Why keyword research is important for SEO: workflow and best practices

why is keyword reseach important blog header

If you’re part of any marketing groups, you’ve probably heard discussions around keyword research. But have you ever wondered why keyword research is important? We’ll explore these questions in this post.

  • What are the benefits of researching search terms?
  • Can it save you time, money, and effort?
  • What is the best way to research search terms?

A common misconception is that keyword research is only helpful for SEO; this couldn’t be further from the truth. The benefits of keyword research extend beyond SEO. So looking at it solely from an SEO perspective would mean not seeing the whole picture. Keywords have many applications in marketing, social media, business, and content creation.

Let’s start with the obvious questions and benefits, and then we’ll get into indirect ones.

What is keyword research for SEO?

Keyword research is the process of finding relevant, business-related keywords that people might search for on Google. It’s essential to succeed in SEO because if you don’t know what keywords they’re using, you can’t reach them. With a solid keyword research process, you can boost the visibility of your blog posts, websites, and other digital content.

Why is keyword research important?

It is crucial for your SEO effort because it saves you a great deal of money and energy. Plus, a good keyword strategy will get you more traffic and give you insight into what people search for on search engines like Google and Bing. You’ll be able to see which keyword phrases have high search traffic and competition. 

Invest resources wisely

Using the monthly search volume data, you can forecast how many clicks each content will get. It helps you determine where you should invest your resources. For instance, if no one searches for “blue clouds in a bottle,” then there is no point in creating a full-blown guide for that. Word of caution: take the search volume and difficulty data with a grain of salt because they are just estimations by third-party tools. Zero volume phrases in SEO tools may have search volume in reality. Use them for directions.

Get found online

Keywords are the words and phrases that your audience is searching for in search engines, so it’s important to know what those words are and how they relate to the products or services you’re selling. Optimizing your website for the right words will help you get found in search results and bring you more traffic, getting you more leads and ultimately more sales.

Content for each stage of the buying cycle

Use keyword research to identify content for each stage of the buying cycle. Your audience will appreciate content that’s useful throughout the entire sales process. 

Many people make the mistake of creating content that only targets the purchase stage. But you need to create content that gets new customers if you want to grow your customer base.

Consider creating content based on the buyer’s journey with a content bucket approach. In other words, you need to produce a range of content to move your customers through the different stages of the buying cycle.

SEO keyword research for buying cycle example

 Identify seasonality and trends

Research helps you to identify any seasonality and trends in the business. For instance, if you have an e-commerce store selling snow gear, you can look at trends and allocate a budget. Several SEO tools offer Google trends data as part of their reporting.

Seasonality is why keyword research is important in SEO

Keep up with the latest trends and changes in your industry with search insight. You can get insight into emerging trends in your niche market by tracking search terms. Search insight is an asset for any business because it can provide strategic direction to inform your company’s marketing strategy. The information is not limited to SEO campaigns, your PPC advertising campaigns, and SEO content optimization campaigns, and other marketing initiatives can also benefit from this.

Identify pain points

When it comes to selling, it’s all about solving problems. By understanding the challenges your customers face, you can position your brand as the solution. You can offer solutions in the form of content or products. It’s the best way to build trust with your audience.

How to do SEO keyword research

Here is the keyword research and content creation workflow that I use for my SEO strategy. I use some AI content creation tools to cut down the manual work and speed up my workflow.

It’s pretty straightforward; you just need to figure out what information your customers need at each stage of the buying cycle and then create content for them. For me, it works like a charm!

Keyword research in SEO content creation workflow

Topic Research: After identifying your niche or industry, the first step is to identify some high-level topics on that subject. Don’t worry about search volume or keyword difficulty at this point. Use tools like Buzzsumo or Writerzen to generate topic ideas if you need help generating topic ideas.

Topic Competition Analysis: The next step is to analyze these topic ideas to determine the level of competition. Look for something easier if all the keyword suggestions are too competitive. Remember to pick a topic and keywords that are relevant to your business. Don’t blindly go after popular keywords or low competition terms that are not relevant to your business. You should avoid highly competitive topics unless you have the resources to compete. Keep an eye on your competitors; look at how they are covering topics and establishing domain authority. Be strategic when choosing your target topic.

