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Keyword Research Explained Simply

Cover: Keyword Research Explained Simply

When it comes to running a business in the 21st century, almost all businesses have an online presence. But simply being online is not enough to encourage users to visit your website. You won’t reach the first page of the search results without a clear strategy in place. This is why Keyword Research and SEO are so important for businesses these days. But what is Keyword Research? 

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword Research a process in which you identify different word and search terms that people would use to describe your product or service when using a search engine. Keywords are then strategically included on your website, on product pages, as well as in content to help your page appear higher on the search engine results pages (SERP). 

The practice of keyword research is strongly linked in to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and has been a common practice for websites since 2005.  However, while SEO initially looked more at keyword density back then, these days it looks at a lot more than how often you use your keywords, the search intent behind the keywords you’re targeting and how relevant they are to your products or services. 


Where to Start with Keyword Research?

Keyword research is a vital aspect of online business. While your keywords are important, it is even more important to know who your target audience is. By fully understanding your target audience and building buyer personas, you can start to understand where in the buyer journey your prospective customers are. This can help you identify what keywords they are searching for and what their search intent is. 

What Are The Different Types of Keywords?

Generally speaking there are four kinds of keywords: informational, navigational, commercial and transactional. Informational are keywords related to people looking for information – think an answer to a question. Navigational kewords are people looking for a specific site or place, such as searching the name of your business. 

Commercial keywords are people investigating or comparing brands and services – like the best brands in a particular industry or space. Lastly transactional keywords are people looking to buy a product or service at the culmination of their journey. 

In a good keyword strategy you want to target all four of these categories – though the split of how much of each type you target will vary according to your industry. 

Longtail vs Shorttail Keywords

It’s also worth breaking down longtail versus shorttail keywords – longtail keywords are longer sentences or phrases where shorttail are brief words or phrases. 

Generally longtail keywords are always easier to rank for – since there’s less competition – but have less search attached.

For example, “BMW cars for sale in Johannesburg” would be a longtail keyword. It’s highly specific and you can infer that the people targeting it are probably BMW dealerships in Johannesburg. 

Shorttail keywords will conversely have more search volume attached but be harder to rank for the more broad they are. 

For example, “BMW cars” on its own would be a shorttail keyword. This will be much harder to rank for.  You’re now competing with BMW itself and their websites, all the other dealerships in the country. You may even be competing with BMW repair shops! 

A good general strategy for keywords is to start with longtail and use them to build up to rankings for shorttail keywords. 

Once you have this base to work from, keyword research becomes even more powerful and important for your website. 

There are a lot of different tools and techniques to help businesses find the right keywords. 

Why is Keyword Research important?

Keyword research is important. By using keywords that your audience is actually looking for, you are more likely to to feature in the results. Featuring on the first Search Engine Results Page is a great way to connect potential customers with your business. Simply put, most users don’t look past the first page of search results. So you want to be there where they can see you. 

Additionally, keywords can help your business become more visible both in ads and on various social media (although often on social media they take the form of hashtags). 

Essentially when your business, products and services are visible to those who are looking for them, you are more likely to convert those users into customers. 


Keyword research plays a vital role in how people discover your business. Whether you are an e-commerce site, or a physical business, having an online presence has become more important than ever. But just having a website without understanding who is searching for your product or service and what words they are using, is as good as not being online at all.