Tag Archives: keyword research

How important are keywords when writing content?

Are keywords important for content writing

Are keywords important for content writing

Keywords are needed for SEO content writing.

Although there are many SEO experts who have begun to say that keywords no longer matter because Google these days focuses on natural language processing rather than keywords, if you search on Google, you will observe that keywords still matter.

I will give you a small example: suppose you are looking for “SEO content writing” and the keyword does not exist on my website.

Will you be able to find my website?

Suppose I’m constantly writing web pages and blog posts on “SEO writer”, “SEO writing”, or “writing for SEO” – will you still find my website for “SEO content writing”?

You may or you may not.

It depends on how well I have been able to optimize my website and what is the nature of rankings my content enjoys on Google.

If lots of people link to my website, my blog, and individual blog posts and on those websites, they have repeatedly used the keyword “SEO content writing”, then, maybe, Google may infer that my website is about “SEO content writing”, otherwise, it is all guesswork.

On the other hand, if I have multiple blog posts and web pages talking about the topic of “SEO content writing” then there is a great chance that one of these days, you will be able to find my website for this particular search query.

Therefore, you shouldn’t ignore the keywords when writing content.

Keywords have significance other than SEO

Whenever my clients send me content writing specifications, they also send me a list of keywords.

They may want me to optimize a single blog post for 5-10 keywords, or they may want me to focus on just a single, longtail phrase.

I prefer focusing on longtail phrases.

They are easier to optimize.

They don’t dilute your optimization process.

Whenever my clients ask me to optimize a particular piece of content for 5-10 keywords, I refuse to do so.

This is because then I need to write lots of unnecessary content to cover all the keywords unless the blog post or the web page is actually comprehensive enough to be able to accommodate all 5-10 keywords.

Even when the client doesn’t mention SEO, I advise to compile a list of keywords.

Keywords are not just needed for SEO – they also give you an idea of the language people use when they are using Google.

People use conversational language when they’re searching for information.

Again coming back to my own example, I may end up spending lots of time optimizing for “SEO content writing”, whereas, clients might be searching for “need an SEO content writer” or “looking for SEO content writer”.

Maybe only those people look for “SEO content writing” who want to learn about writing SEO content.

Therefore, the language that you are using when writing content may be completely different from the language used by your target customers and clients.

For better conversion rate you must write in the language used by your visitors.

Hence, keywords are needed for two purposes:

  1. Help you write optimized content so that you can organically improve your search engine rankings.
  2. Help you get a sense of the language people use when talking about your business so that you can write your content in the same language.
  3. Help you get content writing ideas – you need to create lots of topics to write on based on the keywords you want to optimize your website or blog for.

How to find the right keywords before writing content?

When writing content, keyword research can either be done by the client, or the content writer writing the content (it depends on whether the client is ready to pay for the time or not).

There are free as well as paid methods to find the right keywords.

There are three elements you must pay attention to when finding the right keywords before writing your content:

Relevance of the keywords

How relevant the keywords you’re planning to use are?

Here I would quickly like to add that when researching for keywords, focus on probable topics of search rather than keywords like “SEO content writing”.

For example, should you optimize for “looking for SEO content writer” or “what are the benefits of hiring an SEO content writer?”

This is where search intent comes into picture.

The intent of the first search query “looking for SEO content writer” is transactional because the person submitting the query wants to hire an SEO content writer.

The intent of the second search query “what are the benefits of hiring an SEO content writer” is that the person may be thinking of hiring an SEO content writer but he or she needs more convincing.

This is commercial intent.

You may like to read Why search intent is most important when writing content for your website

Authority of the keywords

It is the depth of expertise your keywords or topic represents.

You build topical authority by writing lots of content on your chosen topic.

For example, if I have multiple web pages and blog posts talking about “SEO content writing” and if the content is relevant and many people link to it, Google will think that it is an authority keyword for my website.

Keyword authority is more about choosing a key phrase or a longtail keyword and then building authoritative content around it.

Keyword search volume

For this you may need to use a keyword tool like Google Keyword Planner.

The Google Keyword planner is less for SEO and more for bidding on Google AdWords advertisements, but if you enter your keywords, it gives you such volume.

Search volume tells you whether the keyword you want to use is popular or not.

You may rank on the first spot for your chosen keyword but if people are not searching for it, there is no use of it.

You must choose keywords for which there are a decent number of search queries being done.

Also, highly competitive keywords may be difficult to optimize.

Hence, you should use keywords that are relevant to your business, but they are not extremely highly competitive (thousands of people searching for them per day.

