8 min read

What Is Keyword Research and What Makes It So Powerful?

Soniya Jain
November 20, 2022

The history of search engines is a fascinating story that began with a simple idea: if you want to find something on the World Wide Web, just ask someone who knows.

We've come a long way since then, but the basic idea hasn't changed. We still use "keywords" as inputs into search engines to find what we want on the internet and other digital resources.

As a content creator, business owner, or publisher, you need to optimize your content with keywords if you want it to be discovered by your target audience via the search engine of their choice.

Optimizing your content for search engine discovery is a big part of search engine optimization (SEO), starting with keyword research.

Today we will deep dive into what keyword research means, its types, benefits, and related terms.

What is keyword research?

Example of finding keyword ideas using Google' Keyword Planner tool

Keyword research is finding, analyzing, and selecting keywords that you will use to optimize your content for any given search engine. The most popular is Google search.

Common terms related to keyword research

Here are some standard terms you will often encounter when conducting keyword research that you should know.

Search engine

A search engine is computer software that crawls for information on websites on the World Wide Web or other information storage and retrieval systems to display a search result to a keyword phrase being searched.

There are many types of search engines, including web search engines, information retrieval or document search engines, video search engines, product search engines, image search engines, news search engines, and so on.

Google is an excellent example of a widely used search engine with more than 4 billion users worldwide, followed by Bing, Baidu, Yahoo, Yandex, and DuckDuckGo.

Source: https://www.reliablesoft.net/top-10-search-engines-in-the-world/


A keyword is a group of words, queries, or phrases a user enters into a search engine to find the desired information. Keywords can be a single seed keyword like "shoes" or a long-tail keyword like "golf shoes for walking."

Typically, long-tail keywords are easier to rank than short-tail keywords or seed keywords. This is because seed keywords will have more competition and content. 

Keyword volume

Keyword volume is a metric that shows the popularity of a keyword in a search engine. The higher the keyword volume, the more people search for that term monthly. Some SEO keyword research tools will give you more accurate keyword search volumes, like Ahrefs, while others will give a range of search volume, like Google Keyword Planner.

Keyword difficulty

Keyword difficulty is a metric that indicates the competition to rank your content for a keyword search. The lower the difficulty score, the easier it is to optimize and rank your content for the term. Keyword difficulty scores typically range from 0 to 100 for most SEO keyword tools, while Google Keyword Planner displays a low, medium, or high label. 

Keyword search intent

Search intent indicates the primary content expectation of a person behind their search.

Broadly, search intent can be:

  • Informational. Example: "how to clean window glass"
  • Transactional. Example: "buy shoes for men under 50 dollars"
  • Navigational. Example:"Copy AI blog title generator"
  • Commercial. Example: “Bluehost vs SiteGround hosting”

Alt text: keyword search intent from SEMrush
Source: https://www.semrush.com/blog/how-to-use-search-intent-for-your-business/ 

Keyword ranking

Keyword ranking is a metric to measure the position of your content in the results of a search engine for the keyword in question.

A higher ranking leads to more impressions, clicks, and conversions.

As you can imagine, you need to rank on the first page of search engine result pages (SERPs) to get more clicks. 23% of organic searches click on the #1 result in Google, according to Smart Insights

Why is keyword research important?

Keyword research is a time-consuming process that can make or break your success with SEO since it is the foundation of developing your content strategy

Below are five reasons that make keyword research worth your time and how you can benefit from doing it well.

1. Boost organic discovery of content via search

Keyword research is a critical component of SEO (search engine optimization). It helps you find related keywords relevant to your business goals, leading to improved search rankings and organic discovery of your content via search engines like Google, Bing, Amazon, YouTube, etc.

Performing keyword research is the first step in ensuring that people discover your content in search engines when searching for specific terms.

Once you find the right keywords for your content, you should create content and optimize it by following the best SEO practices.

2. Create a solid SEO content strategy

Keyword research is vital to creating a solid search-driven content marketing strategy because it helps you choose the best topics to write about and then use that information to create high-quality content.

The first step is to determine your company's goals. For example, if your goal is to sell more of certain products, you need to focus on keywords that drive traffic to pages where people buy those products. 

If your goal is to increase brand awareness, you might want to target keywords that drive traffic to landing pages where visitors learn more about your company and its products or services.

Once you've determined your goals, you can conduct keyword research and find out what terms people are searching for when seeking information related to those goals. Then you can optimize your website and content around those terms to show up when someone searches for them.

For example, if you run an e-commerce store that sells sunglasses, you can optimize your site or certain pages around terms like "buy sunglasses online" or "sunglasses for women."

3. Find new market opportunities

Example of using keyword research for Google suggest to find new product opportunities

Keyword research can be used as a powerful tool in market research.

With more people turning to a search engine to find information to meet their goals, keyword data can be analyzed to develop new product or service ideas to meet customer needs.

Let's say you sell water bottles and want to come up with new products to sell to your customers. You conduct keyword research using several techniques and find high search volume and low difficulty terms like "bottles with a sipper" and "bottles with a measuring scale." 

You realize that these products would be feasible for you to create and decide to launch the items online.

Similarly, let's say you're an accountant specializing in small business taxes. If you want to expand your service portfolio, performing keyword research can reveal new customer needs that you can fulfill and increase revenue.

Overall, keyword research can offer deep insights into consumer demand and opportunities to tap into new products, services, or content.

