The Power of Keywords: How to Research and Use Them Effectively

The Power of Keywords How to Research and Use Them Effectively Blog Banner

Keyword research is the fundamental pillar of a successful marketing campaign. It acts as a bridge, connecting your content with the search intent of your target audience.

In this article, we will cover the power of keywords and share some tips on researching and using them effectively.

First, let’s understand what keywords are.

What are Keywords?

Keywords are phrases people type in search engines to find the information they need.

Keywords have significant importance in search engine optimization (SEO).

For example, if you want to buy men’s shirts, you could search for “best shirts for men” on Google. These are the words and phrases we call keywords.

Now, let’s see why keywords are so important.

Why are Keywords Important?

Keywords are the heart of your content strategy. When you optimize your content with the key terms your audience is using, you become more visible in the search results and attract more attention.

It is also crucial to remember that the online space is competitive. You will need to give your best to stand out from the crowd.

Keywords are not only the key factor for bringing visitors to your website; they are also very helpful in understanding your market’s mindsets.

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Understanding Different Types of Keywords

Before understanding how to use keywords to elevate your SEO marketing efforts, learning the various classifications of keywords is crucial. This includes short-tail vs. long-tail keywords and the search intent behind each keyword.

Short-tail vs. Long-tail Keywords

Short-tail keywords are commonly seen as generic, high-volume terms that are textually shorter, such as “shoes” or “recipe books.” 

These keywords are extremely competitive since almost all businesses in similar niches rank for those terms. As a result, trying to rank for those terms will unlikely yield positive returns in terms of SERP ranking.

Conversely, long-tail keywords are more specific and have fewer monthly search volumes. Examples of long-tail keywords are: “easy vegetarian dinner recipes” or “women’s running sneakers for flat feet.” 

Long-tail keywords are more niche and less competitive than short-tail, which means sites are more likely to rank for these terms.

Keywords According to Search Intent

Google interprets keywords beyond their semantic meaning. The pragmatics behind those terms matter just as much if you want to rank for those keywords on Google SERPs.

Google calls them “search intent” or the intention behind each user query.

There are four types of search intent:

  • Informational 
  • Navigational
  • Commercial investigation
  • Transactional

Informational keywords are used when searchers are looking for information. 

For instance, “how to fix a running pipe” or perhaps, for those seeking organization in their social media strategy, “how to plan Instagram posts effectively“? 

People using these keywords are usually trying to learn something or answer a question rather than looking to buy something right away.

Navigational keywords are used when users want to find a website or web page. 

Say, for example, “Facebook Login” or “Amazon customer service” as a search inquiry. These keywords are branded, and you should look at them during your strategy creation if you want to rank for specific features of your business website.

Commercial keywords help searchers who are in the decision stage of the buyer’s journey and are looking for reviews, comparisons, or suppliers. 

Such keywords usually have modifier terms like “top,” “best,” or “review” attached to them. For instance, “What are the best shoes for triathlons?” or “iphone vs samsung which is better?”

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Finally, people use transactional keywords when ready to buy a product or hire a service.

 Such keywords usually include phrases like “buy,” “deal,” “discount,” or “sale.” For example, “buy running shoes online.

By knowing these different types of keywords, you can create content that talks to visitors at the different stages of their journey. 

Keyword Research and Content Creation Process

Finding the perfect keywords takes a bit of detective work. Here’s the basic process:

1. Brainstorm: Consider the keywords that describe your business and what your audience might type in the search bar.

2. Use Tools: Keyword research tools aim not only at identifying the most popular keywords but also at determining whether there are challenges regarding keyword ranking.

3. Analyze: Pick phrases and keywords that have higher traffic volume and that are not that very competitive.

Here’s the particular steps involved in the keyword research process.

I. Identifying Seed Keywords

Think of seed keywords as the starting points for your treasure hunt! Here’s how to find them:

Brainstorming: Think from the customers’ point of view. Which words or phrases would you use to find your products or services on websites or search engines in your industry? Jot down topics, problems, and questions they might ask.

Competitor Analysis: Sneaky but smart! Use tools to see what keywords drive traffic and business to your competitors. This gives you a head start on finding relevant terms for your own website.

Keyword Research Tools

Your keyword research wouldn’t be complete without some handy tools! Here’s a quick look at what’s out there:

Free Tools:

  1. Google Keyword Planner: This tool is ideal for beginners and integrates directly with Google Ads. It provides search volume and competition data, helping you select keywords based on performance metrics.
  2. Ubersuggest: Uber offers information about the number of searches and the level of competition and also suggests content ideas for the keywords that you type in. 
  3. Answer The Public: This visual tool is excellent for finding questions and prepositions associated with your seed keywords and expanding your list with valuable long-tail phrases.

