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Keyword Research Checklist: Step-by-Step Guide [2024]

Updated: Jul 5

Do you find it difficult to target the right audience for your website? Are your content efforts ineffective, no matter how much time and effort you put into creating such content? If you have answered yes to all these questions, then know that you are not the only one.


In simple words, thorough keyword research is the foundation of any effective SEO strategy. It is more like a blueprint that you follow when designing your content so that you are always on the right side of what your audience is looking for. Without this, even the most exceptional piece of written content is likely to remain unseen by the public.


Keyword Research Checklist

What makes keyword research such a critical component of the whole SEO process? First, it helps you learn more about your market and your audience. Thus, by defining specific keywords that your audience often looks for, you will be able to design content that is desirable and demanded. It not only enhances the quality of the users’ experience but also increases the chances of turning visitors into consumers. Additionally, keyword research offers tremendous information on your competitors. Understanding which keywords your competitors are targeting lets you adjust your own strategy and find ways to overcome them.


In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through a detailed keyword research checklist for 2024, ensuring you have all the tools and knowledge to dominate the search engine results pages (SERPs).


Table of Contents:



1. Know Your Niche


When starting with keyword research, it is important to define your niche as the first point on your keyword research checklist. Your niche is the specific area your business operates in. You must understand what products and services you want to sell, who will be your customers, and what will set your business apart from other companies. This clarity assists in narrowing down the keyword research to meaningful terms.


First, write all your products or services, like ‘artisan bread’ or ‘custom cakes. ’ Then describe the unique attributes, such as ‘made with fresh ingredients’ or ‘best recipes. These unique selling points (USPs) are used to identify keywords that make you stand out.


Search current topics and popular keyword phrases within the industry to find new topics of discussion and competitors. This research also guarantees that the keyword areas of your focus are precise and in line with what customers are looking for. Understanding one’s area of specialization is the first step towards conducting proper keyword research, which in turn directs the right traffic to your website.


2. Know Your Audience


Knowledge of the audience is another crucial factor in keyword research checklist. First, describe your target market by some major characteristics like customers’ age, gender, income, and education level. For instance, if you have an online fitness program, your audience might be men and women who want to improve their health and are between the ages of 20 and 40 years.


Second, find out more about their demographics, personality, and preferences in terms of interests, values, habits, and obstacles. For instance, your fitness audience may be interested in a healthy lifestyle, engage in activities such as yoga and may not have the time to exercise. This insight allows you to determine which keywords and topics are of interest to them.


Think about the keywords your target audience uses when searching for products or services similar to yours. Identify customer references from feedback questionnaires, and social media interaction to be more familiar with their terminologies. Keyword targeting that is relevant to the audience’s frame of mind and choice of words leads to the right visitors to your site and relevant content.


3. Consider Location


Geographical targeting is essential for organizations or companies focusing on certain geographical areas. Regional keywords are great for targeting local clientele and enhancing the business’s presence in local search engines. Specify where you operate – cities, regions, or neighborhoods. For example, if your business is a coffee shop located in San Francisco, then you may want to try keywords such as - ‘San Francisco coffee shop’ or ‘coffee in San Francisco.’


Consider Location

Add your primary keywords to these location-specific terms, especially for small businesses such as restaurants or service companies. For instance, a plumber working in New York will use phrases such as ‘emergency plumber NYC’ or ‘cheap plumber New York.


Monitor your Google My Business Listing by confirming correct business information and promoting positive reviews. Regarding keyword research and local SEO optimization, it is essential to concentrate on location-specific keywords and improve the site’s rank among local customers.


Consider region Location

4. Think Like a User


This is a pro tip discover by our SEO Manager, you'll never found this one in any other keyword research checklist. User-centric thinking is a key when it comes to carrying out keyword research. Think of how potential customers may look for products or services similar to the one that you offer. Begin with the most obvious questions they might ask. For instance, if you are in the business of selling skincare products, you might type in "best moisturizer for dry skin" or "how to get rid of acne scars.


The key is to pay attention to their search intent. Is the user in need of specific information, or are they prepared to make a decision and buy the product? Tailor your content accordingly. Keep the keyword strategy relatively basic and avoid using overly complicated terminology. Improve your understanding of your audience by interacting with them. Thinking like a user allows a person to come up with good keywords and post content that will attract viewers and buyers.


5. Check Out the Current Keywords Ranking of Your Site


It is crucial to know about the current rankings of the keywords for your site in order to measure your SEO.


Here's how you can do it:


Analyze Keywords Ranking Using Semrush:


Analyze Keywords Ranking Using Semrush

  • Sign up for a Semrush account or log in if you already have one.

