Content Marketing, SEO

Keyword Research – What Is It and How Can You Make It More Actionable for SEO?

While we cover some important areas of keyword research and their value to the overall process, I could easily write a thousand page manifesto on the ins and outs of the topic.

This here – will be a relatively brief rundown of what is essentially the core foundation to every and any successful digital marketing campaign.
So read what’s here and then read it again a hundred times to really get your keyword research process right!

What Is Keyword Research?

Keyword research, put simply, is the process of collecting a wide range of keywords and search phrases that people enter into search engines in relation to a specific product, service or industry. The majority of these keywords are collected from a variety of tools such as Google Keyword Planner, SEM Rush and Google Search Console. These tools analyse and collect statistics such as search volume or clicks.

The role of the digital marketer is to identify and understand the following through keyword research:

  • The demand of a specific product, service or industry through the analysis of search volume or clicks.
  • The consumer’s behavior and decision making process based on what people are searching for in relation to the service, product or industry.
  • Potential short and long-tail terms which can shed light on traffic driving potential and convertibility.

What Are Short and Long-Tail Keywords?

Left – Source: Neil Patel


Short-tail terms are very broad in nature. For example the term “shoes” – plugging this into a search engine would provide many results that are generic and very difficult to rank for organically due to high competitiveness. Only focusing on attaining traffic from these short-tail terms will usually bring traffic that will be less likely to convert. The reason behind this is most broad term searches are based off consumers who have most likely just started their conversion journey and are in the “awareness” phase, making them less inclined to convert.

Long-tail terms are more specific, such as “Nike women’s size 6 running shoes”. These terms usually have lower competitiveness rates in relation to broad terms which often makes it easier to rank organically. A greater benefit of targeting these long-tail terms is that consumers searching in this space are more likely to convert and are closer to the “purchase” stage in the decision process.


Below: Customer Buying Cycle.

Why Is Keyword Research Important?

Keyword research is (or should be) the initial stage of any SEO campaign.


Right: The results from the keyword research process play a large role in shaping the digital marketing strategy for the following reasons:


Now that all the main benefits of keyword research have been briefly covered, it would be beneficial to explain what the process is to identify these opportunities. Generally, the keyword research process can be broken down into 3 stages:

  1. Discovery: The process of identifying, discovering and exploring all the possible keywords and phrases that are relevant to the target audience and are also in the scope of the client’s services or products.
  2. Grouping Keywords: Once discovery is complete, general categories of main themes and sub-themes are created and keywords are organized and sorted into these groupings.
  3. What is a theme and sub-theme for keywords? Theming and sub-theming is the process of sorting individual keywords into groups that fall into semantic similarity, intent or other predefined conditions. These groups go from broad to a specific grouping convention as shown in the table on the left.
  4. What’s the purpose of doing this? The main benefit to grouping keywords into main themes and sub-themes is the data is made easier to understand, provides greater insights and makes conclusions actionable.
  5. Further Application: Outcomes of the keyword research will form the basis of SEO and other digital marketing strategies such as identifying traffic and content optimization opportunities.


Left: This is an example of a theming and sub-theming using recruitment and employment keywords:

How Does Indago Get Even More Actionable Data Out of Keyword Research?

We apply the same three steps outlined above in the keyword research process but also include an additional analysis method in the grouping stage called “flagging”. Flagging is the process of providing additional sub-themes titled as “flags” which are designed to include added important characteristics to make the keyword data more actionable.


Right: Here’s the same recruitment and employment keywords with flags:

How is this data more actionable?

Each added flag has provided additional layers of information (which may have been previously overlooked), which makes the data more actionable.

Having these flags provides additional opportunities in the following SEO areas:

  1. Content: Editorial flags highlight potential keywords for editorial opportunities. Content can be created around the editorial keywords to drive additional traffic to a website. For example the phrase, “receptionist interview questions” could be created into an article or page titled, “Top 10 most common receptionist interview questions and how to answer them”.
  2. Ranking opportunities: Flags make it easier to identify keywords to rank for and tactics on how to potentially rank for them, like using the editorial approach mentioned above to rank for “receptionist interview questions”.
  3. Tracking Keyword Performance Over Time:These themes and flags provide greater insights and data variety because the keywords can be monitored, isolated and bench-marked in greater detail. For example with the keyword data set above, these are the possible data sets that can be created, isolated and bench-marked over time:
    • Broad Theme: recruitment, interview, hiring & employer
    • Profession (Sub-theme): IT & technology, office & administration
    • Editorial: Receptionist duties and receptionist interview questions
    • Location: Sydney & Melbourne
    • Intent: B2B
    • Intent: B2C
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