A step by step guide for keyword research for SEO in 2020

This process document will cover:

  • How to find keywords
  • How to choose the right types of keywords
  • How to use keyword research tools
  • Collating all the data
  • Making the data presentable

The tools and websites used in this guide are:

  • SEMRush
  • Answer the Public
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Reddit
  • Quora
  • Microsoft Excel

Quick links to blog content:

SEMRush Answer the Public Google Keyword Planner
General brainstorming Formatting the data Keyword research document template

1. Research & Data Pulls

The first step of any keyword research task is to compile data dumps of relevant topics matching your business niche. This is obviously a very easy thing to do, however, this process can go quite granular.

A full, unfiltered export is likely to not give you much much insight at all. 

I’ve seen many keyword research documents throughout my years in SEO and sadly most seem to be just that, a giant data dump with no real insight.

That said, research and pulling data is the starting point, so here is how I do it.


1.1 SEMrush

Inputting a website into SEMrush is a great place to start as SEMrush shows you the exact keywords that a website already ranks for. It also includes historical data and comparative keyword metrics against competitors.

This is my go to tool as it takes much of the guess work out from the get go. You can even drill down by folder path, enabling you to see every single keyword (along with SERP features) that you or a competitors URL ranks for.

This is particularly helpful when you want trimmed keyword sets of subtopics from domains that may cover a whole range of niches. Department stores for example.


From here you can export all keywords with search volume, SERP features, competition levels, CPC’s and even the associated ranking URL. 

This can then be split out by country and you can use to advanced filters to remove branded queries and go more granular into sub-topic keyword sets.


There is a heap of information here that is useful for much more than just SEO.

This export will give you a top-level understanding of where the volume and ranking opportunity is for non-branded topics. As you can see below, with a few basic filters I can already see at a glance what the top, non-branded traffic driving keywords are for Nike:


1.2 Answer the Public

Answer the Public combines Google’s Autosuggest with a question scraper.

This makes it the ideal tool for learning what questions your target audience is asking about a topic.

Set your country, type in a top-level keyword and then you’ll be given a hefty list of:

  • Questions
  • Prepositions
  • Comparisons
  • Alphabetical matches
answer the public

In this list we are mainly concerned with the list of questions and prepositions, as those are the keywords that trigger SERP features and are often (surprisingly so) ignored by competing brands.

These informational queries are often low in volume but also low in competition. However, as a topic set, you can create a sizeable keyword list with decent a search volume total.

Once the data for your keyword has loaded, you will see a wheel of questions, like below:

answer the public cheap flights example

Ok now we have our list, the next steps are to:

  • Export the CSV file and filter all “questions” and “prepositions” keywords
  • Copy these keywords into the Google Keyword Planner to get search volumes
  • Export the data from Google Keyword Planner

1.3 Google Keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Planner is the most reliable source of keyword data online, as it comes directly from Google.

This tool makes it very easy to export a bulk list of keywords that you input, complete with historical metrics, or discover new keywords with their keywords ideas tool.


google keyword planner