Knowing how to find keywords effectively is one of the main, and primarily, ongoing SEO practices every website needs.

Here’s why.

Roughly 90.63% of pages on Google get zero organic traffic, and of the ones that do, 5.9% get only 1 to 10 visits every month or less.

zero organic traffic

Image via Ahrefs

Part of the reason majority of websites don’t attract organic traffic is that they fail to optimize their content for user intent.

One challenge most marketers face is not having a keyword strategy that targets user intent in their specific industries. Luckily, that’s what this post focuses on — learning how to find keywords effectively.

Before we discuss how to find keywords, here is a quick recap on what keywords are and the role they play in your website optimization.

What are Keywords?

Keywords are ‌words or phrases that best summarise the contents on your page. Users type in these words on search engines when they’re browsing the internet.

Keywords help search engine crawlers match user queries to relevant results. When you use keywords effectively, you increase your website’s visibility and boost your rankings on SERPs.

What’s the Role of Keyword Research?

Search engines seek to provide users with the most relevant content to their search queries. For this, they find content with related keywords.

Keyword research helps you identify how users are searching for your brand or the services you provide. It helps you know exactly what to include on your pages to make them more visible both to users and search engine crawlers.

This way, when Google indexes your page, they’ll find it relevant and rank it up.

But it doesn’t stop there. You’ll also need to know how to use these keywords on your pages. You’ll need to optimize them, from your URL to your titles, headings, and content.

With proper keyword research, you can make your brand more visible to organic search, and give your company a competitive edge over other players in your niche.

It’s however important to note that keyword optimization is just one among many factors that search engines consider when ranking your pages. Therefore, it’s crucial to work on other SEO practices too, such as link building and website optimization, for wholesome results.

Now, how do you find keywords that are best for your website? Let’s find out.

How To Find Keywords: A Step-By-Step Guide

Here’s a simple guide on how to find keywords effectively.

1. Set Goals and List Important Topics

First, you need to set a goal for what exactly you want to achieve with your keyword research process. You’ll need to establish:

  • Your target audience
  • The primary and secondary needs of your target audience
  • Why your audience needs your products

Then, come up with a list of broad topics you want to rank for that apply to your business. This gives you a general sense of direction before you narrow down each topic later.

These could include topics that constantly come up in your everyday business activities. As you go, you’ll discover how important each topic is and prioritize accordingly.

2. Keyword Discovery

This next step talks about how you’ll find new keyword ideas.

Based on the topics you’ve outlined, search for new keyword ideas. The first step towards keyword discovery is finding your seed keywords and building your keyword phrases around them.

A seed keyword is the part of your keyword that defines your niche, forming the basis for the rest of your keyword research. Essentially, they’re your starting point.

For instance, if you sell female clothing, your seed keywords can be

  • Women clothes
  • Summer dresses
  • Cocktail dresses

You can then use these base keywords to find more meaningful phrases. The final keywords you find can either be:

  • Short tail keywords: Short tail keywords are keywords that contain one to three words and typically cover a broad subject. Being generic, they have a large search volume and attract more traffic.

    However, for the same reason, they’re highly competitive and have a higher keyword difficulty. This means that it’s harder to rank high for them.

    They may also attract the wrong audience lowering your conversion rates and increasing your bounce rate.
  • Long tail keywords: These are more descriptive keywords that explain the details of the content and have a clear search intent. They have a lower search volume as they cover a specific subject.

    Long tail keywords are easier to rank for if done right as they’re less competitive. Since they’re more specific, the traffic you attract using long tail keywords is relevant and leads to higher conversions.

Here’s how you find these long-tail and short-tail keyword ideas.


With this method, you’ll simply think of ideas from your website content or topics from your niche and find keyword ideas.

Think of your brand and everything you offer, and try to find keywords from your customers’ standpoint.

You can then list these ideas in a Spreadsheet and build on them as you go.

Exploring Your Niche

Here, you research your industry and niche to find content writing gaps. This will help you understand the problems your customers face and the questions they ask.

You can look at niche social media forums on Quora and Reddit to find ideas or leverage social listening tools to find content gaps. You’ll then find more relevant keywords.

Use Keyword Tools

Keyword discovery tools are the easiest way to explore what your target audience is searching for. They are linked to Google search and other search engines and they analyze large chunks of data to provide you with insightful metrics.

You can use simple keyword generation tools such as Google Keyword Planner and Google Autocomplete to find ideas.

Other SEO-specific tools, such as Ahrefs and Ubersuggest, have free packages for keyword generation and discovery. These SEO tools provide a list of suggestions that help you find more keyword ideas.

You can use them to discover how much traffic each keyword attracts, and how competitive they are.

