How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: The Complete Beginner’s Guide


Keyword research is one of the most important aspects of SEO, yet it’s often overlooked by beginners. Proper keyword research will allow you to identify high-traffic, low-competition keywords that you can realistically rank for. This will set your SEO strategy up for success from the start.

If you’re new to keyword research and you want to know about it, I recommend you start from The Ultimate Guide to Keyword Research For Beginners as it explains everything you need to know about keywords before conducting your research.

In this complete guide, I’ll walk you through every step of the keyword research process. By the end, you’ll know exactly how to uncover lucrative keyword opportunities tailored to your business. Sound good? Let’s get started!

Choose Your Preferred Keyword Research Tool

The first step is choosing a keyword research tool. There are plenty of options out there, both free and paid. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Google Keyword Planner (free) – This tool comes directly from Google and integrates directly with AdWords. It provides search volume data and basic competition metrics.
  • SEMrush (paid) – One of the most powerful paid tools. Provides extensive volume, competition, and ranking data.
  • Ahrefs (paid) – Similar to SEMrush with tons of data. Arguably has the largest keyword database.
  • Moz Keyword Explorer (free & paid) – A solid free option with paid upgrades available. Good middle ground between data and ease of use.
  • UberSuggest (free) – Easy to use free tool by Neil Patel. Provides basic volume and competition data.
  • KWFinder (free) – Another easy to use free alternative. Results aren’t as expansive as paid tools.

I recommend starting with Google Keyword Planner or Moz Keyword Explorer to get your feet wet. Then consider investing in a paid tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs once you start getting serious about keyword research.

Do Some Preliminary Research

Before diving into keyword tools, do some basic preliminary research around your business’s core focus keywords. You can start by brainstorming all the terms and phrases you’d expect your target audience to be searching for.

Also take a look at your competitors’ websites and see what keywords they are optimizing and ranking for. Their existing rankings can give you ideas for easier-to-rank long tail variations.

Finally, you can use the autocomplete feature in Google Search to see what search terms are most common for your business. Just start typing a core keyword into Google and look at the suggested phrases that pop up.

By doing this upfront research, you’ll go into your keyword tools with some existing seed keywords in mind. This will help surface more relevant and high-potential suggestions.

Generate a Wide List of Keyword Ideas

Now it’s time to let the keyword tools do their magic. Here’s the process for generating a large list of possible keywords to research further:

  1. Take your existing seed keywords and plug them into your chosen tool one by one.
  2. Pay attention to keyword suggestions and related terms that come up. Add anything relevant to your list.
  3. Filter keyword results by monthly search volume ranges to prioritize terms with sufficient search traffic.
  4. Use filters like ad group ideas and long tail keywords to find hidden gems.
  5. Modify your seed keywords into question format like “how to X” or “X review” for more suggestions.
  6. Rinse and repeat across all your seed keywords.
  7. Export your keyword list and remove exact match duplicates.

The goal here is to come away with at least 100+ keyword ideas spanning core keywords, long tails, and questions/answers. More is always better at this stage.

Do In-Depth Competition Analysis

Now you need to dig into your keyword list and research the difficulty of ranking for each term. Use your keyword tool’s competition metrics to identify low, medium, and high competition keywords.

Low competition keywords will be easier to rank for, while high competition ones will take more effort. Look at criteria like:

  • Top 10 ranking domain strength
  • Search volume trends
  • Cost per click trends
  • Number of ranking results

Also search for each keyword manually and look at what types of content is currently on page one. The goal is to find keywords where you can create content better than what already ranks.

By doing thorough competition analysis, you’ll narrow your list down to a subset of keywords providing the best SEO potential.

Identify Top Keywords to Target

Almost done! The last step is reviewing your filtered keyword list and picking your top targets to pursue.

Keep your business goals, resources, and capabilities in mind here. Identify about 10-20 keywords that meet the following criteria:

  • Sufficient monthly search volume (500+ is a good minimum)
  • Low-medium competition that you can outrank
  • Relevance to products, services, content, etc.
  • Alignment with topics your audience cares about

These keywords will serve as the foundation of your SEO strategy, so choose ones with care. Be sure to also pick a mix of short and long tail variations when possible.

Track Keyword Rankings Over Time

After identifying your core target keywords, you’ll want to track their progress over time. Set up rank tracking through a tool like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz.

Look at your top target keywords each month and take notes on any ranking fluctuations, either positive or negative. Use this data to adjust your keyword targeting over time.

You may decide to shift focus if you can’t gain traction with certain hard-to-rank keywords initially. Tracking ranks will prevent you from wasting effort on keywords that aren’t moving the needle.

Revisit Keyword Research Regularly

SEO is an ongoing process, not a one time effort. As such, you’ll want to revisit your keyword research every 3-6 months.

New keywords related to trending topics will emerge over time. Competition also changes as new content enters the SERPs. By refreshing your research, you can capitalize on new opportunities.

Tweak your target keywords, expand into new semantic variations, and double down on terms showing positive momentum. Regular research will keep your SEO strategy aligned with the current search landscape.

My Final Words: Now i guess you know how to conduct keyword research for SEO! With the right keywords as your foundation, you can build an effective SEO strategy that delivers sustainable traffic and conversions. Keyword research isn’t fast or flashy, but it’s the bedrock of search engine optimization.

Now that you know how to tap into keyword tools to find low competition, high-value targets for your brand – it’s time to put these tips into action! Be patient and diligent with the process, and you’ll see the long term payoff.

Here’s to doing effective keyword research and climbing up those SERPs! Let me know if you have any other SEO-related topics you’d like me to cover. I’m always happy to help fellow beginners build their search visibility. Onwards and upwards!!!


Creativity Unleasher: Empowering through content, and entrepreneurial wizardry. I pour my heart and soul into creating content that not only informs but also inspires and empowers readers.

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