Keyword Research: The New Beginner’s Guide (2021)

by Nikita Shevchenko

Are you an SEO specialist or a blogger, who wants to create an outstanding website?

Or you just want to outperform your competitors and sell more products?

There is one single thing that can help your business thrive or completely ruin it – keyword research.

The ability to find the right keywords is vital if you want to grow your online presence.

In this step-by-step guide, I will show absolutely everything(and even more) you need to know about keyword research techniques in 2020.

Let’s dive in!

Why Are Keywords So Important?

The importance of finding RIGHT keywords cannot be exaggerated. They help your content get recognized by search engines and play a major role in RankBrain(3rd most important Google ranking factor).

If you plan to be on top of your SEO game, never(!) neglect this process.

Let me first tell you what you should NOT do.

You should not :

  • Guess what keywords your potential visitors will search for.
  • Forget about all required steps and jump right into the Google Keyword Planner(GKP)
  • Pick the keyword you think is appropriate

Are we on the same page here? Never ever let yourself predict what your readers or customers search for.

Want to see your page skyrocket to the top of Google search?

Then let’s start with the right steps!

And the first step is…

Identify the Best Keyword Category Which Fits You

An SEO world knows three categories of keywords.

all keyword categories keyword research

You must know the difference to be in the game.

Head Keywords

Head keywords usually represent one-word term such as

  • “bodybuilding”
  • “movies”
  • “online learning”

The Bad news is that they are INSANELY hard to rank for.

The Good news – you don’t necessarily have to.

You see, their conversion rate is quite low because people look for broad topic information, rather than for services or help.

So there is no point to pay close attention to head keywords (unless you are a non-commercial and/or educational organization)

Body Keywords

This is the sweet spot!

Body keywords are two or three-word phrases that generally convert greatly!

  • “best bodybuilding exercises”
  • “comedy movies 2019”
  • “learning French online”

Pros: less competitive than Head Keywords, high conversion rate.

Cons: They are still not very easy to rank for.

Long-tail keywords

As you may guess from the name, they are long > 3-word phrases that are very specific.

  • “best bodybuilding exercises for teenagers”
  • “best comedy movies 2020 18+”
  • “learning French online with a native speaker”

Which category is best for you depends on your goals.

Generally, I recommend choosing the second one.

By doing that you will able to not only rank for Body Keywords, but also for Long-Tail Keywords!

Awesome, right? But what if you choose to rank for only long-tail keywords?

That might be a bad idea since you will have to create a piece of content for every single long-tail keyword you use.

It may even bring you a penalty from Google!

So forget about creating separate low-quality pages for each keyword you have.

Better choose body keywords and create an amazing article around them. By doing so you create value for people and will naturally rank for some more specific long-tail keywords.

Now, as you know that you’d better find body+long-tail keywords I will show you the best places out there to find them.


Let’s do it!

Start with finding your niche topic. Wider topic = More good keywords

When starting with GKP, you leave yourself with a lack of “juicy” keyword suggestions we all so desperately need.

People and machines think absolutely differently(though machines are catching up)

So what Google suggests is not always what people really want…

Let me give you an example:

the searcher's intent in keyword research

If I tell you the word “CARS”, lots of relevant words may come to your mind:

…though if you type the very same word into GKP…


look at it yourself…

google keyword planner car keyword suggestions keyword research

Do you get it?

Google showed us ZERO those words, that our brain suggested.

Why is that?

Well, you see, GKP always shows you closely related words to the keyword you typed in, and almost never come up with closely(not directly) related keywords for what you actually offer.

In other words, Google cannot read your mind(yet)

Bottom line:

Do not entirely rely on keyword research tool. Though they sometimes suggest you quite good ideas, you may still need to think out of the box.

Determine your niche topic for keyword research rock-n-roll!

The main problem of lots of incompetent marketers is that they usually rely on the keywords everyone uses.

More popular = More competition

Your job is to find those sexy keywords which are much less competitive, but as powerful as others.

The problem is it is not easy…

That said, here is the right approach to keyword research:

Step #1: Identify your buyer persona

Every solid keyword research process begins with this step.

