Keyword research is the first step in the SEO copywriting process and an essential part of any SEO strategy. Before you write your website content you need to think about which search terms you want to be found for and this means getting inside people’s heads to find out which words they use when searching. Then you can use these exact terms in your content so that you start ranking for them. This is keyword research and this ultimate guide will take you through the many steps involved.

Before we start explaining the process of keyword research, let’s look at the most important concepts behind it.

Keyword research can be defined as the work you do to come up with an extensive list of keywords you want to rank for.

Keyword strategy is about the decisions you make on the basis of that keyword research.

Keyphrases are keywords containing multiple words. We tend to use the word keyword all the time, but we don’t necessarily mean it’s only one word. [WordPress SEO] is a keyword, as is [The best Google Analytics plugin]. Keywords usually consist of multiple words! So, in this guide, when we talk about keywords, we usually mean a phrase, rather than a single word.

Long tail keywords are more specific and less common because they focus more on a niche. The longer (and more specific) search terms are, the easier it will be to rank for the term. Keywords that are more specific (and often longer) are usually referred to as long tail keywords.

Focus keyphrase is the word or phrase you most want your page to be found for.

Search intent is all about discovering what a searcher actually wants. These are not just keywords, but the underlying goals of what a searcher wants to know, do or buy.

Proper keyword research is important because it will make clear which search terms your audience uses. We frequently come across clients who use one set of words when describing their products, while their target audience uses a completely different set of words. These sites aren’t found by their potential customers because of a mismatch in word use.

Sometimes a marketing department decides to give their products a certain name. That can be a smart marketing decision. It can be a way to make people remember your product. For example, you don’t rent out holiday cottages, but holiday homes. Be aware that very few people search for holiday cottages though. If you optimise 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.

It doesn’t make any sense to optimise for words that people don’t use. Good keyword research makes sure that you use the same words as your target audience and this makes the whole effort of optimising your website far more worthwhile. In addition, by looking at search intent, you find out which questions your customer has. Those questions should get an answer in the form of quality content.