4. Plan and execute PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns

Pay-per-click (PPC) is an effective way to quickly get your business in front of customers searching for your products or services. 

However, if you aren't doing keyword research correctly, it can be easy to waste a lot of money on keywords and clicks that don't convert into customers. These irrelevant keywords are called negative keywords that you want to avoid paying for when searched.

Keyword research is the first step in building a successful PPC campaign. It's also an ongoing process that can be used to optimize your existing ads or help you create new ones.

For example, if you want to run a Google Ads PPC campaign, identifying the right keywords to create effective ad groups and writing compelling ad copy becomes crucial.

Similarly, when running a pay-per-click sponsored ad on Amazon, picking keywords with low cost-per-click (CPC) and high conversion rates will propel you to run profitable campaigns.

5. Improve public relations (PR)

Example of using keyword research to analyze brand positioning with "vs" searches

Keyword research is a useful SEO tool for gathering information about what people are talking about online and how they feel about it.

It helps you understand how people view your brand, which can help you improve your SEO strategy and ensure that your company is represented in the best possible light.

By looking at what kind of questions they ask and what words they use when asking those questions, you'll be able to gauge your target audience's perception of your brand.

For example, say you are a sports shoe retailer and want to be positioned as a luxury brand.

When you conduct keyword research, you find out that there are a lot of "your brand" vs. "X" brand searches where "X" is usually considered a cheap brand.

None of the searches compare your brand to another luxury competitor brand in significant volume.

This points out that your brand positioning is not working as intended, as you are being seen as an affordable shoe brand rather than a luxury one.

You can tune your branding and PR activities based on this valuable insight to meet your desired goal.

Types of keyword research

We can broadly categorize keyword research into different types based on the search engine platform or the purpose of the research.

Let us look into this classification by search engine platform.

While many search engines are being used in the world right now, we focus on a few popular ones that serve different user intent.

Google keyword research

Finding keywords on Google using autocomplete suggestions

Google is the most popular search engine in the world, with over 8.5 billion daily search queries. An entire industry is just focused on SEO for Google, from SEO professionals to keyword research tools.

Finding keywords people use to find information through Google search can be termed Google keyword research. 

You can also look in your Google Search Console at what keywords are being searched where your website is showing up, known as an impression, in the top 100. 

Google Analytics used to provide the keyword terms people searched to find your site, but due to privacy concerns, now mostly shows “not provided.”

Another tool from Google, Google Trends, will allow you to take the keywords you find during your research to evaluate the amount of search they got over recent months and years. Google Trends helps to determine if a keyword is a fad, is seasonable, or is evergreen.

You can use similar techniques to find keywords on comparable search engines like Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, and Yandex.

People often use the terms keyword research and Google keyword research interchangeably, but as you would have now understood, keyword research is a much broader term that applies to more than just Google.

Amazon keyword research

Example of Amazon autocomplete search suggestions

Amazon has arguably become the most popular product search engine in the world. In many geographies, people are now used to starting their product discovery journey directly from the Amazon search bar in the app or website.

This makes learning Amazon keyword research techniques a no-brainer for online retailers who want to drive sales from the platform.

You can use similar techniques to find keywords for other Amazon-like e-commerce marketplaces like Flipkart, Alibaba, etc.

Pinterest keyword research

Example of guided search suggestions on Pinterest

Pinterest is a visual search engine millions of people use to find new design ideas, product inspiration, and more.

Finding pins and boards on Pinterest is primarily done through keyword-based search, making learning Pinterest keyword research methods essential to be successful on the platform as a creator or business.

YouTube keyword research

Example of YouTube autocomplete keyword suggestions

YouTube is the biggest video platform in the world, with hundreds of hours of new videos being uploaded each hour. This makes search a critical method to find video content on the platform quickly.

YouTube keyword research is finding keywords for creators to produce and optimize their videos for better discovery and views.

By purpose

Another way to classify keyword research is by the purpose of the research. Let us check out the popular ones.

Competitor keyword research

Competitive keyword research is finding out your competitors' keywords to rank their content in search engines using keyword research tools like Ahrefs and Semrush.

By finding the gaps in your content using your competition’s keywords, you’ll be able to use this information to help you choose the best keyword strategy for your SEO campaigns.

E-commerce keyword research

E-commerce keyword research identifies potential keyword search terms that your target audience might use when searching for products like yours.

A well-conducted process can help you build an SEO-friendly e-commerce website, drive relevant traffic and increase product sales.

Local keyword research

You need to know about local keyword research if you own a local business.

Local keyword research is a great way to find out what people are looking for in your area. This can help you target the right audience, drive more store visits and generate more sales.

Conclusion: Keyword research is key to SEO success

For people, keywords still remain the most popular way to find the desired information online.

How keywords are processed into a search engine is undoubtedly evolving from typing to new modes of submission, like voice typing and visual search.

Because of this, the search queries are also becoming more natural, from simple phrases like "best shoes online" to complex sentences like "where can I find the best shoes for myself online?"

Still, fundamentally, a search query still revolves around keywords.

Search engine algorithms still use keywords to help users find the necessary information.

Understanding and mastering keyword research is valuable in building a solid online presence to please search engine algorithms and tap into your target audience's content needs.

Lately, artificial intelligence has been playing a significant role in SEO.

CopyAI's Keyword Generator and other tools are great examples of leveraging AI to boost your SEO success. Give them a free trial today.

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