  • Enter your website URL in the search bar and click on the "Organic Research" or "Position Tracking" tool.

  • Review the list of keywords that your website currently ranks for.

  • Analyze metrics like search volume, keyword difficulty, and current ranking position.

  • Identify keywords where your site ranks well and those that need improvement.

  • Use this information to optimize your content and target relevant keywords more effectively.


organic research

Analyze Keywords Ranking Using Google Search Console:


Analyze Keywords Ranking Using Google

  • Perform a manual search on Google using relevant keywords related to your business or industry.

  • Note the search results and identify where your website appears in the rankings.

  • Pay attention to your site's position on the first page of search results, as this indicates higher visibility.

  • Take note of any featured snippets, knowledge panels, or other SERP features that your site appears in.

  • Compare your rankings with competitors' websites to gauge your performance.

  • Use Google Search Console to access more detailed insights into your site's performance, including keyword rankings, impressions, and click-through rates.


Google Search Console

By making it a habit to check your keyword rankings using tools, you are always aware of how exactly your site is doing in terms of SEO and where it needs enhancement.


6. Pick Your Main Topic 


Many experts consider this the top point on the keyword research checklist, but it should actually be ranked at five or six. Keyword research depends on choosing the main topic of your content. It should be relevant and easily understandable to your business and your clients. Here's how to do it: 


First, try to consider what your business provides and what kinds of issues you help your customers solve. Ideally, your main topic should encompass these core services. For example, if your blog is about fitness, the main idea could be "healthy living tips."


Second, turn your main topic into specific and actionable. Avoid broad topics. Choose something specific enough to be useful but general enough to vary in different contexts. For example, if you are selling beauty products such as creams or lotions, your primary theme might be "home remedies for acne."


After selecting your primary focus, use it to filter out your subsequent keyword search. Search for other keywords which can be associated with your main keyword. By focusing on the major topic, you are actually creating the right content that addresses the needs of the viewers as well as getting organic traffic to the website.


7. Let Google Suggest From Your Main Topic


Google's autocomplete feature can be a valuable tool for expanding your keyword list. Start by typing your main topic into the Google search bar and observe the suggestions that appear. These suggestions are based on popular searches related to your topic and can provide insight into what users are actively searching for.


Google Suggest From Your Main Topic

Take note of the phrases and keywords that Google suggests, as these can help you identify additional relevant keywords to target. For example, if your main topic is “natural skincare remedies,” typing this into Google might yield suggestions like “natural skincare remedies for acne” or “natural skincare remedies DIY.” These variations can guide you in creating more focused content that addresses specific user interests.


Using Google’s suggestions, you can refine your keyword list to include a broader range of terms and phrases. This helps ensure that your content is comprehensive and aligns closely with the needs and queries of your audience, ultimately improving your chances of ranking higher in search results.


8. Utilize Authentic Keyword Research Tools


To come across credible keyword data, it is crucial to employ credible keyword research tools. They give information regarding the number of people searching for specific keywords and the level of difficulty for those keywords, among other factors that help determine the right keywords to pursue.


Here’s a list of popular keyword research tools, along with a brief description of each:


  • SEMrush: Offers comprehensive keyword analysis, competitive research, and SEO auditing features.

  • Ahrefs: Excellent for backlink analysis and thorough keyword research, providing insights into competitor strategies.

  • Moz Keyword Explorer: Provides keyword suggestions, search volume data, and difficulty scores to help you prioritize your efforts.

  • Google Keyword Planner: A free tool from Google that offers basic keyword research and forecasting capabilities.

  • Ubersuggest: A user-friendly tool that provides keyword suggestions, search volume, and competition data.

  • KWFinder: Focuses on finding long-tail keywords with low SEO difficulty, ideal for niche targeting.

  • Answer The Public: Visualizes questions and queries related to your keywords, helping you understand search intent and discover content ideas.


9. Never Ignore Search Intent


Search intent is the objective of a user behind their search, whether the person wants information, is ready to buy something, or wants to visit a particular website. When you link your content with the purpose of the keyword, you are in a better position to meet the needs of the users.


search intent

There are three common types of search intent: informational, navigational, and transactional. Informational intent involves users looking for information or answers to questions (e.g., "how to plant a garden"). Navigational intent is when users are trying to find a specific website or page (e.g., "Facebook login"). Transactional intent indicates users are all ready to make a purchase or complete a transaction (e.g., "buy running shoes online").


search intent type

It helps to create a piece of content that is relevant to the user’s search intent associated with the target keywords. For example, if the intent is to provide information, you may develop comprehensive manuals or articles with instructions. If the goal is to make a sale, then product pages and special offers may be more fitting. Focusing on search intent also enables one to deliver quality content that fulfills the user’s expectations and increases the probability of getting a better ranking.