The more elaborate SEO audit tools will help you research your competitors and find the keywords they’re ranking for. This way, you can monitor your competitors, identify gaps, and even learn from their practices.

We’ll discuss these tools in detail later on in this post.

Analyze Current Keywords

If you already have a keyword strategy, you’ll need to look into your current keywords to see how they’re performing. Analyze which keywords already bring in traffic and why, and use that to generate new ideas.

Then you can improve the content that attracts less traffic. One way to go about it would be to resurrect or repurpose the content using a different set of keywords or optimizing the existing keywords on the same content.

Now that you have a rough idea of what you’re looking for, you’re ready for the next step.

3. Keyword Analysis

At this point, you have a long list of keyword ideas you’ve generated. How do you then narrow this list down?

You can use keyword research tools to:

Analyze Keyword Research Elements

Here, you’ll first analyze your keywords using these three key elements to establish their importance.

  • Relevance: The keyword you choose to center your content around should provide value to your audience. That’s how search engines determine if they find your page relevant.

    You should be able to stay on topic and respond to your user’s queries. Also, making sure your content is up to date contributes to its relevance.
  • Search volume: This refers to the number of people who are searching for a specific keyword. You can rank highly for a keyword, but it wouldn’t matter much if there aren’t many people searching for it.

    Your keyword tool will generate the search volume like the one generated by Semrush below.

Analyze Keyword Research Elements

Image via Semrush

  • Keyword Difficulty: Some keywords are more competitive than others and therefore more difficult to rank for.

    A high keyword difficulty shows that they’re competitive while a low one shows that they’re either less competitive or do not attract any traffic.

Keyword Difficulty

Image via Moz

With that, you’ll not only narrow down your list but also sort them in their order of significance.

Analyze Your Competitors

Competitor analysis helps you monitor which keywords other companies in your niche are ranking for. This way, you can reevaluate your keyword list and make changes.

If your competitors are ranking for keywords that are already on your list, it means that you’ll have to improve your content to compete. Also, if they’re not optimizing certain keywords that have substantial search volume, then it’s your chance to fill that gap.

So how do you find the keywords your competitors are ranking for?

Most SEO tools have competitor analysis software. For instance, Moz has a free keyword discovery tool that shows you which websites are ranking for your target keyword.

SERP Analysis

Image via Moz

Looking at the competitor pages from the example above, you can tell why they’re ranking higher. They have high domain authority, page authority, and many referring domains.

With this information, you’ll learn what else to improve in your SEO strategy besides your keywords.

Keyword Difficulty -2

Image via Moz

Know Your Audience’s Search Intent

Your user search intent is one of the most crucial factors you should consider when prioritizing the keywords you find. User intent lets you know what people want when they type in search queries.

There are four types of search intent you should center your keywords around. These include.

  • Informational: These are keywords that don’t really target conversions as they’re just meant to provide information. They’re mostly in the form of questions, for instance, “What are audiobooks?”

    While they may not compel your audience to take any action, informational content helps you build your brand awareness. By providing educative content, you’ll also establish your site as an authority in your niche.
  • Commercial: Most searchers who use keywords with this intent are usually looking for products or services. Their intention is either to compare what’s available or to make a purchase.

    You can target these keywords in content such as product reviews, listicles, or product comparison articles. Commercial keywords are used to increase conversions.
  • Transactional: These are keywords that target visitors who want to make a purchase. They’re used in purchase pages, ads, product pages etc.

    Site visitors use these keywords when they already have information about the product and want to buy it. They’re used by searchers at the bottom of the conversion funnel.

    When coming up with keywords for transactional intent, you need to be specific with your product descriptions. For instance, “black breathable sport shoes for men” is a long-tail keyword that’s more likely to convert than “shoes for men”.
  • Navigational: Searchers use navigational keywords to find a company or a brand they already know and are just trying to find their official site. Popular brands use these keywords to attract traffic to their websites.

Here’s how you can know the search intent behind your keywords. Type out your keyword on your Google search and look at the results that come up.

Going through these results will show you what searchers find when they type certain keywords. Study the results to get an idea of how to use your keywords.

Another way, which is simpler and just as effective, is using keyword research tools.

For instance, for the earlier keyword example, “how to buy audible books?”, the search intent is both informational and transactional on Semrush, as shown below.

Google search and look at the results

Image via Semrush

4. Keyword Ranking

With a list and details such as keyword density and search volume, you can rank your keywords.

Here’s how.

First, group them into primary and secondary keywords for each of your topics. The ones at the top should be your primary keywords, i.e. the keywords you are prioritizing in your content.

Then your secondary keywords, which are variations of your main keywords, could be your next focus. You want to explore different versions of what your audience is searching for.

How do you determine which keywords are your primary or secondary keywords?

You’ll need to first determine their importance. The following factors help you know what keywords to prioritize.

