Why Do Keyword Research

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People wonder why no traffic shows up to their sites even though they publish “epic content.”

If you’re producing content for a blog, e-commerce shop, YouTube, podcast, Pinterest, or anywhere, then keyword research is critical.

Here’s the main reason why you have to do keyword research if your goal is to gain organic search traffic:

If people are searching for the content that you’re producing, then you can get organic search traffic.

If no one is searching for your content, then no one will find it no matter how “epic” it might be.

I prefer to target low competition keywords, usually low search volume, so the content ranks in Google faster.

I asked marketers, SEO experts, and content creators why KW research is important.


Combine creativity with strategy

Hilary Bird, Marketing Manager at Render Pilots

No doubt, it’s a challenge to write engaging, personality-filled content that is also keyword-rich and within Google’s preferred “sentence structure” format. But….it’s very possible. And it’s critical to the success of your content. Here’s why:

– The obvious one is that you need to tell Google what your website and content is about. If Google can’t tell, how do you expect it to rank your website properly within your niche?

– My company is in the video production industry and we have a lot of stiff competition in terms of Google rankings. But, by finding the #1 “answer box” results that pop up when Googling a keyword we want to rank for, we get a better idea of what Google deems a worthy #1 result answer. Then, we format our own content to be as closely structured to the #1 answer box as possible–in fact, writing even more clearly and concisely than the #1 answer box. We’ve had success here, where after re-writing some chunks of a blog post, we scored the #1 answer box when Googling a specific keyword.

– Keyword research doesn’t mean picking out one keyword you want to rank for and then aggressively placing it throughout your content. It’s about making a short list of your dream keywords to rank for, making a list of the supporting keywords to help you get there, then strategically placing keywords within things like blog titles, meta descriptions, URLs, or above-the-fold places on your website.

Understand traffic potential, your audience, and do keyword research

Alice Stevens, Senior Editor & Content Strategist, Best Company

Good content is the bedrock of SEO and driving traffic to your site. However, just because you write great articles on dental insurance doesn’t mean that you’ll get tons of traffic to your site. The traffic potential for a topic depends on how frequently and how many people are searching for it.

So, be aware that some topics have much higher traffic potential than others. Health insurance has significantly more search volume than dental insurance, for example. This awareness will help you calibrate your expectations around traffic in your niche.

The best way to focus your content is to do some keyword research and understand your target audience. You can start by creating a persona. What difficulties or challenges does your audience face? What do they want? Understanding your audience will help you approach topics in ways that connect with your audience.

As you consider your audience, choose topics and keywords wisely.

Looking at Google Trends or Ahrefs will help you understand what questions people have and how often they’re searching for certain queries.

How keyword research gets us 180k visits/month

Ruggero Loda, Founder of Running Shoes Guru

1. You can’t win at content marketing without keyword research
Published content marketing materials have 3 main stages: discovery, conversion and post-analysis. 

The “money” stage is conversion, where you turn website traffic into leads and turn leads into sales. But to get there, you’ve got to go through discovery first.

The way to do that is by creating content in a way that gets users’ and search engines’ attention. The easiest way to succeed on both fronts is by using keywords.

Proven keywords consistently drive traffic from search engines like Google – and are good for getting attention from users too.

This makes keyword research a cornerstone of any effective content marketing campaign.

2. How to do “primary” keyword research

For the most part, keyword research is secondary. We’re usually looking at what users have already searched for and putting those keywords and phrases into our content.

I think this is a mistake. 20% of all Google searches are for brand new keywords. If you can figure out what some of those are going to be, you’ll easily rank for them – and get free traffic and sales as a result.

One easy way to do that is for creating content about to-be-released products... And updating it as the product comes out.

For example, a “Nike Pegasus review” page that answers frequently asked questions about a brand-new or unreleased product might be a good idea for my business.

3. Keywords aren’t just for robots

It’s natural for people to scan pages to see if they’re appropriate to their question, want or need. I think most people forget that Google isn’t what makes keywords work. Google just automates what people do naturally – and uses that to generate SERP results.

So I think that you’ve got to do keyword research with people (not Google) in mind. My team and I sometimes see phrases like “efficient running shoes space rock” sometimes come up for us. We don’t use them – because writing about them in an ecomm context is impossible, which means we’d be “gaming the system” by trying.


Chris Williams from PlanetMagpie, an IT consulting agency

Businesses have an idea of what their target audience would search for. How often does this idea match what their target audience will ACTUALLY search for? Almost never.

Can you bridge this gap? Yes. How? You do keyword research. It gives you real feedback from real customers, both in terms of the search terms they use and the problems they want to solve.

Without this, you can produce all sorts of good content…but it’s talking to an audience different from the one you want. Maybe even an audience that doesn’t exist!

Keyword research, then, allows a business to match its online presence to real-world search behavior.


Epic Content and Keyword Research

John Pinedo – Founder of Freedom Bound Business

When people wonder why their “epic content” shows no sign of traffic on Google, it’s usually because the content marketer did poor keyword research and picked a keyword target their site wasn’t ready for.

For instance, when I first started my blog, I wasn’t capable of thinking outside the box for keyword research.

I was tunnel-visioned on “Best X for Y” and “X Review” keywords without (a) checking the keyword difficulty from an off-page perspective and (b) because

I didn’t learn about other types of blog posts quickly enough.

If I were able to talk to the younger me of a few years ago, I’d tell me to learn more about:


Brian Robben, CEO & Founder of Robben Media

At the core of any successful SEO strategy is keyword research. This is the foundation. If you do it correctly, you’re in great shape to drive thousands of new visitors and serious revenue.

If you do it incorrectly or not at all, all your efforts producing content are likely to be wasted. To do keyword research effectively, you’ll want to use a keyword tool like Ahrefs.

Then find keywords with a keyword difficulty of 20 or lower and that receive 500 searches per month. Anything with a higher keyword difficulty will take you too long to rank.

