Keywords are fundamental building blocks of search engine optimization. over time, studies have shown that 80% of website traffic originates from Google, and begins with a search. This shows the importance for solid keyword strategy in other to rank well on Google search result pages and have our content page serve as responses to users’ queries. In this article I will walk you through the step-by-step keyword research checklist, this will help in making the right keyword decisions and help boost content page SEO.

Let’s dive right in!

What is Keyword?

Keywords are search inputs internet users use in making inquiries on the respective search engines of their choice. It is simply whatever can be written in a search box; this can vary from one word to two words and even a letter.
A keyword relates the user’s intent, with specificity to understanding what the user wants. The user’s intent could be towards finding out information, seeking direction to make things known, or even making a purchase.

This makes keywords a key element of search engine optimization.

Also, the understanding of users’ intent enables the right channeling of content with the necessary keywords, and in turn; enable the indexing and ranking of such webpages. This would help its visibility, increase its traffic, and help more users get adequate knowledge.

It won’t be an exaggeration to make conclusions that without the proper keyword research, content won’t sail on search engines
Keyword research, however, entails the discovery of trends and traffic, boosting topics with known levels of competition and identifying the specific keywords to target to keep the ball rolling in content strategy.

In the subsequent sections of this piece, we’d together delve into and extensively exhaust each keyword research checklist.

Setting Clear Goals!

The content marketing world is crowded with multiple pieces of content consistently released to internet users with various aims and specific outcomes. This shows the ultimate need for clarity.
Trust me, going about this is not quite difficult, and here is how to get it done by answering basic questions;

Are you creating content for awareness of your products?
Are you writing to a very specific geographical audience?
Is search engine ranking a top priority for you?

Having clarity on these basic questions would help tailor keyword research. In creating awareness for products, the understanding of the words and phrases used by various users would enable the tailoring of content towards informational queries.

Although the questions may be very similar, to some degree they have certain levels of differences, and the understanding of each would help build a strong keyword research strategy.

Yet to get the questions answered? Oh well, don’t be hard on yourself, give it a nice thought. You would be be happy you did.

Keywords Discovery

Keywords do not just come to be, they are built.

Hence word would require to be discovered, the foundational build to keywords are seed keyword, they are primary words referred to as “Head Keyword”. From this root words, we are able to choose or make meaning having a complete phrase or keyword for use.

All starts from the seed words.

I’m going to work with you step by step to see how we can build our keywords

Head Keywords

The head keywords are simple or direct acronyms, and usually without modifiers to clearly show their meaning (e.g. “Book“). Although they form building blocks for every other keyword, they clearly do not show intent,

“Book”,  so what??

No specific reason or intent regarding it.

Is the content for readers who want to read or get a book?

 is it even about getting to book a flight?

The complexity of understanding what the content would really be about would not help the search engine in making meaning of it and would reduce the chances of getting ranked.

Although these types of words, may have loads of traffic, due to lack of intent, the traffic quality would be regarded as low. Yes, low, you heard that right!

Despite the loads of traffic related to the keyword, having internet users visiting your web page would be low as search engines would have a hard time ranking it for target users to visit. Even though if it ranks but with the effect of lack of intents, internet users would not make it their final place of visit.

Together with low traffic quality, a low conversion rate is expected.

keyword research checklist; Head keyword

Also with head keywords, there is high competition to rank on the search pages. The keyword difficulty would be too high to rank for, just too high, and poses a high level of rank page volatility as search engines would keep updating the ranks just to give better ideas to the users. This is often a death trap for web pages as there would be the need to have so many resources to rank for the keyword such as Backlinks, External links, and Internal links.

This is simple, head keywords are not just the perfect way to start as a beginner, however, they serve as building blocks to arrive at better keywords to write content on.

Progress with me as we explore the second form of keywords – “Body Keywords” showing a better intent.

Body Keywords

Body keywords, it is composed of two (2) to three (3) words that help to describe the “head word”. This helps with some specificity and the intent becomes clearer

“12th grade books”

Now there’s a better understanding of what the content would be about, and less difficult for search engines to hold grapes of.  

We now know the content is related to school books and not just a memoir or self-help books or having to do with booking a hotel, and not only do we know it’s a school book but also books for 12th graders.

