“Does an SEO come to a bar, pub, eatery, pub, pub, …”. This joke is no accident. Keywords are essential for search engine optimization. Beautiful texts are good, but they are of little use if they cannot be found. But even pure keyword stuffing will not lead to the desired success. It is essential to find the important keywords and use them correctly.

What is a keyword?

Keyword (German: key term) means two things. On the one hand, keywords are the search terms that searchers type into Google. On the other hand, keywords are used on the websites in order to be able to cover these search queries as best as possible. Because what you don’t write about cannot be found for it. Keywords connect supply (your website content) and demand (user search queries).

And what is a good Keyword?

Above all, keywords should bring you traffic to the site. To do this, you first have to achieve a sufficiently good visibility in the search results. There is little point in sticking to certain keywords if there is little chance of a good ranking there – for example because the competition is overwhelming. In such cases, a specific subtopic or niche this main keyword (keyword long-tail keywords!) will be more interesting.

Short tail vs. Long-tail keywords

Keywords can be divided into short-tail and long-tail. What does it mean exactly?

Short-tail keywords:

  • Consists of 1-2 words
  • Are kept very generic (e.g. “pendant light” or “Vienna rental apartment”)
  • High search volume – a lot of people are looking for it
  • Lots of competition – many websites want to rank for it

Long-tail keywords:

  • Consists of a combination of terms
  • Are more descriptive (e.g. “pendant light dining table black gold” or “rental apartment 1100 Vienna balcony”
  • Lower search volume
  • Less competition

Short-tail keywords are particularly tempting due to their high search volume. Although they are searched for frequently, it is more difficult to achieve a good ranking due to the fierce competition. Often one concentrates too much on the short tail and overlooks the opportunities of the long tail. Because there is a lot of potential in the low search volume! Ideally, with the long-tail keywords you reach exactly the right users who match the specific offer. The chance of conversions is also higher in the long-tail area.

An example:

Someone who types in the term “games” could search for different things:

  • Board game online shop
  • Computer games to gamble online
  • PC or console games to download
  • Game ideas for children’s birthday parties
  • etc.

The chance that my content is the right one for the user’s intention is slim. If the user who is looking for game ideas for the birthday comes to my online shop for PC games, he is unlikely to make a purchase.

If the user is looking for “Strategy Games PC Download”, he describes his intention very precisely. The willingness to buy is clearer, and the product has already been specifically described. A good hit for the user would be a list of different strategy games that can be downloaded directly. If this user comes to my online shop – ideally directly to the appropriate subpage – the purchase probability is high.

Practice tip: As a rule, a mix of short-tail and long-tail keywords works best.

How people search

The respective search behavior is very different. This is also shown by a Google study, which says that 15% of all search queries per day are those that have never been typed in before. (That also speaks strongly in favor of the long tail!).

So what should you pay attention to when it comes to specific search behavior?

  • Do you use specialist vocabulary in your area, or do users search with colloquial terms?
  • Often times, people also search in question form. What could such questions be? Which questions can you also answer sensibly on your website?
  • Are there regional differences in the terms (e.g. blueberries <> blackberries <> blueberries, armchairs <> chair, ..)
  • Are there synonyms for the terms? Which variant is sought more often?

Keyword Research 101

Before starting the actual keyword research, however, you should ask yourself a few questions so that the research is then as targeted as possible. It is best to write down the answers to the following points and then incorporate them into the research:

  • Which products and services do I offer exactly?
  • How would users search for it? Are there possibly regional differences?
  • Which terms are common in my industry? How does my competition write?
  • In what situations could users look for it?
  • Which long-tail keywords could result?

With this as a basis, it is now time for the keyword tools. It does not necessarily have to be a paid tool. There are also some free variations available that can give very good results.

5 Free Keyword Research Tools

Google Suggest

The first port of call is Google Suggest, Google’s auto-complete. Simply type in a keyword and Google will show you possible combinations. Google’s suggestions come from actual searches. This gives you information about what the user really wants to know!

tip: At the end of the search results, Google also gives suggestions for similar searches.

Google Keyword Planner

Not all keyword research tools show search volume. The Google Keyword Planner is the solution for this. Here keywords or entire keyword lists can be entered and their search volume (also regionally restricted) can be queried. But the tool is also ideally suited for classic keyword research.

tip: A Google Ads account is required to use the Keyword Planner (but ads do not have to be active).

Answer the Public

Answer the Public also uses Google’s autocomplete and aggregates it into certain categories. Answer the Public is particularly useful when researching phrases and questions with the respective keyword.

So asked

The “People also ask” boxes often appear in the Google search results with frequently asked questions from users. As the name of the tool suggests, these questions about the respective keyword are presented here collectively. The tool helps to identify which questions users are asking and gives inspiration as to which topics the website content could cover.

Open thesaurus

Google loves quality texts. Therefore, one should not always (over) strain the same keyword, but instead incorporate synonyms and related terms. Synonym finders such as Open Thesaurus can help here. This brings you to further terms that you have not yet thought of yourself.

Before creating page content, you should get to know the information needs of your target groups well – and link them to the right keywords. Keywords are simply essential to show that you are a good match for the particular search query. Extensive keyword research makes it easier to use the right keywords and to expand and structure content.


About the author Tamara Zimmermann

Tamara has been helping Otago customers like Pfizer and Fronius to conquer search results since 2017. She also passes on her know-how in workshops and lectures on the topics of search engine optimization and online marketing – currently online at Otago SEO jungle. Their passion for usability, design and marketing not only let them cast an SEO eye on their customers’ websites.