Keyword Research Explained

Keyword Research – Explained!

You are most likely to be familiar with the need for your site to be optimized for search engines; should your own business or organization has a website. Truth to be told, Google scores over 100 billion search queries per month; that is a whopping number created by users worldwide searching from everything from “toothpaste” to “McKenzie agencies”.

So, for a website to have a chance in such world by showing in the organic results of such searches; then such website’s pages need to be properly optimized for the keywords that are most relevant for one’s business or products.

Keyword Research – Word by Word

Keyword research revolves around researching and choosing words as well as phrases that users will most likely search for and that is at any given search engine; related to one’s products, business or services. For example, if a recruitment agency is located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, then it would make sense for a user to search for “Dubai recruitment agency” and find such recruitment agency in Google’s organic search listings.

However, it is not as simple of a task to just choose appropriate keywords for a site, there needs to be a proper optimization of a site as well or else such site will have a very small chance of being presented by Google to users performing the search. Let’s find out more about the best ways to tackle this, in the next sections of the article.

The Value of Keyword Research – Tops All Other Elements of SEO

There are so many different channels really in order to generate a legit income online, but at the top of every successful method is keyword search. When developing a website, one should know what phrases and words really important to rank for. If the wrong set of keywords is chosen for a site and then the site is optimized for those keywords that don’t really relate to the business in question and its offerings, then traffic can be generated to such site but unqualified traffic for that matter.

This is somehow dim unfortunately both to site owners as well as site visitors that landed on sites that didn’t quite match what they were mainly looking for. For such users; the “back button” is only one click away and a high bounce rate is certainly guaranteed at most times.

By researching market’s keyword demand for a website, a learning experience can be generated as it’s not always about getting visitors to a site, but about getting the right kind of visitors .

On the other hand, when a user’s search lands him/her on a website with content that matches closely the service or product or information that they were seeking, then they are obviously more likely to stick around, dig deeper and convert to a customer in a best case scenario. This means that ranking for the right keywords can either make or break a website.

The Battle of Popular Terms Against Long-Tail Keywords

Popular and long-tail keywords battle

Popular search terms that are frequently searched for by users, like for example “recruitment agency”, make up close to 30% of the searches of users.  So a business could rank number one for a popular search term, but the reality is that only one website out of 59,500,000 will actually be number one!

So, narrowing down and making the keyword list more specific for a website owner/developer is quite important in the process; for example, changing “recruitment agency” to “Dubai recruitment agency” or “recruitment agency in Dubai” would narrow down the number of competitors, a great deal, for that keyword.

Long-Tail keywords, however, are responsible for the 70% of searches. These are the searches that users carry out, towards the end of their buying cycle typically to make their decision or purchase and therefore are a bit longer with more specific terms. An example could be “recruitment agency in Dubai for blue collars”; such users actually make better leads and convert more easily if a service or product closely matches their search.

The Mechanism Behind Keyword Research

Keyword research is generally performed rather early in the content creation process phase (for a new site) or at the beginning of an SEO push for an existing site. Furthermore, researching the main keywords should be on your to-do list, before starting adding page or blog post to your website.

Several keyword lists will be generated for any given site, these may include a list of the main whole purpose or even the industry specialization of such site and there will mostly be separate keyword lists that revolve around each separate product or service on such site.
Each page in a website can be optimized only for 1 to 2 (max) keyword phrases; which makes it necessary to generate additional pages of content about particularly competitive keywords aimed for a site.

Keywords – Are They Really that Difficult to Achieve?

It is important to not only comprehend the demand of a given term or phrase, but also the work required in order to achieve huge rankings. If well known brands take the top 10 results and another website is just starting out on the web, the uphill battle of ranking can last for years of effort and this is why it is important to understand keyword difficulty.

The more difficult keywords you pick, the more efforts are required.

This fact doesn’t mean that you should avoid choosing difficult keywords; it means that whenever you select difficult keywords you should understand the situation well and all its consequences. High-difficulty means more efforts, costs and longer time as well.
Difficulty is usually measure with a scale of 100. We will discuss later some tools that are commonly used to measure the keyword difficulty.

In SEO; INTENT Overpowers Keywords

Keyword IntentsPolished Google that is in action nowadays is different from what it used to be, it’s handy and it understands topics and how users search for those topics like no other time. Therefore, in order to succeed under this new Google, sites have to be brilliant and handy similarly. Often than anticipated, the highest volume keywords are not bringing in the best traffic out there and that’s where intent comes in.
The key to organic search success under Google is to understand exactly what Google, in this new era, is starting to understand: Intent. Keyword intent mainly provides a basic overview of the differences between keywords as well as keyword intent while using clear and simple examples. By developing keywords relevant to the search query, they will remain relevant even when search engines change their algorithms.

We can group visitor intents in three main categories:

Navigational keywords: These are the keywords that the visitor inputs to locate a specific page, website or well-known brand. Site owners usually target this kind of keywords are trying to find a good rank for their website.