I think this is better than the previous one. Yeah?

Although this shows a clearer intent, it would still have a higher level of keyword difficulty, hence posing a large amount of competition.

This type of keyword would also have low traffic quality due to its difficulty to rank on search engine pages; and a lower conversion rate, even better than that of head keywords but would still need some amount of resources to rank.

keyword research checklist; Body keyword

This makes it clear and important for web content writers to focus on a better version of keywords- Long Tail Keywords.

Just like it sounds, “Long Tail”, would have some better modifiers.

Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are composed of four or more words to show clearer intent of the foundational word-head keywords.

“Best 12th-grade science books for clever students”

Now, not only do we have an understanding of it being about school books meant for 12th graders but it’s much known that it has to do with science major students only, and it further describes the book as “best” and the audience as “clever”. This is just too perfect a keyword, as it clearly eliminates lots of ideas that could come to mind and makes it more specific to understanding.

what’s more, with clearer intent comes an expected reduction in keyword difficulty, and low competition on search pages.

Although long tail keywords are associated with lesser traffic, yet the traffic quality would still be regarded as high because it poses higher levels of conversion rates and quality leads.

lastly, Long tail keywords give the search engine a clearer understanding of the content page and have it indexed and ranked for internet users to make use of.

keyword research checklist; Long tail keyword

Furthermore, In getting long tail keywords, with a known primary keyword and levels of brainstorming to make a list of relevant modifiers to further describe the primary keyword. For “books”, modifiers like “pages, school, library, students, grades”. These generated modifiers would help get long-tail keywords. It can also be enhanced by using some SEO tools.

How to discover long-tail keywords

An SEO tool such as SE Ranking has the content idea component incorporated within it which helps in finding ideas to form long tail keyword from or the later itself. This tool generates this content ideas with respect to a geographical location.

For example- the keyword -“books” in the content generator menu showcases clusters of words that can be generated from the root word and the difficult it is to rank

with over fifty (50) clusters of words generated from the tool along side with the average search volume in the location and keyword difficulty.

“Library, quick books, thrift books near me, half-priced book, historical books”

we can further generate more idea from each cluster. From the generated clusters, I’d further explore the “historical books” to have better content ideas.

Now we have better words to choose from, while meaning a good average search and better word difficulty.

You may want to try out this method with the SE Ranking Tool in your keyword discovery journey.

Keyword Qualification

Now that we have looked into having the right forms of keywords and which form of keywords are good for webpages, it is therefore important to run these phrases through certain qualifications, to ensure the search engine safety of the keywords. Keyword qualification is based on: Keyword Difficulty, Minimum Search Volume, Intent and Trends

Keyword Difficulty

Keywords are important as clearly shown in this article, this therefore poses the need to be smart and clever about it. It is evident, that everyone wants to rank top on search engine pages for specific keywords, and while that is an interesting pursuit, it’s not realistic in the short term.

Keyword difficulty is an evaluation metric to know how difficult to rank in organic search results for specific keywords. This keyword difficulty would determine the level of resources or content counts that would be needed to target those keywords.

The keyword difficulty metric progresses from EASY to MEDIUM to HARD

Also, as beginners, you shouldn’t bite more than you can chew.

Targeting keywords with known high-level difficulty would be a total waste of time as you’d be lost in the crowd of those who have better resources to rank for the same keyword.

This makes low competition in difficulty the best target for beginners, not just beginners alone by the way. It clearly requires low or no resources to rank on search engines.

keyword research checklist; Keyword difficulty

How its done

So how do we find low-competition keywords?

This is done with the use of SEO tools, which may be free or paid. In this article, I will make use of the free version of the SE Ranking SEO tool.

So like we started, our primary keyword was “books”  so if we look into the difficulty metric.

As shown above the difficulty it possesses is 100- very hard and would require levels of links, resources and content promotion to rank for. Keywords like this are to be avoided.

We can however make a filter to have ideas of keywords regarding book that we can make use of,  for easy content build without additional level of resources. For easy content build without the additional level of resources, I’d advise the very easy or the very easy keyword difficulty (KD).

However in the SE Ranking tool, the keyword difficulty is manually inputted into the difficulty column with a known word difficulty ranges which creates more simplicity.

