Are you struggling to get your website noticed? Not sure what terms and phrases your target customers are using on Google? Lost in the sea of search engine optimisation (SEO) jargon? Do you need to start generating great organic leads?

Mastering the art of keyword research can be a game-changer. Here’s everything you need to know to uncover golden search terms that can drive targeted traffic and boost your organic lead gen.

What is keyword research?

It’s working out what your target audience types into search engines when they’re looking for products, services, or information related to your business. When you know what they are, you can make your content well-optimised, helpful, and reliable. Making it easier for people to find you and ultimately improving your search engine rankings.

Why is it important to find keywords for SEO?

Search engines are the gatekeepers of the online world. After all, there’s a reason ‘googling it’ became a verb.

When you sprinkle relevant keywords into your website and content, you’re essentially raising your hand and saying, “Hey, search engines! I have the answer they’re looking for!”

This not only makes it more likely that you’ll pop up in the search results, but also makes sure that any traffic you get will be highly targeted and more likely to convert into leads or sales.

But keyword research isn’t just about ranking well on search engines. It also gives you valuable insights into your target audience’s language, pain points, and interests. When you understand the terms they use and the questions they ask, you can create content that resonates with them on a deeper level, establishing your brand as a trusted authority in your industry.

Now that you know why keyword research is so important, let’s dive into how to conduct keyword research.

How to do keyword research

Decide who you’re targeting

Is it people who are just looking for information? (Probably, yes. Given that 97% of your audience is not currently ready to buy.) Or are they ready to buy?

In marketing speak: where are they in the funnel?

For the first group, you’ll want to target more educational and informative keywords. That might be keywords about common pain points or topics, like ‘how to do keyword research?’ (See what we did there?). But for the second, it’s going to be more specific, transactional stuff that gets people to buy in, like ‘SEO audit services’.

Start building your keyword list

Here are some tried-and-true methods:

  • Step 1: Work out your priority products or services. This will help you focus your keyword research and build a solid SEO strategy.


  • Step 2: Interview subject matter experts. Ask questions about products, services, target audience, and the wider industry. Those insights will help to uncover more keyword opportunities – and you’ll get to grips with the common phrases and terms in your space, which is really important!


  • Step 3: Go to your Google Search Console account and head to the ‘Performance on Search Results’ section. This data shows you the queries people are already using to find your website, giving you a head start on relevant keywords.


  • Step 4: Have a look at competitor websites and PPC ads. See what keywords they’re targeting and add any relevant ones to your list.




  • Step 7: Check out chats on forums like Reddit and Quora to get a sense of more casual terms or phrases your target audience might use.


  • Step 8: Run a competitor keyword gap analysis using tools like Moz’s Link Explorer to spot opportunities your competitors are missing.



  • Step 10: Combine your product/service keywords with relevant sectors or industries to create more targeted phrases.


  • Step 11: Use an AI model to explore the topic and different aspects of it. Then ask it to create you an initial keyword list. Then ask it to expand on that list, specifying all the techniques above.


  • Step 12: Have team members and an AI review keyword lists to catch anything that might be missing.


  • Step 13: Run a spellcheck and deduplicate your primary list to keep things accurate and get rid of redundancies.

The spellcheck part is really important. The last thing you need is to run all of your keywords through a volume tool (next section) only to be really confused as to why ‘running sheos’ gets zero searches.

Create a longer list

Here’s a simple yet effective technique to combine multiple keywords, to multiple prefixes and suffixes – giving you an exhaustive list of keyword combinations.

  • Step 1: In a spreadsheet, list all the names for your products or solutions in column A.

A column of initial keyword ideas


  • Step 2: In row one, add suffixes (e.g., “price”, “service”, “partner”, “solution”, “expert”, “consultant” etc.). You should now have a column full of keyword ideas and a top row full of suffixes.

A long list of keywords in column one with suffix options in row A.


  • Step 3: Use this formula [ =$A2&” “&B$1 ] in cell B2 to combine the words in column A with the suffixes in row one, creating new keyword variations. To fill out every cell quickly, you can simply drag the formula across the page.

A keyword grid made up of initial ideas and suffixes.


  • Step 4: Copy and paste (paste values only) the columns of your keyword grid into a single, new primary column, cutting any irrelevant or nonsensical phrases and deduplicating.


  • Step 5: Repeat the process, but this time, combine your main keyword list with a bunch of prefixes (e.g. “cheap”, “premium”, “B2B”, “B2C”, “AI-powered”). Use the ‘Transpose’ paste option to get your newly generated primary keyword column, horizontally into row one. Then, put all of your prefixes into column A.