For example, I own a digital marketing agency. Instead of going after the keyword “website design” which is a national keyword and would take 5 years, at least, to rank for, I’m going to go after the keyword “Cincinnati website design”. This is much easier to rank, drive traffic, and grow my business.

Bruce Harpham, Marketing Consultant For Software Companies

Keyword research is important for content marketing because it keeps you focused on what customers want rather than what you think they want. Here are three steps I use to use keyword research in my content marketing

1) Identify a relevant keyword opportunity

I currently use Uber Suggest for keyword research. For my niche, I usually focus on keywords with an estimated search volume of 1000 or less per month because there is usually greater opportunity there.

2) Craft headlines based on the keyword

Headlines decide whether or note somebody reads your content. Therefore, I spend some time upfront developing different headline ideas that use the keyword.

3) Write the initial content outline

Creating excellent content takes time and effort and it can feel daunting. That’s why I recommend starting with a short outline of about 100-200 words where you write out section headings and a few key ideas. Based on that outline, it is much easier to create the rest of the content.


Why Keyword research matters

Sam Orchard, Managing Director of Edge of the Web

“Epic content” can be really helpful and impactful for regular users or subscribers, but you can’t count on it for an SEO boost unless you’ve done your research.

Keyword research is what lets you know what people are actually searching for, what subjects they’re interested in, and what questions they’re trying to answer.

You could write the world’s most detailed article on a subject, but if no one’s searching for keywords associated with it, you’re not going to bring in any new users.

And seeing as “epic content” takes so much time and effort, it can be a complete waste if your main purpose is SEO value.

So don’t waste your energy writing content that isn’t going to help. Do your research, find out what people want to know, then write the best article ever on that subject.

Tory Gray – CEO & Digital Marketing Strategist of The Gray Dot Company
1. Keyword research = more traffic and sales
If you’re an ecommerce owner, you want other people to find your digital assets (i.e. your website, social media page, etc). The best way to do that is by using the same words they’re looking for. To know what these words are, you’ve got to use keyword research.

Through keyword research, you get a list of queries (i.e. words and phrases) your audience is searching for. Using these in your writing and marketing, you make it easy for people to discover your brand. This means more organic traffic – and, as a result, more sales.

2. My top ecommerce tip: focus on branded keywords
Ranking for high-impact keywords is important. Wanna know what’s even more important? Ranking for your brand keywords.

Think of it this way. It’s nice when people look up “dog food” and find your dog food store.

But it’s absolutely frickin’ imperative that the same people find you when they look up your specific brand. To make sure this happens, you need:
1. Identify which branded keywords and phrases are most popular using keyword research.
2. Repeatedly use said keywords and phrases..
3. Create new branded words and phrases and tech your audience to use them.

Doing the above is easy – and stops other brands and stores from “hijacking” your branded keywords and diverting traffic to their own assets.

3.. Get really, really specific with content marketing

If you’re in most verticals, you’re never going to land at #1 for popular search terms.


Because bigger brands are investing tens of thousands of dollars per month to beat you. For example, your running shoe store won’t beat Bed Bath & Beyond for “comfortable mattress”.

So what do you do?

Get ultra-specific and target long, specific keyword phrases and search terms. For example, you may not be able to rank for “comfortable mattress” but you can probably rank for “best orthopedic mattress for scoliosis”.

As an added benefit, people looking up the latter query tend to be more likely to buy anyway.

You don’t look for milk at the fruit section

Alex Pesic, Growth manager at InvoiceQuick

People think in compartments. Just as you wouldn’t look for milk at the food section in a grocery store, don’t expect your audience to consume your content without knowing what they are getting into.

Your content needs to be segmented and formatted according to keywords indicating different intent in the buyer’s journey. Some keywords are informational and the appropriate content will be in the form of long form guides. Other keywords are transactional and the best result will be to present content in a landing page form.

For example, when someone searches “hiking shoes” they don’t want a list of 10 Hiking Shoes to Buy in 2020. This keyword requires educational content about different types of hiking shoes for different terrains, weather conditions and whatnot.

So if people are typing “hiking shoes” and you have a killer guide named “Your feet will never feel the same after a hike when you read THIS” it simply won’t show up in the search. You have to nail down on-page SEO.

But when someone searches “best hiking boots”, they want to see a top X list of hiking boots. And when someone narrows down the search to a particular brand, say “Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX price”, they want to see a landing page where they can actually buy the boots in question.

Good keyword research is not just a list of keywords with search volume. Keywords need to be evaluated for their intent and prioritized for difficulty and impact to business results.


Want to Rank in Google?

Nikola Roza, SEO for the Poor and Determined

Keyword research is not important for content marketing. Unless you want to rank in Google. Then it’s crucial!

You need to do excellent keyword research because you want to find phrases your site can rank for. There’s no point in targeting keywords that maybe you could rank for 10 years from now.

For example, my affiliate marketing niche is dominated by big players. Or so it looks like on the surface.

However, when you dig a bit deeper you see that huge authority websites rank for long tail keywords they don’t target at all.

They rank on domain authority alone and as such those keywords are pretty easy pickings for a keyword-focused, comprehensive article backed up by at least some domain ranking power.

Proper keyword research+ excellent content will get you your first rankings in Google, even if you have very few links pointing to your site.
And once you rank and get some traffic, it becomes much easier going forward because you’ve broken the ice with Google.

KW Research is Crucial

Gintaras Steponkus, SEO Expert at Solid Guides

Keyword research is not only crucial for Search Engine Optimization, but it is also helpful in other fields of digital marketing. Keyword helps in finding the target audience and the content they like or what content they look for.

It is easier to develop a content strategy with the help of keywords research as engaging titles and topics can be selected with the help of this research. Once you’ll understand the tactics used through keywords research to get the best of content marketing and what your target audience is looking for.

Some essential or branded keywords are the best to get maximum traffic. You can also do this on your social media channels to get the opinions and feedback of your audience.

