Keyword research is crucial to SEO — it refers to finding out which keywords people search for when trying to find content similar to yours. You can then use these keywords to inform your SEO strategy; particularly, incorporate these keywords into your content so people discover your website when searching for these keywords. 

Here is how to research keywords effectively for SEO.

  1. Compile a list of root topics relevant to your website or business — what might people search for when trying to find your content or website?
  2. Search for keywords based on these topics in Google or similar search engines — do you find content that’s similar to your own? 
  3. Build a list of keywords you intend to focus on — this can be as many as 15 or as few as 1. Narrow down your list by considering the competition you might face for each keyword, and considering how relevant each keyword is to your website/content.
  4. Make sure your list of keywords contains both head keywords and long-tail keywords — head keywords are those such as “football” or “cars”, whereas long-tail keywords are those with three or more words, such as “football t-shirts coloured” or “where buy cars London”. Head keywords face a lot more competition, so it’s important to have a healthy mix of both head keywords and long-tail keywords.
  5. Utilise these keywords in your content — put together your content, utilising your keywords throughout, but not too often. Keyword density, as explained in our glossary of SEO terms, refers to how often a word or phrase appears in your writing; the percentage of your content that’s made up of your keyword. If you write a 1,000-word article, and your keyword appears 100 times, the keyword density would be 10%. While there is no agreed-upon percentage, and search engines have never published any precise figures, it is commonly said that a keyword density above 2–5% is likely to negatively affect a webpage’s search ranking, as it will be considered keyword stuffing. So keep your keyword density to under 5%!

You’re done! You now have a list of keywords to focus on which are relevant to your website, ready to be deployed sensibly throughout your written content, and will help to naturally drive traffic to your website.

Remember, it’s important to continuously re-evaluate your list of keywords. You should do these at minimum three or four times per year, paying attention to what keywords you’re using on which pages of your website.