How to Plan and Understand Keyword Research

how to plan seo development

No matter what industry you’re in, selecting the right keywords is essential for search engine optimization (SEO). In today’s competitive market, it is especially important to identify the keywords that are relevant to your business and your users. We’ve seen many of our clients get lost in the numerous keywords that they think are relevant for their business, but turn out to be a complete waste of time because of multiple factors. Doing keyword research is not as complicated as it sounds once you know where to look. We’ll show you how to do it.

How to Do Keyword Research

Finding the right keywords is all about research. It will provide valuable insights into what your target audience is searching for, which will further help your content strategy as well as your marketing strategy. How do you do it? Well, the main rule you should follow is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. User searches are basically what your keywords should be. What would you type in a search engine if you needed a service that your business provides? What would you search for if you needed a product that your business sells? Putting yourself in your users’ shoes is always the winning strategy. Keep in mind that keywords that exactly match the person’s search are no longer the most important thing. Instead, it’s the intent behind the search that makes the difference.

Researching keywords will tell you what your users care about and how popular those topics actually are among your audience. By getting insight into keywords that get a lot of searches per month, you can identify your topics and what you should focus on. Some of the general factors you should look at are search volume, popularity and intent so that you can provide your audience with the right answers to their questions. Here’s how to baseline your content strategy from keyword research:

Based on what you know about your business, make a list of relevant topics. To start, come up with buckets of “topic categories” that you think would be relevant to your business. These buckets can be used to help with your keyword research later. For Gilmedia, these topics would be:

  • Web Design
  • SEO
  • Digital Marketing

Note: It is easy to misinterpret keywords as they can have many different meanings. Since the intent behind a search is actually the most important thing to consider, you should be careful with interpreting the keywords you target.

Understanding the main factors of choosing keywords

When choosing the keywords for your content, think of the following:


Google prefers “authoritative domains.”  This means that you need to be persistent in your efforts to become a good source of useful information by working on your site and constantly improving it. Furthermore, you need to consistently promote that content across the web to earn quality backlinks and social links. If you’re not deemed as an authority, or the pages that rank for this search comes from hard-to-compete-with sources, you may not rank for that keyword. You can do a quick test for your website here.


Google will rank your pages if they’re relevant to user searches. Think about it, why would Google show your page if it has less useful information than other pages? After all, it’s all about showing the user the information they’re looking for.

Number of searches:

You may rank for a specific keyword, but what’s the point if no one is looking for it?  This is where keyword planning tools can be very useful, as they can show you the search volume for particular keywords per month, which will give you a more solid overview of what keywords to target.

Pro Tip 1:

If you’re having difficulties thinking of more keywords that you think people might be looking for, check the related searches that appear when you type in a keyword.

Google also gives you suggestions as questions. This can be very useful in determining what is actually relevant for your keywords. Plus, it can help you with ideas for blog topics.

Pro Tip 2:

There are many SEO and keyword research tools that can help you with identifying the best keywords for your website. Some of them are SEMrush, Moz, Google’s Keyword Research Tool, Ahrefs and others. These tools will help you get more ideas based on phrase match keywords and exact match keywords, and you might end up finding other alternatives you never considered.

Once you’ve finalized the list, now is the time to refine your keywords.

How to find the best keywords for your website

Before you start digging into new keywords and creating your content, think about whether or not you already have similar content on your website. Maybe there is already a blog or a page that is pretty similar to the next one on your list. If that’s the case, you should focus on improving the content on the existing pages. Next, think about the type of keywords you want to target. Here, it’s important to distinguish between 2 types of keywords: head terms and long tail keywords. Head terms are usually shorter and generic (one to 3 words in length) while long tail keyword phrases usually contain more than 3 words.  For best results, you should mix long tail searches and head terms because:

  • Head terms are searched more often which makes them harder to rank for.
  • Long tails are more specific and if you select the right ones, you could score a major win.

In addition, there’s the question of relevance that we mentioned earlier. It would be great to rank for the keyword “couch” if you’re selling furniture. Or would it? Think about it, Google will show the user pages that it thinks the best match the user’s intent. Is the user looking to buy a couch? If they are, do they need a used couch or a new couch? Maybe they’re simply looking for couch decoration ideas or even memes? Given all of these different reasons the user might have typed in “couch” it would be:

1. Very difficult to rank for since there are numerous other results with great domain authority that would outrank you.
2. Difficult to determine the user’s intent. Had they typed in: Sectional sofa for sale Toronto, they practically have their wallet open. Since you’re selling couches like this, that’s the keyword phrase you want to rank for because the user has higher intent of buying.

However, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t rank for head terms either, because Google is smart enough to rank your website for such searches too. Based on prior searches, user behaviour and so on, Google usually knows how to recognize user intent even if they type in such a broad term such as “couch.”

Make sure you have a healthy combination of long-tail keywords and head terms for the best results. Think of long tail keywords as quick wins, while the more difficult head terms are more of a long-term project.

Check out the competition

An important step in choosing keywords is competitive research. Knowing what keywords your competitors rank for is great for evaluating your own list. If your competitors rank for certain keywords, then it makes sense to work on improving them. Nevertheless, don’t disregard the terms that your competitors don’t rank for. You may just stumble upon a gold mine.

So how do you figure out which keywords your competitors rank for? Well, apart from doing a manual search in incognito mode and seeing what search terms your competitors rank for, you can use the SEO tools we mentioned earlier to check out a whole array of keywords.

Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself when doing keyword research using the furniture shop example:

  • What type of furniture is most popular in this country or city?
  • Who are the people searching for this type of furniture?
  • When do people need new furniture?
  • How do people shop for the specific types of furniture I offer?
  • What kind of information would I want to know when shopping for furniture?
  • What words would I use to search for this furniture? (Very Important)
  • What questions would I ask?
  • What device would I use? (Mobile, desktop)
  • Where are my customers located?

And there you have it. Before you started reading this article, you probably already had a few keywords on your mind. These can be your services, products, or just general topics relevant to your business. It’s just a matter of doing a little bit of research and knowing where exactly to look and you’ll come up with a super-targeted and relevant list.

If you need help with determining your keywords and your overall efforts, you’re at the right place. Gilmedia specializes in helping businesses just like yours identify and rank for relevant keywords that will bring you results. Connect with our Toronto SEO team at (647) 478 – 5858 today!