Things you should know about your potential customers:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Approximate Income
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Their aims and goals
  • Their problems and questions they struggle with
buyer persona keyword research keyword research

The wider range of your products or services the more buyer images you may create.

For example:

You may sell cars for family usage or for competing in the drag racing.

Obviously, you will have to create two absolutely different buyer images.

Step #2: Use forums to get into your customers’ head

Do you know what the best thing about forums is?

It a treasure chest where you can find out what people really need, not what you think they need.

Use these search strings for finding forums related to your niche:

  • “keyword forum”
  • “keyword” + “forum”
  • “keyword” + “discussion”
google search string keyword forum 1 keyword research

As you find a great forum, tap into categories.

They will help you organize your keyword searching.

chossing forum category keyword research

Choose the one which closely relates to your target keyword and checks what people discuss there.

choosing the topic in the forum category keyword research

Here are some nice phrases I found in one of the forums:

– “Lamborghini Gallardo cars in Dubai”
– “Car moving and storage companies”
– “Best drivable classic cars”

It took me about 1 minute! Not bad huh…

Step #3: Q&A websites are your life rings, don’t skip them!

Ever wondered where you can find exact keyword phrases that bring you more targeted traffic?

The answer is Q&A websites!

Let me take Quora as an example.

First, I choose the keyword I want to rank for and type it in.

quora keyword category search keyword research

Then, I want to find questions related to my topic.

Finally, I set my eye onto great keyword opportunities in those questions.

finding keyword in quora answers keyword research


Step #4: Discover a new world of supreme keywords in Wikipedia

The process of finding keywords in Wikipedia is as simple as in Quora, get yourself comfortable and check:

1Visit Wikipedia and type in your broad keyword

searching for keyword in wikipedia keyword research

2Take a look at the “Contents” section

wikipedia category keywords keyword research

3Finally, check sections of the page!

wikipedia article keywords keyword research

Here are some keywords I found in a couple of minutes:

  • “Self-governing”
  • “Autonomous vehicles”

These keywords can make a great addition to the LSI keywords list for the article.

By following this simple process you may find your needle in the haystack.

Step #5: Udemy – the goldmine for searching niche topics and keywords

There is no point to tell how useful Udemy is for customers and tutors.

But what if I tell you that it is a super place for finding great niche topics?

Here is how to do keyword research on Udemy:

First, find the best match category for your broad keyword.

udemy search for keyword keyword research

Next, select the best selling course.

udemy course search for keyword keyword research

Then, Scan the curriculum of the course.

udemy course content search for keywords keyword research

Finally, prepare an extra paper for writing down some awesome keyword phrases you’ve never seen before.

Now let’s find some gems that we will later sparkle in your next article.

Step #6: Receive help from UberSuggest

One of the best tools for the keyword research on the market!

It literally grabs information from Google Suggest and provides TONS of keyword suggestions.

You don’t have to manually type in each alphabet letter to get some ideas about forming your keyword phrase. UberSuggest does it for you!

Simply type in your head keyword and the tool will take care of the rest, you will just need to choose the results that best fit your site.

This is a head keyword:

ubersuggest keyword research keyword research

And here is the result:

ubersuggest word combinations keyword research

These types of long-tail keywords are especially helpful when it comes to Voice Search.

If you have followed all the steps outlined above, you are already ahead of 90 % of your competitors!

Commercial keywords that bring you sales

Learning how to use keywords with commercial intent is actually not rocket science.

Almost all of them are highly convertible and bring a big percent of purchasing.

There are two basic rules when conducting keyword research for e-commerce SEO:

  • Rule #1: Know advertising keywords that convert well.
  • Rule #2: Ignore those that don’t convert at all.

First, let’s take a look at the terms that work well:

  • Buy
  • Trial*
  • Discount
  • Best Offer
  • Deal
  • Shipping
  • Coupon

* though the “TRIAL” keyword may not instantly bring you sale, it lets your customer find your product, try it, and then purchase it.

Make sure the quality of the product will hook them up and they will return to you.

