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Keyword Research

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Conducting keyword research

Keyword research helps you identify what your target audience is looking for. Conducting keyword research for content planning involves:

  • Looking at competitors’ sites to identify key terms to create content on
  • Analyzing what keywords your website is already ranking for to look for areas of improvement (for example, you rank number 5 for a keyword but want to rank number 1)
  • Building long-tail keywords to better optimize for longer phrases, which can increase the frequency with which your site is shown on SERPs


Searchmetrics is a good tool to use for keyword research. If you enter the keyword ‘women’s socks’ in this tool, Searchmetrics shows you the searched term first, then offers other related terms that you could consider creating content around, such as ‘best women’s socks’, ‘cute women’s socks’, and ‘warm women’s socks’. Many branded terms are also included, but as a whole, unless you’re doing a piece of content strictly about brand comparisons, you should avoid targeting competitor branded terms. Even if your website is listed for a brand competitor search, the content will likely have a high exit and bounce rate, since the customer is specifically looking for ‘brand X socks.’ This means, unless you have an article showing how your product is superior to brand X, then the user likely isn’t going to be interested.

Over-optimization of keywords

Over-optimization is overusing keywords or phrases you want to rank for.

Over-optimization can cause your site not to be shown in SERPs because the search engines may think that you are trying to manipulate their crawlers to get better SERP rankings.


For an example of over-optimized text, see slide ‘Over-optimization of keywords’.

The e-commerce clothing site in this example wants to optimize for ‘vintage clothing’ and keyword variations containing the terms ‘retro’ and ‘fashion’. However, these words are mentioned too many times in the text to sound natural.

(If you are unsure whether or not something is over-optimized, simply look at it, and read it out loud to yourself or to someone else. That way, you’ll find out how easy it is to read.)

Additionally, such content isn’t helpful to the user. It offers no real value or substance. Search engines are getting better daily at determining whether or not content was created to be useful for the user or just to appease search engines.

Translating keywords into topics for SEO content

Once we have a list of keywords that we want to create content around, we can translate those into topics for our SEO content. To do this:

  • First, select a few keywords as the first batch to focus on, based on target audience interests and team expertise. The number of keywords you focus on at a time depends on how much content you’re producing.
  • Next, brainstorm or use topic-generator tools to come up with a cloud-based list of topics. Cloud-based means it’s a centrally located document or file that everyone who’s involved in creating your content can refer to.
  • Finally, you want to cross-reference your topic list with searches to determine competition and angle.


When translating keywords to topics, ask yourself: ‘What would people searching for this term be most interested in?’ Then create content that ties in with the keyword.

The keyphrase ‘Paisley Men’s Socks’, translates to the topics ‘The History of Paisley in Men’s Fashion’ and ‘Who Invented Paisley?’

Both topics contain some of the keyphrase, but don’t match it exactly to avoid over-optimization. Search engines are smart enough now to know that this content is related to the keyword.

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Kelsey Jones

Digital Marketing Consultant and Writer

  • 9 years’ experience in SEO and writing for the web
  • 17 years’ experience in HTML
  • Experience writing content for small and large brands
  • US Search Awards Judge 2014, 2015, 2016
  • The Drum US Search Awards Judge 2017
  • Former Executive Editor, Search Engine Journal, 2014-2017

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

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