I am excited to share with you the exact process and checklist that I use when it comes to keyword research. Now, I am not going to miss a step. I will be updating this guide over the next few weeks to make sure you have absolute clarity.

One of the key components of building an online presence with search engine optimization is the first step in the SEO process which is keyword research.

Knowing how to conduct effective keyword research can mean the difference between appearing on the first page of Google search results and getting lost in the crowd.

This first step of finding valuable SEO keywords for your blog or website is what will help you architect and set up strong on-page SEO optimization.

That’s why you must have a keyword research checklist for all your posts.

At first, doing due diligence around keywords could seem overwhelming but just like anything with repetition and the use of systems, SOPs, and incredible SEO keyword research tools it will become second nature to you.

A good keyword research checklist will help you understand your target audience.

This involves identifying the specific words and phrases that your potential customers are using to search for your products or services. It also involves keyword mapping, which helps you to organize your keywords into specific categories or themes. This helps create targeted content. 

In this article, we’ll go over a comprehensive SEO keyword research checklist that will help you elevate your online presence and reach your target audience.

SEO Keyword Research Checklist: Step by Step to Choosing the Right Keywords

Here is a step-by-step SEO keyword research checklist that can help you identify the best keywords to target and improve your search engine rankings.

Understand Your Audience

The first step in any keyword research strategy is to understand your audience. Knowing who your target audience is, what they’re searching for, and what their pain points are can help you identify the specific keywords and phrases that they’re likely to use when searching for your products or services. 

For example, I know that my audience is researching for SEO tips, guides, and help with blogging. That is ultimately how you landed right here and continue to read this post.

I understand my audience, I know what is interesting and what could add value to my readers.

You can use several methods to gather this information, such as:

  • Conducting customer surveys: This can help you understand your audience’s preferences, needs, and pain points.
  • Analyzing social media data: By looking at your audience’s interactions on social media, you can identify the topics and keywords that are important to them.
  • Using keyword research tools: There are several SEO keyword tools, such as Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, and Ahrefs, that can help you identify relevant keywords and analyze their search volume and competition.
Keyword Research Tool AHREFS

By understanding your audience, you can create targeted content that addresses their specific needs and interests, and optimize it for the keywords they’re searching for.

On-Page SEO For Blog Posts

If you are starting a blog or building a website with content that should be optimized at a broad level to attract national or international traffic then I would suggest these blogging tools to help with keywords and proper on-page SEO optimization.

  • AHRefs SEO Tool. This is very similar to SEMRush and you will only need to use one of these tools to help do keyword research, competitive analysis, and content ideas.
  • Google Search Console: Once your blog is set u add Google Analytics and Google Search Console. This is free and will be used to monitor the health of your website, view impressions and clicks, and discover what keywords are starting to gain traction.
  • Surfer SEO Or NeuronWriter: These tools are incredible for giving your rough draft of content a score compared to the top-ranking pages and telling you which keywords are missing and how many times your seed keyword should be used.

I will probably make a separate guide and a local Keyword SEO checklist just for anyone doing local SEO. In this guide, I am covering mainly blogging keyword research but here are some local tips below.

Carefully Choosing Your Location and Topic 

If you are doing local SEO then the next step is to carefully choose your location and topic. This involves selecting keywords that are relevant to your specific location and industry. 

For example, if you run a bakery in New York, you’ll want to include keywords that are specific to your location, such as “best bakery in New York,” and relevant to your industry, such as “cupcakes,” “wedding cakes,” or “gluten-free bakery.”

There are several tools that can help you choose the right location and topic for your keywords, such as:

  • SEMrush: This is an all-in-one SEO tool that provides keyword research, competitor analysis, and site audit features. The alternative is AHRefs.
  • Google Trends: This tool allows you to analyze the popularity of specific search terms over time and across different regions.
  • Google My Business: This tool helps you manage your business information and appear in local search results.

Choosing the right location and topic for your keywords will improve your chances of appearing in relevant search results and attracting local customers.

Many of the tactics, SEO tools, and best practices in this guide can be used for both types of SEO.

Okay, onto the next step.

Do Thorough SEO Keyword Mapping 

Once you have identified the keywords that are relevant to your audience, it’s time to do a thorough keyword mapping. This involves organizing your keywords into groups based on their relevance and search volume. 

Keyword mapping can help you create a content strategy that’s optimized for the specific keywords that you want to target. 

Several tools can help you with keyword mapping. They include Google Sheets, Semrush, and Ahrefs, among others. Keyword mapping will ensure that your content is optimized for the right keywords and phrases.

I personally like to use Google Sheets and created a custom content calendar worksheet for my workflow.

If you look at this screenshot below you will see columns organized from left to right in a Google Sheet that include:

  • Primary Search Query (Seed Keyword)
  • Search Volume
  • Competition On Page 1
  • Post Type
  • Approximate Article Word Count
  • Title Of The Post
  • Due Date Of The Publish Date
  • Notes (Additional Information For My Writers)
Content Calendar Keywords For Blog

This sheet helps me organize keywords as I find them. It also allows me to put the articles in order from most important to future post ideas. I share this along with an article template which helps my writer see what topics are upcoming and additional notes that can help them with research.

