Step By Step Guide

Keyword research can be used to uncover gaps in the market, what users thinks of your business and also trends. In this insert I will be walking you through the process that I go through when conducting keyword research for a client. I have also included a template for keyword research . This is the same template that I will be using in this tutorial about conducting effective keyword research.

Keyword research is the foundation of an effective campaign

Uncovering the key insights from keyword research is just the first step, the information you will extract should then be used to guide you as a business as to the type of content that you will create for your users, content that will be able to meet their needs throughout their buying phase. Almost every article you have read about SEO says that Keyword research forms the foundation of an effective SEO campaign.

Depending on how competitive the industry is, be prepared to go through large chunks of data.

Keyword Research Tools

There are multiple tools that you can use for Keyword Research, in the table below I have listed some of the free and paid keyword research tools (Please Note That If A Tool Is In Both The Paid And Free Section Then It Means That It Offers A Free Keyword Research Tool With Limited Functionality)

Free and Paid Keyword Research Research Tools

I will be using SEMrush as it offers features which help in saving time such as grouping the keywords for you.

To get the best from this tool you need to search for a one word keyword phrase, for example if you provide digital marketing services and you want to do keyword research on SEO. The best way to get an overall overview of the what users associate the keyword SEO. You will get interesting combinations users are typing when they search on google and this applies to any industry

There are times you will get a search phrase with over 150K keyword suggestions, having to filter all those keywords and grouping them together can be a time consuming task.

Choose Data To Export

Once you have exported the file in a format of your choice(csv, xlsx or csv semicolon), you can now open Google Docs Spreadsheet to import the file containing the keywords.

Please note that you can use any keyword research tool to extract your target keywords and still get the same results, you do not have to use SEMrush.

As you can see at the bottom, if you chose the option to have the keywords grouped for you, then you need to look at the bottom of the workbook as multiple tabs will be created containing the different types of grouped keywords

If you chose the option to have all the keywords grouped before download, then a workbook is created. When you import the keywords, you need to check on the bottom of the workbook to navigate the different grouped keywords. Once you navigate to a grouped keyword group you will see a worksheet like the one below with the following columns, Keyword, Volume, Keyword Difficulty, CPC (USD), Competitive Density, Results, SERP Features.

Keyword Column:

This column contains your keywords list. To get the best from this tool you need to search for a one word phrase for example if you provide digital marketing services and you want to do keyword research on SEO. The best way to get an overall overview of the what users associate the keyword SEO. You will uncover patterns about users that will blow your mind. The insights you will get after sorting these keywords will be worth the time and effort.


This column shows you the average monthly number of searches for that particular keyword. I do want to emphasize the fact that SEMrush gives average searches for a keyword. The average volume should be used as an indication of how popular a keyword is

Keyword Difficulty:

This column contains information about how difficult is it to rank for a particular keyword. The difficulty level is ranked from 0 to 100. The higher the keyword difficulty is, the more difficult it is to rank for that particular keyword in organic search.


CPC or Cost Per Click column will show you the average amount being paid for a particular keyword. This column is very important for organic search(SEO) because it uncovers information such as how relevant a particular keyword is. For Example: The keyword “SEO and Social Media Marketing Services” has a monthly search average volume of 20 searches per month with a CPC (USD) of $149.60. The keyword “SEO” has an average of has an average search volume of 135K per month with a CPC (USD of $16.47. By comparing the 2 keywords, it tells me that businesses are willing to spend a lot of money on a because of intent the user has. It also tells me that If I am a business offering both SEO and Social Media management services, then the keyword with less average searches per month but have a higher CPC, then I want to rank in organic search for that keyword.

Competitive Density:

This metric is similar to the keyword difficulty Metric. The difference between the two is that, the competitive density metric measures the difficulty of ranking for a particular keyword in Pay Per Click. I tend to delete the whole column because it has proven to be inconsistent, for example a keyword can have a Competitive Density of 1 which is the highest it will ever get, and have a $0 CPC. So due to the unreliability this column has provided, I find it useless(for now).


This column shows the number of websites which appear on a Google search when users are searching online.

SERP Features:

This column will show you if there are any SERP Features showing on in organic search like Local Pack, Reviews, Images, Videos, Knowledge Panel or a Featured Snippet. This column will help you in guiding you as to the type of content you should create for that keyword. Lets say under the SERP Features you have a Featured Snippet and Images showing, this tells me how I should create the content around that topic and also to add relevant images to that particular post to increase my chances of getting a Featured Snippet and also to appear in the image carousel.

Sort Keywords by Prefix Keyword And Suffix

So at this point all that we have done is import the keywords and now the real work begins. Below is a link to a template you will use to sort your keywords so that they can start painting a picture of what your users go through.

If we click through to one of the tabs on the worksheet that we want to work with, we need to start making sense of the keywords we have extracted. In order to do that we need to start by sorting the keywords even further. This is achieved by sorting the keywords into 3 values namely Prefix, Keyword and Suffix. The prefix column will contain any words typed by a user before the keyword you are targeting is typed, and the Keyword Tab will contain our target keyword, the suffix column contains and words which appear after the target keyword.

You will start to uncover patterns about how people search, in the example above you can see how a user might start searching from broad keyword like “SEO Services” to more specific phrases like “Best SEO Services For Small Business”. The more you filter these keywords, the clearer the pattern becomes. The best thing about sorting your keywords using this way is that it paints a clear picture of the user journey. You will be able to uncover the pain points users have based on the questions you will uncover from the keyword research.

Depending on how competitive the industry is, be prepared to go through large chunks of data. So now what’s next, you are excited because you have your final keywords that you want to target, the next thing will be coming up with a content strategy based on the keyword research you will have just completed. Uncovering the keywords you want to rank for does not equate to you ranking for those keywords. The keyword research that you complete is meant to guide your business in the type of content which should be created in order for your business to meet the needs of their target market online.

Published On: Jun 24th, 2020 / Categories: Digital Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Marketing Strategy /

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