Paid Tools:

  1. SEMrush: Proficient in keyword and competitor research. It offers functional data on keyword trends, search engine reports, and SERP analysis.
  2. Ahrefs: Like SEMrush, Ahrefs is a potent keyword research toolkit that helps users determine keyword complexity, actual search volumes, and potential traffic volume.
  3. KWFinder: KWFinder specializes in identifying long-tail keywords with lower competition, offering specific search volume, keyword difficulty, and ranking potential.
  4. Moz: Moz includes keyword suggestions, SERP analysis, and the ability to track keyword rankings over time, which is essential for monitoring SEO progress.

Mix it Up! No single tool gives you the whole picture. Use a combination of free and paid options to get the most valuable insights for your keyword research.

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II. Analyzing Keyword Difficulty and Search Volume

Not all keywords are created equal! Here’s what you need to understand:

  • Search Volume: This tells you how many people search for a keyword monthly. Higher search volume means more potential visitors to your website.
  • Keyword Difficulty: This shows how difficult it is to rank on the first page of search results for the keyword. The more competition, the tougher it is.

Finding the Sweet Spot

The perfect keywords balance search volume and difficulty well. You want keywords people are searching for but not ones that are impossible to rank for. 

  • Start with Low-Difficulty: When starting out, target keywords with lower difficulty scores. Most of the time, these are long-tail keywords. Low-difficulty keywords help you build momentum and see results faster.
  • Don’t Ignore High-Volume: Keep an eye on those popular keywords too! As your website grows, you could go for a bigger challenge by competing with the strong ones.

Long-Tail Keywords: A Goldmine for Organic Traffic

Though the long-tail keywords may not trend, they can make all the difference! 

Long-tail keywords have less competition. With good content, users can easily rank for those key terms

Moreover, long-tail keywords give targeted traffic. People using long-tail keywords on Google search know what they want, which means they’ll likely convert into customers.

Here are strategies for generating long-tail keywords:

  • Questions: Just like customers, you must be prepared to repeatedly ask yourself, “Which question would someone ask if they had my product?” If you sell glue for shoes, you could create content around how to fix cracked leather shoes.
  • Tools: You can use tools like Google Keyword Planner to generate variations for long-tail keywords.
  • Get Specific: Add details like location, product features, or problems to your seed keywords.

III. Unmask the intent behind search queries

Understanding the intention behind a search query is crucial in keyword research. Without search intent analysis, you will be creating content with zero demand. It’s like answering a question nobody asked. 

Here are other reasons to unmask search intent behind queries:

  • Meet User Needs: Search engines are looking for only quality answers. If your content serves the searcher’s intent, you will have a higher chance of ranking well.
  • Focus Your Content: It is definitely easier to create good content when you understand your audience’s needs and provide something that is really helpful and/or informative.
  • Think like your customers: What problems are they trying to solve? What questions do they have?
  • Look at search results: The top-ranking pages for a keyword can give you clues about user intent. For example, if you type “men’s shoes” on SERPs, most results will feature shoe companies. That means the search intent behind this keyword is commercial. An informational article with “men’s shoes” as the seed keyword will not rank on Google.

IV. Implementing Your Keyword Strategy

Finally, you’ve finished your keyword research. It is now time to integrate those terms throughout your content! 

Here’s how you can do it strategically:

  • Titles and meta descriptions: These are the first things people read after a Google search. Think of them as billboards for your content. Ensure that your main keyword is included here to grab attention in search results.
  • Headings: Strategically use headings (H1, H2, H3…) to help users and search engines understand the structure of your content better. This makes it easier for users to skim through the article and find the most relevant information.
  • Don’t force them into the content: Even after using those key phrases, the sentences must feel natural and not forced. Keywords are guides and need not be used verbatim as long as your message is delivered.
  • Image alt-text: Describe your images using keywords. Search engines can “read” images through alt-text, which helps your visuals rank too.

Reminder: Don’t Keyword Stuff!

Old-school SEO meant spamming as many keywords as possible into the text.

Please don’t do it.

Google has developed safeguards and penalties for SEOs engaged in unscrupulous, black-hat SEO practices, including keyword stuffing. 

Focus on creating exceptional content that includes your targeted keywords naturally.

V. On-Page Optimization for Targeted Keywords

Keyword Integration Throughout Your Content

On-page optimization is one of the principal pillars of SEO. This process ensures that your website is as favorable to search engines for your targeted keywords.

On-page SEO is not only focused on the words you use!

It entails other essential SEO methods like optimizing images and engaging in internal linking.

  • Image Optimization: Image search engines can only feature visual content. Adding alt text (alternative text) helps summarize and add context to your images. Try to insert your keywords into alt texts for best results.
  • Internal Linking: Build internal links throughout your content to lead users to relevant pages in their search journey. Aside from aiding users’ inquiries, internal links also help search engines understand your site architecture.

Example: Here, if you write a blog post using the keyword “blue sneakers,” you can link to a product page for blue sneakers by adding the “Shop for blue sneakers here” anchor text.

