Keywords are part of the central elements in search engine optimization or SEO. Google, Yahoo, Bing, and the like will have a much easier time finding an article relevant to their users’ searches if it has the right keywords. The key then is finding out the right ones to use in order to stand out amidst the competition.

Here are five simple strategies beginners can employ when doing keyword research.

Create a list from your niche.

Keyword research starts with understanding what industry your website serves. Of course, you don’t want to use broad search terms because you’ll only end up competing (and losing) against high authority websites.

So you need to think of a specific part of the industry you’re catering to and narrow your list down to that, considering all possible variations of the keywords.

Consider searchers’ intent.

People use broad and/or specific keywords for different reasons. People who search with broad ones typically just want to get a general idea for their search. When they want to know more, they start refining their searches.

Very specific searches usually mean they have decided to take some form of action. Use the keywords on your website accordingly—homepage for broader terms, product page for more specific terms.

Take advantage of tools.

Google AdWords Keyword is the most popular tool for this kind of research. The good thing is that it’s totally free.

Simply type in the keywords you’ve come up with in your list and see how many times they’re used.  It also lists down ideas for other possible terms. You can also use Google Analytics with Google’s Webmaster Tools to find out how much traffic these terms drive to your website.

Look into your competition.

Knowing how well your competitors are doing is one way to improve your SEO strategy by adjusting to their strengths and weaknesses. Type in the keywords you wish to use in search engines and see where your competitors rank. AdWords’ Keyword Tools also helps in this area as it shows how much competition there is for certain terms.

Keep an eye on trends.

Just because you’ve found success on your current research doesn’t mean you’ll be sticking to them forever. Keyword popularity rises and falls throughout time, and new keywords pop up all the time. Use Google Trends  to see how search queries fare, and take a look at what’s trending on social media sites.

Keyword research relies on tracking the pulse of your audience. It’s inevitable that their needs and wants change over time, so you also have to understand that successful keyword research equates to constant research.