  • Whether or not you already have content on that keyword phrase. If you do, what would it take to make it rank higher?
  • The potential traffic your keyword is likely to attract
  • How competitive the keyword is. You’ll need to check your keyword difficulty for this.
  • If the keyword attracts traffic, how much of it is likely to convert?

Have the keywords with high search volume and low keyword difficulty at the top of your list.

5. Final Keyword Choice

This is where you pick your final keywords. Here you’ll prioritize search intent, for instance, if your website is ‌commercial, you’ll pick the keywords with a commercial intent.

If your focus is producing blog posts, then you’ll prioritize the keywords with informational intent.

Remember that as much as you want the keywords with the highest conversion rates, your content doesn’t always have to target the visitors at the bottom of the buying funnel.

Prioritizing keywords that target customers at the top of the buyer’s journey is just as important. Your website needs to play the role of nurturing leads.

Now back to your final list of keywords.

You can also take another look at your competitor analysis when making your final choice. Check the domain authorities on the websites that are ranking for certain keywords. If they have low domain authority, those are keywords you can add to your final list, etc.

You’ve picked out your keywords, now what?

You’ll need to use them in the right way for optimal impact. Let’s find out how in this next section.

Where To Use Your Keywords

Here’s where you should add your keywords to make your content relevant to search engines.

Meta Description

This is the part that shows up under your title on SERPs. It contains a summary of what your content is about.

Meta Description

Image via Google

Including your keywords in your meta description helps searchers know whether to click on your content. Search engines also use the keywords in your meta description to ascertain that your content is relevant to specific search queries.

Title Tag

This is the part of your HTML that describes the subject of your webpage. It’s an element of technical SEO that search engine crawlers index first on your page.

On SERPs, it appears as the clickable headline to your content and is the first thing searchers see.

Title Tag

Image via Google 

H1 and other subheadings

Upon opening your content, your subheadings guide your readers through your content, helping them determine if your content is what they were looking for.

Therefore, using your keywords in a few of your subheadings boosts the relevance of your content.

Your subheadings may also appear on Google’s featured snippets and including relevant keywords increases these chances.

H1 and other subheadings

Image via Google


Avoid using characters on your URL and instead, use keywords. If your keyword is long, try to keep it short and include only parts of the keyword that best summarize the content on your webpage. Also, make it readable and easy to understand.

This way your users and search engines will know what’s on your page.

Throughout your content

This is where you optimize your keywords the most. However, you should be careful not to use irrelevant keywords or overuse keywords. You want to use your keywords naturally throughout your text.

Search engine crawlers interpret keyword stuffing as manipulation of their algorithm and that can drop your rankings. Using variations of your keywords helps make them more natural.

Also, keyword-stuffed content can be unintelligible to your readers.


Search engines index images on your page just like they do your written content. This gives you a chance to optimize your images. Whenever relevant, try to include your keywords:

  • On your image file name on your device
  • On your image title
  • In your image alt text. This is the part of your image that your search engine crawlers scan. When adding your image alt text, use descriptive text instead of a short label.

This next section discusses keyword tools that make the above process of how to find keywords easier.

Keyword Tools You Can Use

As discussed earlier, keyword research tools are an effective way to find, compare and analyze keywords effectively. This section lists some tools you can use.

1. Google Autocomplete/ People Also Ask/Related Searches

These Google tools are free to use and the easiest way to find keyword ideas for your website. We’ll discuss them together as you can access them all in one go.

The autocomplete section shows you some keyword suggestions as soon as you type in your seed words on the Google search box. It’s useful when you’re trying to find long-tail keywords.

People Also Ask-Related Searches

Image via Google

Once you’ve typed in your keywords and hit search, the “People Also Ask” section suggests relevant alternatives.

People Also Ask Section

Image via Google

At the bottom of the page is the section with more keyword ideas.

section with more keyword ideas

Image via Google


  • Easy to use
  • It’s a free tool


  • It’s not as effective as a specialized tool

2. Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner

Image via Google Keyword Planner

You need a Google Ads account to access the Google Keyword Planner. It’s a free tool you can use to discover new keywords related to your business niche.

It shows you the monthly search statistics for your keyword ideas and helps you filter them by relevance.


  • It’s a free tool


  • It has limited keyword research features

3. Google Trends

It’s a generic tool that helps you know what the world is looking for on Google and what’s trending online. It shows how often people find a certain term relative to the total search volume.

Google Trends allows you to compare keywords with each other, like below.

Google Trends

Image via Google Trends

It also shows you keyword searches by country so you can know which locations to target with your keyword strategy.


