Read on for links to everything The Content Technologist has ever published about keyword research.

Keywords are trending up post-2022, believe it or not

Ah, the mighty keyword! It’s at the core of search engine optimization, the word or phrase that users type into search bars to populate a hundred websites, all vying for the number one position. It’s the recipient of a lot of hatred from digitally native writers, forced to put aside their originality and brilliant ideas to write “SEO content” to placate the masses and get found online. 

But somehow, amid all the hate, amid new developments in artificial intelligence and generative search, the keyword is trending up again, more popular than it’s been in a decade. 

Google Trends graph for the word "keyword," worldwide, depicting a roller-coaster graph that trends upward after 2022.
Google Trends graph for the word "keyword," worldwide, depicting a roller-coaster graph

Why is the keyword suddenly cool again? I'd wager that newfound popularity has something to do with the rise of Large Language Models (LLMs) and their semantic analysis techniques, but I haven't done the research on that. What I have researched is the semantic analysis techniques themselves. I've implemented solutions with natural language processing in mind, and I know how critical keyword research is to content success.

If you want to know more about my research methods and analysis techniques, check out my new course, More than (key)Words: Audience research for brilliant business-building content.

To learn previously unpublished details about research process and theory for building better content, take our new audience research course.

But if you want to read more about where keyword data comes from, expert SEO content strategies for choosing keywords, and a good bit of storytelling from the past five years, read on.

As an experienced SEO and content strategist who has executed keyword research for clients in more than 40 industries, I've dived deep into results for startups, cultural institutions, and Fortune 500 companies alike. Most advice available about keyword research online is patchy or rudimentary, and very little of it is written with content quality and editorial processes in mind.

But! There are bright spots! This guide compiles everything The Content Technologist has published about keyword research, as well as other online resources I stand behind.

The Content Technologist on search query research

As a consultant, I've been working with keyword research since 2013, when Google introduced natural language processing (NLP) to its organic search algorithms. In The Content Technologist newsletter, I've been writing about keyword research since 2019. Here's where I've nerded out directly in the newsletter:

How do keyword research tools generate their data?
How do Google’s keyword planner and other keyword research tools generate their data? Here’s what I’ve learned in the past decade of SEO research.
How to Choose the Right Keywords | The Content Technologist
Half a career later, I can look back and clearly see in my first job the mingling of physical and digital, of old publishing and new formats colliding.
Language processing formulas | The Content Technologist
Language processing formulas break complex text down into component parts and assign meaning, identifying the statistical likelihood that one word or another will occur in relation to another.
How do we understand digital censorship? | The Content Technologist
How to people Google whether Google censors them? Read some research and data viz about folk theories of algorithms.

Keyword research illuminates how audiences think about the content they can find online. It helps website publishers and content marketers see things from our audience's point of view, at scale.

What is Google even thinking? How does Google see keywords?

What Google does, every other search and AI company follows. Big G is a constant spectre in keyword research and search engine optimization (SEO). Most keyword research, when used properly, can apply to any system that uses natural language processing (NLP), but Google's the leader, so we look tothem first.

We've published a lot about Google, as well as the and the role of search in content discovery in the newsletter.

Google MUM & the ideal SERP | The Content Technologist
What if you could have more control over the results of what an algorithm serves up for you? What does the ideal result look like?
SEO for 2020: BERT, NLP & Creators | The Content Technologist
BERT supposedly affects up to 10% of all search queries. It may have affected legacy news websites quite a bit. If you have a large content-driven website, you may have seen a change. Read more about how changes from BERT may affect your website and content business.
Why is everyone looking for a Google killer?
Many platforms are now used for online searches in place of Google, including AI and social media. But is Google actually going to die?
What’s Google’s Helpful Content update? | The Content Technologist
Here are ten clear steps to ensure the content on your website is considered helpful by algorithms and humans.
How SEO makes content better | The Content Technologist
SEO brings more audience feedback into content production -- and that’s a good thing. Here’s why I still believe that SEO improves content.

