The 4 Phases of Keyword Research: A Guide by DigitalAdBlog

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Gathering keywords and forming a plan of attack to populate your website with targeted, SEO friendly content is a large task that needs to be carefully considered. Use this inforgraphic created by to start off on the right foot and maintain effective keyword habits.


Infographic Summary:

1. Gather

Collect short-tail words that are distinct to your line of business. These seed keywords will be the base of your keyword research


  • Products and services – Look into your own business. The products and services you offer are a great place to start when looking for seed keywords
  • Sub-pages – look into your business’s existing website. The headers of your website’s sub-pages are possibly keywords.


  • Source code – Your direct competitors don’t have to be your enemies. Their website has keyword tags, title tags, and description tags that are literally a treasure chest of keywords.
  • Sub-pages – Look at the surface level of your competitor’s website. The headers of their website’s sub-pages are possible keywords that you might have overlooked.

Quantity – To a reasonable extent, quantity is your main priority of the early phases of research. Keep all the words you find because they may turn out to be very valuable.


Quality – When gathering, quality of words does not matter as much. However, in the latter phases of your research, quality has a more dominant role.

2. Gather More

Gather more keywords, branching out from your already-gathered existing seed keywords.

Modifier lists will help to organize the longer tail keywords you come across when branching out from your seed keywords. Modifiers are words used in combination with your seed keyword that create sub-categories and long tail keywords, changing the semantic of a search.

  • Location – search modifiers with a location intent.
  • Buying – Search modifiers with an intent to actually purchase a product.
  • Informational – Search modifiers with informational inquiry on something as opposed to intent for purchase.
  • Negative Keywords – Search modifiers that are words you do not want to be associated with.
  • Organic use – Negative keywords serve to avoid being found in organic searches for something you aren’t relevant to. This includes not being found for services you don’t offer.
  • PPC Use – Negative keywords will save you ad dollars on prospects that aren’t qualified for your business and it’s services or products.

3. Filter

Evaluate and filter your keywords to determine which are keepers. Keyword tools and measures are vital to helping you pick quality out of the quantity.

The Rubric- A good measure of the quality of a keyword is comparison of its search volume and competitiveness in context to your industry.

  • Competitiveness – How many competitors are bidding or trying to rank for a certain term?
  • Search volume – How many searchers are inquiring about a specific term or query. The amount of search traffic.


  • Searcher intent – Awareness, Consideration, Buying.
  • Broad Relevance – Brand Terms, Competitor Terms, Long tail terms.
  • The balance – Short and long tail key words.

4. Monitor

Your keywords are now ready but the keyword research process isn’t completely finished. Periodically, you should be updating ineffective keywords and adding more optimal ones.

  1. Adding keywords – Repeat the keyword research process when you are adding new keywords. However, certain steps may not be necessary, depending on your circumstances.
  2. Updating Keywords – Refer back to phase 3 when monitor your existing keywords. Evaluate your primary keywords that are outdated as some words may need to be removed or replaced.