SEO doing keyword research

The Importance of Keyword Research in SEO

There’s much more to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) than meets the eye. Your content might only need subtle tweaks to draw a much bigger audience to your website, but the optimization process needs a firm foundation to make a meaningful difference.

Enter keyword research: arguably the most important step of SEO. Strategically informed keywords are what the rest of your optimization efforts depend on. 

Let’s take a closer look at SEO keyword research, what it means, and its importance for your business. 

What Is Keyword Research?

SEO keyword research is an early stage of content creation that should give you a focused roadmap for your content. The aim is to figure out the following:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What is your audience searching for?
  • What kind of content would best meet your audience’s needs?

If you can answer these questions, your chances of offering unique content relevant to potential page visitors increase dramatically. 

Primary/Secondary Keywords

Some necessary terminology in keyword research: primary keywords and secondary keywords. Primary keywords are the central organizing ideas for your post or landing page. You can think of them as topics, in a way, but their precise wording is important. Primary keywords are your first priority for optimization.

Secondary keywords are related words or phrases that complement your primary keyword but are of slightly less importance in your optimization. They typically appear less frequently in the final version of your content, but they still matter because they increase your relevance to your potential audience.

“Seed” Keywords

Seed keywords are keywords you might use to begin your research. They tend to come from your own brainstorming and knowledge of your niche and may or may not be the keywords you end up optimizing for. 

For example, a seed keyword could be “unique postcards,” but your further research shows that “unique postcard ideas” or “where to buy postcards” might be better phrases to draw your intended audience.

How To Do SEO Keyword Research

There’s no “right” way to conduct keyword research; there are just too many variables to nail down a single recipe. However, you can increase your odds that the time and effort invested in SEO for your website will pay off.

Take a Look at the Search Volume

Search volume data is an undeniably vital statistic when you’re determining what keywords will serve you best. If no one searches for the phrase you want to use and optimize for, you won’t get Google’s attention by including that phrase.

That said, keywords with high search volume aren’t necessarily the best for your SEO. More general keywords almost always direct users to pages with unbeatably high authority. You probably won’t rank higher for “business news” than Forbes or the like.

Search volume matters because about one-third of Google searchers click on the very first result, according to Search Engine Journal’s compiled SEO statistics

While that also means that two-thirds of users click elsewhere, they don’t go far. Backlinko’s click-through rate research shows that not even 1% of searchers persist to the second page of results. So competing with ambitious targets is probably not worth your time.

Consider Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are another approach to selecting keywords. Long-tail keywords are more specific phrases of at least three words that your page might more realistically rank for, even if the search volume isn’t quite as high as the more general terms.

Long-tail keywords are harder to guess as you begin your keyword search, but there are plenty of free keyword tools available that can suggest long-tail keywords.

Don’t Forget Your Competitors

While competition with ultra-high-ranking competitors might not make sense, that’s not to say that there’s no benefit from research into any of your competitors’ keywords. You might find that the closest competitors in your niche have great ideas for keywords you could use on your website.

Whether you choose to go after the same keywords or attend to ones your competitors are neglecting is entirely up to you and your marketing strategy. Either way, you’ll benefit from knowing what’s popular in similar circles.

SEO sitting on the ground

The Benefits of High-Quality Keyword Research

Good keyword research guides good optimization overall, so you might say that the benefits are similar to the top benefits of SEO. Your business is more likely to thrive if it’s able to gain and retain the attention of those searching for popular phrases in your niche. 

Understand and Meet Your Audience’s Needs

Your audience is searching Google for what they want to see, so you can indirectly understand them by analyzing the words and phrases they search for. You might be surprised to find what’s most popular within your niche based on keyword research. 

Then, of course, you can better give the people what they want to see. Not only can you shift your focus to incorporate the “what” that your audience is searching for, but you can also think about the “how.” Do they want answers to questions, product recommendations, or information?

Reach More People With Your Content

Carefully chosen keywords will hopefully draw new visitors to your website, too, and this necessary for any business to grow. 

But you may only have access to this kind of insight through researching keywords. Your current audience might not be able to tell you what similar people would want, even if you had a direct line of feedback.

Save Resources by Marketing Smart

Let’s face it: marketing is a necessary evil for many businesses. It can get very expensive, and a poorly thought-out strategy may be a colossal waste of time and money. 

That’s all the more reason why keyword research is so important in SEO. You don’t want to waste your resources on keywords that won’t lead to helpful results.


Keyword research is where search engine optimization begins. You can’t have good SEO without a good SEO keyword research strategy, so it’s well worth the investment to ensure your keywords are as ideal for your purposes as possible.

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