  • Step 6: Use and drag the same formula [ =$A2&” “&B$1 ] to fill out the table.


  • Step 7: Copy and paste (paste values only) your new keywords to the bottom of your primary column, cutting any irrelevant or nonsensical phrases.

You’ll now have a single column long list of keywords that should cover any combination you could think of. Doing this, you’ll quickly get thousands of potential keywords. If we’re being honest, most of them will have zero search volume* and many of them will contain repetition.

*Search volume is the number of searches for a keyword within a given timeframe, usually measured monthly. I.e. how often a particular term is entered into a search engine. So, high search volume, means a lot of people are looking for information on that topic.

But, this method is designed to cover all bases, so a little bit of wastage is part of the deal. Google’s Keyword Planner has character limits when it processes keywords. Anything too long, you’ll have to delete.

Find your priority keywords

It’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff. Here’s how:

  • Step 1: Import your primary list into Google’s Keyword Planner and export the search volume data. The planner has a limit of 700 keywords per ‘turn’. So, lists need to be split into 700-word chunks. To export, select the download options under ‘plan historical metrics’.

A screenshot of the welcome screen on Google Keyword Planner


A screenshot of the download screen on Google Keyword Planner

  • Step 2: Sort your list by keywords with search volume and those without. Then cut the latter out from your list.


  • Step 3: Try adding prefixes like “best”, “leading”, “free”, and “award-winning” to the keywords with search volume and run them through Keyword Planner again. Export and cut out those with no search volume.


  • Step 4: Upload your list to a specialised keyword research tool like Moz’s Keyword Explorer or Semrush and export the data, including metrics like maximum search volume, difficulty*, and organic click-through rate (CTR)*.

*Difficulty (also known as keyword difficulty or competition) estimates how hard it is to rank for a specific keyword in the search engine results pages. It is typically scored on a scale from 0 to 100. Higher numbers = more difficult to rank. Difficulty helps you understand how realistic ranking for a certain keyword is. A high difficulty score means well-established pages already rank and it’s harder for new pages to break into the top results.

*Organic click-through rate (CTR), in the words of Moz: “estimates the percentage of clicks that are available to traditional, organic links in the search engine results page. Higher Organic CTR means that there are fewer distracting search engine results page features and more space for classic organic blue links to shine through. Lower Organic CTR could help you to identify other opportunities for those keywords outside the top 10 blue links.”

  • Step 5: Now, you can look through your list of keywords to find those gems with high search volume, high potential (low difficulty/competition), and a strong organic CTR.


  • Step 6: Check your top choices by searching for them, making sure they’re relevant (i.e., they match your target audience’s search intent), not dominated by ads or knowledge boxes, and don’t have a double meaning that ends up giving confused results.


  • Step 7: Map your chosen keywords to current pages or plan for new content creation, thinking about factors like page authority and how easy it is to create unique, valuable content for each keyword.

Remember, the goal is to find keywords that strike the perfect balance between high search volume, low competition, and the right user intent for your business.

What to do when you’re finished

Grab a cuppa?

But seriously, that’s the hard part over – even if it’s not quite the finish line. Time to put those keywords into action:

  • Make your priority keywords part of your website’s content and titles, descriptions and headings (aka metadata).


  • Plan how you’ll create new content that includes your chosen keywords. This might include product/service pages, blog posts, articles, videos, and other handy resources for your target audience. While keywords are important, keyword density (how often you use the keyword in each piece of content) is less so. Make sure you focus on natural language and high-quality, user-centric content. Whatever you do, don’t ‘keyword stuff’ or shoehorn keywords in, in an unnatural way. Search engines will easily recognise what you’re doing and avoid ranking your content.


  • Keep an eye on your rankings and search engine performance for your targeted keywords, changing when you need to stay ahead of the competition.


  • Regularly revisit and update your keyword research to keep up with search trends, user behaviour, and industry dynamics.

Remember, keyword research is an ongoing process, not a one-time task. By consistently refining and optimising your keyword strategy, you’ll stay ahead of the curve.

For more detail on how keywords fit into SEO strategy, your best bet is our

Now you know how…

Want some help with the heavy lifting? Struggling to see how your keywords fit into a wider SEO strategy? We’re here for a chat any time.

Matthew Robinson 2



Written by Matthew Robinson, Senior PR and digital strategist and Tom Pallot, Head of Marketing at Definition.