Keyword research also helps in finding out about competitors’ research or what people think about their brand. In this way, you can make your brand unique and more specific, unlike your competitors.

Nat Alleblas, SEO Sleuth

Keyword research is an important step in the content creation process, and copywriters and content writers shouldn’t ignore this important step in creating more value for their clients.

-Copywriters and content writers understand the importance of choosing the right words to create compelling content that converts. Using relevant keywords adds an extra layer of gold for their clients that will help attract relevant organic traffic for more leads and sales.

-During the early stages of getting to know their client’s business, writers can use keyword research to help better understand their client’s audience: what problems they want to be solved, what words and phrases they commonly use, and what information they seek via Google.

-Writers can also use keyword research and the associated data to illustrate future potential content ideas to their client rather than making writing a one-time process. This helps the client see the value in continuing with content creation for their website.

Eric Sachs – The CEO @ Sachs Marketing Group

Keyword research is important for content if you want people to find you organically. Otherwise, you’re sitting on great content with a static audience number who already enjoys what you have to say.

You need keyword research to grow your audience. Here are some reasons to always keep your eye on keyword trends:

  • You need to know what your targeted audience is actually looking for
  • You want to keep up with your competition. Are they cashing in on search terms you never thought of?
  • You can decipher pain points through search phrases

If you don’t know how your targeted audience searches for content like yours, you’ll struggle to draw them in.

William Chin from My Wife Quit Her Job

Having run many content calendars, started content strategies and onboarded clients who have previous strategies, I can easily say that if your overall goal is to grow net new organic traffic (and not build posts for your existing audience), then keyword research is the most important thing you can do to have a successful strategy, here are the reasons why:

Competition: Anyone worth their SEO salt, will analyze the target keywords to see who ranks there currently, why they rank and where they rank. Looking at competitor’s “domain authority”, site structures, content length, backlinks and geographic relevancy, are “must-haves” on trying to decide whether you can “outrank that page””. If you just started a fresh new blog, and decide to go after a keyword that has 7 of the biggest US publishers on the first page of Google across the US, be prepared to wait to rank to the first page (you might not get there at all).

Topical Relevance: Relevancy is an extremely important aspect of having a strong content marketing strategy. By relevance, I mean you have done your research on the keywords and ensured that they MATCH your brand and what “new” users would look for. Just because you “think” something might resonate with new users, doesn’t mean it will. Pop into Google and do a quick search to see what Google thinks of your keyword. If the listings there don’t show articles related to something you’d write about, you might want to find another topic. At the end of the day, consider keywords that will drive value to your brand by ensuring they match with your business’ mission objectives.

Keyword Volume: One of the biggest issues is editors writing content that has little to no search volume. Do your research using the dozens of SEO tools out there and ensure that the keyword you are going for has monthly search volume.

Seasonality: Even if your keyword has search volume, sometimes it’s clustered at certain times of the year (or seasons). Therefore, when looking at the search volume always look at the months where the volume spikes. You’ll want to time your content calendar at the appropriate time to ensure that you end up with a ranking article when the traffic grows.

In-depth understanding and use of all 4 of these will pave the way to a successful content marketing strategy.

Samantha Russell, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Twenty Over Ten

Keywords help people find your content online.

We work specifically with financial advisors in helping them manage and supercharge their digital marketing efforts through content marketing and one thing we always recommend to them is to use the voice of their target client when blogging and developing keyword phrases.

Targeting keyword phrases through the voice of your target audience will help you stand out in your industry among your competitors and in your geographic location in organic searches.

Michelle Alese, Senior SEO Strategist, Kantaloupe

If you’re a marketer who writes about business topics, selecting keywords by search volume and difficulty simply isn’t enough without also considering the following:

Understand your readers: What types of obstacles do they have and what answers are they seeking as a result?

Know the different search intents: You may have chosen a seemingly great target keyword but if you don’t research the user search intent behind it, your content won’t be relevant to your readers or provide them with the solutions they need. That’s where the importance of understanding the right search intents come into play.

Evaluate search engine results pages (SERPs): By evaluating the first pages of SERPs, you can get a better idea of what your competitors are doing and how they’re already answering readers’ questions about the same topic.

Use creativity to provide unique value: A big mistake that many marketers make is creating content that matches the content of their competitors. However, you need to think bigger. Instead of asking yourself how to match your competitors, ask yourself how you can surpass the competition by providing the best answers possible for your readers’. Don’t be afraid to get extra creative and think outside the box.

Understand Search Behavior, Determine Keyword Difficulty

Bruce Hogan, CEO of  SoftwarePundit

There are two primary reasons that keyword research is important for content marketers:

  • to understand actual search behavior
  • to determine how difficult it is to rank for specific keywords

If you don’t do keyword research, you run the risk of creating great content that targets keywords that no one is searching for. Alternatively, by doing keyword research, you can confirm that the keywords your content targets are searched with high volume and have the potential to bring material traffic to your website.

In addition, keyword research helps content marketers target less competitive keywords. Without doing keyword research, you run the risk of unintentionally targeting extremely competitive keywords, which means your content likely won’t make the first page or capture any search traffic.

Nour Eissa, Content Writer of Stacks Market 
Keyword research is the cornerstone of SEO. content creation is purely niche-based, but it’s oriented through what your prospect customer or reader wants to read or learn more about.

Based on your market research and targeted customers, you should already know the pain points and interests of your targeted audience, and of course, you are aware of how the product/service your company provides relieves your targeted audience’s pain.

Keyword research then comes in to let you know how they are searching for products/services, tips, and tricks to relieve those pain points they struggle with.

However, It gets tricky to find a keyword that has high search value and low to medium competition level or Keyword difficulty.

There are numerous tools like Ubersuggest and SEMRush to help you find the best keywords in your niche that you can rank for.

Without Keyword research and optimization, your valuable content will have little chance of ranking on SERP and hence the organic traffic will be incredibly low.


