The Never-Ending Loop of Keyword Research

The Never-Ending Loop of Keyword Research 7 Comments

Gareth Cartman is an IDM-qualified marketing professional and is currently working with BIG Research

Keyword ResearchSEO without keyword research is like a sandwich without bread. Yes, keyword research, like bread, is a little dull, but the better the bread, the better the sandwich.

I realise I’m at risk of stretching this bread metaphor a little too far, but the point is that keyword research – initial and ongoing – is the very foundation of any SEO campaign.

It could be the difference between success and failure.

Understanding your client

We’ve all heard the phrase “I want to be number one for [insert mega-competitive keyword]”, and our hearts sink. But after a couple of hours with your client, you’ll start to see the parts of their business that make them money, the products or services that are seriously profitable, and those that aren’t.

It’s about understanding your client’s marketing better than your client does. Armed with information about margin, ease of selling, perceived competition, you can adjust your approach to keyword research.

Use the trophy keywords 

Every client has the impossible ‘trophy’ keyword for which they want to rank, and this is often a good place to start. Once you have your keyword groups, start to build words around the trophy keyword so that you have some less competitive, long-tail key phrases. These could be local – towns, cities, etc., or could be price-related, e.g. cheap, inexpensive.

Google’s External Keyword Tool gives you some great suggestions, along with their volume, and even Google’s drop-down suggestion menu will help you out. In fact, those drop-down suggestions are used by searchers, so ignore them at your peril.

Now you can map the prefixes and suffixes around your trophy keywords, and build sub-groups within the main keyword group, adding tens of keywords each time. With your various tools, you’ll know which keywords return the greatest volume of searches.

What’s more, with a little intuition,  you’ll be able to come up with search phrases that not even your client would have thought of – and potentially new service offerings that the client could offer.

Populate your content

With your keyword grouped together, you’ll be able to present back to your client a content strategy based around:

  • their business strategy
  • user intent
  • search volume

The most difficult thing about keyword research is marrying these three areas – the client’s strategy and expectations, the intent of the searcher, and the potential of the keyword from a volume point of view. Now we can talk content – what do we need, as a business… what do users need, as buyers of our services… and what do users search for.

As time goes on, and volume increases, we start to add a fourth component:

  • keyword conversion

In other words – we’ve got some great keywords, that are relevant to our business and that bring traffic – but they don’t convert into business. And back we go to the start – understanding our client better than the client understands themselves – the never-ending loop of keyword research!

Image Credit: Stuart Miles

Gareth Cartman is an IDM-qualified marketing professional and is currently working with BIG Research


  1. I enjoyed your ‘bread’ analogy Gareth! Knowing your client or customer is very important to successful marketing strategies. Especially with today’s social media, it is all about understanding our customers on what they buy, search for and how we, as businesses, can solve their problems.

    I like your point that you make about having keywords for your business, but we also need to know those keywords that convert into sales.

  2. Hey Gareth,

    Like I on your last post Google Keyword Tool is awesome as it is free, First step is to set the location of the search to suit the country in which your business in located. To do this you will have to click on the Edit button and change it to Singapore for instance, so that you will have results specific for Singapore. Key in the keyword for example auditor SEO and leave the Use Synonyms checkbox selected. Now click on Get Keyword Ideas.

    You will the see that the results are split into two categories; Keywords related to term(s) entered and Additional keywords to be considered. Related keywords can be found in the second list and transferred to an Excel file. Since the target audience is in Singapore, you are more interested in the local search volume than the global search volume.

    The local search volume for the term auditor SEO states Not Enough Data will be translated to the value -1 in the exported file for Excel and you will see that there is Low Advertiser Competition for the term. Point your mouse on the green bar to check for alt text that will display appropriate level of competition. Obviously now you have noticed that auditor SEO is not a strong short tail keyword like SEO. By changing the geographical location auditor SEO to SEO you are now looking at a good targeted keyword as it shows very high advertiser competition represented by the green bar. For this, you will always need to select the widest term specific for your industry. Since the service that you cater is based around the term, it is a valid choice, and in this case, it is SEO.

    As you are interested in the Local Search Volume, you will now click on the column heading Local Search Volume to sort the results in a descending manner. Here, you will see all the keywords that can become various categories. You are able to group them from the more specific to less general terms to be used under each of the category.

    Now that you have known how to do keyword research, try it out! Keep in mind that in many industries such as fashion and arts there is changing trends which are represented by a change in keywords being used by searches. Keep in tune with the shifting trends by doing regular keyword research and keep your website up-to-date with new contents to attract searches using the latest keywords. The constant research for keywords can strenuous but is highly rewarding for your website and you should start today!


  3. I must say that keyword research is still a mystery to me… It is one of those things that I just don’t like to do!! You know that one subject in school you just really dont’ like!! So important,I need to get on it!! Great post!

  4. Lynn, totally agree – it’s all about solving the customer’s problems (and the latest Google algorithm change has made sure we focus on that!)
    Mike, some cracking points there – trends is something we often forget about and Google insights can often help… I have a client who always fades in April, and never understood why – turned out to be the end of the tax year that was causing it.
    Holly, it can be fun! 🙂 Think of it as sifting for gold – hard work but you’ll end up richer the harder you look 😉

  5. Good to read this informative stuff related to keyword research. Keyword research is continuous process for SEO. Agree with Lynn Brown that we also need to know those keywords that convert into sales.

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