Keyword Research SEO Guide

Start with Keyword Research

In order to grow your business online, you need to get your content ranking on Google.

Every search in Google begins with keywords.

There are three types of keywords:

  • Fat Head
  • Chunky Middle
  • Long Tail

Long Tail Keywords

As you can see in the search demand curve image above by Moz, long tail keywords make up 70% of the overall search volume online.

This image is a few years old and now long tail keywords make up to 90% of all searches!

Long Tail Keywords make up 90% of the total overall search volume on Google. 

By themselves, these are low-volume, low-competition keywords that lead to sales. 

Focus your efforts on these!

  • Fathead terms are singular, generic, high competition terms like “shoes”
  • Chunky middle terms are 2-3 words, a bit less competitive, and a bit more specific like “men’s basketball shoes”
  • Long tail keyword terms are 4-5 words and very specific. These usually are question or product, service or brand based.

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For example, if you are selling basketball shoes, you definitely want to appear on Google for:

“mens nike air jordans size 9”


  • It is very specific
  • Has much less competition
  • Has much higher searcher intent

You wouldn’t want to focus your efforts on ranking for something like “shoes”.


Because “shoes” is far too generic and broad. A person searching for shoes could be looking for anything related to shoes.

There is no searcher intent there at all. “Men’s Nike Air Jordan Basketball Shoes Size 9” is very specific. You are much more likely to make a sale for that search.

By themselves, a longtail keyword may only get 10% of the search volume. Yet, longtail keywords make up almost 90% of the search volume on the internet!

With the rise of voice search, keyword searches are getting much longer and more specific.

You’ll want to optimize your website content for long tail keywords.

That is why keyword research is so important.

Keyword research breaks down into two things:

  • Search volume
  • Keyword Difficulty

The search volume is the number of searches that particular keyword gets every month.

Keyword difficulty is how competitive a keyword is and how difficult it’s going to be for you to rank for it.

To succeed at SEO, you need to find the sweet spot.

You need to rank for keywords that get a decent search volume and have low keyword difficulty scores.

Without proper research you will spend tons of time and money optimizing your website for keywords that either:

  • Have no search volume and bring you no traffic each month
  • Are impossible to rank for so you’ll never show up for them

So you do you know which keywords to go after?

We will go through this next.

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Keyword Discovery: How To Create a List of Low Competition and Relevant Keywords.

There are many different techniques to find the best keywords for your business to go after.

Free Keyword Research Tools and Techniques

Brainstorming with Colleagues

Look at this exercise from the perspective of your audience searching for your services.

You want to write as a complete novice as someone who is searching for your products and services.

Your audience doesn't know your industry jargon and specific terms.

Think of different types of customers and which of your services they are searching for.

Talk about different ideas and suggestions with your colleagues and create a list of all these possible search terms.

Look at your customer’s frequently asked questions

For this exercise start with your email or support desk.

Go through your frequently asked questions. Create content that ranks for and helps solve those questions.

If your customers are looking for more content around those topics, you can bet they are common industry problems!

Analyze your competitors

You can do this for free by typing your keywords into Google and taking a look at which pages are currently ranking in the top spots.

Go through each page and see which keywords they are focused on, how the page is laid out and organized and what kind of content is featured on the page.

To do proper competitive analysis (and save a ton of time), you'll need to purchase a subscription to a paid SEO tool, such as the ones we recommend above.

Use Google autocomplete

To do this:

  • Open up google
  • Start typing in a phrase you think matches your business
  • Go through google autocomplete using each letter of the alphabet and see which searches it suggests
  • Write these down and repeat for each keyword phrase

Ex. basketball shoes a (view list of recommended searches Google shows), basketball shoes b (view list of recommended searches Google shows.

As you're searching on Google look do the following:

  • Scroll to the bottom of the page after each typing in each search query
  • Look at which searches display in the “Searches related to” area.
  • Write down any relevant important ones you may have missed.

Google Keyword Planner

All SEO tools pull their data from Google.

Go straight to the source for the info.

The Google Keyword Planner (GKWP) is a free tool but it comes with a disclaimer:

You must have an active Google Adwords account with a credit card on file to access this tool.

Go ahead and sign up at and add your credit card to your account.

You do not need to run a campaign or spend money.


KWFinder is one of my favourite keyword research tools.

It gives very specific and clear information.

Its interface is very easy to use.

Its list feature is excellent for compiling keyword lists related to different services.

Head over to and sign up free to use this tool.


Recently taken over by Neil Patel, Ubersuggest is another great free research tool.

It provides tons of keyword difficulty info and actual serp results.


Another great tool for research.

Check out the questions people are asking related to your industry and create answers.

Now that you’ve got a quality list of keywords, it's time to start implementing them on your website.

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Paid Keyword Research Tools


SEMrush is our favourite of all the keyword research tools.

It's a paid tool (around $100/mo) and is total worth the asking price.

You can get tons of related keywords and ideas using their Keyword Magic Tool, it truly is one of the best on the market.

On top of all of the keyword research benefits, SEMrush has a massive suite of tools available to your projects.

Each project includes the following:

  • Website Audit Tool
  • Position Tracking Tool
  • On Page SEO Checker
  • Social Media Tracker
  • Social Media Poster
  • Brand Monitoring
  • Backlink Audit
  • Link Building Prospects
  • PPC Keyword Tool
  • Ad Builder
  • Organic Traffic Insights
  • Content Analyzer

That is a massive list of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Social Media Marketing (SMM) tools for the $100/mo starter plan price.

Get a free 7-day trial of SEMrush!


Ahrefs is another paid keyword research tool that's at the top of our list.

You'll get keyword data from a ton of different countries and databases and that list is always growing.

While Ahrefs keyword research tool isn't as powerful or robust as the keyword magic tool in SEMrush, it's backlinks reports are second to none.

If you're looking for the most comprehensive backlink data you can get online, Ahrefs is the tool to use.

You'll be able to see every website and webpage that links to your website at a glance.

As we talk about how powerful backlinks are to getting good rankings, it's important to have a ton of good data.

SE Ranking

SE Ranking has a great keyword research tool built in also.

Like SEMrush it's got an entire suite of digital marketing tools built in.

We managed to snag SE Ranking on an AppSumo deal a few years back and got it for $50 for a lifetime membership!

Be sure to check out AppSumo regularly as new software as a service (SaaS) products come up each week!


Like SE Ranking and SEMrush, Serpstat is another all in one digital marketing treasure chest.

It's got projects, backlink analysis, keyword research, citations and tons more for growing your business online.

We also snagged this one dirt cheap on an AppSumo deal and it's been available on AppSumo a few times since.

Keep your eyes out for this one as it may return to AppSumo's marketplace again.

Good SEO Always Starts with Keyword Research

You've learned about the importance of good keyword research to begin your SEO campaigns.

You've learned about the free and paid tools and strategies that are available online.

Now it's time to start doing your research so you can rank for those low competition long tail keywords!

In the next chapter we cover On-Page SEO Optimization to help your content rank on Google.

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