These are the keywords that are highly convertible because people tend to use them when they already decided to buy something…

…they just need the last push, the last stage before purchase…

…why not let your landing page become that stage?

Here are some other less convertible, yet still powerful keywords:

  • Top 10
  • Specific category, brand name or product
  • Cheap
  • Review

When people use these words they usually need to make sure WHAT and/or WHY to buy a particular product.

Here is your plan for execution:

Use those keywords —> provide super useful material —> lead readers to the landing page —> PURCHASE COMPLETED!

Note: Make sure you don’t offer low-quality stuff, value your readers and customers. Bring them the best experience they can’t even imagine. It will build HUGE trust and authority. Happy clients tend to return.

Here we come to Rule #2:

Don’t use these words if your aim is to sell:

  • Free
  • Download for free
  • Torrent
  • No money required

Now that you know what words convert really well, the last thing you need to find out is the level of competition related to the particular keyword.

It doesn’t take you a lot of time, but if omitted may bring lots of headache in the future.

Let’s dive in!

How to analyze keyword competition to rank higher?

There are 2 tools that I usually use when doing keyword research and analyzing the keyword potential:

  1. MozBar Chrome Extension
  2. SEMrush

Let me walk you through the entire process:

First, type in your keyword in the searching tab.

Check out the stats MozBar shows you under every single result on the page:

moz bar pro statistics for the website keyword research

Things to pay attention to:

  • Page authority(PA)
  • Domain authority(DA)
  • Number of the links pointing to the domain(MozBar Pro)

Why check them?

They show how BIG your competitor is!

If you find the result with:

  • PA – 70
  • DA – 80
  • + more than 10000 links pointing to the domain

It is gonna be VERY hard to outperform it and reach a higher ranking position in Google.

If you still want to compete, get ready for a long journey!

It is possible to win, but it’s not gonna happen overnight.

If you want to analyze competitor’s backlinks more closely, then you will need the help of the special link audit tools.

I normally use SemRush or Ahrefs:

semrush backlink audit keyword research

Let’s put this information into action:

  1. Find the result that is not required a lot of time and effort to compete with.
  2. Create an awesome piece of content implementing best strategies of an On-Page SEO and SEO Copywriting.
  3. Promote your masterpiece and build quality backlinks for it.

And you are all set!

Pro Tip: If you are not sure, where to start your link building campaign, you may try to outreach the website owners who ALREADY link to your competitor’s material. Try to persuade them to mention your piece of content.

Why does it usually work?

  • The website owners are interested in this topic(as they initially linked to it)
  • Good bloggers constantly look for improvement. If you suggest them a WAY better material, lots of them certainly consider replacing an old link to the new one(yours!).

Want even more?

Let’s get to the advanced part! Here I will share with you my list of top tools that help me gain a solid keyword base.

The Best Keyword Research Tools to Help Your Business Grow!

Though lots and lots of marketers rely on good old Google Keyword Planner, it is not as effective and dependable as other tools out there.

Below is my personal preference list of insanely useful tools I strongly recommend you to check:

Moz Keyword Explorer

This nice tool features some basic information about your keywords such as:

“Monthly search volume”

“Difficulty” (Competition)

But it also has its own unique info:



Opportunity stands for CTR you will probably get if you reach the first page of Google.

Potential is an overall score, based on many factors, that shows you whether you actually should try to rank for the particular keyword.


Moz Keyword Explorer is a reliable tool that can bring lots of help to you.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

A great tool that gives you lots of nice keyword suggestions.

It also hooks you up with a bunch of useful data related to your keyword.

You may also expect to find out your potential CTR.

There is one particularly unique detail about Ahrefs Keywords Explorer I’d love to mention.

They can tell you an approximate amount of backlinks you will need to hit the top 10 in the search engine results page(SERP).

Very helpful!


For those who like precise and useful data, this tool is must-have.


Here we came to my favorite keyword research tool on the market.

What I absolutely LOVE about this program is that it provides extremely precise information about my competitor’s keywords.

With its help, I can find an infinite amount of amazing keyword ideas that I might not have come up with myself.

