Keyword research for SEO: the ultimate guide

Keyword research for SEO: the ultimate guide • Yoast

Marieke van de Rakt

Marieke van de Rakt is the founder of Yoast SEO Academy and CEO of Yoast. Her favorite SEO topics are SEO copywriting and site structure.

Keyword research is the first step in the SEO copywriting process and an essential part of your SEO strategy. Before you create your website’s content, you have to find out which search terms your audience use. Their search terms are your keywords. Based on these keywords you can start writing useful and high-quality content. Here, we’ll take you through the many steps involved in keyword research.

Table of contents

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is part of SEO (search engine optimization). It’s the work someone does to come up with an extensive list of keywords for which one would like a website to rank. To obtain such a list, website owners need to dig into their desired audience and search engines: Which search terms do people type into Google when looking for their products, service, business or type of organization? And what do they expect to find? With this list, website owners can create content on their site that will attract more, high-quality traffic. Keyword research is never finished: repeating it regularly is essential to stay up-to-date!

Read more: What is keyword research? »

Why is keyword research important?

Proper keyword research is important because it will make clear which search terms your audience uses. At Yoast, we frequently came across business owners who used one set of words when describing their products, while their target audience used a completely different set of words. As a result, potential customers couldn’t find those websites, because of a mismatch in word use.

For instance, sometimes, a marketing department decides to give a product a not-so-common name. This can be a smart marketing decision: People could remember your product more easily. If you rent out vacation cottages instead of vacation homes, you might stand out. But beware: Very few people search for [vacation cottages]. If you optimize your text for these terms, you’ll probably rank well on these specific terms. However, you won’t generate a lot of traffic with these terms and you’ll miss a large part of your potential audience because your audience uses other words.

You’ll understand that it doesn’t make any sense to optimize for words that people don’t use. Thorough keyword research makes sure that you use the same words as your target audience and this makes the whole effort of optimizing your website far more worthwhile. In addition, by looking at search intent, you find out what exactly your audience is looking for. Those queries should get an answer in the form of quality content.

In this video, Michiel tells a bit more about keyword research and how we think it should be done. It’s part of our free SEO for beginner’s course, available through our free Yoast SEO Academy subscription:

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This article was written by Marieke van de Rakt and originally published on Yoast • SEO for everyone.

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