Keywords 101

Whenever you create a piece of content, whether it’s a blog post, product page, or social media post, the first thing you need to do is come up with a concept or topic idea. Okay, you can — but that won’t guarantee results.

With keyword research, you can come up with content topics easier. For the skilled marketer who keeps an eye on the industry and identifies noteworthy changes, topic ideation can be quite simple. In order to turn your ideas into engaging, actionable content that your audience will be interested in reading, you must create a searchable topic. After all, the primary reasons for content creation are addressing a frequently asked question or providing a solution to a common problem. Keyword research helps you target the audience searching for these answers and solutions.

What Is A Keyword?

Generally, a keyword is best defined as your primary topic in content creation and research. Picture a content topic map — the bubble map that helps you navigate from one topic to the next. All topics are presented as bubbles. This bubble is your primary or your focus keyword. From there, you can start mapping out additional bubbles that relate to your primary topic to help you flesh out the entire piece. In content creation, these can be thought of as your secondary keywords.

· Primary/Focus Keyword: The primary keyword is the most important and most specific keyword that you’re going to target in your content. This is your primary topic.

· Secondary Keywords: These are keywords that can be used as subtopics or tangents to your primary keyword.

What Is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of finding the best keywords to optimize your content with. While it’s a relatively straightforward process, it does take some time and effort to get your strategy up and running. Nevertheless, once you’ve got your keywords in place, your content will become more visible and perform better.

This process takes a little bit of time because it involves not only knowing who your audience is and what information they are searching for, but it also involves understanding who your competitors are and what their content marketing strategy looks like.

Benefits Of Keyword Research

Keyword research has more benefits than you may realize. Sure, it helps your content become discoverable by the right audience, but it can also help:

· Increase Your Content’s Reach: Keywords are a great way to reach new audiences and grow your reach by creating content around a specific topic.

· Increase Your Conversion Rates: When your content is optimized for a specific target audience, it can help increase your conversion rates by giving your audience not only the information they are looking for but help them see you as the authoritative figure to turn to for solutions.

· Increase Your Content’s Performance: When your content is optimized for a specific target audience, it can help increase your content’s performance by giving your audience the content that they want.

· Increase Your Brand’s Visibility: When your content is optimized for a specific target audience, it can help increase your brand’s visibility by attracting new visitors and giving them content that they will want to share.

· Increase Your Return on Investment (ROI): When your content is optimized for a specific target audience, it can help increase your ROI by providing additional content that search engines will like. Studies show that the standard content marketing campaign that utilizes keyword research has an average ROI of 16%.

When taken seriously and done right, keyword research can help you see some significant changes in not only your online rankings but in your brand awareness and audience engagement as well.

Keyword Research Terms To Know

Before you can decide on a tool, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with some of the most frequently used terms that will help guide you on your journey to finding only the most relevant keywords to utilize in your various forms of online content.

Search Volume

One of the most common terms you are going to come across is search volume. A keyword’s search volume represents the number of times a keyword has been entered into a search box on Google or Bing over the last 30, 60, or 90 days — depending on the research tool you are using.

Search volume is a great way to determine whether a keyword or keyword phrase is relevant to your target at the moment. Since these numbers are based on searches that have taken place within a specific time frame, it’s easier for you to determine the current relevancy of the topics instead of using tools such as Google Trends, which will show you how well a specific keyword has been performing over a greater period (such as months or years). While this is still a helpful tool, it doesn’t help nearly as much with the here and now, meaning it won’t help you determine which keywords are working right now.

Keyword Difficulty

The next term you are going to come across is keyword difficulty. This number often falls on a scale between 0 and 100 and will tell you how difficult it is to rank for a specific keyword or keyword phrase.

Typically, the larger the number, the more difficult a keyword or keyword phrase is to rank organically. Again, this will depend on the specific tool you choose to use. For example, if you’re using Semrush, then the higher the keyword difficulty score, the harder it is to rank for.


In keyword research, the competition score defines how many people are bidding on a keyword or keyword phrase. It’s similar to search volume, but it represents the number of people that are competing for a specific keyword or keyword phrase instead of how many times a keyword or keyword phrase has been searched for.

Clicks/Click-Through Rate

The goal of your content marketing strategy is to get people to click on your content and complete some kind of action — whether it be a purchase of your product or a subscription to your blog. When conducting keyword research, it’s essential to take the time to look at the average clicks or the click-through rate (this term/phrase will differ depending on the research tool you choose). This will tell you how many people clicked on a page that ranked for your particular keyword.

It’s important to note that just because a keyword has a high click-through rate doesn’t necessarily mean it’s performing as the brand had hoped. So, while it’s a good indicator of how well a keyword is ranking, it’s not always a good indicator of how successful it will be in helping you reach your goals.


Another term you are likely to come across during your keyword research is cost-per-click. This number represents the amount of money that someone is paying for every click on an advertisement connected to that specific keyword.

If you are conducting keyword research for a PPC campaign, this number will help you understand what you will be paying for each click on your advertisement or sponsored post.

Synonymous Keywords

Synonymous keywords are essential to successful content marketing. These are keywords that have the same meaning as your primary keyword but maybe worded differently. Another term that you may see in place of synonymous keywords is long-tail keywords. Again, these are keyword phrases that have the same meaning as your primary keyword but are worded in the form of a phrase. That’s because these keywords can then be used to branch out from your main topic.

For example, the term dog treats may have synonymous or long-tail keywords such as:

  • dog treats recipes
  • dog treats amazon
  • worst dog treats
  • dog treats brands
  • dog treats Walmart
  • vet recommended dog treats

Each of these examples has something to do with the primary keyword “dog treats,” but allows you the opportunity to further build your content to discuss types of dog treats, where to buy dog treats, and even discuss vet recommended options.

Search Queries

Finally, while you may not come across this term while using a keyword research tool, it’s essential to know when conducting research and choosing your keywords.

Search queries are the terms, phrases, and questions that consumers enter into the search box of their favorite search engines. Once a consumer hits “enter,” the search engine goes to work and starts pulling up relevant information. However, to do that, they need to understand the intent of the searcher.

For instance, Google describes intent as either:

  • Know — to find information
  • Do — to accomplish a goal
  • Website — to find a specific website
  • Visit-in-Person — to locate a local business

While there are hundreds of different types of search queries that are used to help define user intent, there are five primary queries that search engines utilize when retrieving and sorting search results to help consumers find what they are looking for:

  • Informational Queries: These are queries for information that is based on specific knowledge.
  • Navigational Queries: These are queries for specific information based on a website URL or location.
  • Transactional Queries: These are queries for information based on completing a transaction or purchasing a product.
  • Commercial Investigation: These are queries for information based on specific information related to a business or brand.
  • Local Queries: These are queries for specific information based on a location.