Keyword Research and SEO

Keywords play an important role in making your SEO strategy successful. In fact, it is what your SEO strategy heavily depends on. After all, keywords are the primary source of bringing organic traffic to various pages on your website. This makes keyword research a very important practice in the competition. There are various tools in the market and many articles that talk about keyword research. It can be overwhelming if you dive into it without knowing what to look for.

This article aims at giving you the basics of keyword research in SEO and the methods you can use to accomplish greater results. Before we dive in, remember this. No matter how good your strategy is, how well your keyword performs, the results are never instantaneous. This is organic traffic we are talking about, and it takes some time – from months to a couple of years. Hence, a disclaimer.

Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for professional advice on Keyword Research and SEO. Please do not refer to this article as a ‘definitive guide’ but as ‘an informational article’. We hold no responsibility nor regulations over your actions based on information presented in this article.

All set? All right, let’s get into this!


What is a Keyword?

A keyword or a keyphrase is something people search with on search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing. These search engines process the keyword input and show the most relevant results to the users.

Internet users are most likely to see the results on the first page only. Sometimes, if they are finding anything specific, then they may go further in. But, the first page first result has the most attention. And Keyword Research and SEO are all about getting that sweet spot on page 1.

There are two types of keywords. Short-tailed and long-tailed. Let’s understand each type with an example.

Short-tailed Keyword

Short-tailed keywords are short, popular keywords that the majority of internet users generally use to get information.

For example, you want to know more about shoes. You can simply type ‘shoes’ in the Google search bar and you will get a billion results on the internet. Now, since you are just using the keyword ‘shoes’, which does not specify what exactly you want to know about shoes. The search engine will show all possible (and popular) information related to shoes on the first page.

Short-tailed keywords comprise some of the highest-ranking keywords on the internet. Generally, all the highly competitive words (that big brands compete with) are short-tailed. If you choose to go with a short-tailed strategy, good chance that your business is going to take many years to even appear on the first page. The conversion rate is usually between 15-20%, which is not so lucrative.

Long-tailed Keyword

Long-tailed keywords are long in keyword length, highly specific, and less competitive than short-tailed ones.

Continuing from the above example, assume you want the latest shoes from Enzi Footwear in South Africa. Now, if you look up ‘Jagama Enzi Footwear South Africa’, the first or second search result will directly lead you to Enzi’s website. Being highly specific in nature, you exactly knew what you wanted to find.

Since users with long-tailed keywords are specifically looking for something, the conversion rate is usually high. Being specific with your keyword strategy means you can narrow down on your potential audience and improve your sales or traffic. This is the best keyword research strategy for aspiring and small and medium businesses.


How is Keyword Research important?

First thing first. Keyword research depends on your business type. So, you must be clear about your business niche first. Once you are clear on that, you will have to consider a few questions.

  • What does your business have to offer?
  • What kind of keywords does your business want to rank for?
  • Is it relevant to your target audience?
  • Where is your target audience from?
  • What is your target audience exactly searching for?
  • What are their demands?
  • Why are they seeking particular services from businesses like yours?
  • What are the high-ranking competitive keywords in your niche?
  • Are there any alternative keywords you can take advantage of?
Keyword Research Example

Rather than explaining these, understanding these with an example would be better. For example, Digital Lime Green is a web design agency in Cape Town, South Africa. Now, they want to rank their website for the keyword ‘web design’.

Now, when you go to Google, search for the keyword ‘web design’, 11,140,000,000 or approximately 11 billion results show up. That simply means the competition is so huge, it will be near impossible for us to rank on top. So what’s the way around it?

Now, this is where you have to understand the difference between short-tailed keywords and long-tailed keywords. As we have established earlier, ‘web design’ is a short-tailed keyword. And a short-tailed keyword is highly competitive in nature and usually dominated by industry giants.

So what should Digital Lime Green do? 

Be specific. Use long term keywords. For example, as an agency based in Cape Town, they would want to target the local audience who are in the need of a website. So, Digital Lime Green can use keywords like:

  • Web design Cape Town (~192m results)
  • Web design South Africa (~1.7b results)
  • Affordable Web design Cape Town (~341m results)
  • Web design company cape town (~220m results) 
  • Internet design company cape town (~80m results)
  • Website design company cape town (~91m results)

Of course, there are more factors that will come into play to boost your overall SEO ranking and visibility. But keywords are what users will search with, right? This is why keyword research in SEO is important.

The result numbers do look intimidating. But compared to the 11 billion figure, they are significantly smaller. Nonetheless, it is still going to be challenging. This is where you would want to improve your website’s SEO with content, technical functionality, design, and so on.

Also, did you notice how we used ‘internet design’ instead of ‘web design’ here? Using synonyms is actually a great idea. Google search engine algorithm has evolved and has a good understanding of such common synonyms.


Keyword Research and Queries

In this section, we are going to classify keywords on an internet user’s intent behind the search. People are searching on the internet for a purpose; such as finding information, purchasing products, compare information, and so on.

According to Wikipedia, keywords can be classified into three standard queries, based on the user’s intentions.

  • Navigational Search Queries: This shows the user intention of finding a particular website or a webpage.
  • Informational Search Queries: The user wants to search about a particular subject.
  • Transactional Search Queries: The user is looking to buy something on the internet.

Long-tailed keywords often have queries expressed in them. This is also why long-tailed keywords have a better conversion rate. For example, if you only search for ‘shoes’, your intention is not clear. Shoes what, right? But, if you search for ‘buy shoes’, that’s a short-tailed, yet transactional query. Now, add specific brand and other attributes to that, it becomes an incredibly detailed transactional query.

As a small business, you should focus on long-tailed queries. Users searching for such terms is low, but the highly specific keyphrases mean they are ready to be converted. Use this to your advantage.


Keyword Research Tools

Now, you have chosen a set of keywords in your mind already. But which ones are actually effective in the market? Which are the frequently used keywords? Such questions can be answered easily with a keyword research tool.

Google Ads Keyword Planner is a well-known, highly effective keyword research tool. This tool helps you in understanding how your chosen keyword would fare on the internet. Furthermore, it also shows the competition for the keyword, and how many users are searching for you monthly. What’s more? It also shows you alternative options along with how they are faring in the keyword competition. Also, this tool is completely free to use! Cool, right!?

Another tool we would recommend is Google Trends. This tool is especially good to use in festive times. On festive holidays, people tend to search and shop. If you are planning for limited-time discounts during such festivals, you can use Google Trends to understand what people are searching for. And then, you can define your keywords around that.



In this article, we majorly wanted to cover basic grounds around Keyword Research. If you are into keyword research and SEO, you should know about the basics. The ultimate goal of your keyword research strategy is to bring more traffic to your website and improve the conversion rate.

Experiment, discover, and produce more content. Ranking your website to a diverse set of keywords will be very helpful.

And lastly, remember not to follow blackhat practices like ‘keyword stuffing’. It is basically stuffing a particular keyword everywhere on the website – even on the HTML codes. Google may permanently ban such websites from ever appearing in the search results. Following any black hat SEO practice will be harmful. Refer to the Google Webmaster Guidelines for more information.