Keyword research – Instructions, Background, Tools and everything else, you should know

14 min

What is a keyword and why do you need it?
Longtail vs. shorttail keywords
Why is keyword research important for search engine optimization?
How does keyword research work?
Which SEO tools are best suited for a successful keyword research?

What is a keyword and why do you need it?

You may also know the keyword as search term or catchword. All together, however, always denote the same thing: The word (or phrase) that is entered in the search mask of a search engine to subsequently receive the SERPs, i.e. the results of the search query. Via the keyword, Google and Co. can show you relevant pages for your search. On the other hand, this means that companies also need these keywords in the content of their websites in order to be found on the Internet at all.

There is a clear classification of keywords.

Keyword typeMeaningExample
Money KeywordsThis keyword type is searched for very often. The user’s search intention is usually transactional, i.e. he wants to buy, download or something similar. Therefore, not only the traffic potential is high here.This keyword type is also the right one if companies want to optimize their store pages. Also in the area of paid advertising, many companies want to have money keywords in their keyword set. However, this can lead to high CPCs due to the high competition for the corresponding keywords.“Buy jeans”
Brand KeywordsThis includes all search queries that include the name of a brand.“Apple”, “Levi’s Jeans”
Compound KeywordsThis type of keyword always has two user intentions at the same time. It is a mixture of brand and money keyword.“Buy Adidas shoes
Other KeywordsKeywords that do not fit into any of the top three categories are classified as “other keywords”.“Cool website”
Keyword types in direct comparison

Users always formulate search queries with an underlying intent. So, which of the four keywords an entered keyword is about often depends on the search intention. There are three categories to which they can be assigned:

1. Informational search query

The user is looking for something about which he wants to obtain information or expand his knowledge. Therefore, these keywords are also called know-keywords. So it is specifically a search for instructions, background knowledge and information, and answers to specific questions.

An example of this could be the following: “Peel asparagus”. The search results provide you with concrete help for your entered problem or question.

Example of a search query with informational search intention

2. Transactional search query

The term already suggests this: This is about making a transaction. There is a clear intention to act and to buy. For this reason, this type of keyword is also called a do-keyword. The product being searched for can be both digital and analog, and it does not necessarily have to cost anything. Thus, this type of search intent is simply about taking an action. Therefore, search queries often have a similar pattern and contain verbs such as “buy,” “order,” “download,” or even targeted queries for specific products or product names.

For example, a transactional search query might look like this: “buy smart TV 55 inch”.

Example of a search query with transactional search intent

3. Navigational search query

This type of search query is about finding a specific website. The user therefore has a clear goal in mind. There is therefore neither a clear purchase intention nor the intention to obtain information or knowledge.

An example of a navigational search query could be a search for “eology”.

Example of a search query with navigational search intention

Long-tail vs. short-tail keywords

In addition, the above-mentioned keyword types can also be differentiated into long-tail and short-tail keywords. The exact differentiation depends on the length of the corresponding keyword phrases. Short-tail phrases usually consist of a few words and often have a high monthly search volume. These are short-tail keywords. Longer phrases are more complex and string together several words. They are typically complete sentences or questions. As a result, they are searched for less frequently, which is why the monthly search volume of long-tail keywords is also lower. At the same time, this can be an advantage because you can give more targeted answers to long-tail search queries and thus better fulfill the search intent. This in turn can lead to a higher conversion rate through higher user satisfaction.

Longtail vs. shorttail keywords – The main characteristics of the two keyword types

Why is keyword research important for search engine optimization?

Now that you know what types of keywords there are, you can probably guess why you should definitely use them. Keyword research, or keyword analysis, is important because you should know which keywords are relevant for your website. When users submit a specific search query that your site answers, Google will display it as a result or answer if the algorithm finds the relevant keywords in your site’s content. Therefore, you should include all keywords for which you want to be found. If you don’t have any keywords that show the Googlebot that you have relevant content, you will be found much more difficult or even not at all. You should take this to heart, especially because the internet has become one of the biggest marketing platforms. If you are not visible here, you will miss out on a huge audience. If you have defined the search queries that are essential to you through your keyword analysis, you can offer users targeted answers to their queries. In addition, you can also address potential customers besides your usual users and win them over. Keywords can also drive more traffic to your site. They also have a great influence on your ranking position in the search results.

