Basic Keyword Research Checklist

When conducting SEO or PPC, businesses need to research keywords first. Because without this research step, a plan is just guesswork. To build a target keyword list, businesses will not take too much time. In this article, we will learn how to do research in elementary steps. At the end of the article, businesses can download the attached documents for reference.

1. Type the primary keyword in the search bar

Before doing anything else, think about how customers will search for a word or keyword phrase to get to the website. They may be looking for a product from a company, a problem they have, or an answer they need. Therefore, the traffic to the website is no longer determined by the main keyword, a keyword phrase of 1-2 words will work best.
Businesses should note that keyword research is flexible and creative work, so the main keyword can permanently be changed by other more suitable keywords.

2. Use long tail keywords

Based on popularity and specificity, keywords are classified into three main groups: main, body and tail. Through the chart below of the keyword’s search volume and conversion rate, we will have the following results:

The main body: also known as the “short tail” keyword, has one or two terms, and often searchers don’t have clear intentions.

Body text: this phrase is specific and contains a bit more words, thereby giving a better idea of ​​the searcher’s intent.

The tail: includes phrases with three words or more, the search volume is less, but clearly shows the searcher’s situation and purpose.

3. Focus on SEO and PPC indexes

The two most valuable indexes for measuring competition in the keyword reports are Keyword Difficulty for SEO, which scores from 0-100, and the other is Competition Density from 0-1,00.
Higher Keyword Difficulty means that there are already ranking authority domains on the first page of search results and business’s keywords will be harder to rank higher than those sites. The higher density of competition tells the business that more domains want to bid on that keyword.

Instead of spending a lot of money and resources to get high-competition keywords ranked in PPC, businesses can target low-competition-density keywords to start with. As for SEO, keywords with low Keyword Difficulty should be the goal of businesses. The longer the keyword, the more difficult it is and the lower the competition.

4. Send filtered keywords to the managing program

This step is quite simple, but necessary. Once the business has created a keyword list, bring the whole list into the managing program. The benefit of this is that all the keywords gather into a file totalling up to 1000 words, making it easy to get the required results.

5. Find more topic

To determine other related searches, companies need to find the Phrase Match based on the original keyword. By keeping the main keyword unchanged and changing the Phrase Match filter to the Related filter, the keywords base on how relevant they are to the main keyword or how similar the search results are.

6. Repeat steps 2-5 for additional keywords

With additional keywords, businesses need to go through the steps in the process again, repeating for every related topic they want to target.

7. Output the main list

In this step, the managing program will output a list of keywords; then businesses update the data before outputting to ensure that the report file will have the latest data. A little trick to aid in the arrangement of the data table is to colourize the data columns.

Keyword volume – high will be green, low will be red.

Difficulty – low will be green, high will be red.

CPC (Cost Per Click) – low will be green and high will be red.

Competition density – low will be green, high will be red.

Adding colour to the index columns helps to visualize and select the most profitable keywords for the target. The most “green” keywords will represent the most traffic and the least competition. When there are many keywords, this will prove useful over time.

8. Sort by Search Intent

In this last step, in addition to understanding what the customers are searching for (keywords), knowing why they are doing these searches (intent) is even more important.

Search intent is what they search for on Google, experts group keywords into four types of intent:

  • Information intent – With questions about who, what, where, why and how, single keywords like “tomatoes” or “gardening” would be suitable for this group.
  • Navigation intent – When they search with a brand name or a product/service name, a keyword phrase like “Tomato San Marzano” would suit for this group because the searcher is looking to navigate to a specific brand.
  • Commercial investigation – Searchers enter keywords that include location, words like “best”, “men”, “women” or product modifiers all fit this group. “Where to get tomatoes in yolo county” is an example.
  • Transaction intent – This group is searchers who are asking about prices, coupons, shipping costs, and the transaction process, such as “Buy cheap tomatoes”.

The more specific a keyword’s intent is, the easier it is to give searchers what they want, and it can fit businesses’ marketing channels. The easiest way to do this is to compare the four-goal groups with the four-stage AIDA model:

  • Awareness (general knowledge of information) is the first step in the funnel.
  • Leads to Interest (curious about the topic)
  • Then Desire (wanting something to solve a problem)
  • And finally, Action (purchase of products, registration, etc.)

Once businesses have determined the keyword search intent, they can categorize where that keyword is in the conversion funnel.


We hope this list can help companies build a list of main keywords and learn more about the market. Companies should research the best keywords and create a master list as an invaluable resource for SEO and PPC planning. If companies master this process, they will develop a great skill that can assist in all areas of digital marketing.

IMP provides digital marketing services for global ecommerce companies. Our solutions help businesses increase their profits sustainably and reduce dependency on paid media.