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Keyword research: first steps in keyword analysis

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Keyword research: first steps in keyword analysis

Online commercial projects aspire to obtain benefits from the transactions of users who visit their web pages, so their main objective is to generate visits and, in the best of cases, convert them into customers. In achieving this objective, the search engine, as the first point of contact on the Internet, has a central role. To be successful with an online project, you have to find out how the user searches for the content that interests them and with what intention. This information is obtained by searching for keywords or keyword research, an English name widely used in the online marketing sector..

However, the mere information about the most searched terms does not increase sales. Rather, the challenge is to define which ones lead to leads and conversions in order to optimize the project based on these specific words.

What is keyword research?

A keyword search is the foundation of any onpage optimization strategy . Page owners who aspire to rank their project high on the search engine need detailed information on the terms most relevant to their offering. This is why these questions arise at the beginning of keyword research:

  • What is my target audience looking for on the web?
  • What terms are associated with the products, services and information on my page?
  • And how do potential customers write industry-specific terms?

These questions can be answered by collecting and evaluating the keywords, which is why keyword research is a necessary step in an SEO strategy . The purpose of this action is to find which are the relevant words with the highest number of searches to be able to use them in the subpages of the web in the framework of search engine optimization (SEO).

While the classic keyword search focuses on terms that promote the purchase of the products and services offered on a web page, the global search focuses on those terms that, in general, are associated with the project to be optimized. . This allows the development of content strategies whose purpose is not limited to awakening the purchase intention of potential customers, but also aspiring to satisfy those users who seek information on the Internet. In this way, website operators hope to build customer trust and earn a reputation as subject matter experts..

How do you search for my target audience on the Internet?

When a user does not know exactly the address of the web he wants to search for, he uses a search engine, which only needs a vague approximation to the name to show an exhaustive list of results that corresponds to the terms used for the search, the so-called keywords .

These keywords can consist of a single word or a phrase . Understanding what terms or expressions users use to find information or certain products and services on the Internet means being able to use this knowledge to optimize the web page based on the correct words and thus conquer the best places in the results or SERP lists. This means that before starting a keyword search, you need to clarify how they rank in search engine marketing (SEM), what search intentions can be extracted from these terms, and how the search engine processes them..

Defend or conquer

A fundamental way to differentiate keywords is their relationship with a certain supplier or manufacturer or if they can be used in a generic way, without relation to any specific brand. This is where the differentiation between the so-called defense keywords and those of conquest arises , which we explain below:

  • The defense keywords (defend keywords) are those used by the user to find a specific manufacturer or supplier. Generally, you already know your products or services and to search, use your brand or product names, slogans, or several of these elements in combination. The goal of this provider should be to rank high on the search engine for these business defense keywords. This is often the case for brand consortia. However, in relation to product brands, manufacturers often find themselves in competition with distributors and online stores that market their products.
  • The keywords of conquest (conquist keywords) are generic search terms using those users who do not depending on any particular vendor. In the field of online marketing, these words are of great importance to acquire new clients, as long as good rankings can be achieved. And it is that a manufacturer well positioned in the search engine suggests to potential customers a certain authority in relation to the products or services they have searched for. Positioning well with conquest keywords, however, means constantly competing for the best positions.

From short head to long tail

Except for some exceptions, the more specific it is considered, the more unusual the search is. The average monthly search volume for a sofa is, with 49,500 searches, clearly higher than the 30 searches for a white leather sofa . This example illustrates a specific search, which, in general, consists of longer phrases that specify it and that are called, in the framework of search engine marketing, long-tail keywords or long tail keywords, as if to the key term central was followed by a long queue of terms. In contrast, we find those keywords called short head or short tail, shorter and more generic. For the words between the two extremes, the term middle tail or mid tail is used.

  • Short tail or short head keywords: these words with a lot of relation to products or services are especially popular due to the high volume of searches, but the best positions in the organic results, which are those that search engines give to these words, are especially crowded. It is often the strongest market leaders in their respective industries who have conquered these positions. For an optimization with these words to be successful, it will undoubtedly require a significant investment.
  • Long-tail or long-tail keywords : in this case, as the search volume is lower, the competition is not as tough, although this is not the only advantage of long phrases. Users who enter long-tail keywords as a search term often have a very clear idea of ​​what they are looking for. If you can position yourself with such specific words, you are more likely to attract users with a clear purchase intention than it would be with more generic short head words.

