SEO Keywords: Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Research

Use the most relevant keywords to your business and you can drive massive search engine traffic…

Optimize your articles and images with the right keywords and you can rank faster on search engines…

How often you heard this from SEO experts?

Probably a lot till you lose count of it.

Keywords range from a single word to complex phrases. The keywords and phrases that you use on your website are what enables people to find your site through search engines. Keywords are one of the most crucial elements of SEO.

Let’s start with the fundamentals. This blog post covers the following:

  • Why Keywords Are Important For SEO
  • How To Perform Keyword Research
  • How To Make Your Keywords Work

Did you know that websites with hundreds of contents usually get their most traffic from 5%-10% of their overall blog posts?

In other words, those websites are getting huge organic search traffic from a few blogs posts.

Have you ever wondered why only a few blogs posts accounted for their huge traffic?

Well, they might have done something right with those blog posts.

You need to understand that search engines like Google uses more than 200 rankings signals to rank web pages on search engine’s result pages.

What do I mean by “ranking”?

In simple terms, ranking is the positioning of the web pages that appear on the search engine’s results page when you type and search for something.

These are some of the tools you can use to check the keywords your site is ranking for:

Here is an example of how one of my sites ( ranks:


The site is currently ranking for more than 4,000 keywords. But, most keywords do not have purchasing intent which is pretty useless if you want to sell any services or products. As the site focused on providing guides and tricks for Naruto Online players, it ranks for information intent keywords.

You can look at the following criteria of keywords when you use SEMRush:

  • Keywords
  • Keyword position
  • Keyword position difference
  • % of overall traffic from that keyword
  • Keyword Difficulty
  • CPC (Cost-per-click) if you advertise for the keyword using Google Ads
  • URL of the specific web-page ranking for the keyword
  • SERP shows the real-time search engine result page
  • The last update is the recent date the keyword rankings were updated

If you want to check the complete keyword ranking of your website with SEMRush, you have to subscribe to their Pro plan. There are a lot of free rank-checking tools available on the Internet, but they provide results based on the keywords you provide.

How if you don’t know what keywords your site is ranking for?

If you’re serious about your business, you need to subscribe to any premium SEO tools to assist you in identifying the right keywords to target.

While looking at keywords, there are two important things you should be aware of:

  • Short-Tail Keywords / Phrases – Keywords with 1-3 words. For example, SEO audit Malaysia, technical SEO guide
  • Long-Tail Keywords – Long keywords with more than 3 words. For example, how to choose the right digital marketing agency, how to perform an SEO audit for my website

Note: Not all words and phrases qualified as “keywords”. There should be a significant amount of searches (volume) every month to qualify them.

There are advantages and disadvantages with both short-tail keywords and long-tail keywords. However, long-tail keywords are the best keywords to target as they have low competition with sufficient monthly searches. It would be relatively easier to rank for long-tail keywords if your web page is properly optimized.


Why Keywords Are Important for SEO?

I hope you understand the basics of keywords. Let’s get a little deeper.

In 2010, when you optimize blog posts for specific keywords, you can easily define your target keywords using “Meta-keywords”. If you’ve built your site using WordPress and used the Yoast plugin, you would have realized that the plugin had a meta keywords option.

After 2012, the Google algorithm became smarter and you don’t have to define your keywords anymore. The search engine algorithm was integrated with the ability to auto-detect keywords and rank web pages appropriately. But, other ranking signals are also considered as I’ve mentioned earlier for search engines to rank web pages.

If anyone still stresses you on “meta keywords” just ignore them. I’m sure they are lack knowledge on how search engine algorithms have evolved and improved.


How To Perform Keyword Research

Keyword research is the process of identifying relevant keywords that represent your business or the content you’re looking to produce. This process is extremely important if you want to outperform your competitors and dominate the search space.

There are various free and premium tools you can use to do keyword research.