10. Consider Keyword Volume


Considering keyword volume is crucial in keyword research. Keyword volume refers to how often a keyword is searched each month. High-volume keywords can drive more traffic but often come with higher competition, making them harder to rank for.


Keyword Volume

Aim for a balance between high and low-volume keywords. High-volume keywords reach a broader audience, while low-volume keywords have less competition and can attract more targeted traffic. Use tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Google Keyword Planner to identify search volumes and find keywords that offer a good balance. This strategy helps drive significant traffic and improves your chances of ranking well in search results.


11. Consider Keyword Difficulty


Considering keyword difficulty is crucial in keyword research. Keyword difficulty indicates how hard it is to rank for a keyword based on competition. High difficulty means many authoritative sites are competing for that keyword.


keyword difficulty

Use tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz to check keyword difficulty scores. For new or smaller sites, targeting lower difficulty keywords is often more effective. These keywords might have less search volume but offer a better chance to rank higher.


keyword difficulty type

Balancing keyword difficulty with volume helps you achieve steady progress. Targeting less competitive keywords allows you to build authority and gain traffic while preparing for more competitive keywords in the future.


12. Look For Keywords, Synonyms & Variations


Looking for keyword synonyms and variations is a smart move in keyword research. It helps expand your audience reach by capturing different search terms for the same topic.


Start by finding alternative words related to your main keywords. For example, if your main keyword is "running shoes," look for synonyms like "jogging shoes" or "athletic shoes." Use tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to find these variations and understand their search volumes and difficulty.


By including synonyms and variations in your content, you make it more comprehensive and increase your chances of ranking for multiple related terms. This strategy boosts your visibility and ensures you don't miss out on potential traffic. Diversifying your keyword approach enhances your chances of ranking higher and attracting a broader audience.


13. Utilize Medium-Tail & Long-Tail Keywords


Using medium-tail and long-tail keywords is a strategic and effective approach to keyword research. While short-tail keywords are more general and competitive, medium-tail and long-tail keywords are more specific and less competitive, making it easier to rank for them.


Medium-tail keywords typically consist of two to three words and offer a balance between search volume and competition. Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific phrases that target niche audiences with lower search volume but higher conversion rates.


When compiling your keyword research checklist, include medium-tail and long-tail keywords by evaluating the search intent and their relevance to your content. Leverage keyword research tools to identify these keywords and analyze their search volume and competition.


Incorporating medium-tail and long-tail keywords into your content helps you target specific audience segments and capture users further along the conversion funnel. By diversifying your keyword strategy with these less competitive but highly targeted terms, you can increase your chances of ranking well and attracting qualified traffic to your site.


14. Find Out Questions Related Keywords


Question-based keywords are highly effective for driving traffic and engaging users. They align well with users’ search intent and can position your site as a valuable resource.


Here are two effective methods for finding question-related keywords:


Questions Related to Keywords in google

Finding Questions Keywords Using Google Search:


  • Utilize Google's autocomplete feature by typing your main keyword followed by question words like "how," "what," "why," or "when."


what searches

  • Explore the "People also ask" section in search results for additional question-based queries related to your topic.

  • Take note of these questions and incorporate them into your content to provide comprehensive answers to common user queries.


Finding Questions Keywords Using Answer The Public:


Answer The Public

  • Visit the Answer The Public website and enter your main keyword.

  • The tool generates a visual representation of common questions, prepositions, and related queries based on search engine suggestions.

  • Explore the generated questions to identify relevant topics and keywords that address specific user queries.

  • Incorporate these question-related keywords into your content to attract users seeking answers to their questions and increase your site's visibility and relevance.


Questions Related to Keywords in neil patel tool

15. Consider Global Volume for International SEO


Considering global search volume is crucial for international SEO. Here's a brief guide:


  • Use keyword research tools to analyze global search volume.

  • Consider language preferences and cultural differences.

  • Account for regional variations in search behavior.

  • Optimize your content for keywords with high global search volume to expand your international reach.


16. Don’t Forget to Look at the Keyword Trend


Don't forget to check the keyword trend when conducting your research. Keyword trends show whether a keyword's popularity is increasing, decreasing, or staying stable over time. This information helps you identify emerging trends and capitalize on them in your content strategy.