In conclusion, finding the right keywords are important for your content writing process both in terms of improving search engine rankings as well as helping you write in the language your target audience uses.

How do I find the right keywords for writing SEO content?

Keyword research for SEO content writing

Keyword research for SEO content writing

In most of the cases, I don’t. The list of keywords is given to me by my clients. I find keywords when I am also helping a client with content strategy.

Whenever I’m writing content I advise my clients not to cram too many keywords in a single web page or blog post. That dilutes the main focus of what you’re trying to convey.

Nonetheless, when I need to find the right keywords for writing SEO content, how do I do that?

There are many tools for that, but the best tool is common sense. After that, you can take help of the Google search engine.

First, you need to know your primary keyword. For example, if your topic is “How to improve your SEO with content writing?” you have a fair idea of what you’re trying to achieve here. You want people who want to know how to improve your SEO with content writing, finds your link.

When you are trying to improve your SEO, there is a thin line that divides people who want to pay you and people who just want to learn something. The above topic, “How to improve your SEO with content writing?” is targeting people who want to learn something. They may also want to hire someone who knows how to improve SEO with content writing, but as far as the topic goes, it is being written to target those people who want to learn how to improve SEO with content writing.

This is a big phrase. Targeting big phases longtail keywords is always beneficial. Not many people may use them but they definitely help you improve your search engine rankings by zeroing in on those people were using exactly the phrase.

After that, there are two more keywords you can focus on, namely, “improve your SEO” and “content writing”.

You may also like to include “improve your search engine rankings” and “website content writing”.

Google also makes its own suggestions. Search for the term “how to improve your SEO with content writing” and see what other suggestions Google comes up with. Here is what I have found:

  • best practices for SEO content writing
  • how to write SEO friendly articles
  • SEO writing for beginners

and some unrelated keywords.

I also have a browser plug-in called “Keywords Everywhere”. It uses the Google database and some other sources to throw up related keywords and also the keywords other people may have used for the same sort of search. Right now, for the search term used above, it is not giving me much different options than what Google has displayed, but for many other keywords, it definitely gives more options.

There are many commercial SEO keyword research tools such as Ahrefs, Serpstat (this, I have used the paid version), SEMRush (more of a content ideas finder rather than a keyword finder), LongTailPro (have used the paid version for a few months but then discontinued) and even Moz.

I have never used the paid keyword research tools for my clients because there are very few clients who actually want to pay me for keyword research. Yes, they do want me to find the keywords, but when it comes to paying for the time that I may spend, they prefer to do their own keyword research, which is fine. So, most of the tools mentioned above, I have used for myself, to improve my own search engine rankings.

Many people heavily recommend the Google Ads keyword tool. Previously it was also called the Google AdWords keyword tool. Since it allows you to find keywords you can bid on, so naturally, Google presents you with an extensive list of alternative keywords to your main set of keywords.

To find keyword alternatives, you can enter 3-4 keywords and then it generates a big list. To novices it may be confusing because you don’t want to use all the keywords. Since Google charges for every click, it is but natural that the company would want you to bid on as many keyword combinations as possible, this is just to get some ideas for your own content writing needs. You need to make your own judgement regarding this.

Sometimes I use Google Analytics to find what keywords people are using when they find my website or my blog. This tells me what sort of traffic I’m attracting. If I’m attracting traffic for all the wrong keywords, I make changes to my content accordingly. Hence, Google Analytics can tell you if you’re targeting wrong keywords through your content.

This is pretty much how I find keywords for SEO content writing.



How to do keyword research before beginning to write content

The image shows some visual of doing keyword research before writing content

Do keyword research before writing content

Although many content marketers and SEO experts advise you not to obsess about keywords when writing content, keywords matter. Ignore your keywords for a few weeks, publish content, and just see the results.

Why is keyword research important for SEO content writing?

I have written a complete blog post on the importance of keyword research before writing content.

It’s important to prepare a list of keywords because then you know what language to use when writing content for your website. The list of keywords also helps you stay focused and stick to the topic.

Take for example the current topic of this blog post. It is not about the importance of keywords, but how to do keyword research.

So, although, I have slightly touched upon the point of how important it is to research your keywords for SEO content writing, I know that my main topic is about “how to do keyword research before writing content”. This helps me decide where to focus more and where to focus less. If nothing else, this should be one of the most important reasons for you to prepare a list of keywords before beginning to write content.

Knowing the keywords also helps you use the right language – the language used by your prospective customers and clients. If you don’t speak their language, they don’t understand you, and frankly, neither do you understand them. Knowing the keywords will enable you to know how they talk about your product or service and what they are actually looking for.