Find keywords with Google Keyword Planner


Google Keyword Planner is an official keyword research tool by Google. If you look at the screenshot above, you can see the exact average monthly searches over the last 12 months. As I’m spending on Google Ads, the tool shows the exact searchers. If you’re not spending on Google Ads, you can only see estimated traffic like the following screenshot.


The best way to find targeted keywords is by discovering top blogs in your industry and add them to Google Keyword Planner. The tool will produce the list of keywords the sites are targeting. But, we are unable to justify whether the result provided to be 100% accurate.

That’s why you should use premium tools to perform keyword research rather than relying on free tools.


Find keywords with SEMRush

With SEMRush, you can easily find the right keywords your competitors are currently ranking and target those keywords. Just list down your top competitors and list of top informational sites in your niche and add them to SEMRush.

Once you get the report from SEMRush, download it as an Excel Spreadsheet. Go through the keyword research report and identify keywords with low difficulty and high volume. Don’t ignore high competitive keywords with huge search volume. Sometimes it’s better to target keywords that bring high search traffic. You just need to analyze the top 5 sites rankings for those keywords in terms of content structure and backlink profile. I will cover this part in another article.

SEMRush is a paid tool, but you can get a 7-day free trial (worth $99.95) by using my link.

Find Keywords with Google Auto Suggestion

Google Auto Suggestion is a free alternative that you can use if you have a low budget to purchase premium keyword research tools.

List of other keyword research tools you can consider:

  • LongTailPro: One of the best keyword research tools to find long-tail keywords
  • SEMScoop: Best Alternative to other premium keyword research tools for a cheaper monthly subscription.
  • Ahrefs: One of my favorite all-in-all SEO tools. Although it’s slightly pricier compared to SEMRush, it has features that are highly beneficial for SEO specialists.

Once you finalize the right keywords for your site, your next task is to produce SEO-optimized content. You should implement your target keywords strategically within your contents.


How to Make Your Keywords Work?

Overusing keywords in your content will get your site penalized. You need to play smart with your keyword optimization. You need to focus on two elements which are keyword density and keyword placement.

Keyword Density 

Keyword Density is the number of times you use a particular keyword in your content. Search Engine spiders identify the relevancy of your content by crawling your page for keyword density.

There is no specific percentage for keyword density. Most SEO experts advise keeping keyword density at 2% or lower. But, I keep it between 1% to 1.75%. For example, most of my articles published on this site is more than 2000 words. So the keyword density of my targeted keywords looks like this:

2000 words content x 1.75% = 35 times

The longer your content the more you can use your targeted keywords but it should not be stuffed randomly and destroy the quality of your content.

LSI keywords are something you should add along with your primary keyword.

What are LSI Keywords?

LSI keywords are keywords with similar meaning to your primary keyword. For example, when you search for motivational videos, you can see search results with “inspirational videos” instead. This is what we call “LSI” keywords implementation.  You can use this tool to find LSI keywords.

Keyword placement

Your primary keywords should be integrated into different parts of your content. Placement of your keywords in your content is crucial.  I would suggest you insert your keywords into each content as follows:

  • At the beginning of your content Title
  • Use it for Subtitles with H2 and H3 tag
  • Add it to your meta description
  • Within the first 100 words of your content
  • Minimum 5 to 6 times throughout your content depending on the length of content
  • Add it to your content URL

What You Should Do Next?

I’ve covered the fundamentals of keyword research in this article. I’ll be writing an advanced guide on keyword research that covers the type of keywords, a step-by-step guide in conducting keywords research and etc.

Now that you have the basic knowledge of keywords, use the right keyword research tools and find 8-10 relevant and profitable keywords related to your niche. Start building high-quality blog posts around those keywords.

All you need to do is identify the right keywords and develop outstanding content better than your competitors and industry leaders.

Refine and repeat.

Have you performed keyword research before?

Share your thoughts and experiences by commenting below.

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Naven Pillai

An experienced digital marketing strategist with 8+ years of experience. Helped various small and medium businesses to generate massive traffic from digital marketing channels. In addition to digital marketing consulting work, Naven owns multiple authority sites that generates passive income.

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