Back to Course

How To Do SEO

0% Complete
0/0 Steps
Lesson 4 of 11
In Progress

The Basics Of Keyword Research

Keyword research is a term you’ve probably heard before, but do you actually know what it means? This section will outline the fundamental principles and show you how to do them.

vector graphic showing an illustration of niche keyword research

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of identifying the terms, phrases, and questions that your target audience uses in search engines.

By understanding what searchers are looking for, you can optimize your content to meet their needs, answer their questions, and solve their problems.

  • Target Audience Insights: It helps you understand the language of your target audience.
  • Content Strategy: Guides your content creation by identifying topics your audience is interested in.
  • SEO Optimization: Improves your website’s visibility and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).

By taking a strategic, data-first approach to content generation, you’ll get in front of the right audience, at the right time, for keywords relevant to them.

Keyword research is the first step in providing helpful content for your users. This sets the strategy and direction of your entire content operation.

After going keyword research, you’ll have a large list of related topics that you can then sort into a content plan.

an image of a content plan on

You can use that plan to strategically and systematically produce content that builds topical authority and establishes yourself as an expert to both your audience and search engines.

On the other hand, publishing content with no specific strategy, data, or reason is a huge mistake that I see made by both beginner and experienced digital marketers.

They’re writing content because somebody told them they should, but they don’t fully understand why they’re doing it. But they’re overlooking what I believe to be the one of the most powerful concepts in all of SEO.

Take Advantage of Keyword Research Tools

Luckily, the process of doing keyword research has never been easier thanks to a handful of industry-leading tools that do most of the heavy lifting.

Paid Keyword Research Tools

Overall, paid keyword research tools produce better results and provide more information than free tools. Check out these recommended keyword research tools when you can spare the cash.


This pricey keyword research tool is highly desirable thanks to its intuitive design, easy user controls, and in-depth research results. It provides an excellent range of relevant keyword suggestions and has the largest database for keywords overall, totaling 5.1 billion distinct keywords across 200 countries.


SEMrush is a bit pricey, but well worth it since it lets you compare keywords and domains against each other plus gather information from both Google and Bing search engine results. Its position tracking feature displays how keywords and their competitiveness evolve over time.

Exploding Topics Pro

Available in a free and paid model, this tool offers advanced analysis techniques for your keyword search needs. It analyzes many data points from a wide range of sources like shopping queries, standard searches, tech news, online community chatter, and more.

Answer the Public

This tool shows raw search engine results and insights by displaying questions people ask related to inputted keywords. The tool is also beneficial since it breaks down results in intuitive graphic displays.

Free Keyword Research Tools

Good news; you can use free keyword research tools if you’ve already stretched your marketing budget or have not yet launched your business. Here are some great free keyword research tools to consider.

Google Keyword Planner Tool

Google Keyword Planner integrates easily with AdWords/Google Ads. For a free tool, it’s remarkably robust, offering a ton of historical statistics and other information when you input keywords for your research.

Google Search Console

While not a dedicated keyword research tool, Search Console is a great place to start if you already use Google Analytics. This free service lets you monitor and maintain your site’s presence by offering limited keyword research functions, plus some other controls.

Google Trends

Google returns once again with Trends: a free tool that lets you input multiple keywords simultaneously and filter them by different categories. It’s an excellent free research tool if you want to know how much web interest there is around specific keywords.