Understand Search Intent 

Another important step in the keyword research process is to understand search intent. Search intent refers to the reason behind a particular search query. Understanding search intent can help you create effective SEO content that satisfies the needs of your target audience and attracts more organic traffic to your website.

There are four main types of search intent:

  • Informational: The user is looking for information on a particular topic.
  • Navigational: The user is looking for a specific website or webpage.
  • Commercial: The user is looking to buy a product or service.
  • Transactional: The user is ready to make a purchase.

By understanding the search intent behind specific keywords and phrases, you can create content that’s tailored to the user’s needs and increases your chances of appearing in relevant search results.

Filter Keywords by Volume

It’s essential to filter your keywords by volume. This involves identifying keywords with high search volume and low competition, which can increase your chances of ranking higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).

You can use tools like Google Planner, Ahrefs, and Semrush, among others to get started. By filtering your keywords by volume, you can ensure that you’re targeting keywords that have a high search volume and low competition, which can improve your chances of ranking higher in SERPs.

Choose Long-tail and Medium-tail Keywords 

In addition to focusing on high-volume keywords, it’s also essential to choose long-tail and medium-tail keywords. 

Long-tail keywords are more specific and less competitive than short-tail keywords, and they often have a higher conversion rate. Medium-tail keywords are a balance between long-tail and short-tail keywords.

You can use tools like Keyword Tool or Moz Keyword Explorer to find long-tail and medium-tail keywords related to your industry or niche. Targeting these types of keywords will help you increase your chances of ranking higher in SERPs and attracting more relevant traffic to your website.

Thoroughly Review the SERP 

Before finalizing your list of keywords, it’s crucial to thoroughly review the search engine results pages (SERPs) for those keywords. Analyzing the SERP can give you a better understanding of the competition for those keywords and the type of content that’s ranking.

I often use SERPstat or SpyFu to analyze the SERP for specific keywords. By reviewing the SERP, I easily identify gaps in the current ranking content and create more valuable and informative content for users.

Filter by Keyword Difficulty 

Keyword difficulty refers to the level of competition for a specific keyword. High keyword difficulty means that it will be harder to rank for that keyword, while low keyword difficulty means that it will be easier to rank for that keyword.

Mangools and KWfinder are two of my favorite tools to filter your keywords by difficulty. Targeting keywords with a low difficulty score increases your chances of ranking higher in SERPs and attracting more organic traffic to your website.

Research and Use Related Keywords

In addition to focusing on your primary keywords, it’s important to research and use related keywords in your content. Related keywords are phrases or terms that are closely related to your primary keyword and can help search engines understand the context of your content.

Here are some reasons why researching and using related keywords can be beneficial for your SEO strategy:

  • Helps improve relevance: Including related keywords in your content can help improve the relevance of your content for your target audience and for search engines.
  • Increases organic traffic: Using related keywords in your content can help attract more organic traffic to your website by targeting additional keywords that your audience may be searching for.
  • Improves user experience: Including related keywords in your content can also help improve the user experience by providing additional information and context for your audience.

To research related keywords, you can use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner or LSIGraph. These tools can help you identify related keywords based on your primary keyword and suggest additional phrases to target in your content.

When using related keywords in your content, it’s important to do so naturally and without over-optimizing your content. 

Focus on creating high-quality, informative content that includes targeted keywords to help improve your search engine rankings and attract more organic traffic to your website.

Using AHREFs for SEO Keyword Research

AHREFs is an all-in-one marketing toolkit that provides a variety of tools and features to help businesses improve their online visibility and marketing efforts. 

One of the key features of AHREFs is its keyword research tool, which can help businesses identify keywords to target in their content and improve their SEO efforts.

With AHREFs, you can:

  • Conduct in-depth keyword research: AHREFs keyword research tool provides comprehensive data on keyword search volume, keyword difficulty, related keywords, and other important metrics to help businesses identify the best keywords to target in their content.
  • Analyze your competitors’ keyword strategies: AHREFs can help businesses analyze their competitors’ keyword strategies and identify potential opportunities for improvement.
  • Track your keyword rankings: With AHREFs, bloggers and website owners can track their keyword rankings over time and monitor their SEO performance to identify areas for improvement.
  • Identify content gaps: AHREF content analysis tools can help businesses identify gaps in their content strategy and find new opportunities to create high-quality content that targets relevant keywords.
  • Improve your PPC campaigns: AHREFs can also help businesses improve their pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns by identifying relevant keywords and optimizing ad copy for maximum effectiveness.

With AHREFs for SEO keyword research, bloggers can gain valuable insights into their target audience, improve their online visibility, and ultimately drive more traffic and conversions to their website.

My Final Thoughts

Having a keyword research checklist is important to ensure a thorough and effective keyword research process. By following a step-by-step approach and using tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs, businesses can identify relevant keywords, understand their target audience, and improve their online visibility.