Search intent: how do you search and with what keywords?

Along with the frequency with which certain keywords are used in the search engine, the intention behind these words also plays an important role. In search engine marketing they are classified into three types :

Navigational searches

In this case, the user usually has a solid idea of ​​the web page that he would like to find, but he may have forgotten the address or may not feel like entering it in full in the search bar and trusts that, using marks and names of companies, institutions or organizations as a keyword, Google and co. be able to display the home page of the page you are looking for. Popular navigational searches include, for example, YouTube , Facebook, or Gmail . If the goal is to access a specific subpage, then other words such as contact , address , hours, or job are used to narrow the search a bit more.

Searches such as national library or appointment office employment do not indicate an intention to purchase or search for information, but rather pure exploration. Therefore, you can only get traffic and conversions with these keywords if the SEO measures take the brand itself as a reference. A web administrator who offers an email service, for example, may invest heavily in the keyword gmail in the context of search engine optimization, but will hardly get new customers, since those users who have entered gmail in the search engine want to use this mail service and not another.

Informational keywords

With these keywords, Internet users search for answers to specific questions. Going to the search engine with questions such as great Latin American novels , antonio banderas filmography or why chickens don't fly means that you are looking for certain information. Some classic informational search indicators are: what it is , definition of , how , how it works, or tutorial , among others.

When the user enters these questions in the search engine, he expects web pages to appear in the list of results whose contents answer his questions and the bounce rate will be correspondingly high if, instead, he is offered a commercial page without much to see. However, this does not mean that online store owners have to give up informational keywords in their SEO actions, since, in this category, informational searches related to products or services would also be included. A user's thirst for knowledge can also be satisfied with product descriptions, user guides and reviews, content that also offers online stores the possibility of testing their positioning as experts. After all, the customer ends up buying where they feel they have been best advised.

Transactional keywords

The most interesting keywords for those who manage a website are those that suggest a purchase intention. If you use search terms in combination with others like buy , rent or download , you are looking for pages that allow these types of transactions. As a general rule, the user who has used these words knows what product he wants to buy or what service he would like to contract. All you are looking for is the most suitable supplier. This type of transactional searches also often contain terms like cheap , discount , on sale or free shipping .

The user relies heavily on how the search engine itself evaluates the relevance of the results, which is why they decide, as a general rule, for the companies with the best organic results. This is how a web optimization with the most relevant transactional keywords allows to achieve a good conversion rate. This, however, is no secret for whoever operates a web page, which consequently causes great competition for the most searched terms.

How does the search engine process keywords?

Users type keywords into the search engine as they occur to them, without stopping to think if they are standardized marketing terms or if they are better or worse written, often ignoring even the correct grammar. In the context of keyword research, the smartest thing to do would therefore be to consider different ways of writing a certain search term . This affects, in particular, the use of synonyms, which, although they are recognized by search engines as such, are considered as independent words.

The word combinations also give users a large margin when defining their search. In the context of a keyword search, web managers constantly stumble upon terms that can be used together or separately, leading to different search results. Here it must be borne in mind that the hyphens are interpreted as spaces : if a user is looking for a shoulder bag or shoulder bag, it is indifferent. In this example, the search engine returns, in both cases, 2900 monthly searches.

The importance of integrating different versions of a combination of words in the list of keywords does not support a single answer as it depends on each particular case, although, in general, the correct way to write these words should be included.

Whether a word is written in lowercase or uppercase or if it is inflected (verbal person, number, tense) is no longer so relevant. The keyword shoe does indeed yield different results than it does shoes, but in general the different grammatical variations of a keyword can be easily covered by the content of the web page. Defining separate landing pages for the different inflected forms of the keywords doesn't make much sense.

In current SEO , typing errors in key terms have also lost relevance due to the search engine's self-correcting function. Google, for example, recognizes misspelled words and automatically returns results that correspond to the correct form of the word. And that's not to mention that accepting a misspelled word as a keyword means having to integrate it, also misspelled, into the texts on the page, something that crawlers value negatively and that gives readers a very bad impression. If, despite everything, it is convenient that misspelled words, but with a remarkable volume of searches, have to be considered as relevant keywords, then it is better to use them in advertising in search engines or SEA.

