Organic Search 8 min read

A Quick Guide to Keyword Research (What It Is, How to Do It + Tools to Use)

By Laura Imrie 26 September, 2023

Keyword research is the foundation for any successful SEO strategy.

So, understanding what your audience is looking for, and creating the right content to satisfy their needs, is crucial if you want to see increased traffic, sales and overall growth for your business.

But what steps do you need to take to find the right keywords to target?

And what should you consider before investing time and effort into your SEO strategy?

In this blog, we’ll provide a quick guide for keyword research, including:

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What is keyword research?

Keyword research is the process of researching and analysing the keywords that your target audience enter into search engines.

Keywords are the words or phrases people type into search engines, like Google or Bing, to find the desired information or products.

For example, if you were looking to go on a trip somewhere you might search for something like “cheap holidays” or “short city breaks”.

Conducting effective keyword search allows you to find the most relevant terms to include within your content strategy.

Related: The Secret to Driving Real Growth Through SEO [webinar]

How to target the right keywords

If this is your first venture into keyword research for SEO, it can be quite a daunting task.

Especially if you’re looking to target generic terms like ‘digital marketing’, for example.

Typing ‘digital marketing’ into a keyword research tool will bring back 100s, even thousands, of results which need to be filtered to find the ones that are worth being including in your content strategy.

There are 4 key areas you’ll want to consider when building out your keyword targeting:

  • Volume
  • Difficulty
  • Journey Stage
  • Intent

We’ll cover each of these in this section of the blog.


Historically, a lot of marketers have been ‘volume chasers’.

While conducting their keyword research, they see the volume against the keyword as the determining factor for whether or not they should target it.

They see that there is high volume against the keyword and, naturally, assume that it is going to translate into a high amount of traffic for them.

But that’s not the case.

There are a lot of other factors to consider when choosing your keywords.

Volume is still an important one to consider – but it isn’t the main thing to focus your attention on.

Keyword research - volume


Difficulty is a core metric to consider when conducting your keyword research.

Keyword research - difficulty

It’s typically available in most keyword research tools such as Ahrefs and SEMrush, which we’ll cover a little later in this blog.

And essentially, what it’s telling you is how difficult it is for you to rank for that keyword.

The higher the number, the more difficult it will be for you to show up on the SERP for that term.

This is based on several factors including the number of other brands and websites that are competing for that keyword.

As well as other core elements that are required for you to rank well such as page speed and high-quality backlinks.

Journey Stage

Being aware of the target audience’s journey stage is also important to consider.

Without understanding where your intended audience are in their journey, whether that’s awareness, consideration, decision.

Or they may even be in those post-purchases stages where they’re looking for help and support.

Understanding this will help steer your content strategy and dictate the keywords you should be looking for.


And that leads us to, arguably the most important thing to consider in your keyword strategy, intent.

Words are words.

But being able to look beyond them and understand the meaning behind the term – and what your audience is trying to achieve with their search – is key.

In an ideal world, every search would be commercially driven.

But the reality is, only a small percentage actually are.

People go to Google for a whole host of reasons:

  • they could simply just have a question they’re looking to have answered.
  • they might looking to build their own knowledge and skills through how-tos.
  • they might be researching brands and products through reviews.

So, you need to make sure your content matches the intent behind that search term.

Keyword research - intent

And the best way to know this, is to actually search the keyword yourself.

Remember to search in an Incognito browser, to ensure that no personalisation is occurring in your search results.

Taking this step will help you see what kind of content Google deems is relevant for this search (which they determine through metrics such as click rate and bounce back to SERP.)

You can see what’s working for brands that are targeting it – and adjust your own strategy accordingly.

Keyword research tools to use

There are quite a few tools available for keyword research – all offer different things.

Finding the right one for you will depend on what you’re looking to achieve with your SEO research and reporting – as well as your budget.

But to help you get started, we’ve listed a couple that we use here at QueryClick:

To find out more about each tool, read our blog: ‘Top 5 Keyword Research Tools to Drive SEO Performance.

Looking for an SEO partner?

At QueryClick, we’re well versed in all things SEO.

We partner with businesses across retail and ecommerce, finance, B2B, and travel (to name a few) to create strategies that work for their goals.

And it all starts with a robust SEO audit.

To find out more, download our guide below. Or get in touch with our team here.

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