How to Do Effective Keyword Research for SEO in 2018

By Guest Contributor on September 15, 2018

Keywords are those tiny little creatures that bulk large in SEO. A proper optimization should start with keywords and rely on keyword research heavily. Here I will give you a short guide on how to effectively do keyword research for SEO today.

In most cases keyword research and optimization will be based upon some of the following issues:

⦁ the general status of a website (is it a new or an old one, its structure, number of pages etc.);
⦁ its business niche;
⦁ its goal (traffic, leads, conversion, subscriptions etc);
⦁ budget and timetable…

In this guide I will provide you with the universal, one-size-fits-all recommendations that will take your website higher in SERPs and let you outrun your competitors in a short time.

What keywords you should be aiming for

First, you should understand the basic keyword values to choose the right keywords for your niche, website or a blog post. Through most of the years all SEO specialists heavily relied upon Google Keyword Planner as the tool for keyword research. But it offered quite a few metrics you could filter keyword suggestions such as monthly search volume, competition, suggested bid, that’s about it. Today GKP groups keywords and shows only average number of monthly searches (e.g. “1K – 10K”) what makes it not the best option for doing keyword research.


Other free tools like Ubersuggest, Soovle etc., just show a raw list of keywords, without any metrics. So it’s better to use more advanced tools like Moz or Ahrefs that show such metrics like:

Keyword difficulty. One of the most important things about a keyword – it shows users what it takes to rank for this keyword in Top-10.

Search volume. As I mentioned earlier, Google Keyword Planner also shows search volume for each keyword, but there are only average numbers. You should better be using a tool that will display the exact number of monthly searches for a certain keyword.

Number of clicks. Another essential metric you should be exploring attentively. The point is that some keywords that may attract your attention, may be not clickable. In most cases those are “informational” keywords when users search for an artist’s age or a country’s capital. This info is mostly available already from the SERP and people often don’t go farther after getting the info they were looking for.

Estimated traffic. Most premium tools allow you checking out the SERP for a certain keyword and getting the idea of a potential traffic you may get ranking high for this very keyword. It can be a great hint for keyword prioritising.

There are also other metrics that can be used within other keyword tools. Thus, in Google Keyword Explorer you will find a “suggested bid” metric that will tell you how much it can cost you to put your ad in Google SERP in the AdWords section. Some other tools may suggest “cost per click” metric that is in some sense related to what GKP shows. These metrics will be important for those website owners who have some extra money for a paid search advertising.

Keyword Research Strategy for 2017

In your keyword research strategy, you should carefully explore the niche or the business category you wish to rank in SERP for. So your first step will be:

Keyword seeding

Try to speculate what keywords people could type in when searching for your product, website, service or article. Thus, if you’re selling coffee and various coffee products, your first suggestions could be:

⦁ fresh roasted coffee;
⦁ roasted coffee beans;
⦁ coffee beans for cafes, etc.

Try and make a list of such niche keywords. You may also check out the categories of the most popular online stores, like Amazon or AliExpress – they have a very detailed and specific categorization for a huge range of products. You can draw your keyword seeds right from there.

Another way is choosing a niche, e.g. “coffee”, putting it into a keyword research tool and get a whole batch of keyword ideas for this seed keyword. Just choose exactly those keywords that fit your website.

Researching your competitors

It’s a well-known “steal-traffic-from-your-competitors” technique. You should just put the competitor’s website URL into your favorite SEO tool and grab the list of keywords your competitors already rank in Top-10.


Do this “wash-rinse-repeat” activity with as many competitors’ websites as you like. You can also do it for your competitors’ top-performing pages, but only for top! You don’t need to waste your time for low-quality stuff.

Researching keywords you already rank for

This step is a great tactic for those websites that have been around for some time already. You can also explore your website’s organic keywords within your favorite SEO tool. Or go to a Google Search Console to extract your organic keywords from it. You may also wish to look for the pages that already rank high and examine what keywords they rank for.

Note that Google Search Console gives you only 1,000 keywords so it may limit your options in a way. And it doesn’t show a monthly search volume for each keyword either. But you get the info of clicks and impressions a particular keyword brings you.

Sort out your list of keywords

Now, when you have a bunch of keyword you find valuable for your website, it’s time to sort them out into groups to see the clear picture:

  • Sort by “parent topic.” E.g. Ahrefs Keyword Explorer provides you with a parent keyword for any keyword you put into it. Otherwise, just try to figure out what the most general but specific keyword you may use as a “parent one.” The idea is to optimize your page for a decent keyword that has multiple semantically   closely-related keywords you can also rank for automatically.
  • Sort by “user’s intent.” Figure out which of your keywords are closely related to searches that users may type in a search bar. Choose only those that are potentially beneficial to your website.
  • Sort by “value.” In this case you should get a list of keywords that bring value to your business and attracts not just traffic, but also clicks, backlinks, leads and customers.

Choose your top-priority keywords

After sorting out keywords, you would wish to get a tidy list of keyword ideas that should help you climbing in SERP to the Top-10. You can create a table for each chose keyword and note:

⦁ Its Keyword Difficulty level;
⦁ Traffic potential;
⦁ What resources you should invest into the page/article to rank high for this particular keyword;
⦁ What will be results/ROI after you optimise a page for this keyword (just traffic flow, clicks, or leads and sales?).

After scoring out your keywords, you will have to just choose the best that will bring you the highest ROI and go for them!

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