you have plenty of keywords to write about!

The Four Benefits of Keyword Research

I touched on the benefits of keyword research a little bit in the last section, but here are the main reasons you should be doing keyword research in 2018:

Four Benefits of Keyword Research

  • Gets eyeballs on your site much sooner
  • Makes your life easier
  • Provides you with topics to write about
  • You can use related keywords to boost rankings

Getting Eyeballs On Your Site Sooner

When you do keyword research, what you’re really doing is finding keywords with low competition. This means if you create a great piece of content on that keyword, you have a good chance of ranking for it in google and other search engines.

This means that people who use google (umm, just about everyone?) will have a better chance of finding your blog when searching topics to read about.

This targeted approach will get eyeballs on your site much sooner than if you just write about whatever pops in your head.

Making Your Life Easier

This also makes your life easier. You will now have a list of keywords to target and a plan on how to use them.

Trust the process. If you do your keyword research and build great content, the eyeballs will come.

More Topics to Write About

Keyword research gives you things to write about! Target lower competition keywords and write, write, write.

Then, find some related keywords and write some more!

Using Related Content To Boost Rankings

This is something that most bloggers don’t do. When you write a new post related to a post you’ve already written, link to it from the new blog post.

This helps a lot.

Really, link your posts wherever it is natural. And look for opportunities to write related content whenever you can.

These internal links do two things. They help your readers find other content on your site. They help the search engines find other content on your site.

Both are important.

My Favorite Keyword Research Tools

There a lot of keyword research tools out there. Some are free, some are paid, some are good, and some are bad. You need to find something that works with your goals and is within your budget.

Here are three keyword research tools that I recommend:

Keyword Research Tools

SEMrush – The All-in-one Marketing Toolkit

SEMrush is a feature-rich marketing toolkit that starts out at $99.95/month. You can research keywords, find related keywords and even scout out your competition to see what keywords they’re ranking for.

SEMrush for Keyword Research

You can sign up for a free account though to get a taste of what they offer. That will get you:

  • 10 Searches Per Day. You can look at 10 different reports each day. If you were to type in a keyword into the search bar then click the traffic number under the Organic Search section, this would be 2 searches used. Note: The entry level paid account (Pro level) provides you with 3,000 searches per day.
  • 10 Results Per Search. If you were to go into a report (Organic Positions, Backlinks, Advertising Research, or Keyword), you would only be able to review the first 10 results. The Pro level package allows for 10,000 results per search.
  • 1 Project. A project basically serves as a domain (your url), which can be accessed by all of the tools that SEMrush offers. The Pro level package includes 5 projects.
  • 10 Keywords To Track. This refers to the Position Tracking tool, which allows you to enter a set domain (your project), a set list of competitors to compare to the main domain, a set list of keywords to track, along with a set location and device type. This then provides updating ranking data every 24-48 hours. The Pro level package allows for 500 keywords.
  • 100 Pages to Crawl. This refers to the Site Audit tool, which allows you to crawl a given domain, subdomain or subfolder and receive a technical audit of your website. This provides you with a health score of your website, and a list of issues it discovered. Under the free account, you’re limited to crawling 100 pages. The Pro level package allows for you to crawl up to 100,000 pages per month.

KWFinder – Find long tail keywords with low SEO difficulty

KWFinder provides Keyword Research, Search Engine Ranking Position (SERP, where you show up in google results) analysis, Rank Tracking, and Backlink Analysis starting at $29.90/month.

KWFinder for Keyword Research

Like with SEMrush, you can perform a few searches for free:

  • 5 Searches Per Day
  • 50 Keyword Suggestions Per Search
  • 100 Backlinks Per Day
  • 25 Keyword Suggestion Results Per Day

Serpstat – The growth hacking tool for Content Marketing

Serpstat provides Keyword Research, Position Tracking, Backlinks Analysis, Site Audits, and Competitor Research. It’s also the tool that I currently use for my keyword research. Pricing starts at $19/month, which makes a great price for those just getting started without skimping on the features.

Serpstat for Keyword Research

Like SEMrush and KWFinder, you can play around for free. You can see:

  • Ten keywords for a given search
  • Ten search suggestions
  • Ten top pages for the search term
  • Ten top pages for your domain

UPDATE: Learn how to use Serpstat here.

What To Do After You Build A Keyword List

We’ll cover that in future posts, but the next step is to create content. Not just any content, but great content. The best piece of content for your keyword.


In this article, I’ve covered my definition of keyword research, the four benefits of keyword research, and my favorite keyword research tools. Soon, we’ll cover how to use these keyword research tools and get you on your way to getting eyeballs on your blog.

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