Why conducting thorough keyword research is important for more and more businesses? And how to make it happen with industry-leading software and keyword research experts? In this article, Mikko Rindell walks you through modern keyword research service options. 

Nowadays, almost every business has a website to attract potential new customers. However, a website with no website visitors serves no purpose. Companies are constantly looking for new ways to drive potential customers to their websites.

One of the most important sources of website traffic is organic traffic. According to marketing research, the average percentage of website visitors that come through organic search is 53%. Most businesses consider it one of their most lucrative sources of attracting new potential customers. No wonder it is a top priority for marketers globally.

As a business or website owner, you should always ensure that your website traffic is growing. Investing in organic traffic growth is one of the best bets to grow your website traffic over time sustainably.

Yet, attracting organic traffic to your website does not happen overnight. You need a long-term strategy that requires time, expertise, and research. Most companies do not have the patience, resources, or expertise to work on a search engine optimization strategy, and it can be challenging to know where to start.

If you want to build a good organic presence online to get traffic to your website, you first need to know which keywords your potential customers use when researching online. Knowing which keywords they use can only be discovered by doing keyword research. In other words, attracting organic traffic to your website starts with keyword research.

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is a process where you discover and analyze which search queries could have a potentially positive impact on your website’s traffic. Not just in terms of getting more visitors but also in getting visitors relevant to your business. Keyword research provides insight into how many times a certain word or phrase has been searched for over a specific time.

You might be interested in reading: How we helped our client Novitek to grow their organic traffic with over 1500 visitors per month. The cooperation started with keyword research

Why is keyword research important?

Keyword research is extremely important because it enables you to position your business in front of potential customers that use certain search queries in search engines online. Of course, you still need to write optimized content or create ads to be able to rank for those search queries as well. But your keyword research is at the foundation of it all.

An example of why keyword research is important:

Imagine you are in roof construction, and keyword research shows that your potential customers are often googling for ways to repair the roof of their house after a leak. You could now start thinking of creating a search ad that targets the relevant keywords or writing a search engine-optimized article that shows them how they can find the leak and possibly repair it themselves. Writing an optimized article is a way for the searchers to find your website and build trust simultaneously, as you have provided them with help for free. Chances are high that the website visitors will look into your services as a result. Targeting the right keywords brought relevant visitors to your website and might even have converted them into new customers.

What does a keyword research service do?

A keyword research service helps you do the keyword research or does it completely for you, depending on your chosen service. Either they provide you with the tools to do the keyword research yourself, or they manage the whole process from analyzing relevant keyword data to documenting an actionable keyword plan to move forward with.

Knowing which keywords to target after keyword research is a good foundation. Yet, to start generating organic traffic, you will also need to create and execute an actionable, data-driven content marketing plan that fits your organization and its resources.

What are keyword research services used for?

Keyword research services are used for many things, but typically they are used by marketers for two main purposes:

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Keyword research is the building block for effective SEO on websites. Keyword research allows you to tailor your website’s content to what people are searching for. The algorithms of search engines will organically show what they think is most valuable to the searching audiences. How to write content that is search engine optimized based on keyword research is a whole topic by itself.

Search engine marketing (SEM) or Search Engine Advertising (SEA)

Keyword research is used to enable effective search engine marketing. Put simply, SEM or SEA is paid advertising that appears on search engine results. If you have ever done search engine marketing like Google Search Campaigns, you probably needed to do some (at least light-weight) keyword research because you wanted your ads to appear only for relevant search queries. Otherwise, you would spend money on advertising for search queries that are not relevant to your business.

How effective keyword research services work

Keyword research service providers are specialized and require much less time to do keyword research compared to those with little experience in this area. As a result, they can often offer their services at affordable rates.

Effective keyword research services typically run through a process that includes several steps.

1. Get an understanding of your business

The first thing service providers should be doing is getting a better understanding of your business. They can only look for the right keywords once they understand your business’s nature and your offerings. This way, they can identify which keywords could be relevant throughout the actual keyword researching phase.

2. Setting the goal

From the start, the goal of the project should be established. The service provider should have clarity on the type of website traffic you want to attract, and they should also be able to advise you on this if you are unsure.

