How and Why to do Keyword Research

While it’s pretty simple, keyword research is still an integral part of all digital marketing and should be drilled into the head of every digital marketer or business owner running their own digital marketing. Keyword research is one of the most valuable processes in digital marketing, as it influences every step you take afterward.

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research, like many digital marketing terms, is pretty straightforward: researching keywords. But, of course, there’s just a little more to it than that. HubSpot defines keyword research as, “the process of finding and analyzing search terms that people enter into search engines with the goal of using that data for a specific purpose, often for search engine optimization (SEO) or general marketing.” Keyword research helps you figure out what keywords/queries you should be targeting.

Why is Keyword Research Important?

Keyword research is the basis of almost all of your digital marketing efforts. Keyword research is valuable, as we discussed in the last blog, for PPC marketing. But beyond that, keyword research can be used for SEO, content marketing, and so many other things too. Without knowing what keywords you should focus on, you could potentially have a lot of wasted effort and wasted money on strategies that weren’t fully flushed out.

The Keyword Research Process

Keyword Research is a simple process, but one that you should be fully involved in. It doesn’t need to be a super lengthy process, but it should take longer than an hour. While doing keyword research, you’ll want to pull a variety of keywords and use a number of different factors to evaluate each. Through this process of evaluating keywords, you can narrow down what keywords you want to target in your digital marketing efforts.

What keywords should I look for?

There is an abundance of keywords in the world that could relate to your business in the most minute way possible. You generally want to look for two main categories of keywords to target: long-tail and short-tail keywords. Short-tail keywords are much broader, shorter keywords. Those are the basic “real estate Durango” or “Colorado Breweries”. While you may think that these are the keywords you should focus on, they are generally much harder to rank for when just starting your SEO efforts.
Long-tail keywords are the opposite of short-tail keywords, as you might’ve guessed. Long tail keywords are longer, more specific keywords that guide the search results in a much more specific way. These are the “what do I do if my dog ate a sleeve of Oreos” and “Crochet patterns long sleeve dress v-neck scalloped bottom” of the world. These are keywords you’re much more likely to rank for. Having a healthy combination of these two types of keywords is the best way to balance your efforts so that you can be successful and rank well.

How do I know what keywords I should use?

This is where keyword research is really important. You can have a full list of all different types of keywords, but without researching each one, you won’t know which keywords are fruitful and which are already overpopulated. This can also be called “keyword analysis”, but it means the same thing as keyword research. There are many tools that you can use for keyword research: Spyfu has a great free program, and Google Keyword Planner is another great free option. There are some other paid options, but these will give you the information for a basic form of keyword research. The three main statistics you’ll want to look for are volume, relevancy, and difficulty. Volume is the number of searches for this keyword. Short-tail keywords are going to be higher in volume, while long-tail keywords usually have a lower volume of searches. Difficulty is how difficult it will be to rank for this particular keyword. The higher volume of your keyword, you’ll typically see a higher difficulty level, and vice versa for lower volume keywords. The trick is finding a nice balance between the two. The last statistic, relevancy, is one that you use your own discretion for. You know how relevant each keyword is to your website. You determine the relevancy of your keywords on a set scale (scales of 3 or 5). You want to go for keywords that are a little more relevant to your website so as to not mislead anybody searching for something entirely unrelated. Based on these three statistics, you’ll determine which keywords you want to push for in your SEO and paid search efforts. With SEO, you’ll want to include all of the keywords you decided on. For paid search, you want to focus your efforts (and money) on the higher volume keywords that are more difficult to rank organically. 


Keyword research is an essential part of digital marketing, so it’s important to understand how it’s done. Now that you know what kind of keywords you’re looking for and how to analyze them, you’re ready to go out and implement digital marketing strategies for your business!

Done with your keyword research? Find out how Ascent can help you with your SEO and paid search campaigns here.