1. What is Keyword Research?
  2. What is the Goal Of Keyword Research?
  3. Why is Keyword Research Important for SEO?
  4. Keyword Research Elements
  5. Tools for Conducting Keyword Research
  6. How To Do Keyword Research For SEO
  7. SEO Keyword Research Example
  8. Start Doing Keyword Research For SEO Today
  9. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

One of the most important steps to take in a copywriting process is keyword research. Without proper keyword research, your website's content is as good as invisible to search engines and readers. This means that even if you have the best content, it will not rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs). In this article, we'll dive into the basics of keyword research for SEO and how you can use it to improve your website's visibility.

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research forms part of SEO (search engine optimisation). It is the process a copywriter or SEO specialist uses to identify and target specific words or phrases that people commonly search for online.

When you type in digital marketing agency South Africa in a search engine, the results you receive are not random. They are tailored to match your query, which is "digital marketing agency South Africa."

This means that the websites appearing on the first page have used those specific words or phrases (keywords) you typed in your search query.

What is the Goal Of Keyword Research?

The goal of keyword research is to find the right keywords for your website content so that it appears on the first page of search engine results when someone types those keywords. When done correctly, keyword research can help you attract organic traffic to your website and improve your site's visibility.

Why is Keyword Research Important for SEO?

Before we dive into how to conduct keyword research, let's understand why you need it for SEO:

  • Gives you insight into what people are searching for online.
  • Helps you understand your target audience's language when searching for information.
  • Enables you to create targeted, SEO-friendly copy that aligns with people's needs.
  • Contributes to both on-page SEO and off-page SEO, enhancing the overall search engine optimisation efforts.
  • Gives you insights into the current trends.
  • Helps improve your website's visibility and ranking on search engine results pages.
  • Leads to higher organic traffic and potentially more conversions.

Keyword Research Elements

A few elements make some keywords stand out from other keywords. Understanding these elements is critical to conducting efficient keyword research:

Search Volume

This refers to the number of times a specific keyword or phrase has been searched for on search engines over a given period. The given period is usually worked out on a monthly basis.

Keywords with high search volumes are usually more competitive, while those with low ones have less competition. This means that you'll need to have backlinks, quality content, and other elements on your side to compete for the top spot in search results.


The relevance of a keyword to your website's content is critical in selecting the right keywords for SEO. While it may be tempting to go after popular keywords with high search volumes, if they're irrelevant to your website content, you won't see the desired results.

For example, if your website is about digital marketing services, it would not make sense to target words like "best restaurants" or "summer fashion." It would be more appropriate to focus on keywords like "digital marketing agency" or “SEO services”.


Google prioritises websites with a high level of authority on a particular topic. When conducting keyword research, it's essential to consider your website's authority and how it aligns with the keywords you want to target.

If your website has low authority in a specific niche, targeting highly competitive keywords may not be feasible. Instead, you can focus on long-tail keywords with lower competition but still relevant to your website's content.


As mentioned earlier, keywords with high search volumes tend to have a higher level of competition. This is because many websites are competing for the same keyword and trying to rank for it on search engines. However, this doesn't mean that you should avoid them altogether.

Start by analysing your competition and see their strategies to rank for these keywords. Look at the quality of their content, backlink profiles, and other SEO elements that could contribute to their success. You can use this information to improve your keyword research strategy and potentially outrank your competitors.

Tools for Conducting Keyword Research

Now that you understand more about keyword research, you might wonder, "How and where do I get this information?" - through keyword research tools.

Keyword research tools are software that helps you find and analyse keywords based on various factors such as search volume, competition level, and many more.

Here are some popular keyword research tools that you can use to conduct keyword research for SEO:

There is no right or wrong tool; people, businesses, and agencies differ in preference.

How To Do Keyword Research For SEO

Starting the keyword research process can be overwhelming, especially if you're new to SEO. But don't worry; just read on, and we'll guide you through the essential steps to conduct keyword research for SEO.

Step 1: Brainstorm Your Ideas

The first step is to brainstorm your ideas. Get a piece of paper or open a blank document and start writing down all the words and phrases related to your business, products or services. These are terms that you think people would use to search for your website on search engines.

Step 2: Narrow Down Your Target Audience

The target audience is the people you think would type in these keywords on the search engine to find your website. For example, is your target audience males in their 40s or females in their 20s looking for fashion tips?

A user persona can come in handy here. This is where you draft a detailed profile of your target audience. Here are some factors to consider when creating a user persona:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Profession
  • Interests
  • Pain points

A clear understanding of your target audience will help you select keywords that resonate with them.

Step 3: Use Keyword Research Tools

Now that you have a list of potential keywords and a user persona, it's time to use keyword research tools like the ones we mentioned above.

These tools will make your life easier by giving you data on a keyword's search volume, competition level and more.

TIP: Have a look at SERPs as well. The SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) will show you the top results for a particular keyword, a People Also Ask section and Related Searches. This will give you a better understanding of how users search and even extra keywords to add to your list.

