Keywords Research in Digital Marketing


Keywords Research in Digital Marketing

Value of Keywords

Keyword value is one of the things you need to consider when doing keyword research, and you can do this from two perspectives — objective and subjective.

The objective value of a keyword refers to the general parameters provided by various tools. There are many parameters that describe the objective value of a keyword, but the two most important are:

  • Search Volume — this is the keyword’s popularity; how often users search for it.
  • Keyword Difficulty — this is how hard it will be to achieve high positions for this particular keyword.

The subjective value of a keyword tells you how much it might be worth to your site and your business profile. To figure this out, you need to answer some questions first.

Does this keyword fit your site?

Will users be satisfied when they get to your site looking for this phrase?

 Will the traffic created by this keyword be financially beneficial?

If you answered YES to all those questions, then using this keyword might turn out to be profitable and you can try to optimize your site around it.

Types of Keywords

As not all keywords are created equally, they can be divided into two main groups, depending on how often users search for them: head keywords and long-tail keywords.

Head Keywords

The most common search terms are called head keywords. While these keywords may be popular, most of these queries are very general; thus making it much harder to achieve high positions in the search results for them.

Long-Tail Keywords

The second group of search terms is long-tail keywords. These are more specific and usually longer than head keywords and should be the main part of a keyword research strategy. They are not as popular as head keywords, but if we put them all together they take up 70% of all internet searches and most of the overall search volume.

And unlike head keywords, marketers have noticed that long-tail phrases convert to profit because of the focus on a specific product or a phrase.

For example, users searching for “chair” are probably just browsing. However, someone searching for a “white dining room chair” is probably also browsing, but with their wallet already open.

Keywords Categorized by Purpose

Another way to divide keywords is based on their purpose. We can divide them into four groups:

  • Commercial keywords
  • Transactional keywords
  • Informational keywords
  • Navigational keywords


This group of keywords is the widest of the four and is directly connected to your niche.

You want to use as many of the most popular and commercial-worthy keywords as you can, but it is more important to remember that you want to stick to keywords that are directly connected to your niche.

For example, if you own a website that only sells chairs, you don’t want to rank for tables because they have four legs too — they’re not chairs so screw’em!

The goal of these keywords is to bring more users to your site. But you need to realize that the user status is not enough — you want customers. This is why we have the next group of keywords.


Such keywords are perfect for pages like product listings because they use terms like “buy”, “for sale”, “purchase” and so on.

In this group, you can also find more specific phrases like “black leather chair.” When users search for these phrases you can say that they already have all the information they need — they know what they want and are determined to make a purchase.

But what if they are still looking for some information before buying your product?


You can find a lot of keywords with great search volume, but they might not bring your site many conversions. This is because when users are searching for these phrases they are often searching for information, e.g. to make sure that they want to buy this particular product — read reviews or compare it with other products.

These phrases are often in the form of a question. As I said, informational keywords might not bring you the most conversions but why not use the most popular ones for blog articles, which will help the overall visibility of your site and brand?


The name might sound confusing, but this one is the simplest of them all. This type of keyword refers directly to your brand. That’s it.

When users type the name of your brand into the search bar, this means they are familiar with it and they’re performing a navigational search to get to the right address.

If you have a strong brand it’s fundamental to rank your homepage for phrases connected to it. But if you just started building your presence on the market, don’t try to rank for your competitor’s brand — you won’t beat them that way.

But you can beat your competitors with proper keyword research, and that’s what I’ll present to you right now with a tool called Ahrefs.


Ahrefs is a very powerful paid tool that’s worth the price. It’s mainly known as a “backlink checker” but we are going to use its other functions, particularly two features related to keyword research.

First of all, it’s worth mentioning where Ahrefs is taking the data from. The smart people at Ahrefs created their own crawling bot that allows them to collect data from the web. Because their bot is super efficient, second to Googlebot (according to a study about the best active bots), Ahrefs possesses one of the most impressive databases of keywords, domains, URLs, links, and so on. You can find their database’s stats on their site.

Another aspect I want to present is the keyword metrics provided by Ahrefs.

The two main metrics that I mentioned in The Value of Keywords section are present here – Search Volume and Keyword Difficulty.

Search Volume in Ahrefs is referring to how many searches a particular keyword has in a month. This factor also depends on the seasonality of a particular keyword. For example, phrases like “Christmas Gifts” are more popular closer to Christmas and have a larger Search Volume during that time. It’s worth noting that Ahrefs’s Keyword Difficulty is not linear, so if the scale goes from 0-100 – the number 50 doesn’t refer to the medium difficulty of a keyword – “hard” keywords start with around a 30 keyword difficulty. You can find more info about Keyword Difficulty on Ahrefs’s blog.

There are other keyword metrics provided by Ahrefs: 

  • CPC (Cost per Click) – I won’t be focusing on this one as it’s used for paid advertisements and not organic searches.
  • Clicks – this refers to the overall monthly number of clicks in the search results performed by users after typing a particular query in a search box.
  • CPS (Clicks per Search) – this shows how many different search results users click on average while searching for this keyword.
  • RR (Return Rate) – is a relative value that shows how often users search for this keyword again.

There are more options to present in Ahrefs, but I think it will be better to show them with the keyword research example below. I’ll be using “chair” with furniture store as the niche.

Competitor analysis

The first step in finding beneficial keywords is to identify the direct competitors for your site in order to see which keywords they are ranking for because it’s possible that they already did the lion’s share of keyword research for you.

By direct competitors, I mean competitors with a business profile the same as yours. If a site is huge and its business profile is wider than yours, this means their keyword directory is also huge and diverse, AND it means they’re not your direct competitor. There is no point in competing with them. You want to compete with sites that are present in the same market as you, that you can realistically beat. When you choose proper direct competitors, you can use the majority of their keyword directories to expand yours.

So let’s do that!

Go to Ahrefs’ site explorer and let’s find a direct competitor for our furniture store. One option for doing this is to Google one of the obvious main phrases connected to your niche like “furniture store USA” and look at the top results, or if your site is already ranking, for some keywords. You can find your main competitors in Ahrefs’ overview of your site in the Organic search tab, which is chosen by the number of shared keywords with your site.