Keyword Research for SEO: The Definitive Guide in 2021

SEO Keyword research is the foundation of every successful SEO campaign. However, there isn’t a ‘standard’ approach to performing keyword research. Strategies may vary depending on the nature of your website, traffic goals, conversion KPIs, budget and resources.


A website that has a high authority may easily rank for difficult keywords while a brand new site will need a different SEO strategy.

In this guide, we’ll cover strategies that you can easily adjust to suit your goals and resources.

Introduction: What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is a process that determines phrases that people are searching on Google or other search engines. The keywords are then use to optimize pages on a website so that they rank higher on Google.

In a keyword research process, it is important to consider the search phrase, traffic, and SEO difficulty on the respective keywords. A good keyword is one that has a reasonable amount of traffic, not too competitive, and makes sense when applied to your website.

Why is Keyword Research A Crucial Part of SEO?

Keyword research is a crucial part of SEO. Without proper keyword research, any subsequent works are like grasping in the dark. Here are the reasons why keyword research is important.

Draw Qualified Traffic

You need to be aware that blindly optimizing for random keywords may lead to possibilities of high ranking but no traffic, or traffic without conversions.

For example, if you’re running an Italian Restaurant and you try to rank for ‘pasta’ you will be attracting users who are seeking informational content rather than customers looking for a dine out. A hair salon will also be getting bad conversion if it’s targeting irrelevant keywords like ‘best shavers for men’ as the keyword is more suitable for a business that sells shavers.

Therefore, keyword research is essential to ensure that only the right traffic is directed to your site. An article that targets ‘choosing a guitar’ will be a good fit for a business selling guitars while a page optimized with ‘best guitars in Singapore’ will naturally draw in local traffic from Singapore.

Search intent of keywords can affect bounce rate. If you’re ranking for unrelated keywords, users will click into your site but leave very quickly. This increases the bounce rate and reduces the time spent on your websites. These numbers lead to losing the overall ranking on Google.

Proper keyword research helps you establish what are the right search phrases that you need to target. These keywords are then used to optimize blog articles, images or video that draws highly-targeted traffic.

Explore Consumer Behaviors Through Queries

You can also gain better insight into consumer sentiments and behaviours through keyword research. The insights obtained during keyword research allows you to create content that answers the questions or information sought by the consumers.

Usually, you will uncover other search phrases when using keyword research tools or other strategies. Google is good at giving hints on what your audience is also searching for. For example, typing in ‘pet foods Singapore’ also returns these related keywords at the bottom of the search result.


You can then focus and expand on these keywords if they are aligned with your business. Google also provides a search section, Related Questions (also known as)  that helps in discovering questions that your customers could be asking.


These questions can be turned into blog articles, or included in an FAQ page to draw visitors to your website. Answering these questions help your brand to gain authority and trust amongst the audience.

Helps Create Content That Match Search Intent

Google tends to reward articles or content that best matches the search intent of users. In order to do that, you will need to get the keyword research done right.

For example, you have identified a keyword with high traffic like ‘how to hire a maid in Singapore’. The next step is to find out what are the other pages that are ranking on Google and how to create better content.

Better content implies one that matches the search intent of the users, and you will have an idea of what content is favoured by Google by inspecting the results on the first page. Generally, it means a page that answers all the questions and doubts of a user.

In this example, it’s clear that Google is favouring high-quality blog articles that are optimized with the keyword.


Essential Concepts of Keyword Research Marketers Ought to Know

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to keyword research. Over the years, Google’s search algorithm has evolved, and it’s much more intelligent than ever. One prominent development is its ability to recognize the search intent of the users and match the search phrases with relevant results.

What is Search Intent (and Why It Matters)?

The term search intent refers to the purposes behind the users when they are searching on Google. Users expect to find what they are looking for from the results delivered on the search engine.

Search intent has fuelled how Google’s algorithm has evolved in line with a more dynamic consumer journey. According to a published report by Google, individuals showcase very different interaction with a brand before and after a purchase.

Therefore, it’s becoming more important than ever to understand what your customers are looking for when they are searching for particular terms.

For example, a page that is optimized with ‘milk powder for baby’ should not lead to fresh milk or milk products for adults. A blog post ranking for ‘how to cut your hair at home’, should contain instructional content on cutting a hair at home and not a list of barbers in the neighbourhood.

Google is getting incredibly effective in recognizing search intent that it’s becoming a crucial factor in SEO. Without having content that matches the search intent, it wouldn’t rank despite optimizing with keywords, backlinks and other traditional SEO signals.

Here is how search intent is reflected in queries made on Google.

Informational Queries


Informational queries are search phrases that signal the user is interested in learning about a specific topic or solving a problem. Therefore, the content developed on such queries should be informational and answer the queries.

Usually, informational queries can be a single keyword, or preceded with search terms like ‘what is’ or ‘how to’.

Here some examples of informational queries.

  • bacon’
  • ‘what is the best bacon for keto’
  • ‘how to cook bacon in the oven’

Navigational Queries



A navigational query is a search phrase that contains a brand or a specific name of the website. When a user makes a navigational query, he or she already has in mind on the site to be visited.