Lilia Manibo, writer and editor at AnthroDesk.ca

Performing keyword research is vital for marketers to find the right terms people are using to find products and services. It also helps in understanding the monthly searches, competition, and SEO difficulty.

There are statistics that are needed to be considered, so doing keyword research is crucial. Ideally, keyword research helps in the following:

  • find the right terms to be used in your content (blog posts, articles, videos, social media content, etc.
  • discover and promote to the right target audience
  • drive more traffic to your content
  • build more engagement with your right readers
  • improve rankings in SERPs


Low Competition and In Demand

Andrew Cunliffe, co-founders of Second Fiddle

One of the most important things you can do in order to start and maintain a successful blog is keyword research.

Why would you decide on what topics to write about without knowing what people want to read about?

This is where keyword research comes in. There are various tools you can use (both paid and free) that will help you find the right target keyword to build your blog topic around.

Keyword research is vital, because not only can you discover topics that have a high search volume, you can also figure out what topics have low competition. With less competition, your content will have the potential to rank higher in search results! In short, keyword research helps you understand what content people are looking for and, although your blog might have some “epic content”, the reality is that if it doesn’t contain the keywords being searched then it won’t be found.

Here are some tips we recommend:

  • Use keyword research tools such as Ubbersugest or Keywords Everywhere to search keywords relevant to your industry.
  • Look for keywords that have a high volume and low competition
  • Build a blog topic around the keyword you find
  • Include the keyword throughout your blog copy

It’s that simple. A successful blogger will take the time to research what keywords their target audience is already searching for.

David LaVine, Founder RocLogic Marketing, LLC

Your content is only useful if people are engaging with it. They can’t engage with it if they can’t find it. There are several methods for encouraging people to engage with content: search, social media, publications, and email being some of the common methods.

If you want people to find your content via search (e.g. Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo), then you need to align some of your content with topics that people are searching for. If you’re creating content about things that people aren’t searching for, why would you show up? You need content that matches the search intent of a particular search query. Keyword research gives you that info. Even then, you’re by no means guaranteed to rank for that topic. There are dozens of important ranking factors in play. To oversimplify a bit, there are two necessary but insufficient conditions your content needs to meet:

    1. Your content needs to satisfy the searcher’s search intent better than other content attempting to do so.
    2. Your website needs to be deemed a trusted resource by the search engine of interest for the topic that you’re trying to rank for.

Stringing Together A Sentence

Daniel Foley, Director

Making sure you get the right set of keywords can be essential to making sure you are connecting with the right people. It’s not just about picking the right word, but also about assembling the correct phrase, taking in to account how your core audience would word something in a search engine can be just as important to making those keywords work, and attracting the right audience, who will continue to engage with you and help grow your brand or business in a long term way.

Tim Cameron-Kitchen, Head Ninja and Founder, Exposure Ninja

Any business or content creator will want to pay attention to keyword research because it’s these keywords that help your website show on Google when someone goes to search for something.

– Each page of your website, the main pages along with any blog content, will want to use keywords that have a high search volume for the topic you are discussing. You don’t want to stuff them onto the page; they need to sound natural within the content. It’s also a good idea to include keywords in your metadata, which should also be on each page. Metadata is the info that shows up on the Google search.

– For our clients, we use a number of tools to help us hone in on the best keywords to use like Moz, SurferSEO, and SEMrush. But even something as simple as going to Google and start typing in the kinds of questions your customer would ask to find your product or service will give you the top results people search for. Then you can use those to create content around.

Scot J Chrisman, CEO at THE MEDIA HOUSE

As an owner of a business that aims to build an online presence, keyword research is important to have a successful SEO for our website. Keyword Research is finding the words used by your audience in different search engines about their queries that are related to your products and services. It helps you understand the audience better so you could make more content that will interest them and can increase your conversion rates. It will also give the brand an idea of the current trends that can be used to establish higher customer engagement with your current customers.

The use of correct keyword research makes the website more visible in different search engines resulting in higher rankings that can increase online presence… It can also save you time and money by knowing the effectiveness of your marketing strategy thus preventing you from wasting money on funding failed projects.

Jenna Alburger, Co-founder and Marketing Strategist at Outlier Creative

Keyword research is a critical part of any content strategy. Without it, even the best content can go unnoticed and unranked. Keyword research helps brands:

  • Select keywords that are people actually searching for
  • Review competitor results to see what is working well
  • Understand how competitive it will be to rank for the keyword
  • Make sure topics are relevant to their target audience

Keyword research should also drive the topic selection. You could have a great idea for an article, but if no one is searching for relevant keywords, it’s unlikely that the article will gain any visibility in the Search Engine Results Page. It’s a good practice to identify popular search topics where you could add real value and offer a unique perspective.

Skyler Reeves, CEO of Ardent Growth

If you’re a content marketer and you’re not doing keyword research before writing, you’re losing out. Here are a few reasons why keyword research is so important for content marketers who care about their craft:

  • You’ll get a much higher ROI with every piece.
  • You’ll understand your audience better by understanding the various things they search for.
  • You’ll be able to identify the best format and medium for the content once you understand what the searcher wants (e.g. video, images, lists, guides, news, etc.).
  • You’ll reach more people with less effort than manual distribution takes.
  • You’ll make yourself more employable by adding this small SEO process to your skillset.
  • You’ll be able to charge more for your work if you have this skillset as well.
  • You don’t have to pay for tools to do keyword research. There are plenty of tutorials that explain how to do it with free tools.

The Number 1 Reason Why Keyword Research is Important

Sonya Schwartz, Founder at Her Norm

We always hear content marketing through SEO and we are intimidated by this every time. Little did we know that you can improve your website traffic through little things that will eventually improve your website’s SEO rating. As a writer on my own blog, I use several techniques on how to gain traffic with my articles and one of the most important things is researching the right keywords.

Using the right keywords for your writings can gain traffic to your website because this will make your writings rank well in search engines. Keyword research is important because identifying the words that will most likely be entered to search engines increases the chance of your article to match these searches thus being visible on the top results page.