Different types of relevant keywords depend on the marketing funnel stage your searchers are in. For instance, going back to the roof construction business, awareness-type content could focus on the top-of-the-funnel traffic for search topics such as ‘what to do with a leaking roof.’ For this, you can write an article explaining how to find the leak, what to do when you have found it, and the different ways to fix it. Keywords more down the funnel usually have higher buying intent so that they could be searches like “best roof construction companies.” A piece of content that could rank high here is an article about the ten best roof construction companies.

When I worked as a marketing director for chatbot provider GetJenny, (already acquired by LeadDesk), we created an article that targeted the keywords “chatbot use cases.” Soon after, the article became a cornerstone content piece for organic traffic, and it started ranking for several other chatbot-related keywords additionally”

A good SEO strategy combines keywords for different marketing funnel stages to guide prospects down the funnel toward the purchase decision stage. What type of keywords you include in your research highly depends on the scope of the keyword research project, the goals you want to achieve, and what your service provider discovers to be of value during the research process.

3. Keyword exploration

After the scope has been defined and the nature of the business is understood, service providers start exploring the different keywords that your company’s website could rank for. The useful keywords are saved in a spreadsheet, for example, as well as their respective search volumes, keyword difficulty (how hard it is to rank for this keyword), keyword variations, related keywords, and questions related to the keyword. Some agencies might leave some of this information out, as it is not relevant in all cases.

Competitive analysis

Not every keyword research service explores competitors’ keywords, but it can be a good way to avoid missing out on keywords that are beneficial to your business. Several tools allow you to explore the organic traffic of competing websites. With tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, and keywordtool.io, you can identify which keywords are valuable to your competitors, how well they rank for them, and how much organic traffic they bring in. Ultimately, you want to outrank your competitors for those valuable keywords with your content.

4. Keyword categorization

While doing keyword exploration, you normally find a wide variety of keywords. They can be related to each other or be completely different topics. To make sense of the identified keywords, they are often categorized based on business unit, topic, solution, or product. Thanks to categorization, you can then identify pillar and cluster content, a foundation for an SEO best practice that many successful companies use to structure their website’s main content and subtopics.

5. Keyword prioritization

Most keyword research services will discover many potential areas where you can improve your SEO. The next step after categorization should be to prioritize the keywords most beneficial to your company. Either you do this with the service provider, or they come up with some recommendations for you. During the prioritization process, keyword funnel stages, buying intent, keyword difficulty, and traffic volume are things to consider.

6. Content Strategy

The last step is to develop your content or advertising strategy. How will you go about creating content or ads that are optimized for search engines? Who will execute it? And which keywords do you start targeting first? Will you use organic SEO content, or do you start targeting these keywords with paid search advertising? These are questions that your service provider may be able to help you with. Remember that after your keyword research analysis, you still need to develop an actionable content marketing plan that needs to be executed to grow organic traffic to your website.

How long does it take to do keyword research?

How long it takes to do keyword research depends on the scope of the project, as well as on the nature of the company. A wide range of keywords could be relevant for companies with many offerings. Including all the keywords may not be feasible when developing an SEO or SEM/SEA strategy with limited resources. Sometimes it is good to look at the core business first to identify keywords that have potential.

Another aspect to consider is which marketing funnel stages you want to create content. If you want keywords for all stages, it will also increase the amount of work that goes into the keyword research.

How do you know whether a keyword is good or profitable?

Whether a keyword is good for your business is usually recognized by keyword research service providers. They use analytical tools that show how different keywords perform. The most important thing is that your target keywords are somehow relevant to your business and have some traffic volume. If there are no existing search queries related to your keywords, you spend valuable resources on creating content or ads for something that no one is looking for.

There can also be highly competitive keywords depending on the nature of your business. In other words, many other websites have created content or ads for the keywords you wanted to target, decreasing the likelihood of outranking them because the keywords are extremely competitive. In this case, it can be wise to prioritize looking for keywords that are not as competitive yet highly relevant to your business. A keyword research service provider can usually help you find such keywords.

