Keyword Research 101

Keyword research is vital when it comes to a successful paid search campaign. Effective keyword research and planning can play a huge part in the amount of quality traffic that's driven to your website.

A comprehensive content calendar encompasses different types of online searches to capture buyers at every stage of their journey.


Head term vs long-tail keywords

When creating a content strategy, you need to be targeting a blend of head terms and long-tail keywords. 

A head term is the main/focus term for your product, service or offering. This might be 'dresses', 'gardening tools', 'social media' etc. 

These keywords typically have a lot of search volume behind them, because they are broad searches, but a lower conversion rate because they are (generally) top of the funnel, awareness stage, browsing, or low-transaction intent searches.

Long-tail keywords are much more specific searches, such as 'pink party dress' or 'social media 2021 guide'. As a result, they have a lower amount of search behind them, but their expected conversion rate is much higher.

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The Buyer's Journey

Another way you can segment your search terms is by which stage of the buyer's journey a contact is in: Awareness, Consideration or Decision. 

An example of this would be if your company sold office chairs. In the Awareness Stage you will be looking to attract people through messaging about how your product can solve a particular problem that they may be facing, such as back pain.

The Consideration Stage looks to target people passing through the Awareness Stage with several solutions to their problem; for example, doing exercises, changing posture or sourcing a new chair.

Finally, the Decision Stage gives them a specific solution to their problem in the form of your specific product.

Awareness: Lower back pain.

Consideration: Exercises, lifestyle changes or a change of chair.

Decision: Best ergonomic chairs for office workers.

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There are (broadly speaking) three types of searches:

  • Informational - 'how to make pancakes'
  • Navigational - 'pancake restaurant near me'
  • Transactional - 'buy pancake recipe book'

The intent behind searches can usually be inferred from the SERP. Transactional searches trigger shopping ads; navigational searches prompt the local map; and informational searches inspire the answer-box SERP feature:

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Double meanings

Be mindful that some search terms contain double meanings, some you may have not come across (depending on different industries, slang, new terminology etc.). This can be especially true for abbreviations.

For example, an IT management company may wish to bid on 'unified communications', a term they often shortened to 'UC'. There is a high volume of search for UC but this is more commonly used for 'universal credit'. They would need to exclude 'UC' as a term here because they would be wasting budget with irrelevant searches.


When doing your keyword research specifically for a campaign, it is important to factor in seasonal search terms around the time that your campaign is due to go live. 

For example, trending events such as major sporting competitions or global holidays, like St. Patrick’s day, will generate a lot more traffic for search terms that relate to them during those periods.

Valentine's Day (14 February) will see a rise in search terms for 'flowers', 'love', 'gifts' etc.

Using seasonal search terms in your SEO strategy is a nice way to increase traffic during a specific holiday or season.

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Related search terms

Finding related keywords is a helpful way to increase traffic related to a user's initial search topic. It can broaden your reach to drive more traffic to your pages.

Synonyms, variations and related words or phrases to your initial search terms are all examples of what are considered related search terms.

Creating a list of related search terms will help you:

  1. Expand the reach of your initial search term to drive more traffic to your pages
  2. Discover which variations of certain terms have the highest volume
  3. Acquire additional traffic from people that may be searching using less popular search terms.
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