How to find good keywords

The purpose of a keyword research for Google and other major search engines is to create a list as exhaustive as possible of all the relevant keywords for the web project used by users to search for products, services or information in relation to the project. This task requires the corresponding programs. Web administrators and SEO experts use various keyword search tools to automate the extraction of the most relevant keywords. However, even the best search engine needs information in order to do its job. This information is provided, at the beginning of a keyword research process, by the free association of ideas procedures .


The starting point of the keyword search is, in any case, the status quo of the page to be optimized, unless it is a completely new project. Thus, the first step towards a list that contains the highest number of relevant keywords consists of analyzing the available data about the company and brainstorming or brainstorming from these. The main questions would be:

  • In which sector is the project moving?
  • What products, services or information are offered?
  • Who is the target audience for this offer?
  • What benefit do users or customers get from this offer?
  • How is the website designed?
  • Do the product categories and navigation structure offer keyword benchmarks?
  • And the web page, does it contain keywords that already get a good ranking?

This initial brainstorming is a process that can be subdivided into two phases : generation and structuring.

  • Free generation of ideas : in this first phase, priority is given to the free association of ideas. In those cases in which brainstorming is done internally and is not delegated to third parties, it is convenient, in pursuit of a brainstorming as exhaustive as possible, to resort to participants from all sectors of the company, who name the first terms that They come to mind spontaneously in relation to the online project, the company or its products and services.
  • Structuring these ideas : at this point in the process, the relevant words proposed are classified according to the structure of the web page. In this way, the result of a keyword brainstorming becomes a structured list with search terms that thematically order the different subpages of the project. It may happen that new thematic areas arise that until now had not been observed in the structure of the web.

Keyword research: synonym databases and tools

Producing a list of relevant terms is not enough when trying to develop a keyword strategy with a defined objective, especially since the lists derived from brainstorming are incomplete. This is where the keyword tools come in , allowing you to systematically complete this list and extract the potential of the different terms in terms of SEO. Among these, the most popular are free, like the Keyword Planner of Google , Übersuggest and mergewords .

In the second part of our series on keyword research we introduce these keyword tools extensively, as well as other search and analytics programs.

Synonym databases are another very useful tool when searching for keywords, through which it is very easy to find regional, stylistic and socio-cultural variations of many terms. And it is that only an exhaustive search of the terms used by the respective target audience to search for the products, services or information offers of the project to be optimized allows them to be integrated into the list and analyzed in terms of their eventual potential for optimization onpage. The following pages allow a free search for synonyms:

  • Dictionary Word Reference
  • Dictionary of the newspaper El País
  • Dictionaries The World
  • Thus We Speak Dictionary for the use of terms in Latin America.

Competitor analysis

A study of competing companies is also a good starting point for keyword research. Especially when you have the intention of penetrating new markets or exploiting new brands or branches of the company, it is convenient to check how the competition invests in SEO, in what words they invest and what results they obtain.

To find potentially competitive companies, webmasters search for top keywords in relation to the palette of products and services they offer on their pages and see which companies rank highest in organic results. Especially fertile is, above all, the analysis of specialized competitors , but not so much that of large online stores such as Amazon or eBay (unless the project to optimize is also an online store with an equally wide assortment of products), because these companies are present in almost all markets and with their optimization measures they cover various topics and search terms.

Also in this case it is possible to carry out an automated analysis. The SISTRIX Toolbox tool offers those pages with a good positioning the possibility of comparing their set of keywords with that of competing companies, in order to obtain new relevant search terms.

Evaluation of keyword research

The exhaustive search for key terms is followed by a detailed analysis of these terms where they are prioritized according to certain evaluation criteria, classified according to the subpages of the web page in the form of sets of keywords and, if necessary, are create new sections or categories. To find out how to do it in the best way, don't miss the third part of our series dedicated to keyword research.

About the Author


Andre Alpar started his business activity in the area of ​​online marketing in 1998 during his studies in Computer Science applied to Economics at the Technical University of Darmstadt. After founding several companies, he was an online marketing strategy consultant with executive roles for three years at Rocket Internet. Parallel to his professional career, Alpar has been committed to the creation of 40 online startups as a business angel. As an organizer, he has launched the OMCap, the PPC Masters and the Content Marketing Masters, all of them renowned online marketing conferences. He is currently the CEO of a team of 170 employees at Performics, a search and content marketing agency in Berlin. With more than 2,200 employees around the globe, Performics is one of the largest performance marketing agencies in the world.