Step 4: Determine The Intent Behind The Keywords

Each keyword has a specific intent behind it. It could be informational, navigational, commercial or transactional.

For example, if someone types in "best running shoes," they intend to find information and possibly purchase. On the other hand, if someone searches for "running shoe stores near me," they intend to find a physical location to buy running shoes.

It's essential to understand the intent behind the keywords you choose, as this will help you create content that aligns with what users are looking for.

Step 5: Analyse Your Competitors

Your competitors are most likely targeting similar keywords as you. So, to give yourself an advantage, it's essential to analyse their content and keywords.

Look at the top pages ranking for your target keyword and study their content, including headings, meta tags, and keywords used. This will give you an idea of what works and what doesn't in terms of SEO.

Step 6: Refine Your List

After following all the steps above, it's time to refine your keyword list. Remove any keywords that are too broad and irrelevant to your content or business. You want to focus on keywords that:

  • Have a high search volume
  • Are relevant to your content or business
  • Have low competition

You'll have a more targeted and effective keyword strategy by refining your list.

SEO Keyword Research Example

Below is a straightforward illustration of how we at Starbright do our keyword research for SEO. Let's say our target keyword is "social media marketing."

Our List Of Keywords

We start by brainstorming potential keywords and phrases that we think users might type in to find information about social media marketing.

Here are a few examples:

  • Social media management
  • Social media advertising
  • Social media ads
  • Social media marketing services
  • Social media agency near me
  • Instagram marketing
  • Facebook ads
  • LinkedIn ads
  • Content marketing
  • Social media ROI
  • Social media management tools
  • Social media campaign
  • Paid social media
  • Brand awareness
  • Twitter marketing
  • YouTube marketing

After brainstorming, we create a list of potential keywords and phrases related to our target keyword.

Our Target Audience

Next, we consider our target audience and their search intent. Who are they? What are they looking for?

For example, if our target audience is small business owners looking to improve their social media presence, some of their potential search intents could be:

By understanding our target audience and their search intent, we can narrow down our list of keywords to those that are truly relevant.

Keyword Research Tools We Use

To get more data and insights on our keyword list, we use keyword research tools like Ahrefs and Moz. These tools provide valuable information such as search volume, keyword difficulty, and related keywords. Based on this data, we can decide which keywords to focus on and how to optimise our content for them.

During this phase, we also create a "content gap" between us and our competitors. This involves analysing the keywords that our competitors are ranking for, but we are not, and vice versa. By doing this, we can identify potential opportunities to target new keywords and improve our rankings.

Aside from our main target keyword, we also want to consider using long-tail keywords in our content. These are longer, more specific phrases that may have lower search volume but can be easier to rank for.

For example, instead of targeting the broad term "social media marketing", we could also include long-tail keywords like "best social media management tools for small businesses". This can help us attract more targeted and qualified traffic to our website.

Keyword Placement

Once we have our list of relevant keywords, the next step is to place them in our content strategically. This is where our copywriters write high-quality SEO content that incorporates our target keywords in a natural and organic way.

We avoid "keyword stuffing," (blackhat SEO tactic) which is when we excessively use our target keyword to try and manipulate search engines. This can actually have a negative impact on our rankings and make our content appear spammy to readers.

To ensure the best placement of keywords, we follow some basic guidelines:

  • Include the target keyword in the title tag.
  • Use variations of the keyword throughout the content (e.g. "SEO research" instead of just "keyword research").
  • Incorporate keywords into headings and subheadings.
  • Use keywords in the first paragraph of our content and spread them evenly throughout the body.
  • Use keywords in alt tags for images and in meta descriptions.
  • Include the target keyword in the URL of our page or blog post.
  • Use keywords in internal and external links (linking to relevant pages or sources).

When we follow these guidelines, we can effectively optimise our content for search engines as well as our readers.

Start Doing Keyword Research For SEO Today

As you can see, researching keywords for your website or blog is an essential part of SEO. It helps you understand what your target audience is searching for and allows you to optimise your content accordingly.

With this article by your side, you can confidently start doing keyword research for SEO today. Don't be afraid to experiment and try different tools and techniques, as every website is unique and may require a slightly different approach.

If you ever need assistance or professional SEO services to boost your website's rankings, don't hesitate to reach out to us! We are an experienced SEO agency in Pretoria and would love to help you achieve your SEO goals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Why is keyword research important?

Keyword research helps SEOs and copywriters to understand what their target audience is searching for and create content that aligns with their interests. This improves the chances of their website appearing in search results, driving more traffic and potential customers to the site.

2. What are some tools for conducting keyword research?

Some popular tools for conducting keyword research include Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz Keyword Explorer and Ubersuggest.

3. What factors should I consider when selecting keywords?

When selecting keywords, it's important to consider the search volume (how many people are searching for that keyword), competition level (how difficult it is to rank for that keyword), and relevance (how well the keyword aligns with your content and target audience).

4. How often should I conduct keyword research?

Keyword research should be an ongoing process, as search trends and user behavior are constantly changing. It's recommended to conduct keyword research at least once a month to stay updated on popular keywords and search queries related to your industry or niche.