How to Do Keyword Research as an SEO Professional?

Written by Sherlock SEO Agency

What is Keyword Research:

Keyword research is a method used by SEO professionals to find and research alternative search terms for searches that people enter in the search for similar topics. With these words, the SEO copywriter can then write optimal web copy.

The Goal of SEO is always a very specific KPI such as traffic or conversion that must support the client’s business outcome.

By improving the page content (making it more qualitative / holistic) better positions within the search engine can be obtained, thereby increasing visitor numbers. By writing targeted pages, you can specifically match the searcher’s intent with the solution and increase conversion (sales/requests).

Warning: this article does not tell ALL there is to tell about keyword research, everyone has their own methods. More importantly, it also depends on your niche, competition, etc. But equally from your resources. If you are starting out as a business owner yourself and want to write some texts, you can figure out quite a bit from Google through some simple research and some free tools. If you want to work more thoroughly take your time, possibly get a paid tool (or several if you are a tool addict like me) and improve your method over and over again.

Sherlock SEO Agency - Keyword research and SEO funnel

How to Get Started with Keyword Research:

Outline the context of your product/service and thus keyword

Start by searching for related topics, this by understanding the context as much as possible, categorize the content and work out each section according to priority.

Feel free to think a little further; in addition to the standard questions customers ask, you can also find information regarding issues that competitors often overlook.

And sometimes there is nothing at all, then what? Again, a creative SEO’er will find something on this, two examples:

  1. I previously found keyword ideas in a LinkedIn group
    1. result? +2000% visitors
  2. For a large industrial player in the oil business, we found few ideas, until we discovered that customers were especially looking for machines for which this oil was perfectly suited
    1. Result? +600% visitors

An example: For example, if you sell shoes and you have sports shoes, hiking shoes and dance shoes, you will find that under sports shoes you also have soccer shoes, athletic shoes, etc.

To find related topics, I like to use the Searchmetrics Content Experience Suite and the related keywords in Semrush.

Link your keywords to your customer journey

Divide your topic into according to phase in the buying process (customer journey) each phase often has a unique intent:

  • informational
  • navigational
  • transactional

and try to adjust your website structure accordingly. (if necessary/possible). This “mapping” of keywords across your information architecture I prefer to do visually (for building websites this is also used in the card sorting technique) I myself am an avid user of mind maps.

Further expand your topic and keyword lists

Eventually, you should arrive at a final list(s). And even though tools are so powerful, be sure to check that for each keyword you have all the modifiers that are important for your keyword (buy, online, prices, compare, cheap, Antwerp, …). It is always important to use your logical mind when doing keyword research. A tool often does not find all the data, especially if there is little interest in the market or you have a niche product, or you are in Belgium 😉

Be sure to look at the SERP (search engine results page) and your SEO tools to see if you only need to write text or also need other content types such as:

  • images
  • video
  • reviews

Paying tools such as Semrush and Searchmetrics show you in an overview which keywords show integrations in the SERP.

What keyword research tools are useful and how can you use them?

Tools are not everything, but for analysis of large amounts of data and especially for keyword research, tools come in handy.

Microsoft Excel

The single most important tool for any SEO’er. (because in the end, we are analysts who combine their knowledge of search engines and marketing) Export all your keywords from your SEO software to excel and go all out :p

Google Ad Planner (free)

Look at volumes with a subjective eye (because they are averages – and if you don’t advertise you won’t see much data). And use the info mainly for seizonality and semantics. Export to Excel!

Google Trends (free)

Google trends mainly gives you semantic insight and insight into what is trending. interesting to find any potentially relevant topics or seizonality. Also, the trend line over several years will give you insight into what the opportunity is for your chosen search term.

Google SERP (free)

In Google itself, you can also look at the suggestions Google suggests when you enter a search term or at the bottom of “people also searched for. Nowadays, you can already find additional questions in so-called “accordions” in FAQs and the like. Paying tools offer the ability to discover and export these related search terms in bulk.

A helpful tip? Use the site operator, “” to see what pages your competitor has and what keywords they use.

Semrush (paid)

The Keyword Magic List in Semrush is a good start. Export to Excel!


In Searchmetrics’ research database, you’ll find a great resource of keywords. Export to Excel!

Keywordseverywhere (chrome extension) TIP!

This chrome extension turns your browser into an analysis tool and gives for suggestions data such as CPC and volumes and you can export (do) them!

Answer the public

This tool collects all the questions surrounding your search in a convenient overview. You can easily export to Excel (do)!

Do you already have a website? Then run a gap analysis and see what keywords your competitors have and you are missing. Dit doe je door een domein vs domein analyse in Semrush of ‘shared keywords’ te analyseren in Searchmetrics.

Sherlock SEO Agency - browser keywordtool wordtracker

Keyword research tools like browser extensions

In addition to Keywordseverywhere, Wordtracker is an interesting browser extension. This gives you at a glance a wordcloud with the terms that are commonly used, another tab shows the words with frequency and volumes. if you use the paid version of the tool you can export everything.

Sherlock SEO agency - SEO organic comparison competition

Steal your competition’s keywords

Finding high-traffic competitors is one thing, but where is the value of all those keywords? We discover this by looking at the “traffic value” in Searchmetrics. In the above example, you can see a comparison between two domains. Even though the largest website (the one with the most visibility) does not necessarily have better keywords anyway, the website with the lower visibility has proportionally more value. Also, the smaller website has a wider range of keywords. This is where you need to look further into the data to see where that value is and whether or not you are outperforming your competitor!

Sherlock SEO Agency - find shared keywords among competitors


Comparing your domain with that of a major competitor will quickly give you a lot of ideas. You can explore this further or just throw everything into your excel and explore further later. Be sure to do this not only for your domain but certainly for your most important pages. (Then again, you know what we do every day 😉 endless rows of excel! ). The screenshot above is from Searchmetrics, but Semrush also has this.

Compile keywords into your ultimate keyword list

In the end, you have all your search terms in different lists. you can now start merging these into one list. (See the video above as a possible example). After putting this list together, you can expand your list further or start breaking it down.

How you develop the list further is entirely up to you. If you want, you can divide by intent or by page, you can divide by competition, and if you want, you can calculate how much value each keyword has.

Do you hate paying for Tools? Understandable. Through this (affiliate) link, you can test Semrush for free for 14 days. A more comprehensive list of (mostly free) tools can also be found here. My tools addiction has put a big hole in my budget, but for larger websites, it does come in handy to do otherwise manual things that are really time consuming in a very short time. Good analytical skills are the minimum requirements, Excel knowledge is a close second, and paid tools come in third.

How do you do your keyword research? let us know in the comments. (find it all a bit too much? feel free to ask us for help)

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