  • Free tool
  • Provides historical data about changes in searcher interests over time
  • Suitable for finding viral trends


  • Not effective for in-depth keyword analysis

4. Ubersuggest

This tool has a lot more to offer than any of the above free tools as it’s more SEO specialized. Ubersuggest helps you generate keyword ideas, and shows you the search volume, keyword difficulty, paid difficulty, and pay per click.

For instance, if you type “SEO strategies” into the keyword search box, you get a list of related searches ranked by search volume like below.


Image via Ubbersuggest

Besides this, the tool also generates content ideas, as shown below.

generates content ideas

Image via Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest has a freemium version that is effective for keyword research and a paid version that is a more integrated content marketing tool. It’s easy to use overall and is affordable compared to other SEO marketing tools.


  • Have an easy-to-use Chrome extension
  • Affordable pricing
  • A user-friendly tool
  • Have a free version and a 7-day free trial for paid versions


  • No mobile app


  • Individual: $12/month
  • Business: $20/month
  • Enterprise/Agency: $40/ month

5. Ahrefs

This is an integrated SEO tool with functions such as keyword research, backlink analysis, website audit, domain analysis, and rank tracker.

The Ahrefs free keyword generator helps you compare keyword variations of your search, their search volume, and keyword difficulty.

Integrated SEO tool

Image via Ahrefs

Its backlink analysis tool is effective for competitor research.


  • Free keyword generator
  • It’s easy to use
  • SEO tools are comprehensive


  • Paid packages are expensive
  • No free trial on paid plans


  • Lite: $99 monthly
  • Standard: $199 monthly
  • Advanced: $399
  • Enterprise: $999

6. Semrush

Just like Ahrefs, Semrush is a powerful SEO marketing tool, with a free keyword research tool. The keyword research tool helps you find:

  • Monthly search volume
  • Keyword difficulty
  • The sites that are ranking for a keyword
  • Keyword suggestions
  • User intent

Here’s what that looks like


Image via Semrush

You can also conduct domain analysis, rank tracking, backlink analysis, broken link building, etc. Their domain analysis tool is particularly easy to use.


  • Provides keyword intent data
  • The user interface is well organized
  • Detailed SEO reporting tool


  • You can only create one account for all the Semrush plans
  • The free trial requires you to add your card details


  • Free: $0
  • Pro: $119 monthly
  • Guru: $229 monthly
  • Business: $449 monthly

7. Moz

Moz is also an all-encompassing SEO tool that has a free keyword explorer tool. This tool generates information such as:

  • Keyword suggestions
  • SERP analysis
  • Monthly search volume
  • Keyword difficulty
  • Organic click-through rate
  • Keyword priority

Unlike other tools discussed above, the keyword research tool alone provides a lot of insight. The SERP analysis section lets you analyze websites ranking for a specific keyword and see their page and domain ratings.

You can discover keywords and conduct competitor research from a single tool.


  • Comprehensive keyword explorer tool
  • Chrome extension is available


  • Paid plans can be expensive


  • Standard: $99/month
  • Medium: $179/month
  • Large: $299/month
  • Premium: $599/month


Q1. How do I know what keywords to look for?

A. Here’s a simple procedure you can follow to know what keywords to look for:

  • Discover keywords and come up with a list of ideas
  • Use keyword tools to analyze your keywords for relevance and user intent
  • Use that information to narrow your list down
  • Rank your keywords by order of importance
  • Choose the best keywords from this rank

Q2. What are three ways to discover keyword ideas?

A. The easiest way to find keywords is through these three ways:

  • Brainstorming for seed keywords
  • Exploring your niche for new topics
  • Using keyword tools to discover keyword ideas

Q3. What is the best free keyword research tool?

A. Here are some free keyword research tools you can use to find keywords:

  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Google Trends
  • Ubbersuggest
  • Ahrefs
  • Semrush
  • Moz

Q4. What is a keyword strategy?

A. A keyword strategy refers to the process where you determine which keywords to find, how to implement your keyword research results, and what content to write.

Q5. Which keywords are best to target in SEO?

A. The best keywords to target are relevant, have a high search volume, and have a keyword difficulty level you can easily compete with.

When picking a keyword, you’ll also need to analyze other sites that have used the keyword before and select one with gaps you can fill.

Q6. What keywords bring in the most traffic?

A. To determine which keywords bring the most traffic, you’ll need to compare the keyword difficulty and the search volume to find a balance. Keywords with low difficulty and a high search volume have higher chances of attracting the most traffic.

Make Your Keyword Strategy More Effective

Now that you know how to find keywords and how to make them more effective, you can make your overall SEO marketing strategy even better.

While keywords give you a significant ranking boost, search engines consider many other factors before they can rank you highly on SERPs.

So while streamlining your keyword research process, be sure to check other aspects of your SEO strategy as well, such as your link-building strategy, website optimization, and content quality.

All the best for finding the best keywords for your website.