SEO keyword research in 8 steps

Keyword research is one of the first steps in the SEO process and an essential part of your SEO strategy. Before creating content for your website, you should find out which search terms (keywords and key phrases) your target customers are using. Their search terms are your focus keywords. Based on these keywords, you can start writing useful, high-quality content.

Why is keyword research important?

Thorough keyword research ensures that you use the same terms as your target audience, which makes all of the effort of website optimisation much more worthwhile. What’s more, you can find out exactly what your target market is looking for by examining the search intent. These queries should receive a response in the form of high-quality content.

Basic concepts of keyword research

Long-tail keyword

Long-tail keywords are more specific and have a lower search volume than what are known as head keywords. They focus on a niche. The longer and more specific the search term/key phrase, the easier it is to get a good ranking as there is less competition. Even though fewer people are searching using these terms, they may be more motivated to buy, subscribe, register or whatever they are supposed to do.

Keyword strategy

Your keyword strategy is about the decisions you make based on your keyword research. For example, which content will you create first? Will you focus on the head or tail? How and where will you publish? Will you create a text, post or product page, a video tutorial or infographics?

Search intent

Search intent is the key to this: you have to find out what the searcher actually wants or needs. It’s not just about the search terms, but the objectives underlying what the searcher wants to know, do or buy. Your content should offer a solution to the searcher’s "problem". This is also called content strategy.

Keyword research in 8 steps

1.    Set out your mission

Before getting started, consider your marketing strategy. Think about questions such as: what is the main goal of your company or organisation? What makes it special? Who exactly do you hope to reach?

2.    Create a keyword list

The second step is to create a keyword list, preferably using a spreadsheet tool such as Google Sheets or Excel. Try to understand the thought process of your target customers, while keeping your mission in mind. What are they looking for? What type of search terms might they use when searching for your services or products?

3.    Research your keywords

Having created this initial list, it’s time to dive a little deeper into your keywords. Fortunately, various providers, including Google itself, offer tools designed to make keyword research a little easier. Look for the keywords that you’ve already thought of and check Google’s suggested search queries as you type them in. These are the questions that Google has actually been asked!

4.    Think about the long-tail keywords

When people begin their keyword research, they tend to focus on very popular head terms. Unfortunately, these keywords are usually used by big companies. Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, receive less search traffic, but there is also less competition. Therefore, it is easier for you to rank well with these keywords.

5.    Analyse the competition

Whether you should look for long-tail keywords depends largely on your competition. If competition is high in your niche, you will have a hard time achieving a good ranking given this. If you have few competitors, on the other hand, you might still be able to rank well for your head keywords.

6.    Take a closer look at the search intent

Try to find out what the intent is when your audience types certain key phrases into Google: do they have an information intent (they are trying to find information on a particular topic), a navigation intent (they want to access a particular website), a commercial intent (they want to research something before making a purchase) or a transaction intent (they want to buy something right now)?

7.    Establish a keyword strategy

You can now use the data you have collected as the basis for establishing a keyword strategy. If you have followed the steps above, you should have a spreadsheet with a significant number of keywords and information about your competition and also your audience’s search intent for these keywords.

8.    Start building landing pages

Theoretically, this step is outside of the scope of the actual keyword research. Nevertheless, it’s obviously essential to create appealing landing pages if you want to drive traffic to your website. So you have to create landing pages for your search terms – step by step.

Keyword research – summary and outlook

Systematic keyword research should be the first step in any sustainable SEO strategy. The result is a long list of keywords and key phrases by which you want to be found.
That’s just for starters. Now you have to fill your website with content tailored to all of these keywords. You should write articles and blog posts for every single keyword by which you want to be found. 

About the Author:

Jochen Maier, Managing Director of summ-it,, Tel: 0711 184262-91

Before founding his own business, Jochen Maier was responsible for many years for global marketing at the company where he worked. He founded summ-it on the basis of this experience: summ-it helps countless companies worldwide to devise the right strategies and create high-quality content for publication on websites with a modern design. Among other things, the company publishes its own summ-it guide to writing SEO texts. 

What retailers and manufacturers should do now:

  • Plan first! Only start creating content once you are clear about for WHOM you are creating WHICH content and WHAT you can specifically offer.
  • Take a step-by-step approach and regularly review your progress.
  • Avoid duplicate content for the same keyword – otherwise you’re only competing with yourself.
  • Keyword research requires expertise and the right tools. Experts can provide specific, measurable support.

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