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Keyword research sounds easy, but it is not. We all know the SEMrush tools provide a lot of keyword research data that marketers can use, but what you do with that data, how you evaluate it, and which keywords and phrases you choose to use are critical if you are hoping to meet specific goals.

In last week’s #SEMrushchat, our community and guest @GregGifford offered keyword research tips and suggestions to marketers and businesses on the following:

  • Conducting keyword research with all of the recent Google changes.
  • Things to consider when prioritizing your keyword list.
  • Ways to save time when creating a keyword list that will work for you
  • The most overlooked steps in the keyword research process.
  • How long it will take to see the results of your keyword research & optimization.

Read the tweets below to gain some valuable insights and tips. And please share your thoughts in the comments below or via social. 


With the introduction of Google’s BERT update, should the process of keyword research be changed? If yes, how? If no, why?


It really comes down to understanding the KW research process and why you’re doing it – it’s about creating the right content, optimized for the right query intents – shouldn’t EVER be about targeting Google and not people.

Maddie Clark

You can’t optimize for BERT. It’s not a ranking algorithm like RankBrain, it’s a language processing algorithm. Just be sure to keep writing high-quality content that will reside with your audience. Keep KW research the same as whatever works for your SEO efforts.

Sam Harries

Depends on what you were doing before! If you were writing for a human audience before, you’re likely only being rewarded from BERT. If you’ve been writing in a contrived over-SEO’d fashion, you might be having issues. Write for people, not robots!

Marianne Sweeny

BERT is a natural language understanding framework where machines are now better able to understand conceptually what a webpage is about. So, tactics like Hx optimization, keyword placement are ineffective w/o topic support. Content strategy anyone?

Greg Gifford

If you’re still doing old-school SEO and targeting one keyword per page and not thinking about targeting concepts, then you need to change that for sure – and *maybe* that’s why you’re worried about BERT. But it’s still just regular SEO, y’all.

Steve Linney

it’s a further move towards high quality, readable content. Thinking more about what your readers actually want and speaking to them like a real person


Q2. What are your time-saving hacks for creating a keyword list for your website? 

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Alizée Baudez 🌟

Depending on the industry and product, try to explain what the business is selling to a 5 year-old, then to a teen, then to an adult, and then to an expert. You should get a global understanding of how people may refer to the business.

Greg Gifford

You have to be careful when asking the client for important keywords… Great example – car dealers love to say “pre-owned vehicles” cause it sounds nicer… but it’s got less than a tenth the search volume of “used cars” (how people actually search).

Ryan Jones

I wouldn’t use many time-saving hacks – unless it’s aggregating data to then manually go through. When you automate keyword research, you lose to the people who spent the time to do it more in-depth.

Steve Linney

Map it around: – your product
– key features
– questions around your product/service
– conversations with your product team, sales team and customer support. What are customer talking about to you already? For starters ツ

Don Dingee

Here’s our B2B approach:
– Set your content pillars with head terms and core topics.
– Punch those into SEMrush position tracking.
– Find the competitors.
– Mine their keywords using the sandbox, add the good ones.
– Iterate until happy.
– Step back and listen.

Sarah Marks

Ensure your keywords are mapped around your customer lifecycle, that way, personas, content strategy, and keyword research go hand-in-hand and no one is duplicating work…


Q3. What are the questions to ask yourself to while prioritizing your keyword list? 


Greg Gifford

Which keywords will actually convert? we’ve had great success skipping the top tier keywords with all the search volume. Going after lower-volume, longer-tail KWs bring more conversions on a shorter timeline.

Alizée Baudez 🌟

Are these keywords actually valued by the customer? Do they care?

Ben Austin

1️⃣ What are people searching for? 2️⃣ How many people are searching for it? 3️⃣ In what format do they want that information?


What words best describe what we offer our customers? How would a potential customer unaware of our industry and what we offer articulate their search.

Diana Richardson

– What keyword/query is my site the PERFECT solution/answer for?
– What keyword/query has the strongest intent from the customer related to the goal I’m wanting to achieve?
– What’s too broad? (those go to the bottom of the list)

Youness Bermime

Is this relevant long term? Are people actually looking for this? Am I actually offering this? Will this help get people in the funnel? What part of the funnel is this?

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Q4. In your opinion, what is the most overlooked step in the process of keyword research?


Greg Gifford

Tons of people forget to talk to the client too… all the KW research in the world won’t matter if you don’t really understand the business and its goals.

Alexis Katherine

Deciphering the user’s real need. Keywords are codes the audience uses to retrieve information. You have to know (1) what they’re really asking and (2) what type of content they really want.

Reva Minkoff

Do a sense check!! Just because it’s on the list, doesn’t mean it makes sense for the client.

Youness Bermime

The manual work for sure. I don’t wanna hate on SEO tools but they are getting so lazy! No one wants to get their hands dirty anymore.

Bernie Fussenegger #Digital360Chat

In my opinion, the most overlooked part of the keyword process is understanding your audience (who they are), what they would use to find your produce and using keywords that are relevant to them and your content.

Builder Designs 🏠

The most overlooked step is considering the humans! We get so caught up pleasing the computer and the algorithms we have to remember that actual people are behind the searches.


Q5. How much time does it take to see the results of your keyword research & optimization?


Youness Bermime

It depends*. What’s guaranteed is that you’ll see improvement if you’ve done you work the right way. *Results in SEO can never be guaranteed. Results depend on your niche, your site, your commitment, your investment, and Google’s web crawlers.

Paul Gregory

Depends on the competitiveness of your keywords and search landscape, but patience is a virtue!

David Rosam

String length of? Anything from days to months, according to a lot of variables 🙂 SEO is a long-term game, so be very grateful for any short-term wins.

Greg Gifford

Really, it depends on whether or not you’re targeting high volume/high competition terms or not. Those obviously take MUCH longer… but sometimes the long tail/low competition stuff can catch fire quickly…

Don Dingee

What’s a “result”? Impatience with SEO is one of the biggest failure modes with clients and agencies. Been in way too many meetings where teams mined analytics for some nugget of joy without considering KPIs or causality. Look for some rate of change on KPIs.

Have tips for targeting the right keywords? 

We would love your thoughts on the questions above. Please share in the comments below. We also want to thank everyone that participated in the chat. We will be looking for your expert insights this week, where we will be discussing pillar content creation; SEMrushchat starts at 11 am ET/4 pm BST on Wednesday, November 27th.

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