One of the most valuable aspects of SEO strategy is its ability to influence how a business interacts with its customers, products and marketplace. All businesses have intuitions about their business landscape but SEO forces every business to test these intuitions against the hard reality of search data.

Through keyword research, you can confirm if your business intuition is in fact reality. Conduct accurate keyword research and you’ll learn a ton about your marketplace dynamics while positioning your company for digital success. With this in mind, here are some tips on various approaches and techniques to get the most out of your SEO keyword research.

Why Keyword Research is Key To Your SEO Strategy

Do Marketplace Research

Take time to discover the often broad or generic terms used by your target audience when talking about your space. These are the basic, highest volume and often most competitive search terms out there. For example, for a clothing retailer this might include the search term, ‘women’s bathing suits’ or ‘best t-shirts’. Use these broad terms as an anchor in on-page optimization with more specific terms interspersed throughout your site.

Also, pay close attention to the volume disparity between broad terms and your own more specific terms during your marketplace research. You’ll quickly see which niche terms are worth pursuing and which are not.


Do Customer Research

Which keywords do your customers use to define themselves? Which socio-economic or cultural group do they identify with? How do they refer to their fellow group members? Self-identification, and the myriad terms around it, are an essential aspect of keyword research.

For example, perhaps your company designs video-game themed t-shirts. Your customer research should reveal the term, ‘gamer’. From that, all sorts of powerful SEO keywords can be tested for their volume, ‘Gamer T-Shirts’, ‘T-shirts for Gamers’, ‘Best Gamer Shirts’, “Funny Gamer Shirts’, etc.

Furthermore, understanding and incorporating your target market’s various terms of self-identification help your site to build a connection and appear more authentic.


Do Research On Your Competition

Simply put, this entails going to your competitors’ websites and learning as much as you can about their strategy. What is their keyword strategy around your shared marketplace, customers, and products? What have they missed? How can you fill that gap? Evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and look for opportunity.

Furthermore, Google makes it easy. Higher ranking competitors are ranking higher for a reason. Keep a close look at their overall SEO strategy and continue to look for ways you can improve on what is already working for them.


Consider Researching Adjacent Markets

There is a lot to be learned by analyzing your equivalent in an adjacent market. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer in New York City check out the top ranking wedding photographers in Los Angeles. Why are they ranking high in an equally competitive marketplace? What keywords are they using that their lower ranking competition are not?


Research Your Geographical Area

Every local business should use location-based keyword research to discover how to best reach potential customers in your local area. Furthermore, to quote Google themselves, “50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34% who searched on a computer/tablet did the same.” 

Lastly, geographic keyword research is a great way to gauge local interest in your product or service. If you start to encounter tiny local search volumes this indicates tiny local demand and serves as a business warning to expand the geographic area you serve.



Keyword research is a cheap way to gather a ton of business intelligence while ensuring that your SEO strategy enables digital success. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, Moz’s Keyword Explorer, or SpyFu’s Keyword Research Tool to learn more about your customers, products and marketplace. Keyword research doesn’t just lay the foundation for a great SEO strategy, it gives you the information you need to run a smarter business.  


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