How does the keyword research work?

You can approach your keyword research in different ways. However, the first, most basic step is always the same: find out with what intentions and in what way your target group searches. So first clarify the following two questions:

To find answers to these questions, you can try to put yourself in the shoes of your users. Think outside the box and avoid operational blindness. The categories on your site are perfectly logical for you, because you are used to them. Nevertheless, it is possible that your target group searches with other terms. It is important for you that not all users are the same. Here it can help you to develop different personas of your target group.

In the next step, you start with brainstorming. Talk to colleagues, friends, family and acquaintances to collect as many ideas as possible. This long list is your basis. It still contains very generic keywords, which should at best become much more specific. Even if you can keep some generic keywords in your set, it is recommended to go more into detail. There is a simple reason for this: the generic keywords naturally come to mind not only for you, but also for your competitors. Sure, they can be lucrative, since users often ask simple search queries. But these are highly competitive. It is therefore easier for you if you go a little deeper. This is the smarter, better and often cheaper way (in the case of SEA, because contested keywords have high CPCs). In addition, by using more specific keywords, you can “communicate” your page content more clearly to the search engines. They will then understand much better for which search queries you are relevant.

Google Suggest can also help you find keyword inspiration in the long-tail space. In addition, you should not disregard relevance-increasing keywords, which you can get via WDF*IDF tools. They improve the relevance of your content.

Once you have found all this, the next step is to differentiate in order to make this list clearer. For example, you can structure all keywords according to the corresponding keyword types. This helps you to classify the purpose of the respective keyword.

After the first rough listing, you are now ready. It’s time to find more keywords and define which ones are most suitable for your website. That means: Final spurt and get to the tools!

Which SEO tools are best for a successful keyword research?

As is often the case, you can draw from a huge pool of tools for keyword research. Again, there are various Google tools that make your life easier.

Google Suggest

This tool is often the first port of call for keyword research. These are the suggested search terms that are displayed to you when you enter something in the Google search bar. As soon as you enter the first letter of a keyword, the search engine already completes it. It also does this for whole words, if you enter a space and another letter after the word. According to Google, these combinations show which other terms are particularly frequently searched for in connection with your keyword. So you can already find out many other keywords here.

Google Suggests suggestions for the letter “E” and the keyword “eology”

Also interesting are the “Similar Search Queries”, which Google always displays at the end of the search results page. Here you can also discover keywords that could be relevant for you.

Similar search queries that you should consider for your entered keyword

Besides Google Suggest, there are other suggestion tools that you can use as an alternative. The best known are HyperSuggest and UberSuggest. These two tools also spit out related search queries, but often go more into detail than Google. In addition, you can optionally analyze related keywords, suggestions and the top ranking results at a glance via with the “Insights” > “Search Inspection” function.

Google Keyword Planner

The Keyword Planner is one of the most popular tools and belongs to Google Ads, as you can see bid suggestions here, among other things. Furthermore, you can get information about the average monthly search volumes of the individual search terms. In addition, you can use the “Discover new keywords” function in the tool to have additional suggestions spit out.

The Keyword Planner functions


If you don’t want to rely on Google too often, the keyword tool from Mangools, a Slovakian provider, is a good alternative to the Keyword Planner. Here you can find search volume, trends, CPC (cost-per-click), PPC (pay-per-click) and KD (keyword difficulty) of keywords. In addition, related keywords are displayed, similar to Google’s product. Even better is that KWfinder combines several tools. In addition to the classic keyword research function, you can also find information on domain and page authority, as well as the number of backlinks and social signals on Facebook. Thus, the tool also includes a kind of link building function that can help you with optimization.

