Mastering Keyword Research: Tips for Better Website Ranking

SEO Keywords

Search engines are easy enough to use: load one, enter some keywords, and hit Enter. In less than a second, a user gains access to thousands or millions of the most relevant results the Web has to offer. This system is far from flawless, but it's been the foundation of search engines even before the days of Backrub, Google's predecessor.

Alas, despite the importance of quality keywords being common knowledge, a whopping 97% of content doesn't get a single hit from Google. No exact figure is necessary to realize how big this is. But if you want to get down into the weeds, of 1,000 pieces of content:

  • 20 receive one to ten hits monthly
  • 10 receive 11 to 100 hits
  • 36 receive 101 to 1,000 hits
  • 7 receive over 1,000 hits

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a slow game; shortcuts may save time but risk earning the ire of the Big G. Nevertheless, thorough keyword research is one of the most viable means of doing it. Here's a rundown of useful tips for keyword mastery.

Know when to hire an expert

The beauty of SEO, or most of its activities, is that businesses can do them in-house. There's no shortage of free tools owners can utilize for keyword research and, budget permitting, paid ones. Naturally, the major upside is a lower cost, or so it seems.

These days, business operations are less about cost and more about cost-effectiveness. Sure, you may be able to save if you handle the SEO stuff yourself, but if the statistics from the start of this piece are any indication, it's that search engine algorithms can be unforgiving. One minute, your webpage's in the top ten; the next minute, it's gone—and knowing why isn't easy.

In-house SEO can be an option if owners have sufficient technical experience. In most situations, they outsource this responsibility to third-party companies. As they're more involved in their craft, these professionals field more advanced tools and possess in-depth knowledge. They also ensure they're up-to-date with changes in the algorithms. For instance, if you're in Australia, partnering with SEO Perth agencies can give your company a boost.

Regardless of your preferred approach, it pays not to underestimate what search engines demand of all content. This applies to keyword research because, as the next several tips will explain, it's not as straightforward as most people believe.

Larger doesn't always mean better

SEO Ranking

Keyword research involves looking at a gaggle of numbers. Fortunately, SEO tools do the heavy lifting by retrieving search data and tallying them in the user interface under several metrics like keyword difficulty and search volume. When faced with so many figures, a natural response would be to seek out values with the largest ones.
But regarding keyword research, larger doesn't always mean better.

For example, you want your local trucking service to rank high for “trucking service.” However, running a quick Google search on that keyword returns over 1.5 billion results, any of which can prevent your content from ranking high enough. Most users don't bother looking beyond the first ten results; if your content isn't there, your site may as well not exist.

Unless a business is a household name with a marketing budget by the millions, ranking for less searched keywords is preferable. These are typically long-tail keywords, which get more specific the longer they get, such as “trucking service in Seattle.” What they lack in search volume, they make up for it by making up the majority of search traffic and having stronger search intent.

Similarly, understanding the nuances of SEO for travel websites can help travel businesses target the right audience. Tailoring SEO strategies to niche markets can significantly enhance visibility and engagement.

Get search intent right

Speaking of the latter, today's search engine algorithms take user intent into account to enhance user experience. They don't always get it right, but they're improving with machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies.

What does this have to do with keyword research? Mismatching content and search intent is a major misstep in SEO. To understand this, knowing the four primary intent types is important.

  • Informational – the user requires detailed knowledge
  • Navigational – the user is looking for a specific page
  • Commercial – the user is making product comparisons
  • Transactional - the user is ready to make a purchase

Search engines determine intent by studying patterns. For example, “trucking services” signifies that a customer is in the market for one in their area. As such, most results lead to the home and service pages of trucking and logistics companies.

The query is less likely to suggest a user's intent for detailed knowledge of trucking. This means an optimized blog post about the history of trucking (informational intent) won't rank favorably compared to the business's home or service page (commercial intent).

Experts agree that search intent is just as significant as keyword research, if not more. Adopting both into a business's marketing strategy can help improve its search exposure.


Gathering information before doing or deciding on something is a sound rule to follow in life, let alone in picking the right keywords for content. Regardless of one's experience in SEO, keyword research is one thing that should never be left out of the marketing equation.