Here is a step-by-step process of finding your competitors keywords:

  1. Type in your competitor’s domain name in the top field.
  2. Specify your country
  3. You will see the “Organic Search” section

How to read it?

  • Organic Search – The amount of monthly organic visitors that come from Google search.
  • SEMrush Rank – Your website’s rank in its database. (The lower the number, the better)
  • Traffic Cost – The value of your traffic based on Adsense CPC.

If the traffic price is high, it means the keywords convert really well!

If you see a domain with a lot of Organic Search Traffic but a relatively low Traffic Cost, you know that they’re targeting keywords that probably don’t convert really well.

Here we come to arguably the best feature:

Checking what EXACT(!) keywords your competitors rank for.

Find out those keywords and use them in your own campaign!

Don’t just steal them, make great use of them.

Let me get it straight:

I never steal keywords ideas(which is a quite useful method), but improve them!

For example:

If I saw a great keyword phrase:

“ best recipes for vegetarians”

I would not stop on that, though it’s a nice long-tail keyword.

I will make it amazing!

“best gluten-free recipes for vegetarians”

By adding the simple phrase“gluten-free”, I made sure that I can also rank for that closely related keyword.

See the difference?

Now when you have a pack of great keywords in your arsenal, it’s time to move to the content creation around them!

Use Keywords to Create content People and Google will Love

You worked hard searching the web and doing keyword research the right way in order to optimize the website for Google search.

Let’s find out how to create awesome content around those keywords and squeeze the most from them.

The best way to make use of your keywords is by applying basic On-Page SEO techniques.

Step #1: Optimize your Title Tags

Every article starts from a catchy, optimized Title Tag.

1Make sure you mention your long-tail keyword there.

keyword in the title tag keyword research

2Add some modifiers to make it more competitive:

  • Best
  • Updated
  • Useful
  • Step-by-step
  • Ultimate
  • Definitive
  • [current year]

3Create a benefit-driven meta description

Pro Tip: Check Google Ads for your target keyword. Find some catchy phrases and use them in your Title tag.

Step #2: Make your content is long and informative

Let me be honest with you, in most cases if the content is shorter than 500 words this content’s place is in the trash can, and by no means in the Google TOP 10.

Remember one rule :

“ Optimize for people, then for Search Engines”

People should always be your top priority, so try your best and create a practical and useful piece of information with no less than 2000 words.

Step #3: Mention your keyword in the right places

Here is my personal go-to list of keyword prominence:

  1. Title Tag
  2. Meta Description
  3. Article URL
  4. First 100 of the article
  5. H1 and H2 tags(sometimes in H3)
  6. At least one image file name
  7. A couple of times in the body.
  8. Add some LSI keywords to the body

Note: Don’t overuse the keywords, it may bring you penalties from Google. Make sure they look natural in the article and not eye-distracting.

Step #4: Use best SEO Copywriting techniques

Step #5: Optimize for Google Hummingbird

It’s not a secret anymore that Google is an undisputed leader in the Search Engine industry.

One of the reasons is the sophisticated algorithms that help them determine which content rules and which sucks!

One of those algorithms is Hummingbird.

It raised the content quality bar, so people can get the best information available on the internet, by typing in the keyword.

Your job is to make sure your content is much more compelling than your competitor’s content with the same target keyword.


You type in “car insurance” in Google and see these 2 results:

  • Poorly optimized, 700-word article with no much value and keyword stuffing.
  • A definitive + 3000-word guide with bullet points and not distracting keyword prominence.

Which of them would you choose? I think I know the answer:)

So remember:

“There is no need to create 5 different articles for 5 related keywords!

Rather make sure to include them in one article and do some magic for making the best compelling piece of content out there!

Quality ALWAYS beats quantity, period

Step #6: Market your content

Use this Content Marketing Guide for Beginners to find out the best strategy for promoting your work.

Knowing and implementing all the information outlined in this guide will help you join the group of the best keyword research experts in your niche.

So make sure you follow the keyword research process without omitting any single step.

Where do you usually find the keywords for your blog posts?

Tell me in the comment section below.

Also, add me on LinkedIn and follow me on Quora I share some useful info there 😉

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