Better keyword research WILL equal better results–trust us on this one.

Building a proper foundation for your marketing strategy will set you up for successful results.

Just like building a house, you start with pouring a foundation so that you can build something solid that will last a long time. Your digital marketing is not much different.

If you have read my other blog posts about search engine optimization and how to better rank within search engines like Google you will remember that having a plan is always step one. For digital marketing, keyword research will be the foundation for your marketing strategy.

Good keyword research will help you determine what your market is searching, how they are searching for things on Google and much more. Proper keyword research will also clear up any misconceptions you may have about your market or which words to focus on.

During an SEO audit, I always pull two lists.

  • One list shows the keywords a company is ranking for and sorted by their rank.
  • The other report pulls the same keywords but is sorted by search volume.

Although the two lists show the same content, how you view them will either validate your efforts or help you begin focusing on the right keywords and search terms.

Prioritizing Your Company’s SEO Efforts

One scenario we see often is when companies are insistent on ranking for a very specific keyword or search term. They are confident that ranking for this term is the key to their digital marketing success.

However, it’s not uncommon to find that the search term actually has a low search volume. A modified version of the search term may have a much higher search volume. As an optimizer, I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient.

So, if I have a set number of hours to spend on content marketing or SEO, I’m going to focus on the search terms and keywords that have a higher search volume so that I can reach a larger audience.

Without having proper keyword research you could be wasting many resources and hours on creating content for terms that a negligible number of people are searching for.

Think you might need a better understanding of SEO before diving into Keyword Research? We’ve got just the thing. Our SEO guidebook will provide you with a thorough understanding of SEO and it’s free to download!

Some great tools for keyword research are Moz, SEM Rush, Google Ads, and Google Trends.

So let’s begin with how to find your search terms and topics. Start with your branded and industry-specific terms.

Those will help you begin your process. There are many online tools to help you determine the strength of those words and even recommend new ones.


Moz is a popular search engine optimization (SEO) tool that has a library of options and features. They have tools like the Keyword Explorer that will give you the average monthly search volume, ranking difficulty, organic CTR and more.

Knowing these benchmarks will not only be key indicators if the search term is worth competing for but will also help you establish a baseline to measure your monthly progress against. Measuring your monthly progress for rankings and keywords can be done by using the Moz Rank Tracker.

SEM Rush

When it comes to online marketing, you can rank for organic search through SEO or you can rank for paid ads. The keywords you will use might vary depending on your strategy. That is where SEM Rush really comes in handy.

SEM Rush has tools to help you evaluate your website traffic by segmenting organic search and paid search separately. Within these segments you can get a full breakdown of keywords and search terms you rank for which include lots of important stats such as keyword difficulty, search volume, related or suggested keywords and more.

One of my favorite features is the Keyword Gap tool which allows you to see which keywords your competitors are targeting and if you have any overlap with them.


This one needs no introduction. If you haven’t heard of Google at this point, you probably don’t have an online presence at all. Google Ads, formerly known as Google Adwords, is a paid search platform where you can submit ads and bids in an effort to outrank the organic search listings.

Like SEM Rush, Google Ads has a tool built into it that will help you identify potential keywords to target. I normally take these keywords, filter them based on relevancy and then run them through Google Trends.

Google Trends is great because it will give you the interest level of specific topics based on current internet behavior. You can look at how topics are trending locally, nationally or internationally.

Identifying trends in topics may help you determine keyword seasonality as well. For instance, there probably aren’t too many people searching for “Valentines Day presents” in August. This is obviously an oversimplified example but it paints the right picture.

Now, what do you do with your keyword research?

Once you have your keywords it’s time to begin creating web pages, blogs, content offers, and a good channel mix of other digital marketing assets.

Any digital marketing effort that includes content marketing should begin with keyword research. As you can see, there are many ways to get the information but each one is a little different than the next.

We rely on a suite of software and tools to determine the best target keywords. If keywords have not been a big part of your digital marketing conversation I would urge you to take another look. What you find might just surprise you.

Keyword research is just one of the tasks included in our Marketing 101 Checklist. If you’re getting ready to launch an inbound or digital marketing campaign, download the Marketing 101 checklist and get checking!