The profitability of keywords varies. It is highly dependent on the intentions of each person searching through the search engine. Still, some keywords have more buying intent than others, increasing the likelihood of someone converting on your website. The conversion likelihood, and thus profitability, is also influenced by many other factors, such as the design of your website, your brand, trustworthiness, etc.

The different types of keyword research services and tools

There are several types of keyword research services that you can consider for help. They consist of:

1. Specialized marketing agencies (keyword research agencies)

A common choice for companies is to hire a specialized agency to do most of the work. There are quite many agencies out there, some better than others. Expensive agencies do not necessarily stand for high quality. Make sure to research, read reviews about the agency, and scrutinize how they work. If you are planning on creating the content or ads yourself, remember that you need the data in an actionable format that is easy to understand and execute.

2. Software providers

Plenty of software providers give you access to the tools to do keyword research yourself. Most commonly used are the paid tools Semrush, Keywoordtool.io, and Ahrefs. However, if your company does not have the resources or knowledge to do keyword research, it can become a time-consuming project. If you still decide to do keyword research with the help of a tool but without any previous experience, it is good to verify the outcome with a reputable specialist. You want to avoid creating a strategy based on unreliable keyword research.

3. Freelancers

Freelancers can be a good choice for keyword research projects. They can be highly skilled and have a good reputation. There is an abundance of freelancers on platforms like Fiverr and Upwork. However, it is very hard to identify which freelancers are fully capable of doing keyword research projects. Do not fall for the cheap rates and impressive resumes that some freelancers use when they apply to open job ads on these platforms. Instead, look for freelancers with a good reputation. They are typically very high in demand but can also charge high rates.

Top-6 best keyword research services

Here are the top six best keyword research services to consider.

1. Balanced Growth Boutique – Yes, this is us! 😀

Balanced Growth Boutique offers a keyword research and analysis service to help you plan effective content marketing and digital advertising. They help all types of companies and roles properly document structured keyword research. Besides specializing in keyword research, we also offer other digital marketing services closely linked to keyword research like on-page optimization, search engine advertising, and LinkedIn advertising.

2. Upwork

Upwork is a platform where you can find a large number of freelancers that can help you with keyword research. You only have to create an account, post a job, and start looking for freelancers. If you opt for a freelance service, be selective in whom you choose before offering them work.

3. Fiverr

Fiverr is a similar platform to Upwork, where you can hire freelancers. The main difference is that Upwork is usually long-term relationship oriented, whereas Fiverr is typically for one-time freelance jobs.

4. Moz

Moz is a well-known keyword research tool provider that has free SEO tools that you can use to explore keywords and competitive domains. They also offer great resources on keyword research and SEO. Since Moz only provides you with keyword research tools, the research itself is still up to you.

5. Semrush

Semrush is another keyword tool provider that is highly specialized in Google searches. Semrush gives you the full toolkit to do keyword research but does not offer the actual research process as a service.

6. Ahrefs

Ahrefs’ service includes an SEO tool comparable to Semrush, but it also focuses on other search engines besides Google. Though Google is the most used search engine in the world, some companies like to see their impact on search engines such as Bing or Amazon. Ahrefs provides the tools but not the keyword research service.

The costs of keyword research services

The price of keyword research services highly depends on the project’s scope. Using tools like Semrush, Moz or Ahrefs starts at 99 dollars a month and can become increasingly expensive depending on your needed functionalities. Nevertheless, they exclude the cost of time and resources for doing the keyword research. Agencies that do everything for you typically offer different pricing models such as fixed projects, hourly, and monthly recurring prices.

Selecting the right keyword research service

Selecting the right keyword research service highly depends on your needs. If you have the time and resources and want to learn how to do keyword research yourself, you can use tools like Semrush, Moz, or Ahrefs. On the other hand, if you want a specialist to do the work for you at a competitive price, we suggest using an agency like Balanced Growth Boutique or a freelancer from platforms like Fiverr and Upwork. Whether you hire a freelancer or do it yourself, ensure that the results are reliable before you base your entire content and advertising strategy on them.


Keyword research is a stategic part of your search engine marketing. Keyword research services consist of both reliable keyword research software and know-how provided by your keyword research service partner.


Mikko Rindell