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  • Writer's pictureRhiannon Harradine

How to Find Keywords for SEO

Updated: 4 days ago

When carrying out SEO (search engine optimisation) on your small business website, it is important to know which keywords (also known as search terms) you are going to target. Keyword research forms the foundation of your small business SEO strategy, and getting this right means you can optimise your website content for keywords that are relevant and realistic. This guide shows you how to find keywords for SEO, including which free tools you can use and what you should look for when deciding on your focus keywords.

This article was originally published in November 2022. Last updated May 2024.

Why is Keyword Research Important for SEO?

Whilst you can use common sense to decide which keywords to target, you won't have the data to help you make an informed to decision on whether and where to target a keyword. Furthermore, using a tool can help you to uncover keywords you hadn't thought of before. Ultimately, getting this bit right can help you to achieve better rankings, more traffic and more sales faster than if you just guess.

You can learn more about the importance of keyword research for SEO with my other guide for small business owners.

How to Find Keywords for SEO

Finding keywords for your small business SEO campaign can seem a little bewildering to begin with. There are so many free or paid keyword research tools out there, and millions of keywords to choose from! This starter guide for small business owners covers the following:

Free Keyword Research Tools for SEO

When carrying out your SEO keyword research, it is always a good idea to use an online SEO tool. Some of these are free, whilst others are paid. Below is a list of some free keyword research tools that can help you get started:

Simply choose a tool, enter a broad keyword that's relevant to your business, and the tool will generate keyword ideas for you. These free tools are absolutely fine if you are just starting out and want a straightforward keyword research tool. However, they do not always provide data such as search volume of keyword difficulty (some do) and they may struggle with very niche subject areas. However, it's absolutely worth giving them a try.

Paid tools, such as SE Ranking or Semrush give much more accurate data (and more of it), but they can be expensive and much more complicated to use. I have used both in the past, and currently use SE Ranking for my own SEO.

Some tools (mainly the free ones) don't allow you to store your keyword research, so you may want to create a spreadsheet where you record your keywords and any relevant data.

Where to Begin With Your Keyword Research

Start by making a note of your main products and services. Think about what your business is and what it does. For example, a riding school could start with words such as: “riding school”, “riding lessons”, “dressage lessons”, etc. You can then type these words into your keyword research tool in order to get data and other relevant keyword suggestions. For example, typing in “riding lessons” may then lead the tool to suggest “beginners horse riding lessons” or "how old do you have to be to have riding lessons".

If you are carrying out SEO for the first time, stick to the obvious and easier / less competitive keywords. Don’t overwhelm yourself by gathering too many keywords. The next sections outline how to work out which keywords to focus on, and which ones to leave for later or get rid of altogether.

Search Volume: Do I Need High or Low Search Volume Keywords?

Many people assume that they need to target high search volume keywords straight away, because they think using higher search volume keywords means more people will find their website. However, this is not always an effective SEO strategy for small businesses to start with. High search volume keywords tend to be more generic and more competitive. Lots of people are searching for them, so lots of websites are competing to rank for them. Trying to optimise your website for high search volume keywords from the get-go can mean you make less progress than if you target lower search volume, less competitive keywords and gradually build up. Some keyword research tools will give you data on search volumes and / or keyword difficulty.

For example, “horse riding boots” has a search volume of around 6,600 per month, whilst “short horse riding boots” has a search volume of 260 per month (SE Ranking, October 2022). In this case, it would probably be easier to begin by targeting “short horse riding boots” before thinking about “horse riding boots” generally.

Of course, by targeting “short horse riding boots” in your SEO plan, you will be helping to optimise your website for “horse riding boots” as well, because the latter phrase is included in the former. However, whilst you could get your website to rank in the top 10 for “short horse riding boots” in around six months, this will take much longer for “horse riding boots”.

Once you have started to rank for those easier keywords, you can start working on the more difficult ones.

how to find keywords for seo
Finding keywords to target as part of your SEO campaign is key to getting your website found online for free.

SEO is Like Dressage - Yes, Really

Little horsey analogy for you: Think of your SEO strategy as being a little like training a dressage horse. You wouldn’t get a horse doing piaffe, passage and pirouettes before you have established a steady, balanced, trot and canter. Whilst I’m no expert, I imagine that doing this is likely to result in an unbalanced horse with a fried brain. It won’t get you to Grand Prix any faster than if you were to bring the horse through the levels slowly, getting the basics right before trying the more advanced movements.

Consider Where Your Keywords Will Go

Another important aspect of choosing your focus keywords is which page(s) you will use to target each keyword. I will take an equestrian retailer as an example. Keywords that describe the products would be best targeted using the individual product pages or category pages, depending on how specific the keyword is. If the retailer has a physical shop that customers can visit, they could target a location-based keyword (e.g. "equestrian shop hampshire" or "tack shop hampshire") on the Home page. Questions-based keywords such as "what is a saddle pad used for" or "how to measure a horse for a rug" might work better as blog articles.

Keyword Research Support For Small Businesses

Since 2020, I have helped many small businesses find and target the right keywords. Keyword research forms the foundation of a successful SEO strategy, and many of my content coaching and self-study courses cover keyword research.

Why not take the guesswork out of your keyword research and get your small business SEO off to the best possible start with Purple Horse Marketing?

1:1 Power Hours | £99* per hour

Nail your keyword research with my power hours! Held via Zoom, these super-focused SEO coaching sessions are there to point you in the right direction so you can take action with confidence. If you're stuck with your keyword research or you just want bespoke professional support with curating your target keyword list, my 1:1 Power Hours are perfect for you.

Bookable online, or you can DM me on Instagram @purplehorsemarketing or drop me an email at Discover my Power Hours and book online today.

SEO Audits | £250 each*

If you are about to embark on an SEO campaign, you want to understand where you are now, and how to get to where you want to be! This one-off package gives you detailed insights into your website's current rankings and technical issues, as well as a bespoke report and actionable recommendations for how to transform your website into a visible marketing channel that works for your business. Plus, you'll get a free 1:1 Power Hour included with this package! As part of the bespoke recommendations included with this SEO audit, I can provide you with a list of keyword ideas to help you get started.

Bookable online, or you can DM me on Instagram @purplehorsemarketing or drop me an email at - tell me where you want to go and I'll suggest how I can help you get there! Discover my SEO Audits and book online today.

Self-Study Online Course: Blogging for Small Business | £47* for Lifetime Access

Are you looking for a super-affordable, self-paced way to improve your website SEO and content? My online self-study course is for you!

This course covers everything you need to start generating more online visibility and organic search engine traffic for your small business. From choosing what to blog about, to planning, writing and optimising your blog articles, this course takes you through all the steps needed to write your first blog article for your small business website. Plus, you get lifetime access to this course, including any updates, new content and bonus materials!

Visit to take the first steps towards better visibility, more organic traffic and sustainable online sales today.

*Prices are correct May 2024. Please visit the relevant service pages for up-to-date pricing.


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