Keyword Research For SEO [Beginners’ Guide]

Keyword research is the most important step in the whole process of on-page SEO. If no one is searching for your keyword, it doesn’t matter how good your on-page SEO is; your page will not receive any traffic from search engines.

“SEO revolves around keywords. Also called key phrase, a keyword is a word or collection of words that people use while searching for answers/solutions to their queries, on the search engines.”

For a fruitful SEO, you need to spend some time researching your keyword before you write your post.

I covered a significant portion of this article in the complete (and super long) Yoast SEO Tutorial. This article specifically addresses keyword research in detail and has additional instructions.

What Do We Look For While Doing Keyword Research?

Here are some factors to keep in mind while researching your keywords.

  • The average number of searches per month for your keyword.
  • Competition: High means it will be an uphill task to rank for that keyword. Look for low competition keywords, which are relatively easier to rank.
  • Some keyword research tools use terms like difficulty, opportunity, and potential to describe keyword’s suitability. Less difficulty, more opportunity and potential are positive signs. The maximum score for each is 100.

Now let’s do keyword research using top three keyword research tools available online. The keyword I’ll use as an example is ‘what is SEO.’

Let’s research it.

Keyword Research Tools

The three tools I will be using in this post are Google AdWords Keyword Planner, SEMRush Keyword Analytics, and Moz Keyword Explorer. These three are the top keyword research tools available online.

Let’s see how each is used, starting with…

Google AdWords Keyword Planner

Google’s keyword planner is an entirely free tool which you can use to research your keyword.

It not only gives data for your keyword but also suggests related keywords which may have a higher number of searches and lower competition than your typed keyword.

Go to Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool. Then follow the process below.

Sign in to AdWords with your Google account. If you don’t have one, create an account.

Sign in to Google AdWords

Sign in to Google AdWords

After signing in, click the option of searching for a new keyword, as shown below.

Search for new keywords

Click ‘search for new keywords.’

Type in your keyword to get ideas

Type in your keyword as shown and click get ideas.

After clicking get ideas, following screen will appear.

Keyword search data including number of searches and competition.

Keyword search data including the number of searches and competition.

One of the best things about Google’s keyword planner is the Keyword Ideas tab. It is incredibly useful to find great keywords for your current and future content ideas.

Here’s how the ideas tab looks.

Keyword ideas

Find great keywords with a  high number of searches and low competition from ideas.

Another cool filter that you can apply is to include a keyword. Using it will give you ideas around including that keyword.

Look at the following image to understand how it works.

include a keyword filter

Including a particular word narrows down your quest to find the most suitable keyword.

You can use other filters to make your research more precise.

As per Google AdWords, 10k-100k average monthly searches are performed each month worldwide for my keyword. This is confusing data as the number can be 11k, 53k, or 99k. But, 10k-100k is a good range.

Some experts do not trust Google AdWords competition indicator as well. That’s why I’ve included two more tools for keyword research.

Nonetheless, Google has data of almost all web pages, so we need to trust it. No other tool can (have the capacity to) crawl as many web pages as Google.

SEMRush Keyword Analytics

SEMRush isn’t free but gives you a chance to research a few keywords without having to log in. Also, note that SEMRush returns only country-wise data. So, choose your target country or just choose the USA for an idea.

Go to SEMRush and type your keyword.

Here’s how the result looks.

SEMRush Keyword Research Tool

SEMRush Keyword Research Tool result sounds like this.

Another important tool within SEMRush is the Keyword Difficulty tool. Click it. You’ll see following data.

SEMRush Keyword Difficulty Tool

SEMRush Keyword Difficulty Tool. Higher the percentage, more the difficulty. You can export the data as well.

SEMRush also gives you matching and related keywords. There’s every chance that you can find a better keyword here than your initial query.

The image below shows those ideas.

SEMRush keyword ideas

Like Google AdWords, SEMRush also gives you keyword ideas.

Now let’s try another tool.

Moz Keyword Explorer

Moz’s Keyword is a favorite tool but it is not free. However, it gives two daily searches without membership. It would be best to use these two searches after you’ve tried AdWords and SEMRush.

Go to Moz’s Keyword Planner tool. Type your keyword and select target country (similar to SEMRush).

Here’s the data that appears.

Moz Keyword Explorer

Moz Keyword Explorer shows keyword searches, difficulty, etc., suggestions, and SERP Analysis.

And like the other two tools, Moz also offers keyword suggestions. Look at the image below.

Moz Keyword Suggestions

Note that all these tools show slightly different data points and numbers vary too. It’s because they use different algorithms and metrics to calculate numbers.

Analysis of Example Keyword Research

Here’s what my analysis of this research is.

  • Numbers shown for my keyword are encouraging.
  • But the difficulty is much higher than Google suggests.
  • It has a significant number of monthly searches but not an easy keyword to rank in Google’s top 10 results.
  • There’s a chance to outrank already ranking pages by building authority and getting off-page SEO metrics right.
  • Overall, I should not expect to rank easily.


Keyword research is the foundation of SEO. Good keywords will help you rank better in SERPs while wrong keywords will take you nowhere. Without keyword research, the whole activity of SEO is a waste of time and effort.

This article covered how to do keyword research using Google AdWords Keyword Planner, SEMRush Keyword Analytics, and Moz Keyword Explorer. I hope the tutorial helped you understand how to do it better.

Do give your feedback in comments. I’d be glad if you subscribe and stay in touch.

Ilyas Tarar

My mission is to ‘make a positive difference in lives of people’. I love writing content and I hope I can use this passion to fulfill my mission.

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