Step-by-Step Data-Driven Keyword Research!

by | Dec 7, 2023 | Content Writing

You’ve spent hours, pouring your heart and soul into crafting the perfect blog post. But despite all your efforts, no one seems to be searching, finding or reading it.

Every day, countless blog posts go live on the internet. But how do you make yours stand out to your ideal customer?

The answer lies in relevant keywords.

These targeted keywords tell search engines like Google what your post is all about. By choosing the best keywords, your content can make it to the first pages of search results, catching the eyes of your ideal customers.

Alright, buckle up! You’re about to go through a five-step process to help you learn how to choose the best keywords for your blog post.

Plus, to keep things real, I’ll share some mistakes I made with researching keywords when I first started blogging and I made A LOT of mistakes.

I’ll also be completely honest, SEO has never been my strength because it doesn’t involve any creativity. I would rather create content then write it as if it was to be cataloged in a library.

Step #1: Understanding Your Topic

Do a Deep dive into the subject matter: Ask yourself why is the topic helpful to your reader. Understanding your topic inside and out will help you think like your reader, which can guide your search terms.

Define your audience: This step is all about understanding who your blog post is for. Knowing your audience will help you pick keywords that your readers are actually searching for.

Competitor Keywords: When researching keywords, checking what your competitors are using can give you a sense of what works in your industry.


Let’s say your chosen topic is “productivity techniques for solopreneurs”. To research this topic, follow these steps:

  • Start by using search engines like Google or keyword research tools to look up “productivity techniques for solopreneurs”.
  • Read through the top articles, note down the common techniques mentioned, and observe how they’re explained.
  • Visit forums or social media platforms where your audience might hang out in.
  • Look for discussions about productivity and the struggles solopreneurs are facing. This will give you insights into what they’re actually asking questions about or commenting on.
  • Read comments and reviews on productivity apps on App Store or Google Play. These reviews can reveal what solopreneurs like or dislike about these tools, and you can use these insights to frame your content.

Understanding your audience goes beyond just knowing their job roles or interests. It involves understanding their psychographics — things like values, attitudes, and lifestyles.

For instance, if we’re talking about solopreneurs who are easily overwhelmed, these are individuals who value productivity but might be struggling with time management, or they may be constantly juggling multiple tasks, leading to stress.

Knowing your audience’s psychographics is important because your content isn’t just providing information, but it’s speaking directly to their experiences, challenges, and aspirations.

This makes your content more relatable, engaging, and ultimately, more effective.

And, by knowing your audience, you’ll be able to come up with the questions they are asking when at the Google search console looking for a solution.

What to look out for: Many people skip this foundational step and then wonder why they’re not seeing improved monthly searches.

Mistakes I Made

I did this in the early days, I just couldn’t be bothered putting in the effort of keyword research because I didn’t have the extra time. What I didn’t realize was all the time being spent on blogging was a waste of time because they never appears on the search results.

Don’t let that be you!

Step #2: Brainstorm Potential Keywords

You may be thinking “How do I even begin to choose the right keywords?”

One thing that can help is to write all your thoughts down.

Write down all the best keywords you can think of and keyword phrases aka long tail keywords that comes to mind.

Imagine what your ideal customer is thinking about when typing in the Google search bar about your topic.

Think about new keywords in the form of questions, comparisons, synonyms and other keywords that your audience might use to search for your topic.

Use the research you did in step 1. Do you see a pattern on the questions or comments posted?

Imagine the Scene

Imagine they are sitting at their kitchen table with their laptop. They go to the Google website and start to type [what?].

The hardest part of this exercise is imagining what “they” are typing. You may default to thinking what “you” would search for which will likely be broad keywords.

But in the real world, your audience is likely typing in long tail keywords, maybe even full sentences. That’s where the SEO tools below come in to help you.

Look for Long Tail Leywords:

These are more specific and often less competitive than single-word keywords. Here are some examples on the topics of coffee, green tea and gemstones.