When filtered, the SEO tools help to bring related searches regarding the primary keywords entered and this is the gold mine.

It helps to see the traffic for each easy keyword and that is an opportunity to plug into.

Look closely at those easy-in-difficulty keywords, something is common to them they are long-tail keywords!

Also, Remember we looked into the forms of keywords and learned that long-tail keywords have low competition? Now you are getting it!

Far from using the keyword difficulty panel to have an idea of keywords, this article restricts it to getting the difficulty metric before contents are written on them.

Minimum Search Volume

Now that we have a means of choosing the right keywords, it is necessary to take into consideration the minimum query volume received for that keyword, this helps in making a hypothetical estimate of how much traffic would be gotten if your content ranks on the first page of google search pages.

Hypothetically, SEO professionals have decided that articles on the first page of Google search page receive 50-65% of the traffic, with more of this percentage going to the articles in the first and second position on the search pages.

Also, remember, with long-tail keywords comes with reduced search volume.

For analysis, targeting a keyword with an estimated search volume of  300-500 monthly, brings about 150- 300 traffic to the visitors to the first page and a guaranteed visit of 100-200 for sites in the top 2.

Not exciting right? But his is quite good and enough for the start.

As time goes by, you should increase the targeted minimum search volumes.


The concept of intent in this piece has been well discussed, however, in keyword qualification, keywords that portray informational and transactional intent should be much considered. Internet users often have informational intent, people just want to know things. This is common with large numbers of content channeled to “ study guides” “ how to do’s”, and “step-by-step guides”. With informational intent comes the transactional intent, getting to make a plan to purchase what is well known.

Also, using the SE Ranking tool, the intent for each word is seen in the “I” column

So ensure you put this into strong consideration.

Keyword research checklist; Intent

With a couple of various keywords discovered, there could be confusion about which to give into or commit to making content with. Although all may seem right and have scaled through the previous qualification, however, trending keywords should be given more attention.

How to get it done?

Still using the SE Ranking tool,

The Trend toolbox shows how the keyword or topic has been faring on the trending chat for each month.

You should really considered

Keyword Prioritization

With varying amounts of keywords already gotten via the various methods of the keyword qualification process, it is important to place priority on some keywords over others. Priority doesn’t signify disqualification or make keywords lesser than others.

Priority placed on keywords is based on work input loads or budget allocation.

This may however vary with willingness to put in much work and availability of investment.

Keyword prioritization can be done primarily using SEO tools to get its Content Value and Backlinks rating attached to the keywords.

Content Value

Each keyword comes with its level of competition from various webpage writers, this competition makes it way down to word count. Certain webpages with targeted keywords have known numbers of words, which also serve as a ranking property. The SE Ranking SEO Audit tool counter help in rating the content average word count for the keyword, usually of sites on the top search page.

This prioritization filter helps to know the type of content and word count that must be written to have the potential to rank for the keyword. This could vary in thousands of words.

Keyword research checklist: Content value

Here are the priority questions.

Are you in to write those amounts of words?

Would you need to make do with writers to help write the content since you can’t write much and so on?

These questions would help filter keywords that are to be immediately worked on

Backlinks describe the action of having numerous website links to your web pages, attracting audiences from other blogs, and helping in search engine rankings. This concept was described in link building in the ultimate SEO guide for beginners. Backlink shows how much all other sites link back to the site content. Many backlinks show how important and helpful the content is and it is a factor that determines ranking for a specific keyword.

Keyword research checklist: backlink rating

The SE Ranking tool helps in getting the backlinks for each site page ranking for the keyword.

Keyword difficulty is often associated with the number of backlinks, the higher the average backlink, the more difficult the keyword.

Here comes the priority decision, can you make up for the average backlink to rank for the keyword? Do you have the time and budget to seek backlinks to help rank for the keyword on search pages?


keyword research is an ongoing journey, not a one-time task. Stay up to date with the latest trends and search engine algorithms, and keep refining your strategy to adapt to changing user behavior. So, equip yourself with the insights from this checklist, and go forth to conquer Keyword research. If you’re willing to put in the work, SEO Keyword research would be a powerful tool for driving traffic to your website and growing your business.

Now, I’d like to hear which tip from today’s post you want to try out first. 

Let me know in the comment section