If you’re familiar with search engine optimization (SEO), you may know it’s important to start with a solid keyword list. Keyword research is the process of gathering a list of words and phrases you’d like your site to rank for in search engines. While this may sound simple, there are a lot of nuances to consider, such as the competition for the keyword, its search volume, and its relevance to your business’ products or services. To make process easier, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to keyword research, as well as a free keyword research spreadsheet template, to help you out.

Step 1: Compile a “Starter” List of Target Keywords

We always ask our clients to first identify as many general keywords they can think of that their prospective customer may use in search queries online. Consider every service or product category you offer and jot them down in a list. Don’t worry too much about coming up with every single variation of keyword’s phrasing; we’ll fine-tune the keywords later. Just focus on making sure you have a broad range of general keywords that are fully representative of your company.

Step 2: Identify Search Volume, Competition and Click-Through Opportunity

Once you’ve compiled a general list of target keywords, the next step is to fine-tune the list into a precise list of keywords for which you can reasonably rank on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs). To determine which keywords provide the best ranking opportunity, there are several factors to consider, including:

  • Search volume: how often a keyword or phrase is searched for in search engines each month.
  • Competition: how difficult it is for you to rank higher than your competitors on the first page of search engines.
  • Click-through opportunity: the opportunity to achieve a click on your organic search results compared to other SERP results, such as ads.

There are several free keyword research tools that can help you identify these statistics, including Google’s Keyword Planner, SEMRush, or — our favorite — Moz’s Keyword Explorer.

Step 3: Create an Editorial Calendar

Prioritize your keyword list by ranking keywords by high search volume, low competition, and high click-through opportunity. Use this prioritized keyword list to create an editorial calendar to map out target keywords for future blog posts, subpages, project portfolios and more!

To help get you started, we’ve created a free keyword research spreadsheet. Simply copy or download the spreadsheet template and follow the steps above, and you’ll be one step closer to

Still stuck? Contact us, and we’d be happy to help you out or point you in the right direction.

New to SEO?

We have a wealth of SEO tips and resources on our blog, including more best practices, guides and tools we use here at Huckleberry for ourselves and our clients! Check out our SEO tips for beginners blog post or our practical guide to blog writing for SEO to learn about a few must-dos to ensure your site is optimized for search engines.

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