“Wordpress download”, “Paypal”, or “Web Hosting Talk”

Informational keywords: This is one of the dominating categories, it is mostly used to locate a piece of information that the user is missing, it forms the majority of the searches. Users here are addressing answers to their questions or looking forward to learn something new.

“Web hosting reviews”, “how to lose fat”, or “PHP tutorials free”

Transactional keywords: Also referred to as high commercial intent keywords (mainly for transactional searches), are similar to invitations from prospective clients, whereby clients have money in their hands (or burning holes in their pockets), and want a specific item at the moment. This type of keywords is mostly used in the PPC campaign as they are mostly highly competitive to be achieved only with search engines optimization.

“Website design quotes”, “Buy smartphones online”, or “Subscribe to iStockphoto plan”

Any keyword you will select will fit in one of the main categories mentioned above. You should select your keywords carefully to get the targeted visitors which convert and avoid getting high bonus rate.

Keyword Density

Keyword density is the percentage of occurrence of a keyword in a particular content. From SEO point of view, it is quite important to strike an optimal keyword density in a page. If this percentage is not met; Google may have difficulty to understand the page’s focus and not publish on the top SERPs.

After a lot of onsite abusing cases have been recorded, Google released the Panda Algorithm, and keyword stuffing was addressed since that big trend. So, stuffing your page with keywords will impose the risk of over-optimization as well as getting penalized.

Now the recommended keyword density range is from 2-4%, but once again, creation of valuable content for users is a must.

For a given key phrase:
Keyword Density Percentage = (Nkr /Tkn) x Nwp x 100
Nkr = total times you have repeated a specific key-phrase
Nwp = the total count of the words in your key-phrase
Tkn = your total word count

LSI Keywords

LSI Keywords

These are essentially keywords related to the keywords being searched for, and Google operates in this area through using a system known as LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing). It is based on user search patterns as well as behavior, how one keyword search is usually linked to another keyword search. Google has yet confirmed that by using more LSI keywords, a page typically ranks better, and thus it makes sense because people are searching for the same keyword in various ways – but a certain page seems to almost always include all the other relevant, and related indexing by LSI.

Examples of LSI keywords that users could search for the same purpose:
“losing upper body fat”, “burn upper body fat”, and “upper body fat reduction”

All these terms revolve around the same idea, and having the variation of such a set in the same content will provide better sense than repeating the one term over and over.

Note: Calculating the keyword density remains the same after considering all the relevant terms as the same term.

Keyword Research – the Best Way to Go With

A basic keyword research tool is all that is needed. However, for deeper knowledge about keyword difficulty` as well as keyword demand the following research sources are recommended, although some of them might incur fees:

Google Adwords Keyword Planner: It is considered the best free keyword research tool which is mainly focusing of PPC campaign, so signing up for Google Adwords account is a”MUST”. It works great for those who want to know the search volume before starting their Local SEO campaign as you can get the search volume even of these small cities.
Bing Keyword Tool: Is Microsoft’s alternative to Google Keyword Planner. Using it, you can know the search volume and how difficult the targeted keyword is to achieve. It is considered the perfect fit if you aim mainly to optimize for Bing.

SEMrush: This tool is slightly different, as it provides you with paid as well as the organic information. You can use it to know the estimated search volume for a particular keyword and also to know what are the keywords which drive traffic to a particular website. The tool is free with some limitations, however signing in is required.

SpyFu: Another internet marketing tool that provides paid and organic information for particular keyword or website, number of clicks as well as keyword’s average daily cost, monthly search volume, and the actual number of advertisers currently bidding on the keyword as well as the actual AdWord ads that are running.

Moz Keyword Difficulty and SERP Analysis Tool: Actually, I consider it as the best one for SEO. Using this powerful tool, You will be able to know the search volumes and the keyword difficulty for the country you target. But, to enjoy this tool, you should be one of the paid MOZ subscribers before you start using it.

Google Analytics: This is basically for checking the visitors that are online on that moment for a certain site – that you have privileges to manage- have searched for and the results might be surprising!

Keywords – Success Far Fetched?

Some firms just charge hundreds of dollars per hour for this type of deep dive around keywords; all to earn competitive advantage in a ferocious market place.

It is a process, and like any other process, it takes time. If all the steps and tools are applied properly, then this process will yield good results just like any other process!


  • Keywords are heart of SEO. If you select wrong keyword and do SEO for that you will not rank. For keyword research you must have proper tools like ahrefs.

  • Great keyword research to write article on keyword research! Nice and detailed post, Hussain. Thanks for compiling!

  • Hi Hussain,
    Found your articles to be very informative
    I liked –
    How much is a keyword worth to your website?
    Your keyword should be relevant to your websites
    content. Understanding which sites already rank
    for your keyword gives insight to the competition
    Googles AdWords Keyword Planner tool is great for
    starting SE) keyword research Set the Match Type
    to Exact and look under Local Monthly Searches
    Great articles.

    • Hi Kathryn,
      Glad you found it informative.
      You are right, the keyword research is the key for getting the converting traffic, and the competition analysis is part of it.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  • Nice post!

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