Some content raises your brand awareness. Some content brings you social media shares. Some content gets you traffic and leads. And some content earns you conversions.All of these factors work together to cultivate that synergy we are always aiming for. Since any one of these won’t make a huge difference to your efforts by themselves, it is important to have a balance of each. A solid content strategy can help you leverage said content whilst keeping each respective audience engaged.The first step to a successful content strategy is identifying the right keywords. Keywords are hugely influential, as they are your audience’s language and vocabulary. Gaining a rock-solid grasp on your audience’s vernacular is your primary objective when attempting to gain a loyal following. No one wants to followAs renowned copywriter Eugene Schwartz said, “There is your audience. There is the language. There are the words that they use.” In other words, by putting yourself in the shoes of your audience, and understanding the language they speak, you can then learn to communicate to them in a way that they find engaging. In turn, this will allow you to understand how they might specifically look for what you’re offering to them.Performing keyword research in 3 easy stepsIn this keyword research guide, I’ll run you through 3 simple steps to performing keyword research in a short period of time. We will also look at the difference between regular keywords and commercial intent keywords. This information will help you adjust your titles and content in order to get better results in no time.You should create a spreadsheet before we begin.Identifying the right root keywordsBefore starting your research, brainstorm a set of keywords. These are called root or seed keywords, and will direct the rest of your keyword research process.For this guide, lets pretend we are searching for keywords for a blog that reviews WordPress themes.It makes sense to search brand-wise as well as niche-wise. Let’s streamline our keyword research process and look for keywords that people in the market for a magazine theme may be searching for.You don’t have to worry about brainstorming this set of keywords, as you should be able to come up with these with little to no research. After all, you know these already, or should at least have a pretty good idea.Some words that naturally popup in my example are magazine WordPress theme, Responsive Magazine WordPress theme, Elegant Themes magazine theme, Themify magazine theme, Tesla magazine theme and so on (these are in relation to websites that offer different magazine themes).Once we have this initial keyword set, we are ready to move to the next step.Using search engine’s autocomplete suggestions to generate better root keywordsAt this point, most people commit the mistake of prematurely jumping into the Google Keyword Planner. This is relatively ineffective, as Google’s Keyword Planner won’t be able to offer us too many suggestions with such a small amount of root keywords. A better way to go about this is to come up with as many of these root keywords as possible, before moving onto Google’s Keyword Planner.Remember that it’s best to try and rank for as many keywords as possible. Looking at a keyword’s search volumes is a good place to start.Like a tradesman needs his tools to make the job easier, so does an SEO. There are some free and paid options for performing this intermediate keyword research, and I’m going to share 2 of my favourite (and most effective) tools here.UbersuggestYou might have noticed the search autocomplete suggestion feature while performing a Google search. Ubersuggest is an awesome keyword search tool that works alongside this Google feature to suggest keywords around your own root keywords.After this little exercise, we will have a nice set of keywords that we will later use for our competitive analysis.So let’s just pick a keyword from our list of root keywords and head on to Ubersuggest. For the purpose of this exercise, we will use “WordPress magazine theme” as our keyword.Ubersuggest lets you search in your preferred language. Also, you can choose to fetch results from the general web, images, news, shopping etc. You may want to do this for all of your root keywords.Depending upon the kind of blog that you are running, you can filter out Ubersuggest results. For our example, Ubersuggest has managed to generate almost 100 results. That’s a hell of a lot more than the 5 or so we were able to come up with! Don’t forget, that was only suggesting extended keywords for 1 of our original keywords.As you can see, Ubersuggest works by obtaining all of the auto complete suggestions from Google. Keep in mind; the suggestions that Google offers us are an accurate representation of what our audience is searching for (put yourself in your audiences’ shoes). Now we have a much deeper insight into what people will be looking for when they search for the content that we will be covering on our blog.At this point, you can paste any number of these keywords into your spreadsheet, depending on how relevant each search result appears to you.SoovleSoovle is another popular keyword research tool that works in the same manner as Ubersuggest, though on a much larger scale. Soovle lets you perform the same search over 6 search engines including Google, Bing, Wikipedia, Yahoo, etc.You can choose to drag and save the suggestions that are most relevant to you, compile your list, and then proceed to download it.Now that we have a huge set of keywords, we can move on to the Google Keyword Planner to perform our competitive researchPutting together the final keywords list with Google Keyword PlannerFor this last step, import the spreadsheet that we just created into the Google Keyword Planner.We are now going to gauge the value of the keywords based on their average monthly searches and the competition around them.Once we have the results, we will export them into our spreadsheet.The (somewhat) misleading competition parameterA quick note about competition – The competition parameter only shows how many advertisers are willing to spend money to show their ads when a particular keyword is searched. This value has nothing to do with the search competition, as a lot of our competition will be blogs that are optimizing their content for that keyword (organically).The competition parameter will only help us to understand the general value of a keyword.Ideally, you want to be looking for something that has high ‘Avg. monthly searches’ and low ‘Competition’. But remember that this is more relevant for PPC campaigns.When it comes to writing content, you can utilise keywords with both high competition and high search volume, as these keywords are typically going to be quite valuable. I’ll show you why.A little about keyword intentA keyword like “free WordPress magazine theme” will have a high search volume, but it will never attract advertisements due to the nature of the search. Think about it logically; if you are scouring the web for a free toothbrush, are you likely to click on an ad that offers $3.95 toothpaste? Unlikely.But you can definitely cover a post that gives a roundup of the best free WordPress magazine themes. There is no doubt that this will generate traffic for you.A keyword like “best WordPress magazine theme” however, will have a queue of advertisers willing to spend money. This is logical, as someone who is looking for the best WordPress magazine theme is probably comparing products to make a buying decision.I won’t comment on which traffic numbers are good or bad, as you can see that they are highly subjective depending on the market. But you are probably the best judge when it comes to the competition in your own niche.What to do next?Now that you have a set of keywords with traffic and competition stats, it’s time to sort them out.You will find several repeated keywords, as well as keyword suggestions that just aren’t relevant. Anything that is incorrect or unwanted can be removed. But at the end of this step, you will be left with a list that shows keywords in a logical order.You are now ready to pick content ideas and share your stories with the world!I’d love to hear some tips and tricks that you use for your keyword research. Please be sure to leave a comment.