Broad keyword: Coffee

Long tail keywords:

  • Best coffee beans for home brewing
  • How to make a perfect espresso at home
  • Organic coffee brands reviews
  • Cold brew coffee making guide
  • Colombian vs Ethiopian coffee taste

Broad keyword: Green Tea

Long tail keywords:

  • Health benefits of drinking green tea daily
  • How to brew Japanese green tea
  • Best time to drink green tea for weight loss
  • Organic green tea brands comparison
  • Differences between matcha and green tea

Broad keyword: Gemstones

Long tail keywords:

  • How to identify genuine ruby gemstones
  • Best gemstones for engagement rings
  • Healing properties of amethyst gemstones
  • Gemstones that match with birth months
  • Guide to buying gemstones online safely

The long tail keywords are more specific and are typically searched for by users who have a clearer idea of what they’re looking for.

Mistakes I Made:

When I started blogging, way back in the dinosaur ages, I focused too much on popular, broad keywords.

For example, on my first website on the services page, I was using keywords like website, domain, hosting, when what I should have been using was “website design for law firms” or “website design for restaurants.”

Another Example:

Let’s continue with the example topic of “productivity techniques for solopreneurs”.

A popular, broad term might be “productivity tips”. This keyword is very general, and it has a lot of competition.

Websites ranging from entrepreneur-focused blogs to major publications like Forbes or Inc. will have articles targeting this keyword. This means it’s going to be really tough to rank for this keyword.

Explanation: “Rank” is the position where your website or blog post appears in the list of results when someone searches for a particular keyword on Google. If you’re “ranking high,” it means your post is one of the first ones that show up.

If everything was easy and there was no one else to compete with, your main aim would be to get on the first page of Google. Because that’s where most people tend to look and click on first.

On the other hand, a more specific, less competitive keyword might be something like “productivity tips for working from home”.

This keyword phrase (aka long tail keyword) is more targeted — it narrows down the audience to the ones interested in productivity tips while working from home.

Although it may have fewer searches compared to “productivity tips”, the competition for this keyword is likely to be lower, making it easier for your content to rank in search results.

By balancing your content with both types of keywords, you can attract a wider audience (from the broad keywords) while also having a better chance of ranking higher in search results (from the specific, less competitive keywords).

Step #3: Validate Your Keywords

So far you’ve researched your topic, came up with a list of potential keywords,

Now it’s time to check if people are actually searching for these keywords.

When it comes to content marketing, the following keyword tools will save you so much time when it comes to researching keywords:

All these keyword research tools have free versions you can use and most of them can generate lists of:

  • potential keywords
  • keyword competition
  • similar keywords
  • long tail-keywords
  • different search terms
  • monthly searches
  • keyword metrics

I’m going to cover two of these tools now (Ahref and Semrush) and the rest in future blog posts, otherwise the post you’re reading would be 20,000 words long.

In full transparency, I can’t stand Google’s keyword planner because for the purpose of simple keyword research, getting started with it is clunky. But give it a shot and see if you like it.

Ahref Keyword Research Tools

I’ll use Ahref’s free keyword research tools to check:

  • search volume
  • keyword metrics
  • long tail keywords
  • competitor keywords

I suggest you try each of the tools using the same keywords and see which one you like the best.

I’ll use the search term “productivity tips.”

screenshot of ahref keyword generator

  • Type in your search term/keyword, then choose the primary country your audience is located in. Click “Find Keywords.”
  • A list of long tail keywords and other search terms will appear along with the keyword metrics.

screenshot of keyword ideas for productivity tips

  • KD is keyword difficulty. Anything over 50 will be difficult to rank for (show up on the first couple of pages of Google search results.
  • They’ve colour coded the keyword difficulty to make it visually easier for you.
  • Volume is the average number of monthly searches for this keyword over the last 12 months.
  • You’ll only see a few keyword ideas using their free tool.

Note: each tool has their own way of searching and reporting the keyword difficulty and volume.

While doing this, pay attention to whether each keyword search term is relevant to your topic and audience.