Cyrus Yung, Director of Ascelade Pte Ltd

Keyword research is the second thing any online marketer needs to do before starting an online website or accepting any SEO project.

The first is to define what is the main goal of the new project… It is to increase search traffic to 100,000 within 2 years or to make $2,000 monthly income from affiliates, like Amazon Affiliate income, and ads in 2 years?
The goal you choose will determine what keyword research needs to be done.

To increase search traffic to 100,000, you need to find lots of high search traffic keywords that are low hanging fruit. To make a monthly $2,000 income, you will need to target buying and comparing types of keywords like “best”, “Vs” “under $xxx” or “Review”.

The third is to find out how hard is it to rank for your keywords. If most of the top 10 results are authority sites with minimal 50 backlinks to their pages, then it’s not worth your time, effort, and money to invest.

When all three conditions meet, then decide to go ahead with the project.

Blake Dan of GrillSimply.com

I have started a few niche sites over the past 4 years, some succeeding, and some that didn’t but that certainly helped me learn a whole lot about SEO and the importance of keyword research. My newest project is following a passion of mine – barbecue. For me, competing in a saturated niche, keyword research is vital. My biggest tip would be to hone in keywords that your site can actually compete with. To find out what keywords you can compete for on page 1 of Google or other search engines analyze the SERP.

– If you have a new site with very little backlinks and domain authority, its essential that you focus on keywords that have a SERP showing 3-4 sites under 10 DR in the top ten results.

– I would recommend finding as many keywords around a specific content topic within your niche, around 25-50, as it will be much easier for Google or other search engines to identify what your site is about, and see you as more of an authority on the topic.

– As your site grows and you start to have authority on specific topics you can then get a bit more ambitious, but always try to look for SERPs that have the top ten results around your own DR or less. This makes it much easier to rank for these terms should you have decent on-page SEO.

Chief Marketing Officer on Why is Keyword Research Important for Content Marketing

Sherry Mae (Shem Mandajos), CMO at Tankarium

As a seasoned marketer, keyword research is an integral part of my process workflow whenever I create new content. The keywords I determine worthy of use help bump my content higher in the eyes of search engines.

Listed below are some critical points as to why keyword research is a non-negotiable part of content creation.

  • If you use random keywords without any plan, it will lower how search engines see your content’s quality.
  • Keyword research helps locally-restricted businesses drive the right traffic into their site. For example, when users input “Houses for sale in California” in search engines, searchers see listings with the right keywords first. If a listing does not contain the word “California,” the chances are high that it gets pushed further in rankings making it difficult to sell
  • Keyword research helps identify long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords have significant power to bump your content higher in rankings, primarily if used in your headline titles.

Jessica Rose, Chief Executive Officer of Copper H2O

We are a 100% female-run e-commerce social enterprise in the health and wellness industry. We started in 2015 and have extensive experience with SEO. In our opinion, the best SEO strategy for optimizing an eCommerce store in 2020 remains to create comprehensive blog posts that are optimized and targeted for relevant keywords. Not only will this help your site rank for more keywords, but it will also result in evergreen content that will earn you plenty of organic links over time.

To adopt this approach, it is essential that you understand keyword research. In particular, you need to find the most relevant keywords, with the highest search volumes, related to your subject. Then think of ways to make substantive additions to your blog post which address those related keywords.

To be clear, it is important to not simply include the related keywords in the blog post (i.e. “keyword stuffing”). Rather, an effort must be made to include substantive discussions in the post which address the questions underlying each of the related keywords.

By doing this, the blog post has the greatest chance of ranking well for multiple high volume keywords and getting as much exposure as possible, as well as becoming excellent evergreen content that receives lots of links.

Stacy Caprio, Founder Her.CEO

Keyword research is an essential part of any content or audio publisher, marketer, blogger, and store owner strategy because, without it, you are simply shooting the money and time that goes into creating content into the dark.

With keyword research before publishing content, you can start to develop an idea of how competitive your site, niche, and specific keywords are, as compared to others that already exist, and you can start to feel out the traffic volume each piece of content has the potential to bring to your site.

This allows you to be smart about choosing topics and keywords, so they can actually bring you organic traffic down the road as opposed to publishing hundreds of articles no one will ever read but you and maybe your mom if you send her the link.

Lora Bovie, SEO Associate, Choosing Therapy

Anyone who is creating and publishing content on the web should know how to do at least a basic level of keyword research. This could mean the difference between capturing 10 organic traffic leads and thousands.

While there are tons of YouTube tutorials claiming to get you thousands of traffic and ranking number one in Google in a day, they very seldomly stay as a sustainable tactic for a website.

A “basic level” keyword research is to use tools like Moz’s keyword tool or Ahref’s keyword explorer tool and plugin some keywords that already have to do with your niche. What you want to look for is a low difficulty and a high average monthly traffic stats for the given keyword. Then you would include the keyword in your content strategy within your content body, meta titles and descriptions, and header tags (if it’s for written).

Here’s an example: Say I’m running a food blog and I’m looking to grow my content, and want to dive deeper into different types of food and recipes. I go into Ahref’s and plug-in several different keywords regarding rice.

I can see there is a huge opportunity in this space because “rice plant” has a difficulty of 2 (out of one hundred, meaning this is very easy to attain a high ranking in Google), and an average of 10,000 searches per month. So just having this keyword research has helped me adjust my plan to my content strategy accordingly.

Carlie Fitzpatrick, Sr. SEO Strategist, MediaSmack

Keyword research is all about relevance. How is your content relevant to a user’s search query? You may be putting out epic content, but if you are not using search terms that coincide with your target audience, then you probably will not see quality traffic or any traffic at all. At a basic level, keyword research can give you insight into:

  • Which search terms related to your industry or market users care about
  • How many users are searching for particular terms
  • Which variation of a word people use more in your locality

You can use your keyword research to inform content strategy that targets your ideal audience, while also giving your audience the information that it wants.