Keyword List Generation:

Once you choose your target topics, plug these as seed keywords into a keyword research tool to get keyword ideas. For this step, you can use free tools like Google Keyword Planner or premium SEO tools like Ahref or Semrush. Check out Ubersuggest or Keysearch if you’re looking for some affordable keyword research tools. Based on your seed keywords, these tools will give you a list of relevant keywords that you can target. Make sure to choose keywords related to your service offering and run it through the keyword research tool. Your final list should have a mix of head terms and long-tail keywords covering the entire buyer’s journey.

Keyword Clustering: The next step is to cluster related keywords together so you can use them throughout the content rather than using one target keyword per page. Usually, keyword clustering tools scan live SERP results to see which queries are similar. Clustering is effective because it groups keywords with the same search intent.

Site Architecture Creation: This step involves designing how users will navigate your site and identifying the most important pages. You’ll also see the keyword clusters from the previous step, but with an emphasis on user experience.

Content Writing: After you’ve planned the site architecture, it’s time to start writing content. Pass the keyword data and content brief to your team of content writers. Your content brief should mention the related subtopics, internal linking strategy, search intent, and other instructions for the editorial team.

SEO Editing: This step includes formatting the text to optimize readability while also adding relevant keyword mentions for search engine visibility. I have a detailed post on the SEO content editing process.

Measurement: Use analytics to track how well your website is doing in organic traffic and search rankings. Use a combination of tools like Google Analytics, Google search console, and other keyword rank tracking tools to identify what works and what doesn’t. You can also use onsite surveys to check if you’re meeting the search intent.

Content Optimization: After measurement comes your optimizing content. Use the insights from your measurement stage to make changes to your content. Add missing keywords and relevant topics to create the best content out there.

Other considerations when choosing keywords

Consider the SERP landscape 

It’s essential to consider the organic search results page (SERP) when choosing your search term. For some queries, you’ll get a knowledge graph, paid results, and rich results.

And for some results, the user might find the answer without ever clicking a link. Crowded SERPs will result in a low click-through rate unless you use the correct content type.

Importance of keyword research and SERP features

SERP features will also give you a sense of the type of content you should be creating. 

Examples:

  • If videos are ranking high in the SERP, you might want to consider creating videos to take advantage of this.
  • If the search results have a map pack, then the intent might be local. Similarly, an answer pack generally indicated an informational query.

Optimizing for voice search

As voice search becomes more popular, answering questions with your blog content will only grow in importance. With manual search, people tend to use more keywords and type more efficiently, whereas they use more descriptive questions with voice search. As a result, search queries will become more conversational and long-tailed. To adapt to this shift, long-tail keywords and frequently asked questions should be part of your content strategy.

Frase for question research

Optimizing for mobile search

The use of mobile devices for internet access is skyrocketing. More people getting their hands on smartphones will only fuel this trend. Keyword research tools like Semrush will let you filter the list of keywords by the device type. 

Semrush mobile search

Search intent

Understanding the potential customer’s intent is the key to successful keyword research. 

Knowing the search intent will allow you to create targeted and relevant content that addresses their needs. Google classifies user interactions into four groups, called micro-moments. By creating content that satisfies the search intent, you can reduce bounce rates and increase conversion rates.

Google micro moments to be considered in your keyword research process
  • ‘I want to know’ moments lead to fact-finding.
  • ‘I want to do’ moments indicate that a task requires assistance.
  • ‘I want to go’ moments usually result in searching for events and locations.
  • ‘I want to buy’ moments happen when a person considers purchasing something.

Frequently asked questions

Are keywords still important? (Topic coverage vs. keyword density)

Keywords still matter for SEO, but reusing the exact search term multiple times to increase keyword usage and density doesn’t work anymore and might even hurt your results. 
Google can understand topics and sub-topics, thanks to natural language processing. A good keyword research process includes researching topics. The more you write about a topic, the higher your authority will be for that subject. When your cover a topic in-depth, you’ll naturally include long-tail keywords and variations of your focus search term. Focussing on topic coverage can help you rank better with less work and without sacrificing quality content. The topic targeting approach might go against the traditional process of choosing keywords based on search volume and keyword difficulty.