How To Do Keyword Research

A simple and effective guide.

You want people to find what you write, right? Of course you do. No one wants their blog post or website to be sucked into the internet’s black hole. You can pay to promote your content, and you can push it out on social media, but wouldn’t it be great if people just stumbled on it by themselves?

That’s why you need to know how to do keyword research. It’s a key part of writing for SEO.

Once you know how to do keyword research, you’ll have an invaluable peek inside the skulls of internet users around the world. What are they searching for, and how often? What specific phrases do they use?

Keyword research can tell you that thousands of more people search for “whiten your teeth” than “whiten your smile,” so you know what to title your blog post. An optimized title can be the first step in getting you serious organic traffic.

Keep reading and we’ll tell you how.


How to do keyword research

There are several tools out there for keyword research: SEMrush, Moz Keyword Explorer, and Ubersuggest, just to name a few. But for the most accurate tool, we recommend the Google Keyword Planner. Here’s how to use it.

1. Sign into Google (or your Gmail account). If you don’t have one, you can set up one up for free at

2. Go to


4. Select Find new keywords.

5. Type in the keyword you’d like to explore (e.g., whiten teeth), or type in a website whose keywords you want to see (e.g.,

6. The next settings you’ll want to edit are your targeted location(s), language, and networks.

  • All locations: The default is traffic in the United States. Change this to a particular city or state if you only want to see how often that location searches for something.
  • All languages: The default is set to English. If your target audience primarily speaks Spanish, for instance, you might want to research how often they search for your keyword. Note that the user must have set his or her Google interface language settings to Spanish. We recommend you leave the default.
  • Google: Do you want to see the number of searches people make for your keyword in Google, or all search engines? We recommend leaving the default, Google, but you can also pick Google and search partners.

7. Whew. Hanging in there? Just a few more optional settings to go to customize your keyword search:

  • Add filters: You can filter out searches that don’t meet a minimum search volume or searches with high AdWords competition. But we recommend leaving these blank (the default).

8. Focus on Keywords, Competition, and Avg. monthly searches.

  • Keywords groups related terms, giving you an idea of wording variations.
  • Competition tiers keywords into one of three pools, Low, Medium and High
  • Average monthly searches is how many times people everywhere (or in your target area, if you specified that before) search for a certain phrase. Anything over 1,000 is good to target. If the searches get too high, like in the millions, you probably can’t crack the first page of Google for it.

Now you’re ready to settle on some target keywords and keyword phrases!

9. Once you’ve compiled your keywords you can use the DOWNLOAD KEYWORD IDEAS link in the top right.

How to do keyword research: Choosing target keywords


So you’ve got a bunch of keywords as well as keyword volume. You did the research, but how do you make sense of it? How do you turn Google Keyword Tool results into next steps?

  • Make sure the keyword phrases are relevant to your brand and target customer. If you’re an eco-friendly, holistic dentist, you don’t want to write about how to whiten teeth with harsh chemicals — even if there is a high search volume for that. (But you could write about how that’s a bad idea…)
  • Find the sweet spot of average monthly searches. The higher the searches, the greater website visibility potential and inbound traffic. If you have a newer website or have fewer than 20 posts, you may wish to look for traffic with under than 150 searches (more than this might be too competitive).
  • Note the competition, but don’t let it dictate what you do. Remember, the “Low,” “Medium,” and “High” competition refers to how competitive ads are for that phrase. Maybe everyone is buying ads for tooth whitening, but no one is blogging about it. Do some searches and see. In general, though, the lower the competition, the better your chance of ranking high up in the results.
  • Look at the Top of page bid (high range) for an idea of how desirable the visitor is. It will show how much the top advertiser is willing to bid to show their ad in results for a certain keyword. Typically, advertisers are willing to bid higher on keywords that produce a desirable outcome (like a sale or lead). So the higher the suggested bid, the more lucrative the visitor.

Here’s your formula for a good target keyword:

Relevant topic + high searches + low competition + high top of page bid

Now that you have a list of keywords to target, the next step is to create awesome content that’s keyword optimized.

Still have questions about how to do keyword research? Let us know!


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