How to do keyword research for effective SEO content writing

It’s been more than a decade since SEO became mainstream and people began to recognize the connection between content writing and SEO but still, when it comes to researching keywords, they go on gut feeling and what they think the keywords should be.

Although you know the main keywords, unless you use proper tools, it is very difficult to know exactly what keywords and search terms your target customers and clients are using.


The Google search engine is the most convenient and easiest keyword research tool. There are two ways you can find out what people are looking for pertaining to a subject.

Suppose you want to write something on improving life. You go to google.com and type “improving life” and don’t press enter. I get the following search hints from Google:

improving life
improving life through knowledge of science
improving lifestyle
improving life quality
improving life quotes
improving life expectancy

Then you press enter and you come across lots of links talking about improving life. At the bottom of the search results, Google also shows you searches related to “improving life”

how to improve your life quality
how to improve your lifestyle
how to improve your life in 7 days
100 ways to improve your life
how to improve yourself everyday
daily habits to improve life

… and so on.

If you want to delve further, try “improving lifestyle” and go through the same cycle of suggestions given by Google.

These suggestions are not just random suggestions. These are the search terms being used by people who are looking for information related to “improving life”.

Similarly, you can choose one of your major keywords and start typing in Google and observe what suggestions the search engine comes up with.

Remember that it is very difficult to improve your search engine rankings for single-word keywords or highly competitive keywords. But, it is easier to improve your rankings for longer keywords, less competitive keywords.

Talking about longtail keywords, you may like to read How to incorporate longtail keywords into content writing.

Google Keyword Planner

By now many people are aware of this free tool. It is basically an AdWords ad-on and personally I feel it acts more to encourage you to include maximum number of keywords while creating your AdWords campaign than to give you the most objective picture of the keywords you must be targeting. Use your own discretion. You don’t have to blindly follow all the suggestions made by the Google keyword planner.

To generate keyword suggestions, you can either supply the keyword planner with a list of initial keywords or you can simply type in your website URL and the keyword tool will tell you which keywords you should use to optimize your content.


In the above screenshot image, in the Google Keyword planner, I have used the keyword “content writing services” and the keyword planner has given me some suggestions.

I have omitted the monetary value (how much people are bidding for these keywords) of individual keywords because it doesn’t concern here, what you need to focus on is the keyword and the “competition” it has. If possible, focus on the “Low” and “Medium” competition keywords.

Again, you can also use a combination of the Google keyword planner and the simple Google search engine technique that I have mentioned above.

Google Analytics

Although Google analytics doesn’t tell you the keywords you should target before starting to write your content, it can give you a glimpse of the keywords that bring traffic to your website. This means, if you are getting traffic for all the wrong reasons, you may like to change your content orientation to target the right keywords.

Niche websites and blogs

Does your profession have niche websites and blogs publishing plenty of content on subjects related to your profession?

Prepare a list of niche websites and blogs that publish lots of content around your profession and observe what topics they are covering. Even a list of 20-30 topics will give you a fair idea of the keywords they are covering. You don’t need to cover exactly those keywords, but you can create various combinations before you start writing your own content.

Suppose you want to write workout related content and you choose the website health.com.

In your browser, in the URL bar, type “site:health.com workout” (you don’t need to use inverted commas and make sure there is no space between site: and the name of the website), and press enter.

This will give you all the search results pertaining to “workout” on the website health.com. You can get scores of keyword ideas from the content they have published.

Premium keyword analysis tools

For some time, I have been using Serpstat. Another tool I prefer is Longtail Pro. Here is a review of this tool that I wrote some time back.

Concluding remarks

Frankly, for doing keyword research before writing content, my all-time favourite tool remains google.com. It is no-nonsense. It doesn’t push keywords in front of you. It exactly tells you what search terms people are using to find similar content or related content. Whatever is your choice, little bit of keyword research before starting to write your content will give you a solid direction and keep you focused. It will also help you publish content your target audience really needs.

Do keyword research before writing content

The image shows an iPad with the Google homepage on the text says importance of keyword research before content writing

Importance of keyword research before content writing

Although your keywords shouldn’t dominate your content writing, they are an important part of the entire writing process especially when you are targeting search engines.

For me, keywords keep your writing focused. When you know what words to use, you know what to write and you don’t deviate from that.

Focus is very important when you are writing content to attract targeted traffic from search engines. Keywords keep you focused.