Google Trends

If you want to know how your keywords are developing, you can check this via Google Trends. Here, you can apply the following filters:

This allows you to analyze the external influences on a keyword more precisely. You can also directly compare multiple topics.

Extract from Google Trends – Direct comparison of different ads by region and over time

Of course, there are other tools that are not from Google that can help you with keyword research. These include the following:

Keyword Explorer from Ahrefs

The Ahrefs tool is actually known for checking the backlink profile. But there is also a function that allows you to perform keyword research. This way you get insights about search volumes and about competitors that already rank for this keyword in the search results.

Moz Keyword Explorer

This tool is part of Moz’s paid service in the full version. However, there is a free version that has been slimmed down considerably. Here, the tool provides you with results on search volumes in from-to ranges. In addition, you get insights into the difficulty of the keyword. That is, how hard it is contested and what potential it has.


AnswerThePublic combines a question and keyword tool. This becomes important when you want to know what questions users are asking in connection with your keyword. You should analyze this, because only then you can give answers to them. The tool classifies the results according to questions, prepositions and comparisons and also provides you with alphabetically listed suggestions. The only disadvantage is that the searches per day are limited.

Presentation of the results of AnswerThePublic


W-Fragen-Tools, similar to AnswerThePublic, are important to learn what questions users have or what is most frequently asked and searched for on the web for your keyword. This way, you can include relevant information in your website that answers these questions. Also, if you want to prepare your site for FAQs in Google search, it is useful to look at these questions.


A WDF*IDF-Tool gives you keywords that increase relevance. These are important because the Google algorithm is very good at understanding semantic relationships. A pure stringing together of keywords is therefore meaningless and is meanwhile also punished by Google. The search engine pays more and more attention to text quality! With the help of the WDF*IDF tools, you can find the keywords that logically fit into your context or that belong to the context and are therefore expected by Google for a topic. You can then include them in your text and thus increase the relevance of your page for search queries.


A keyword research is often not a big effort. Above all, you will quickly notice that you become a little bit faster with each additional one and that it becomes easier for you to recognize which keywords are important for you. It is definitely worthwhile to find out what users are interested in regarding your website and then to use these keywords in the text. This way you can also positively influence your ranking at the same time, because your site will become more relevant. In the infographic you get again at a glance how you have to proceed with the keyword research.

7 steps of keyword research


Why are keywords important?

Keywords are the key words that users use to search for something specific. The Google algorithm finds matches of search queries and content on the web through them. So if your potential website visitors are searching in a certain way and with certain keywords, it’s important that you include them on your website so that Google’s algorithm can display your content in response to their queries.

What makes a good keyword research?

Good keyword research isn’t just about picking keywords that might be important for your content. It is about more. So-called relevance-increasing keywords, which you can find out through a WDF*IDF analysis, help you to better represent semantic relationships. In addition, W-questions are very essential, as they allow you to see which topics searchers find particularly important. Last but not least, a competitor analysis is always an advantage. Some sites already achieve very good rankings for the topic you want to cover. So how do they build their content? What is special here? How do they stand out from the crowd? If you’ve looked at this as well, you’ve set up a very comprehensive keyword research that will allow nothing to stand in the way of creating content that is appropriate for your target audience.

In which areas is a keyword research needed?

Content creation is probably the largest and most important area. However, keyword research is also significant for paid ads, for example. Because: Only if you know what potential customers are looking for, you can address them with your ads.

Steht geringes Suchvolumen für ein schlechtes Keyword?

No, definitely not. The search volume shows you how many people are searching for a certain term. For more generic keywords (e.g. “weather, “news”, etc.) the search volume is therefore very high. However, the more specific a topic becomes, the lower the number of searchers – simply because it appeals to far fewer people. Roughly, you can say: The higher the specialization of your topic or your industry, the lower the search volume.


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