Your Keyword Compass: The Complete Guide to Finding Target Keywords

13 Feb 2024


Okay, is everyone ready for the target keyword scavenger hunt? Make sure you have your map, your compass, a magnifying glass, some trail markers…

Don’t worry— finding target keywords isn’t actually a scavenger hunt that requires a map and compass. But you can think of target keywords as the true North on a compass, pointing you in the direction of high search engine rankings. Or, from a user’s perspective, you can think of target keywords like guiding stars, directing them directly to your site and content.

However, from a marketer’s perspective, you can think of target keywords as a crucial component of your campaign plan. Since every click counts and every search query holds potential, the importance of keyword research, selection, and tracking cannot be overstated.

But how do you actually identify target keywords? This guide will help you determine which keywords are best to rank for and understand which keywords are easiest to rank for in your content plan. You’ll also gain insight into two popular tools for tracking your keywords: Moz and Semrush.

Keyword Research and Brainstorming

Before diving into keyword research, it’s best to first lay a solid foundation. This preliminary phase is crucial for aligning your keyword strategy with your overarching campaign goals and understanding the area of the internet you’ll be working in.


Define your campaign goals

We suggest starting with clearly identifying the goals of your campaign, as this will serve as an overarching guide to the rest of your keyword and campaign marketing efforts.

If you need help defining your campaign goals and objectives, consider the following graphic:

Graphic created by C. Bechteler 

By clearly outlining your objectives, you can tailor your keyword strategy to support these goals effectively.

Identify your target audience

Your target audience plays a paramount role in your target keyword selection. Who is your campaign trying to reach? Assess audience demographics like age, location, and even their income level. Explore their interests, preferences, and online behavior. These insights will help you choose keywords that resonate with your audience and align with their search intent.

Brainstorm general keywords to rank for

Now that you have a clear understanding of your campaign goals and target audience, it’s time to brainstorm general keywords that align with your objectives. These keywords should encapsulate the core themes and topics related to your marketing campaign and business or industry. Consider both the products or services you offer, as well as any specific terms or phrases that your audience may use when searching for information related to your niche.

Identify and assess key competitors

Although the word “competitor” might leave a bad taste in your mouth, knowing who your main competitors are can actually help facilitate your keyword research. For each of your top competitors, find out which keywords they have high rankings for. This will help you gain contextual competitive insight that you can use to:

Graphic created by C. Bechteler 

Keyword Vocabulary

Before we get into researching target keywords, we want to take a moment to review four types of keywords that you’ll (directly or indirectly) encounter during your research.

Short-Tail vs Long-Tail Keywords

Graphic created by C. Bechteler 

Informational vs Transactional Keywords

Graphic created by C. Bechteler 


Explore the web

We suggest kicking off your research by doing some initial googling to get a feel for the topics and types of content that people are looking at in your marketing campaign’s associated space. Look up the keywords and search terms that you came up with during your brainstorming, look at your competitor’s content, and just surf around the web to see what you find.

Use tools to identify keywords

Since keywords are such a, well, key to marketing, it’s no surprise that there are several different tools that can help you identify possible target keywords. Google Keywords and Google Trends are two popular tools that you can use for free.

Alternatively, two powerful tools that you have to pay to use are Moz and Semrush. We’ll go over these tools in more detail further down in this guide, but they both include features that allow you to see what keywords your competitors’ are ranking for, and also review statistics about the keywords you previously brainstormed.

Keyword Analysis and Selection

The truth is, there’s no one type of keyword that you should focus on in your marketing campaign. Instead, it’s best to choose a range of keywords. The following graphics help demonstrate how this mix of keywords will help you create a strong campaign.

Graphic created by C. Bechteler 

Tracking Keywords

Finding your target keywords is just as important as the ongoing process of tracking and monitoring them. This process enables you to gauge your ranking progress, measure your performance against competitors, identify opportunities for campaign optimization, and make informed decisions to adapt your strategy accordingly.

Keyword Tracking Metrics

Every business is different, and so everyone will have their own opinions on which metrics you should pay attention to when tracking your keywords. However, the following list should provide you with a strong foundation and a good starting point:

  • Your local and national ranking position

This metric shows where your website ranks in local and national search engine results for your target keywords. Tracking your ranking position over time helps you assess your visibility and monitor changes in your SEO performance.

  • The search volume of your keywords

This metric yields insights into the popularity and potential reach of your target keywords. Remember, high search volume keywords may attract more traffic, but they also tend to face higher ranking competition, whereas low search volume keywords attract less traffic, but offer are easier to rank for.

  • Share of voice (SOV)

Share of voice, or SOV, refers to the proportion of impressions your website or content receives in search engine results pages (SERPs) for selected keywords compared to the total number of impressions generated by all of your competitors targeting the same keywords. The SOV metric provides insights into your brand’s overall visibility, authority, and digital market share of your chosen keywords.

Keyword Tracking Tools

We recommend using a tool to help you streamline the process of tracking and monitoring your target keywords. Two popular options that are popular with marketers are Moz and Semrush, although one might better suit your circumstances than the other. You can use our chart below to identify which tool best fits your needs:

Graphic created by C. Bechteler 

Find and Track Keywords with The Writers For Hire

You now have the keys to the castle! With this guide in hand, you can jump into finding and tracking keywords to ensure your marketing campaign is nothing short of a success.

Of course, there’s nothing like starting a new campaign with some friendly support and writing services from a trusted content agency. Our team at The Writers For Hire is keyed up and ready to help you conduct target keyword research, identify and track the right keywords, and develop an SEO content strategy that delivers the results you were hoping for.


Coralee Bechteler 
In the past, Coralee has been an organic farmer, a chicken herder, a zipline administrative assistant, and an ESL teacher for kids. Today, she's living her childhood dream of being a writer. She currently resides in New York with her cat (and muse) Hermes and a miles-long TBR list that gets longer every day. If she's not reading or crafting, you can usually find her pulled over on a country road writing something down or picking wildflowers. Coralee holds a bachelor's degree in English, an associate's degree in Horticulture, and multiple internationally recognized software testing certifications.

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