25th May 2021

The Basics of Keyword Research

It can be difficult to know where to start with keyword research, our short step by step guide helps to break down the process into manageable stages.

Before we get started with a short step by step guide, there are a few factors to consider when making a decision on which keywords to target.


This probably seems an obvious point to make. Of course, you wouldn’t target a keyword that doesn’t relate to your product or service. It is, however, important to realise that relevance is not as straightforward as it may first seem. Take Intilery as an example, we produce blog content on a number of different topics, from CRM and customer journeys, to digital marketing techniques and everything in between. Not everything we publish directly links to our product, but that shouldn’t stop us from targeting keywords that are relevant to the content we produce. Take a look at your product, but also the content you generate. Decide on keywords that relate to specific areas of your business and not just the product you sell.

Search Volume

The number of people searching for a keyword can have a big impact on the audience you can reach and is therefore worth considering before making any decisions. The higher the volume of people searching for a keyword, the bigger the audience you will be able to reach.


Authority is key in implementing an effective SEO strategy. Often sources that are deemed authoritative will gain more traction and be given more weighting when it comes to keyword ranking. To gain authority, the content you produce needs to be informative, accurate and engaging, with an aim to gain backlinks from other sites.


You will need to research how sought-after certain keywords are, chances are there are several other businesses who will be bidding for the same keyword. You’ll have to evaluate the likelihood of you ranking for said keyword when competing against so many others.

Next, we’ll break down the process of keyword research into a short a step by step that you can refer back to.

1. Make a list of any relevant topics

This is a relatively simple place to start. Make note of around 5-10 general topics you would like to rank for, remember at this stage you are not selecting your targeted keywords. They can range anywhere from topics surrounding your product, to frequently asked questions, maybe you want to rank based on your blog content.

2. Generate some keywords

Once you have highlighted some general topics, you will need to generate some keywords that fall under these areas. At this point it is important to check the search volume of each general term, this will identify how valuable that subject is to your audience, but also will give direction to the amount of content you need to create to be successful with certain keywords.

The keywords you select during this stage will not make up your definitive list of keywords and phrases. This step is about brainstorming some ideas that will aid you in your research.

There are other ways to approach the work required in this step, for example, you could try to determine the keywords you may already rank for or delve into a list of questions frequently asked by your customers, ask a colleague who works in a customer facing role for more information surrounding this. By doing this, you can make a list of keywords based on the information already available to you, and who knows, the chances are some of them will fall under the more general topics you wanted to target.

3. Understanding searcher intent

There are lots of different meanings to a single search query, it’s important to understand what a searcher is looking for when they search for a certain keyword. One way of understanding the intentions of a user, is to search for the keywords you’d like to target and see what comes up, from here you can gain an understanding of the style and substance of the content that is already ranking.

4. Choosing your final list

So, you’ve done all the research you can, and have a list of keywords and phrases that needs refining. To start this process, refer back to the list of the 4 deciding factors (relevance, search volume, authority and competition), rank your keywords on how well they perform in these areas as this will immediately narrow down your initial list.

From there, ensure that your final list of keywords includes a mix of head terms – short (1-3 word), generic phrases – and long-tail keywords – longer search queries (3+ words) – these contribute towards a balanced and well considered strategy. Often, head terms are used more frequently, this makes them harder to rank for as they are more competitive. Whilst long-tail keywords are searched for less frequently, it can be implied that those searching using long-tail keywords are looking for something much more specific, and therefore, are potentially more interested in the product you sell.

Tools you need

Now you’ve taken the steps to narrowing down your final list of keywords, it’s time to bring in the tools. There are plenty of resources available to help discover search volume, traffic and any current trends, but two of the most popular ones are Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends.

Google Keyword Planner can be used to determine the search volume and traffic of a keyword. If you recall the four deciding factors discussed earlier, it’s important to use this tool to see whether too many or too few people are searching for certain keywords.

Google Trends can help you to identify the popularity of certain keywords overtime, whilst also projecting where it will go next. This can help you to narrow down your list of terms, as you will be able to see which terms are on an upwards trend.

Remember, there is no list of the best keywords you should be using, it will be dependent on your audience and your competition, hence why your research is so important.

Use your keyword research to inform other areas of your SEO and marketing strategies, such as content marketing.

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