Sometimes clients send me a long list of keywords to be included in a single document. Although, with little bit of creativity, scores of keywords can be incorporated into a single document – provided you have a big document of more than 3000 words – normally I don’t recommend this.

Focus on a single phrase – most of the searches these days are based on phrases rather than keywords – and in that one single phrase, try to include the main things that you’re going to cover in the current blog post or web page.

Also keep in mind that an increasing number of searches are voice searches – people use devices they can talk to, to look for information, for example Google Assistant or Amazon Echo.

Nonetheless, it is important that you do keyword research before writing content.

Why keyword research is important before content writing?

The concept of keyword has changed over the years. In terms of SEO, it doesn’t mean a single word, though, people get confused and assume that they should focus on single words rather than complete phrases.

For SEO and content writing, when you talk of keywords, you can safely assume that they mean even complete sentences.

Back to why keyword research is important…

It tells you what language people use when they are trying to find your service or your product or even when they’re talking to each other on various online forums and social media platforms while talking about your service or product.

Search engine algorithms are becoming intelligent by the day. They are fast moving towards a state of being when even if you don’t use your keywords, provided you stick to the topic, they will be able to make out what you are saying and then accordingly, rank your content.

In fact, this is already happening. When SEO experts and content marketing professionals talk about “searcher’s intent” this is what they are basically saying – your keywords don’t matter much, what matters is, whether you’re solving people’s problems or not, especially problems for which they are searching for solutions.

Nonetheless, keywords matter, and they will go on mattering simply because the words that people use to find you on Google, can be distinct for distinct requirements.

For example, if you’re looking for a content writer for your business, you will not be looking for “content writing” or “how to write content”.

Although, these two phrases do have something to do with content writing, for your particular need, you may look for “content writing for my boutique business” or “content writing service for SEO”.

If you’re looking for a writer to write your product descriptions, you’re not going to search for “professional copywriter”. You may search for “writer for writing product descriptions” or “looking for someone to write product descriptions for me”.

These may seem very obvious observations, especially when you are reading this blog post, but when you need to target scores of keywords because your business depends on traffic originating from those keywords, you need to do comprehensive research.

Again, the purpose of keyword research is not to prepare a long list of keywords and then use these keywords to write content (unless you’re using Google AdWords), the purpose is to use these keywords as a guiding force.

You enjoy better search engine rankings if you write in the language that your prospective customers and clients use.

Why before content writing?

As I have written above, the purpose is not to stuff keywords into your writing, the purpose is to use your keywords as a direction towards creating highly purposeful content in a language that people use, especially people who can be your prospective customers and clients.

When you write content, you should ask yourself, “Why am I writing this blog post?”, or “Why am I writing this webpage?”

Of course, you don’t just want to generate search engine traffic from your content writing because search engine traffic by itself means nothing. If your content can draw people from Google and other search engines but people simply leave your website without doing anything, it is an exercise in futility. This happens when you solely focus on SEO.

The primary purpose of your content must always be to provide information people are looking for so that they can decide whether they want to do business with you.

Take for instance this current blog post. Here I’m explaining to you why it is important to do keyword research before writing content. You may say that by merely reading this blog post how am I conveying that I’m a professional content writer and you should hire me?

Through a search engine or through another website or through Facebook or Twitter, when you come to this blog post and you read, you will know that I understand a few things about keywords and writing content based on those keywords.

The layout of my website/blog is such that you easily know that I provide professional content writing services and if you’re looking for a content writer who can focus on your keywords and despite that, also write high-conversion content, you may like to contact me.

If you don’t get such a feeling (despite requiring a competent content writer) then I’m not doing a good job.

Similarly, the ultimate aim of your content writing is to convince people that you are open for business and doing business with you is a good decision.

Hence, when you’re writing content, your aim must be converting people.

Now, this is where it becomes difficult for content writers who are not experienced. They can either focus on keywords to improve your SEO (which is not a big deal) or write conversion-centric content which, though, does not attract traffic, but if people land on that webpage or blog post, they are convinced.

So, how does one balance between keywords and conversion-oriented content writing?

Use your keywords (phrases, sentences, search expressions) to steer your language so that both search engine algorithms and visitors know what you’re talking about. Don’t simply use them to improve your SEO because that is counter-productive.

Again, take for example this blog post. It talks about why it is important to research keywords before content writing. At the time of writing this, I’m not sure whether people will be able to find this link for the right keywords or search terms, but this is what my intention is – if someone searches with a combination of keywords and content writing and maybe also SEO, he or she should be able to find this link.

But once he or she is on this blog post, only good content writing matters, not what or how the keywords have been used.