Mastering SEO – Keyword Basics

Keyword research, even in a basic form, is the cornerstone of any SEO campaign, or content planning. Get it right and you will see invaluable insights into what your users want to find out about. You will also be able to use it to structure information architecture, internal links, website navigation, HTML heading tags and many other things on your site. You will also be able to start structuring all-important conversions.

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Keyword Research 101 – Understanding the Basics for SEO


  • The purpose of basic keyword research is to provide a list of the most searched for terms entered by users into their search engine of choice. (Let’s face it, that’s Google).
  • Keyword research will enable you to see what information potential qualified users want to see.
  • It will empower you to use keyword research as a proxy for expensive consumer insights.
  • You will be able to group search terms into themes, topics, and other groupings such as user intent.
  • You can cut the data produced by keyword research in a vast array of different ways.


  1. Start basic keyword research by noting down the topics your website will cover. Use the most generic terms you can think of, but try to exclude jargon, unless commonly used by customers.
  2. Expand those topics by writing down synonyms, or other terms which mean similar things.
  3. Head to your keyword research tool of choice. Google has its Adwords Keyword Planner, Moz has its Keyword Explorer, other SEO tools often incorporate a similar tool . They all have strengths and weaknesses. I prefer Google Adwords Keyword Planner, but it is getting more and more tricky to extract truly useful data from it.
  4. Start putting in the most generic terms, their synonyms and extracting the resulting lists of keywords.
  5. Once you have your lists, aggregate them into one list, sort them by volume order and start removing duplicates, and irrelevant terms which have no place, or which cover topics that are irrelevant to your property.
  6. From there, when possible, start “expanding” this refined list of keywords by searching for terms related to the slightly less generic searches you have left.
  7. Again, aggregate, sort, de-duplicate and delete the terms you don’t want. You may have a final list of 50 keywords, or a list of 5000.
  8. From here, start to group the keywords by topic or theme, so that you can start to get an idea of terms which are simply versions of each other, or terms which cover distinctly different topics, or finally, terms which may occupy different points on the user journey.
  9. Once there you should have a final, grouped list of terms which sit together and by totalling search volume, you can get an idea of the amount of traffic available to each group and the priority you should accord to terms or topics.  This will help you immensely with information architecture and content planning, as well as establishing competitor research. It will also give you your first insight into your current search rankings.

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