At MediaSmack, we work with a lot of law firms and solo practitioners. We may have a personal injury lawyer that wants to go after premises liability cases. However, most people do not know what “premises liability” means, so there is little to no search volume for it. It would not make sense for us to put a lot of effort into targeting a keyword like “premises liability lawyer.” Rather, keyword research would help us determine which keywords are relevant to the target audience – in this case, likely “slip and fall lawyer” or a variation of that.

CEO on Why is Keyword Research Important for Content Marketing

Grant Aldrich, Founder, and CEO of Online Degree

The higher education industry is pretty saturated with content, so it’s crucial to stand out. One of the main ways to gain traffic in a crowded space is by using keyword research.
However, to understand what your audience is searching for, you first have to understand your audience. It would help if you asked questions like:

  • What types of online courses are people searching for?
  • Who is searching (age, ethnicity, nationality, gender, etc.)?
  • When are they searching (season, time)?
  • What specific terms are they using?
  • Where are they searching (geographic location)?

Once you can answer these questions about your customers, it will be much easier to choose the right keywords. Once you have your audience and initial keywords picked out, you can start to integrate them into your content.

Kevin Miller, Founder, and CEO of The Word Counter

Engaging information is more important now than ever. Yes, the content you’re producing needs to be SEO-optimized, and you need to have a good title. But you mainly need to write content that helps inform and engage online readers.

One of the best ways to blend art with science is by understanding the questions people are asking about a particular topic before you go in and write about it.

There are tools you can use that can help you compile a list of the most-asked questions around certain topics and then, in your article, you can go in and answer those questions in a detailed way. This approach will give you good, informative content that people can actually use.

A good SEO strategy relies on high-quality content plus in-depth keyword research. If you do the leg work and use keyword research tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs, you can identify hidden opportunities and then capitalize on those opportunities by creating high-quality, keyword-informed content.

Another key to great content is to understand your narrative. How should the consumption of your content marketing make your targets feel? What actions should the assets inspire? Knowing, ideally with data, how different groups of people react to your brand, learn your value proposition, and are motivated to take action is the best lesson I’ve learned.

Since my company’s inception, I’ve formed a fantastic team of employees that help me create content as well as market it effectively. We have scaled quickly and seen tremendous growth.

Adam Gingery, Digital Strategy and Paid Search Manager at Majux Marketing

“If you want to gain inbound traffic from your content marketing, you need to spend time doing good keyword research:

  1. It will help you know what content to write: the data is out there, and you can know the questions that your potential customers are asking online
  2. It will help you prioritize different pieces of content in your calendar: your content pieces won’t be equal; put high volume keywords or high-intent keywords higher on your list of priorities
  3. It will inform the actual writing once you’ve chosen topics – What subheadings (h2s, h3s) and paragraphs will support this topic from a user and SEO perspective?
  4. It will help you build a funnel based on users’ intent to buy – build remarketing lists from your blog content, and organize them in top-of-funnel or mid-funnel buckets

So how do you do this keyword research and identify valuable topics? Here’s one possible progression for those without SEO tools who are just starting out with your content strategy:

  1. Let’s say you are launching a beauty product line focusing on exfoliating face masks. Start by Googling a very high level query around this topic – we’ll use “exfoliating face masks”
  2. Find the “people also ask” feature in the SERPs – here’s the example from this search
  3. Boom – there are four blog topics to start with. Better yet, if you click on those questions, the “people also ask” feature expands into even more related topics

What if you do have SEO or PPC tools at your disposal?

  1. Write down a list of products or keywords related to your business: “charcoal face mask,” “exfoliating mask,” “facial skin care,” etc.
  2. Take your keywords one at a time and plug them into the SEMRush keyword magic tool, then filter by “questions” – these make great blogs
  3. You can also paste your keywords into the Google Ads keyword planner. Use the volume tool to sort them by monthly volume, or use the discovery tool to get more ideas

How does keyword research help you write blogs once you’ve chosen topics? Here’s an example:

  1. Let’s say you chose the topic, “how often should you exfoliate your face?” Google that phrase to start off.
  2. Once you’ve googled it, find the People Also Ask tool again. These questions showed for me when I did this: “when should I exfoliate my face?”, “is it ok to exfoliate every day?”, and “is it better to exfoliate at morning or night?”. These questions should be your h2s in the posts.”

Mason Culligan, Founder, and CEO of Mattress Battle Inc.

In my organization, Keyword Research is a great way to start our SEO optimizations plan. This strategy allows you to get a better understanding of what your target audience is looking for and how you can gear your content, as well as your marketing strategies, towards it.

You should be keen on keywords and terminologies internet users are utilizing to search for services and products. Doing so will give you a significant advantage on how to market your content effectively. Then center your content around this information to get the most out of your content online and rank well on SERPs. It is a bullseye strategy.

Moreover, when crafting your Keyword Research-optimized content, incorporate the technique of switching words. Certain words are different in specific dialects. Hence, utilizing word switching maximizes your chance of attracting more traffic, organic searches, and moving up on the results pages.

A Keyword By Any Other Name, May Not Be As Sweet

Jane Tabachnick, Content Strategy | PR | Book Publishing

Keyword research is important as it helps your content get seen by more of the people who are interested in your topics. Whether you are a content marketer, blogger, eCommerce owner,
YouTuber, podcaster, or product creator, you can benefit from doing keyword research.

Knowing what terms your prospects use to search for information, as well as what they are interested in helps you write better content that gets seen more widely.

Using the right keywords, the ones your audience uses, helps you resonate with them more quickly and deeply. Reading or watching your content, they relate more because you are speaking their exact language, which helps them feel like they are understood and it helps build connection. This adds to the know, like, and trust that is needed to turn prospects into customers.