For example, ‘Adidas Singapore’ is a navigational query with the main website of the brand in Singapore being the likeliest destination.

It is not recommended to compete on navigational queries that are not your brand. While you may still rank for navigational queries, users are unlikely to visit a 3rd party website to fulfil such queries, and that will result in a low click-through rate.

Transactional Queries

Transactional queries are motivated by users who are keen to perform specific actions. It’s made when the user is hoping to purchase an item, downloading software, signing up for a program or any actions that are of commercial values.

Some examples are

  • ‘Buy iPhone online’
  • ‘Netflix promotion sign up’.
  • ‘Purchase coffee machine’

Usually, users who are searching with transactional queries are almost ready to purchase. By optimizing the page to match the purchase intent of the user, you will have a high chance of converting the traffic.

Commercial Investigation

Some of the search queries reflect the user’s intent in conducting a deeper study into a product or service. Therefore, a piece of content that answers the curiosity of the user is the best match. When properly done, the landing page stands a high chance of converting the user into a customer.

Here are a few examples of commercial investigation queries:

  • iPhone 11 vs. iPhone 5s.
  • Surfshark VPN Review.
  • hypoallergenic blankets compared

Local Queries


For businesses serving the local community, you will want to make local queries a priority. These queries originate from users searching for products or services within the vicinity.

Some examples are:

  • Yoga studio Singapore
  • SEO company in Singapore.
  • Singapore pet shops.

Short Tail & Long Tail Keywords

Another concept of keyword research that you need to understand is the comparison of short tail and long tail keywords and phrases.

Short tail keywords are terms like ‘headphone’ or ‘laptop’. They are very generic in nature, high traffic but also very difficult to rank.


Long-tail keywords are made of 4 or more search terms. Search terms like ‘how to replace batteries in Koss headphones’ and ‘best headphones for PUBG mobile’ are long tails.


Despite having lower traffic, long-tail keywords are easier to rank. They also have a more precise user intent compared to short-tail keywords.


A user searching for the term ‘headphone’ could be seeking the history of headphones, popular brands, or how headphone works. However, users searching for ‘best headphone for PUBG mobile’ are looking for recommendations of a headphone that works well with the PUBG game on the mobile.


Long-tail keywords are more likely to convert, and they are less costly to optimize. This is because long tails are more specific and usually with lesser competition.

Keyword Themes Explained

Keyword themes are groups of related keywords that align with the services or product your website is offering. The group of keywords play an important role in shaping the structure of the website and also helps search engines to understand the context of the website.

What You Should Know About Keyword Difficulty

When you’re performing keyword research, you ought to take keyword difficulty into account. Depending on the keyword difficulty, it may take longer to rank for a particular keyword.

What is Keyword Difficulty?

As far as SEO is concerned, keyword difficulty is a metric used to define Norway Phone Number the competitiveness of a particular phrase. Some keywords are easier to rank while others could take years before breaking into the first page of Google.

Keyword difficulty gives an SEO consultant a good idea of how much effort it needs to rank a particular keyword on Google. It can also determine whether it’s worthwhile to spend for the cost of ranking difficult keywords.

Factors Determining Keyword Difficulty

There isn’t a single standard that defines the keyword difficulty. Instead, SEO consultants determine the difficulty of keywords from various sources.

Keyword Difficulty Inside Keyword Tools

Keyword tools, which are used for keyword research, often provide keyword difficulty scores. The score ranges from 1 to 100 with a higher number indicating that it’s harder to rank for the particular keyword.

The keyword difficulty score takes into account the number of competing pages that are ranking for the same keywords. Usually, short-tail keywords that draw in large numbers of traffic have tougher competitions.


Authority of Sites On Google’s First Page

Besides dependence on keyword scores on the tools, you will need to assess if the search result is populated with authority sites. For example, if you’re trying to rank for an electronics gadget keyword, you will want to avoid competing with sites like TechRadar, CNET or PCGamer.


These sites have been established for years, if not decades. Millions of dollars have been invested in content and off-page SEO signals, and it isn’t easy to go head-to-head with them for the same keywords.

In order to do so, you will need to beef up various aspects of your site. Some of them include:

  • Keyword optimization – Ensure that the landing page is highly optimize for the keyword you’re trying to compete. Use the keywords in the title, meta descriptions, intro, subheading in a natural manner.
  • Build more backlinks – Growing a natural backlink profile will help to increase your websites’ authority and thus, visibility on Google. Focus on getting high-quality links from authority and relevant websites from your industry.
  • Improve Page Speed – Page loading speed affects user experiences and is an SEO ranking factor. Optimize image size, remove unnecessary plugins, lazyload images and minifying Javascript are some ways to improve page speed.
  • Fix broken links – Broken links, whether internal or external, affects user experience and may affect SEO. Therefore, you will need to use tools to check for broken links and fix them.
  • Create Better Content – Remember that Google is trying to serve its users with the most relevant, high-quality information for the queries. So, make an effort to deliver the best content that meets the search intent of the users.

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