Semrush Keyword Research Tools

Semrush gives you quite a bit in their free plan which is great (10 free requests), but it can be a little overwhelming seeing it for the first time. They do have fantastic documentation and tutorials to help you along.

I’m going to repeat the steps from the Ahref demo using Semrush keyword tools using the same search term: “productivity tips.” I’ve matched the instructions to the screen capture by number.

Go to the Semrush keyword tools webpage and create a free account

  1. Click on Keyword Overview
  2. Type in your search term/keyword
  3. Choose the country your audience is located in
  4. Click search

screenshot of SEMRUSH keyword overview

A WHOLE BUNCH of data will appear. I’ve matched the numbers so you can follow along.

  1. A list of keyword variations and other search terms will appear along with the keyword data
  2. A list of search terms in the form of questions
  3. You can view a more detailed list of keywords
  4. You can view a more detailed list of search terms in the form of a question

zoomed in screenshot of semrush keyword overview for the keyword productivity tips

For numbers 3 & 4, Clicking on View all x Keywords gives you a detailed list similar to the one below.

zoomed in screenshot showing a detailed list of keywords

KD = keyword difficulty. What I like about Semrush is they’ve colour coded the keyword difficulty for ranking using colours that make sense. Hover your mouse of the elements for a popup description.

  • Red is hard
  • Orange is difficult
  • Yellow is possible
  • Light green is easy
  • Dark green is very easy

Volume is the average number of monthly searches for this keyword over the last 12 months.

You’ll only see a few keyword ideas using their free tool, but you can click on the column headers to change the sort order to see more information.

When you’ve used up all free credits, you’ll have to wait 24 hours for your next search.

This process takes time to learn and find keyword research tools that are a good fit. I will say that UberSuggest is easier to use than the others, but only offers 3 free searches. Their paid version is much more affordable than the others which are more targeted for SEO agencies.

Step 4: Consider Which Keywords are Most Relevant to Your Topic and Audience.

A critical part of keyword selection is striking a balance between keyword search volume (how often people are searching for that keyword) and competition (how many other websites are trying to rank for that keyword).

Imagine you’re writing a blog post about “Productivity Techniques for New Mom Solopreneurs.”

A keyword like “productivity” might have a high search volume because it’s a broad term that applies to many contexts. But it’s not necessarily relevant to your specific audience of new moms who are solopreneurs.

The competition for this keyword will also likely be very high, making it difficult for your post to stand out.

Conversely, a keyword like “Productivity Techniques for New Mom Solopreneurs” or “New Mom-friendly productivity methods” might have a lower search volume but is much more specific and relevant to your audience.

Although fewer people might search for these terms, the ones who do are your ideal readers, and there will likely be less competition.

What to look out for: Avoid choosing a keyword solely because it has a high search volume.

A broad keyword might be tempting due to its high search volume, but if it’s not directly relevant to your audience, it won’t attract the right readers.

Always remember the principle of quality over quantity when choosing your keywords.

Step #5: Use Your Keywords Wisely

Finally, incorporate your chosen keywords into your blog post:

  • Place your main keyword in your title, headers, and body text.
  • Use secondary keywords throughout your body text.
  • Don’t overstuff your content with keywords. This can make your writing seem unnatural and could harm your SEO efforts.

Mistakes I Made with Keyword Research

In the early days of content marketing, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and the first few times I wrote some blog posts, I used so many keywords and my writing seemed very unnatural.

Remember to use keywords in a way that reads in a conversational style and adds value for your readers.

A bonus tip: if your blog is on WordPress, here are just a few additional free plugin tools that can help you:

If you’re using Squarespace, Shopify or Wix, they each have built-in tools to help you.

While these all of these can help optimize your blog post for search engines, they’re tools, not solutions. You’ll still need to provide high-quality content that’s valuable to your readers.

Wrapping it Up

Now, let’s take action! Pick one blog post, follow the five-step process, and incorporate the right keywords. Over time, this will help your blog post rank higher in search results and reach a broader audience. Check Google Analytics to see if your blog posts are generating traffic.

The more often you work through this process, the faster it becomes.

Until next time, stay inspired!



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