Two words may have identical meanings, but as keywords, they can differ significantly. One word may be widely used by your audience to describe their problem, need, or wish, while the other one is not a term they use. Keyword research will let you know the proper words to use to put you in front of your audience and get more visibility.

Keyword optimized content on your website, Youtube Channel, or blog can also help tell the search engines what your content is about, as well as helping it rank higher for the topic based on being relevant.

As a content strategist and book publisher, we do keyword research before creating book titles, subtitles, and book descriptions. Knowing what keywords our readers will use to search for a book is important to know before deciding on a title. Keywords help the books get found by the right readers, and also confirm for them that the book is on the topic they are searching for; using the right keywords helps sell more books.

Alex Furfaro, Owner, Alex Furfaro SEO Consulting

Keyword research is one of my favorite topics to talk about because there’s almost an endless supply of keywords for almost every industry. Yet, in true writer’s block fashion, most people don’t know what to create content about.

So why is keyword research important? Because keywords are like the content creators’ version of having answers in the back of the textbook.
• We know these are topics people want information about
• We know roughly how many people are trying to find it
• We can use keyword clusters as a framework to make content creation easier

Take the SEO industry for example – backlinks are one of the most powerful metrics to gain higher rankings in the search engine.

If we look up backlinks in a keyword tool like Ahrefs, we’ll find dozens of question-based keywords people are asking about them:
What are backlinks? How to get backlinks? How to buy quality backlinks? How to get quality backlinks free? And more.

Just off of these four queries, we could easily create content about different techniques to gain backlinks with sub-sections about ways to get links for free and another about paid strategies. But without researching this ahead of time, we might not know to produce content about free ways to get backlinks as many people think the only way to get them is to pay.

Jase Rodley. Founder/CEO

The reason keyword research is so important is that you are trying to engage an audience who will be interested in what you are offering, and even further to that will provide you with repeat engagement that can help you build your brand and following moving forward.

Selecting the wrong keywords could leave you with little visitors to your page, or alternatively, you might get visitors, but they may have no interest in what you are offering and simply won’t return or engage with you. It’s not about engaging an audience. It’s about engaging an audience who is interested.

Holly Winters of Brandcave.co

For content creators of any sort, keyword research is an absolute necessity; it doesn’t matter how great the content is if no one ever sees it. Keyword research could benefit virtually every brand, and it can help accomplish a plethora of goals:

Website traffic: Targeting for keywords means more of the right people (your target audience) will land on your site. This is especially important for B2B’s, who often gain a majority of clients through their websites. Optimizing for search results is a great way to bring in more interested potential buyers.

Brand recognition: this is crucial for a brand to be at the front of buyers’ minds. Targeting keywords will let you reach your audience better and remind them of your value.

General research: Keywords provide excellent insight on how and why people are buying your good / service, and they can show you gaps in the market that you may not had considered otherwise.

Lisa Parmley of CourseMethod

Keyword research really helps you maximize the effort you’re putting into content marketing. Every word you write or video you produce could receive much more traffic if you take the time to research out the keywords first.

For example, I just wrote the following pillar content: Find Profitable Online Course Ideas with a Proven 3-Step System.

This piece of content is new so it likely doesn’t rank for anything yet, but because I spent the time and money to consult a few keyword research tools, I knew to optimize it for specific keywords. These are keywords people actually search for.

This content is very in-depth and based on my own experience, and without optimizing it for keywords I’m sure it would be seen by far fewer people (which makes me feel sad). So instead of blindly writing content, do a little research with a keyword tool so you can get more traffic. It will help with YouTube videos as well so it’s not just limited to written content.

Itamar Blauer, SEO Consultant

The biggest reason why websites don’t get any traffic even though they write “epic content” is because they haven’t segmented their audiences correctly within keyword research. Specifically, they fail to identify the user intent of certain keywords, rather simply using all the keywords they see as relevant.

Focusing on user intent within keyword research is imperative as it allows you to:

– Better understand a user’s thought process when they’re looking for specific content
– Increase your chances of these users converting and/or visiting other pages on your website
– Improve your engagement metrics which are becoming more important in SEO

When conducting your keyword research, cluster the keywords into one of three intent groups: informational, navigational, or transactional. This will help you tailor your content marketing to suit users who have a specific intent in mind when they are searching online.

Derek Lenze, Founder of Floating Authority

Doing content marketing without keyword research is like putting a blindfold on before an archery contest, you may hit the target on a couple of shots but you will not be as accurate in the long run.

Keyword research is important because it allows you to take off that proverbial blindfold and develop your content strategy around keywords that you can realistically rank for.

In my case, if I was a new site looking to rank for the term “kayaks” I would have a big uphill battle on my hands because of all the authoritative websites with boatloads of backlinks ranking for that term.

Instead, I look for more longtail phrases such as “best kayaks under 500” that I can realistically rank for because I see lower authoritative websites (like niche sites) that occupy the search results for that term.

I use keyword research tools like Ahrefs that paint a picture of the competitiveness for the landscape of sites ranking in the top 10, and base my content decisions around this data.

Tonya Davis, Marketing Manager at ThoughtLab

Keyword research helps you determine what search terms within your niche have the most search volume. You want traffic to your site, so going after terms that have search volume is the best approach to getting there. One caveat, however, is that keyword research should be viewed instead as topic research. Don’t make one single search term the focal point of one article, make it the topic of many articles.

For example, say you wanted to rank for “at home workout” which has around 100k-1M searches monthly. Instead of writing one article that used that search term throughout, I would use it as the general topic for a series of articles. You can create an endless amount of content around that topic, such as: at home workouts without equipment, at home workouts to lose weight, at home workouts for beginners, at home workouts to build muscle, etc. You’ll have a much better time generating traffic with this approach.

Rod Austin, Head of Marketing at 4Degrees.ai

Not only is keyword research critical in helping the content marketer create SEO-ready content, it’s also the key to discovering the intent behind those keywords. Why is intent important?

Knowing what challenges a search term represents can help shape the content to address the true motivation behind the term, ideally tying that intent to the desired outcome of your website.

