Identifying keywords starts with common sense. But you’ll also need to enlist the aid of a tool if you want to really outshine the competition.

In this article, we’ll go over a few steps you need to follow to find the best search terms for your business.

Have a Brainstorming Session

Start your keyword research efforts with a meeting. Get your team members together in a room, order a couple of pizzas, and bat around some ideas about popular words and phrases associated with your niche.

For example, if you’re running an ecommerce site that sells offshore fishing tackle, you might come up with phrases like:

Saltwater fishing tackle

Sportfishing tackle

Sportfishing equipment

Big game fishing tackle

And so on. You’ll probably identify dozens of similar terms.

At that point, you might think that you’ve come up with so many examples that you don’t need to do any more research. The reality is that your work is just beginning.

Pin the Tail on the Keyword

So far, you’ve just identified basic keywords. Now, you need to put some “tails” on those words.

What are tails? They’re additional nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that people might plug into a search engine alongside your basic keywords.

For example, if one of your keywords is “saltwater fishing tackle,” then a popular related search term would be “best saltwater fishing tackle.”

That’s the kind of keyword that people will use when they’re looking for quality equipment.

Other possible related terms include: “saltwater fishing tackle reviews,” “cheap saltwater fishing tackle,” “saltwater fishing tackle on sale,” and so on.

Those types of keywords, incidentally, convey purchase intent. That’s because people use them when they’re looking to buy. You should always optimize your site for a variety of keywords with purchase intent.

It’s also a great idea to add the current or coming year to the keyword as well. For example, “best fishing tackle for 2018” will resonate with people who are looking for modern tackle.

Keep in mind: you’ll have to pin tails on all of your keywords.

After you’ve done that, you’re still not finished with the keyword research phase.

Get a Tool

At this point, you might have hundreds of keywords associated with your business. Now, you need to two things:

Find even more keywords

Weed out the keywords that won’t get you much traffic

Segment your keywords based on interest, consideration and conversion terms

You’ll need to enlist the aid of a tool to reach those milestones. One of the best tools for keyword research is SEMRush. Also, the Google Keyword Planner is great.

Head over to the SEMRush website and enter “saltwater fishing tackle” as your keyword of choice. Click on “Start Now.”

After some processing time, SEMRush will show you a screen that’s loaded with information about your keyword. Click on the “Phrase Match” tab.

You’ll see a table that shows you a variety of keywords associated with “saltwater fishing tackle.” Take a look at the list for some ideas that you might have missed in your brainstorming session.

Next, click on the “Related Keywords” tab. You’ll see a screen that looks very similar to the previous one except that it will list a bunch of different keywords.

Again, scroll through the list and gather some keywords that you might have missed.

At this point you’ve completed the first step: you’ve found more keywords. Now, you need to eliminate keywords that won’t get you a whole lot of traffic.

Eliminating Keywords

So which keywords should you keep and which should you discard? As a rule of thumb, you’ll keep the keywords with the highest search volume and the lowest difficulty level.

Fortunately, SEMRush provides you with both of those pieces of information.

Take a look at the Related Keywords table. You’ll see that the search term “saltwater tackle” has a search volume of 880. That’s the number of searches per month.

However, the next column over (“KD”) is the keyword difficulty level. As you can see, it’s around 69 (out of 100).

That means it’s pretty difficult to optimize a page for “saltwater tackle” and rank high in the search results.

So here’s your action item: use SEMRush to identify the keywords that will get you a lot of searches per month but also have a low keyword difficulty level.

Wrapping It Up

Keyword research is critical to good SEO. Make sure that you take the time to find the keywords that are most likely to attract people in your target market to your website. Do that by brainstorming some great search terms and then using a tool to identify the best prospects.