Keyword Trend

Look for keywords that are experiencing steady growth or seasonal spikes in search interest. These trends can inform your content creation and optimization efforts, allowing you to focus on topics and keywords that are currently in demand.


Keyword Trend data

By keeping your keyword research checklist up-to-date and monitoring keyword trends, you can ensure your content remains relevant and timely, which will help you attract more traffic and stay ahead of the competition. Use trending keywords in your content strategy to maximize visibility and engagement with your target audience.


17. Consider Location-Based Keywords for Local Business


When optimizing for local SEO, consider using location-based keywords to target audiences in specific geographic areas. These keywords include city names, neighborhood names, or other location identifiers relevant to your target audience.


For example, if you're a coffee shop in New York City, using keywords like "best coffee shop in Brooklyn" or "coffee near Times Square" can help you attract local customers searching for coffee in those areas.


To identify relevant location-based keywords, conduct keyword research with a focus on local search terms. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush to find keywords that include location modifiers and have high search volumes in your target area.


Incorporating location-based keywords into your website content, meta tags, and business listings helps improve your visibility in local search results. By targeting audiences in specific locations, you can attract nearby customers who are actively searching for products or services like yours. This approach can lead to increased website traffic, foot traffic to your physical location, and, ultimately, more business for your local enterprise.


18. Analyze Search Engine Result Pages (SERP)


Analyzing Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) is a critical step in keyword research and SEO strategy. SERPs provide valuable insights into how search engines rank and display content for specific keywords.


By analyzing SERPs, you can:


  • Examine the top-ranking pages and websites for your target keywords to identify competitors and understand their content strategies.

  • Determine what types of content are ranking well for your target keywords and identify opportunities to create unique, valuable content that fills gaps or provides additional value to users.

  • Analyze the search features (e.g., featured snippets, knowledge panels, local packs) and elements (e.g., titles, meta descriptions, URLs) displayed on the SERP to optimize your own content for better visibility and click-through rates.


Search Engine Result Pages

To analyze SERPs effectively, use tools like Moz, SEMrush, Wix SEO services, or Ahrefs to track keyword rankings and monitor changes in search results over time. Pay attention to SERP features, user intent, and competitor strategies to inform your content creation and SEO efforts and improve your chances of ranking higher in search results.


19. Spy on Your Competitors


Spying on your competitors is a smart strategy to gain valuable insights and stay ahead in the competitive landscape. By analyzing what your competitors are doing, you can identify their strengths, weaknesses, and tactics, helping you refine your own SEO strategy.


Start by identifying your main competitors in your industry or niche. Use tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or SpyFu to analyze their website traffic, backlink profiles, and keyword rankings. Pay attention to the keywords they are targeting, the content they are creating, and the strategies they are using to attract and engage their audience.


Analyzing your competitors' SEO strategies can help you enhance your keyword research checklist, uncovering new opportunities and identifying areas for improvement. This will enable you to develop a more effective SEO plan for your website. Keep track of your competitors' actions and adjust your strategy to stay competitive in the online marketplace.


20. Don’t Be Lazy, Update Keywords Regularly


Another important aspect of SEO is that the keywords you are targeting must be updated from time to time. Beware of the trend change and be ready to shift to a new strategy. Keep track of the keywords’ performance and revise your strategy if necessary. In this way, you will keep your site updated and active for search engines, thereby ensuring high ranking and visibility.


Final Words 


When formulating an SEO strategy, the keyword research checklist is a vital step that must not be overlooked. Utilizing this systematic approach, you can develop an effective keyword strategy that attracts more visitors, boosts your rankings, and ultimately benefits your business. Remember that SEO is a dynamic process, so you need to be proactive and continuously update your strategy to achieve the best outcomes.


FAQs


1. What is the importance of keyword research in SEO?


Keyword research is crucial in SEO as it helps you understand what terms your potential customers are searching for, allowing you to tailor your content to meet their needs and improve your search engine rankings.


2. How often should I update my keyword list?


It’s a good practice to update your keyword list every few months or at least twice a year. Regular updates help you stay relevant and adjust to changes in search trends and user behavior.


3. What tools can I use for keyword research?


Some of the most effective keyword research tools include SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz, and Google Keyword Planner. These tools provide comprehensive data on keyword volume, difficulty, trends, and more.


4. How do I know if a keyword is too competitive?


Keyword difficulty scores from tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush can help determine if a keyword is too competitive. High difficulty scores indicate that it will be challenging to rank for that keyword, especially for new websites.


5. What are long-tail keywords, and why are they important?


Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific phrases that typically have lower search volumes but higher conversion rates. They are important because they target niche audiences and often reflect higher user intent.


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