The desired outcome could be a lead conversion, e-commerce sale, or demo request – tying that outcome to what the person is seeking can help both the placement in search results as well as the outcome of said placement.

My recent experiments in addressing intent, combined with a couple of internal and external links, has enabled some of our blog content to rank in the top 10 results on Google within a few weeks of publishing

Nate Rodriguez, Web Analyst / Account Manager of LIFTOFF Digital

If you’re not doing keyword research, you’re leaving tons of traffic on the table.

  • Most content bloggers approach keyword research as an afterthought. They create an article or piece of content on something they think they’re audience will like and then look for keywords. This is the wrong approach for many reasons.
  • The biggest reason why its the wrong approach is because you’re trying to guess what your audience likes and you’re trying to retroactively SEO optimize an article.
  • A better approach is to research what your audience is searching in Google aka keyword research. I recommend using Ahrefs (an SEO tool), pop in your main keywords, and look for keywords that have a low keyword difficulty (under 30) and has a decent search volume (500+) you can write about. Once you pick your keywords, start creating content for that specific keyword, and make that article better than what’s on the first page for that keyword. I guarantee you will be much better off with this approach, I’ve never seen it not work if your patient enough.
  • For example, I’ve seen blogs with 12 SEO articles made with the better approach, bring in 30k traffic per month and I’ve seen blogs with 100+ articles that bring in less than 400 traffic per month because they use the old approach. Don’t be like them, use the better approach.

Liora Bram, Co-Founder, and VP of Marketing Services at MyHelp, Inc.

Keyword research is critical to improving a website’s ranking. Research shows that the majority of site clicks go to the first few organic search listings, so keyword research done right can help you appear more frequently and more prominently – and generate more leads, sales, and revenue.

Most people are familiar with researching longtail keywords (e.g, “men’s shoe stores in Miami”) but we advise folks to spend time researching longtail keywords that focus on buyer intent. What do you want people to do? Visit your website? Learn more about your offer? Buy your software package? We work with clients come up with keyword phrases in the following categories:

  • Informational – these phrases, often in the form of a question, are used by people researching something that interests them. Examples include: “how to fix a leaky faucet” or “what are the top small business CRM software packages?”
  • Navigational – Typically, in this case, the user has heard of your business, and may type your business name, location and/or other information into a search engine to find your URL
  • Transactional – These are phrases people who want to buy things would use. Examples include “Free trial bookkeeping software” or “buy wireless earbuds Amazon.”

Keyword research is the customer analysis of content marketing.

David McHugh, CMO of Crediful

When you’re trying to sell a product, you need to know who you’re selling to. You won’t be able to sell to an audience without knowing who the audience is, what their problems are, and what they want in a product.

When it comes to content marketing, it’s the same way. You can’t put out content that speaks to your audience and answers their questions without knowing what they’re looking for, what they’re searching for, and the specific things they want to know about your niche or topic.

This is where keyword research comes in. It allows you to see what your audience is searching, which gives you crucial details about who they are, and the content that will influence them to buy, or at least to remember your brand. Without good keyword research, your content marketing may be sailing right over your audience’s heads.

The Marketing Introvert

The best way to explain keyword research is to think of it as a way to manage expectations. The two basic metrics in keyword research are volume and difficulty. Here’s how to use it:

  • Volume determines interest. High volume means there’s a lot of people interested in it. Write content on high volume topics, less chances for a flop (all things being equal).
  • Difficulty determines competition. High difficulty means more competition. Supports the popularity of the term (because lots of other people are talking and writing about it), but at the same time, takes longer to achieve results.

That’s why you need to perform keyword research so you manage your expectations. If you tackle a high volume, high difficulty keyword, then expect your post to take longer to get results.

Kevin Geary, CEO at Digital Gravy

Keyword research is important for websites hoping to rank for two primary reasons:

  1. It ensures that you’re creating content people are actually searching for and hoping to find.
  2. It shows you all the content possibilities so you can maximize your content ideas.

For example, a personal finance blogger might try to write an article called “How to Save Money” without doing any research. It’s not a great article to write, though, because it’s way too generic.

By doing some keyword research, we find that:

  • It’s best to write articles on how to save money for specific things.
  • “How to save money” actually has two different contexts that we can write for.


  • “How to Save Money for College” (specific)
  • “How to Save Money in College” (a completely different type of article)
  • “How to Save Money on Groceries” (another completely different type of article)
  • “How to Save Money for a Car” (specific)

This example shows why keyword research is absolutely essential to content marketing and should always be done prior to content planning and content development.

Internet Marketer & CEO On Keyword Research

Shayne Sherman, CEO of TechLoris

Too many companies are still thinking in terms of keywords, rather than key phrases. The latter is what gets you to the top of search rankings.

With modern SEO tools, you can learn the exact queries and questions your customers have, as well as where they’re located and how they’re browsing. This gives you a powerful incentive to think in terms of the phrases you’ll use surrounding your pillar content.

Just because the words are there doesn’t mean anything anymore. Everything you publish should seem like an informative answer to a friend or colleague’s specific question. Coherent and engaging writing based around key phrases wins every time.

Busy Mom and eCommerce Owner Weighs In

Becky Beach, the owner of Mom Beach LLC

I’m Becky Beach, an eCommerce owner and a blogger that’s been featured in Business Insider and Forbes.

If you neglect to do keyword research, then how can people find you? People use Google and other search engines to search for keywords that solve their problems. If you are not targeting those keywords, then you are not going to get any traffic. Not only do you have to have the right keywords, but you also have to craft your content so that it is user-friendly. Google caters to the user and wants them to have the best experience possible. If your site is loading slowly, then Google will not rank you high for a keyword.

About the author: Doug Cunnington is the founder of Niche Site Project. He shows people how to create Affiliate Sites using project management and a proven, repeatable framework. Doug loves creating systems, using templates, and brewing beer (but usually not at the same time).