How to Perform Topical Keyword Research


The foundation to any successful online marketing strategy – content, social, or search – is keyword research. Without it, how will you know what to target and base your campaigns around? Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to do. In this post, we’re going to look at how you can perform keyword research to find the best terms for your business and your content, from start to finish.

Discovering Base Keywords

First off, you are going to need some base keywords to start with. Think about the main things your business has to offer.

  • What would be one sentence you could use to introduce someone to your business?
  • What would be the main products or services you would tell them about?

Within those answers should be some base keywords to start with that describe your business. SEOgadget, for example, could start with these.

SEO agency
marketing agency
content marketing
conversion rate optimization
social media strategy
search engine optimization

If your business is locally based, then you might want to take your base keywords and add cities / regions to them as well.

Best Tools for Keyword Research

The following are some of the best tools for competitor keyword research and generating more keyword ideas.

Suggested Search

Just about every search engine has instant suggested search results. These prompts are designed to help people find specific keyword phrases to search for. Most notably, there is Google.



And pretty much every other major search engine. As you can see, you can get different results from one to the next.

Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Google AdWords Keyword Tool is the probably the most popular free keyword tool. You can get up to 100 keyword ideas back (depending on your keyword) or up to 800 keyword ideas back if you sign in with your AdWords account.

Just pop in your base keyword ideas or even the best ones from suggested searches to come up with a world of new ideas. Each will be listed with the estimated global monthly searches, local monthly searches, and, if you’re logged in to AdWords, the average CPC value.

SEO Site Tools

Your competitors can be your best source of keyword ideas. You can start with SEO Site Tools, an extension for Chrome, to see what keywords your competitors target by looking at their main title and meta description tags.


SEMrush can help you go even more in-depth with your competitor keyword research, showing you the organic and paid keywords a business is ranking for and targeting. It will also help you uncover additional competitors.

You can also see the pages on the website that rank for specific organic keywords and target landing pages for ad campaigns. This can help you determine if you should optimize your product pages or your content with specific keywords and phrases.


Not the usual suspect when it comes to keyword research, but when you think about it, it should be.

First off, you can use the Kindle Store search to get instant suggested search ideas.

If you’re looking for keywords for content, you can then find out what people are using in their Kindle book titles AND how many people are actually interested in more in-depth information about those topics based on the number of reviews.

The same thing goes if you sell products. Don’t just find out what people search for – find out what products people are actually buying.

LongTail Keyword Pro

If you are doing niche keyword research, LongTail Pro is a good solution. It allows you to get up to 800 keyword ideas (based on AdWords login), search for multiple keyword ideas at once, sort by difficulty rating and monthly searches, then number of pages on Google that use each keyword idea in the title, and even see available domains that match each keyword phrase.

You can also use it to research the top 10 competitors for a particular keyword idea or phrase. You’ll see each competitor’s page authority, links, domain authority, mozRank, PageRank, and site age.

Separating Commercial and Content Keywords

Once you have a decent sized list of keyword ideas and phrases for your business, you will need to sort out which ones have commercial intent and which ones do not. Commercial intent simply means that people searching for those keywords are likely looking to buy.

If you are unsure of whether a keyword is being used for commercial or content and you have a membership to SEOmoz, then use their Keyword Difficulty Tool. It will give you a comprehensive view of the keyword you want to target, from the level of competitiveness to the top sites that are ranking for them.

Using this tool, you’ll be able to quickly see which keywords should be used for content and which should be used for your products / services based on whether the majority of pages ranking for it on the first page are businesses or blog posts.

As you go through your list of keywords in a spreadsheet, add a column to note which keywords will be used for your homepage, products, and services. For the rest, determine what content titles can be derived from the keyword phrase and how those pieces of content can lead your audience from devouring your content to conversions.

Once you finish this exercise, you should have more than enough keywords to use to optimize your internal business pages. You will also have a great list of content topics to publish as blog posts, videos, infographics, and eBooks.

How do you do topical keyword research and what are your favorite tools? Please share in the comments!

How to Perform Topical Keyword Research, 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings


  1. Nick

    I really like the Amazon idea, first time I’ve seen that. The only thing I would add in here would be reference to intent-types, and the separation between keyword research for traffic vs. kw research for conversion. I go into some detail in my keyword research post here,

  2. Adam Butler

    Hi Kristi,

    Great article, both in regards to content and style, that was very useful and easy to digest.

    I’m currently trying to go through the whole process of mapping keywords to the ‘visitor need state’, but I need to figure out how or if the layers of the conversion funnel differ between commercial and charity sectors before I can really start using it to shape content creation.

    Nevertheless, thanks to your post you’ve inspired me to sort out which keywords might have “donation intent”, which is half the battle!

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Brian Jensen

    Great resource here Kristi! I love checking autocomplete results for topic ideas -what better way to find timely and relevant queries that people are searching for now! I use and Ubersuggest to make my autocomplete research more efficient. Both tools pull autocomplete results from all major engines which makes it easy to search for variations across platforms. One great feature about Ubersuggest is it lets you put your selected results in a .txt file bucket which can then be added to the Google AdWords keyword tool for additional suggestions and research. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Finn_Jake

    Hi Kristi! Stumbled here while looking for SEO keyword tools – specifically ColibriTool and FWE reviews and functions. Any ideas on that? Would like to check out the ones you mentioned but we have our eyes set and would choose between FWE or Colibri.

  6. Rick

    Thanks for the article, some known techniques, many more useful ideas and inspirations….and links bookmarked! Nice and tidy.

  7. Jane

    Great post Kristi. I use a combo of Google Adwords Keyword Tool, Long Tail Pro and Market Samurai. Of course Keyword Research is scary as it starts but it hooks me most of the times as I start to see some gems in there!

  8. SEO services company glasgow

    Great info Kristi, I really like it. All SEO tools are good which you share with in sequence. But mostly I use Google ad-word keyword tool because it’s easy to use and give him great stats. Its features look like great.

  9. alfina

    Fantastic post, Kristi. Useful as usual :) I highly recommend Nick’s resource, it is detailed as well and definitely worth checking