Creating High-quality Content that Ranks

Keywords will draw attention, but your site’s content will keep people engaged. Publishing high-quality, keyword-rich content matters for several reasons:

  • Satisfy user intent: High-quality content goes beyond just using keywords. They comprehensively answer your audience’s questions and solve their problems. 
  • Builds trust: Valuable and informative content demonstrates your expertise in the field, which builds trust with readers and search engines.
  • Improved user engagement: Google monitors user behavior as they navigate your site, measuring metrics like dwell time and the bounce rate, directly affecting how the search engine views your website.
  • They add value: Don’t just write for search engines but for people. People are your readers and customers. Make sure to create content that adds value to their lives.

Content Formatting for Readability and SEO

Can you imagine landing on a web page with massive blocks of text? That’s a sight for sore eyes, and you might as well bounce off of it ASAP.

Here are tips to make your content easier to digest:

  • Subheadings: Use them to organize content into manageable sections that strategically guide readers through the article. They also provide opportunities to include additional keywords, which can improve SEO if used naturally.
  • Bullet points: Condense information into easy-to-read lists highlighting key points or steps in a process, reducing the reader’s cognitive load and making the content more scannable.
  • Images: Add visual interest and context, breaking up large blocks of text. Including relevant keywords in image alt tags can further optimize your content for search engines.

Together, these elements create a content structure that is not only user-friendly but also optimized for search engines. 

Well-structured content is more likely to hold a reader’s attention and rank higher in search results, making it a critical aspect of an effective SEO strategy.

Advanced Keyword Research Techniques

Understanding Search Engine Ranking Factors

Effective SEO involves more than just keyword placement; it requires a deep understanding of various search engine ranking factors.

  • Backlinks: Links from other websites to yours act like “votes of confidence” from the internet, signaling your site’s authority.
  • Website Structure: A well-organized site with easy navigation helps users and search engines understand your content. 
  • User Experience: Google wants to show people useful and enjoyable websites. Page speed, mobile-friendliness, and overall design all matter.

Together, these elements help enhance your site’s visibility and performance in search results, demonstrating the complex nature of SEO beyond simple keyword usage.

Keeping Up with Algorithm Updates

Search engines like Google constantly update their ranking algorithms. Staying on top of these changes is key to maintaining your rankings.

  • Follow SEO News: Websites like Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal cover algorithm updates and SEO best practices.
  • Google’s Resources: Google provides guidelines and announcements on their Search Central Blog.
  • Stay Adaptable: SEO is always evolving. Be ready to adjust your keyword strategy and content based on algorithm shifts.

Competitor Keyword Analysis

Analyzing your competitors’ keyword strategies is a powerful way to discover new opportunities and refine your own SEO approach. By understanding which keywords your competitors are targeting and ranking for, you can identify gaps in your own strategy and potential areas for improvement.

  • Tools: Use toolkits like Ahrefs or SEMrush to see what keywords drive traffic to your competitors’ websites.
  • Gap Analysis: Identify keywords where your competitors rank well but you don’t. This highlights untapped opportunities.  
  • Learn from the Best: See what content your competitors create for their top-ranking keywords for inspiration.


Keywords are the foundation of a successful content strategy. By understanding how to research and effectively use keywords, you unlock the power to attract the right audience, improve your search rankings, and boost your online visibility.

Remember, keyword research is an ongoing process. Stay curious, experiment, and adapt your approach as the digital landscape evolves. 

Start exploring keyword research tools today and see what potential keywords you can uncover for your business!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose the right keywords for my business?

Start by identifying the core topics related to your business that potential customers might search for. Use keyword research tools to find keywords related to these topics with a substantial search volume but manageable competition. Focus on keywords that are closely aligned with your products or services and reflect your audience’s search intent.

What’s the difference between short-tail and long-tail keywords, and which should I use?

Short-tail keywords are broad and usually consist of one or two words attracting high traffic but being highly competitive. Long-tail keywords are more specific phrases attracting less traffic but are typically less competitive and have higher conversion rates. Small businesses should focus on long-tail keywords to target specific customer needs and improve conversion rates.

How often should I review and update my keyword strategy?

Review and update your keyword strategy at least every six months or whenever you notice a significant change in your website traffic or search trends. Monitor industry trends and use analytics tools to track how well your keywords are performing. Adjusting your strategy regularly can help you stay competitive and relevant in changing market conditions.

Can I use the same keywords across different social media platforms?

While it’s essential to maintain a coherent brand message across all platforms, each social media platform may require a slightly different approach due to its unique audience and search algorithms. Research platform-specific keywords using tools like SEMrush’s Social Media Tracker to understand the best practices for each and optimize your content accordingly.

How can I measure the success of my keyword strategy?

Use analytics tools like Google Analytics to track key metrics such as organic traffic, page views, and conversion rates related to your targeted keywords. Also, monitor your rankings for those keywords in search engine results pages (SERPs). Successful keyword strategies will show a steady increase in relevant traffic and improved rankings over time.

I am Debbie Moran. I am a Digital marketing strategist with 5+ years of experience producing advertising for brands and helping leaders showcase their brand to the correct audience. I have been a part of RecurPost since 2019 and handling all the activities required to grow the brand’s online presence.