Using keyword data in a research-based content strategy

It's not just finding the data. It's all about how you use it to make content better. At The Content Technologist, we're all about keyword research insights that involve empathizing with our audience by understanding the language they use. Language and brand fit matter far more than the numbers or competition.

Here are some posts that emphasize how we recommend using keyword research data, not just the metrics themselves.

What is entity optimization in SEO content? | The Content Technologist
In SEO, entities are the “topic clouds” or holistic concepts that surround a keyword. Entity optimization is both extremely simple and maddeningly complex. Learn about entity optimization.
Why not be weird in marketing?
Weird insights can inspire new, successful marketing moves. Explore the process with research about data streams as well as the human context.

By looking at your data from more than the quantification angle, you can really get creative.

Bad reviews can help you
Bad reviews often contain the keys for improving your product or content. You just have to know what patterns to look for and strategize for success.

Reviews, good and bad, are a massive source of audience intelligence.

A content intelligence conundrum | The Content Technologist
These search results taste stale. TL;DR you can’t optimize content without human originality.
How to ditch tactic-level SEO and create an audience acquisition strategy
Shift your mindset from SEO tactics to organically acquiring an audience on digital channels.
Using audience and algorithmic data to build content pillars
Content pillars make incorporating audience data manageable for long-term organic growth. Read on for how and where to find that data.

Learn advanced keyword research strategy

Want to learn The Content Technologist approach to keyword research, step by step? Check out our new keyword research course, where we'll distill our thoughts about keyword research into easily executable steps.

Evaluating keyword research SaaS toolkits

The Content Technologist published regular reviews of content strategy software from 2019 until 2022. Although reviews are not currently part of our content strategy, our library of keyword research tool reviews can shine light on what's out there.

Mangools review | The Content Technologist
Mangools is an inexpensive but robust keyword and SEO research tool. Read The Content Technologist review.
Clearscope SEO software review | The Content Technologist
Clearscope enables SEO-focused content creators to understand the exact words and phrases that Google uses to build its entities. Read The Content Technologist’s review of Clearscope.
SEMRush review | The Content Technologist
SEMRush is a popular low-cost SEO software that gathers ranking, link and keyword data. Read The Content Technologist review.
Content intelligence software reviewed | The Content Technologist
A review of content intelligence software MarketMuse, compared with similar software Ceralytics and ClearScope.
Answer the Public review | The Content Technologist
Answer the Public is a freemium content research tool that generates Google’s auto-complete terms. Discover the added context it can provide.
Frase review | The Content Technologist
Frase is attracting attention as the newest content intelligence tool on the market. Read The Content Technologist review.
Audience research for the 2020s: SparkToro review
SparkToro is an audience research tool for the era of creators, influencers and podcasts. Read the Content Technologist review.

High-quality resources about keyword research from around the web

As an experienced SEO and content strategist, I'll be real: Most advice available about keyword research online is patchy or rudimentary; far too focused on metrics than content; and rarely written with content quality and editorial processes in mind.

But! Here are a few resources I really like, explicating in-depth techniques and brilliant best practices, from experts across the web:

Keyword Research [Beginner’s Guide to SEO]
Our approach targets users first because that’s what search engines reward. This chapter covers keyword research and other methods to determine what your audience is seeking.

Absolutely the best beginner's guide to keyword research.

Keyword Research for SEO: The Definitive Guide + Template
The most thorough guide to keyword research online. Find untapped, high-volume keywords that your customers search for in this expert-written guide.

Backlinko's section about ideation is one of my favorites.

How to use keyword research for news publishers
In issue 02 of WTF is SEO, Shelby walks us through the best ways to use search and SEO for research, particularly for finding new story ideas.

News SEO works a bit differently from evergreen content SEO. Get more insight into how newsrooms use search data to inform their content.

Long-Tail Keyword Strategy: Why & How to Target Intent for SEO
Learn the benefits of highly targeted search terms packed with intent. Here’s how to find long-tail keywords and use them to your advantage.

Search Engine Journal created some brilliant graphs about long-tail keyword strategy.

Keyword research will remain a critical component of digital content development throughout the 2020s. Elevate your research and analysis skills today!