Keyword research for SEO: a 2023 guide for beginners

Algorithm updates come and go, SEO trends emerge and then disappear into the background… But in a sea of variables, one thing is always constant: keyword research.

Good search engine optimisation is based on a well-developed content marketing strategy, and content is based on keyword research. (It’s not for nothing that SEO is often compared to construction; look at how the activities are built “brick by brick”.)

This is why it’s crucial (bad pun alert) that keyword research is thorough and, above all, tailored to you and your market. But let’s not go so far ahead, let’s start from the basics.

Keyword research for beginners

And what is keyword research?

Keyword research is actually a process where you look for phrases, words or phrases that your potential customers are searching for.

This sounds rather dry and uncharacteristic, so let’s look at it through an example.

If you have an online shop selling Korean cosmetics, this will obviously be your main keyword: korean cosmetics. (Although we consistently mention a keyword, the keyword will be more of a combination of words, but don’t be fooled.)

Of course, there are a lot of alternatives that fit your profile: Korean face creams, Korean makeup products, best Korean face creams, etc.

Keyword research Search engine optimisation

Why is keyword research important?

Keyword research, as mentioned above, is the foundation of content marketing. In fact, going further, if you lump all content (be it video, text, images, podcasts, whatever) together, it should be one of the first things on your to do list.

Think of the keyword as a compass for your SEO campaigns: it shows you the direction to go, it shows you where to go next.

The keyword will also help you understand your target audience, shape the categories and subcategories of your website, and even give you ideas for product development.

As Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko and one of the most influential foreign experts on SEO, says: keyword research is actually the 21st century. century market research.

Keyword research from organic sources (or in search of free keyword research)

Yes, here’s the million dollar question: where do you get keywords?

The good news is that you don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars a month on premium keyword research software, there are free (albeit a bit more time-consuming) solutions.

Google related searches

The easiest one is Google related searches.

If we stick to the Korean cosmetics example described above, here’s what Google Suggestions looks like for our main keyword:

Google related searches

For more ideas, you can also browse the drop-down searches:

Using Google searches for keyword research

You’ve already found a bunch of free long tail keywords (that’s the name or definition of a keyword consisting of three or more words).

If you click on these related searches, you can go even deeper down the “rabbit hole” and find more ideas

For example, clicking on the link “Korean makeup products” will throw up these ideas:

Google related searches, keyword research

So feel free to use Google, it’s free.

Forums

You wouldn’t believe the treasures you can find on Reddit or Quora. Because there are a lot of questions and problems that they raise that you, as an expert on the subject, can answer accurately.

Best keyword research software

Keyword research tools, applications

If you want to get ahead of the competition and become more professional, sooner or later you’ll get to that stage:

  • learn search engine optimisation the self-taught way
  • or enlist the help of an SEO expert.

Search engine optimization agencies (including SEOlympic) use professional keyword research software. Here are some of them.

#1 KWfinder

Mangools is probably one of the easiest keyword research software to use, even for beginners. It helps you find keywords for which there is little competition but a high search volume.

They can help you easily get into the Google TOP 3 for your keywords.

It is relatively inexpensive compared to its competitors (available with a basic package of $29.9-49), and there is also a 10-day free trial.

#2 Ahrefs

Ahrefs is not only great for keyword research, but also for detailed SEO auditing. It is a bit more complicated to use and requires more knowledge and expertise than KWfinder, but you can fine-tune, analyze and optimize the results to the extreme.

In return, it is much more expensive, with the basic Lite version costing between $83-99 per month.

#3 SEMrush

SEMrush, like ahrefs, provides complex, comprehensive SEO services. It has everything an SEO expert’s eye could wish for: backlink analyzer, SEO audit program, keyword research, content marketing campaigns, social media activity tracking, and more.

The price is correspondingly high, starting from $99.95 to $19.95 per month for the basic plan.

#4 Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest is one of the cheapest tools of all, but it can do a lot: it can do keyword research, backlink analysis, monitoring and SEO auditing.

In addition, it is easy to learn to use as a beginner, as it is not as complex as the two tools mentioned above.

For smaller websites, you can purchase the Individual package for $12 per month, or a lifetime license for $120.

How should the results of keyword research be interpreted?

Metrics, or understanding metrics in keyword research

In keyword research tools, although often under different names, you may come across metrics that are important to understand in order to analyze what you see.

These include:

  • KD – Keyword difficulty
  • Volume
  • CPC – cost per click
  • CTR – Click-Through Rate

How to choose the best keywords?

Once you have the main keywords, you need to interpret and prioritize what you see, so that keyword research can serve as a compass, not just create chaos.

One very important metric is search volume. The more people search for a particular keyword, the better.

However, what exactly makes this volume “good” depends very much on the size of the company, the market and the country. In some cases, even a volume of 1400 is considered good, in others even 10,000 is not. Unfortunately, from this point of view, it is impossible to give a clear and precise answer, as it varies from market to market.

The organic CTR, or click-through rate, has dropped dramatically recently “thanks” to Google’s blessed efforts. The extracts, the more ads than ever before, are simply taking up space from organic hits.

That being said, if a keyword has a low CTR, it’s not necessarily worth avoiding (in fact, don’t avoid it just because of that). After all, if there are a lot of people looking for it, it might be worth doing a little more research, and that research will pay off significantly (yes, in monetary terms too).

Low keyword difficulty (KD) is more important. In fact, the lower the difficulty for a given keyword, the easier it is to rank for it in the search engine. Typically, these are the long tail keywords, so it’s worth targeting them first.

Although CPC may not seem at first glance to be a metric that is of interest to us from an organic perspective, it is a very important indicator. Cost per click is, of course, used in Ads; it shows how much an advertiser has to pay for a particular keyword when it is clicked.

From an SEO point of view, this is also interesting because if you see that the CPC is very low, it means that it’s not worth spending money on, it’s not worth targeting this keyword. This may be because the term does not (necessarily) reflect an intention to buy, for example.

Summary

As you can see, keyword research is a rather complex process.

There are several factors and numbers to consider before you get a super, clean, usable keyword list, but in return you’ll start with a much better chance of beating the competition.

If you would like to hire an SEO expert, feel free to contact us and we’ll help you design a great content marketing strategy!

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