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How to Find the Right Keywords for SEO for Your POD Business

September 24, 2021

Keywords will make or break your search page ranking. Knowing how to find the right keywords for SEO is crucial to being seen on the Internet. We’ve already gone over the basics of keywords, now it’s time to dive into keyword research.

Keywords research written in blue with a red arrow pointing up surrounded by hands holding pens

Why You Need to do Keyword Research

You might be wondering why we’re making a separate post about keyword research. Why not add it to the other keyword article? That’s because keyword research is a surprisingly lengthy process and it didn’t seem right to gloss over it in our other post.

Keyword research doesn’t have to be difficult, but it requires time and effort. Be aware there will be a lot of trial and error. Researching keywords not only helps you rank higher on search pages, but also helps you figure out what your customers are looking for.

You can stand out from the crowd and meet your customers’ needs at the same time.

What You Need to Know Before Researching

There are a couple of terms you should know about before you start your research. You should also be aware of the different kinds of searches people perform to see where you fit in.

Understanding Search Volume

Search volume is how often a keyword or phrase is being searched for. The higher the search volume, the more difficult it is to rank for. This can also be referred to as keyword difficulty.

Big companies usually rank for the highest searched keywords, which tend to be single words that cover a lot. Think of a big retail brand claiming the keyword “clothing” as their own. If you’re starting out or have a medium-sized business, it’s best to try for a lower difficulty. Don’t choose a keyword that has too low of a search volume though because then you’ll never be seen.

Part of keyword research is learning how to balance finding keywords with good search volume while not going too high or low, making it hard to compete for a top spot.

Short-Tail Vs. Long-Tail Keywords

Understanding the difference between short-tail and long-tail keywords is important, We’ve talked about them before in our keyword overview, but let’s dive back in.

Short-tail keywords are usually one word and are difficult to rank for due to their vagueness. A perfect example is a big retail brand using the term “clothing”.

Long-tail keywords are phrases that people use in search bars. They generate less traffic but bring customers that are more likely to buy your products. Instead of using “clothing”, you can use something more specific like “black t-shirt with funny sayings”.

Graph depicting long tail keyword, showing clothing at the top and black t-shirt with funny sayings towards the bottom and how people want to be in the lower area

Different Types of Searches

There are 5 common types of searches. Depending on what you want to do, some search types are better than others.


This type of search is all about getting answers. It’s when people are looking up the name of an actor or landmark in a specific area.


Navigational searches are when people want to go to a specific website and put it in the search bar. Think like someone searching for Facebook but doesn’t know the specific web address.


This type of search is the one you’ll want to be part of the most. It’s when someone wants to buy something. They’ll type in something like “dog lover t-shirt”.

Commercial Investigation

This is when consumers research and compare different products. You could appear in these searches if a potential customer is looking at what is the most comfortable shirt that has a design like yours. Make sure your product descriptions show all the positives of your product.

Local Searches

This is when people want to look for local businesses, like a coffee shop or restaurant.

How to Find the Right Keywords for SEO

Keywords are the foundation you’re going to build your research off of. The more keywords you think of, the better it’ll be for your research journey. You’ll come across keywords that may not work as you go through your research and have to give up on them and start at the beginning with a new one.

Don’t be scared though, there are plenty of ways to find keywords. Have a pencil and paper ready or document open to get started.

Man wearing a dress shirt standing at a desk writing on a note pad with a laptop open

Make a List About Your Business

Make a list of what your store/website is about. Write any and all ideas that come into your head. Think about what your products are, your designs, what colors you use the most, and even what you write about (if you write).

What Would a Customer Look For?

It’s important to take a step outside of yourself and think about how a customer would search for your products. What might be an obvious word or phrase to you, may not be so obvious to a potential customer.

Create a list of different words and phrases you think a customer would type into a search bar to find your store. Don’t be afraid to write several phrases that are similar to each other. They can be as wide-reaching as “print on demand t-shirt” to something very specific like ” black t-shirt for nature lover”.

The more you come up with, the better. It’s a lot easier to get rid of bad ideas than come up with new ones.

If you feel like your list is missing something, ask people around you what words they would use. It never hurts to get outside perspectives.

Check Out the Competition

Look at what your competitors are doing. Read their content and look at their metatags to give you an idea what keywords they’re using. You don’t have to aim for the same keywords, in fact, it would be better to look for ones they’re not using.

Using a different keyword could give you the edge you need.

By researching the competition, it gives you a better idea of what you’re up against and how you can stand on even ground. Who knows, you may even find content ideas because you noticed your competition isn’t touching on something.

Keywords for Different Seasons

It’s smart to think about keywords that fit a certain period of time, like holidays. Think of any seasonal keywords that fit your store, like “mugs as gifts” or something more specific. Including these kinds of keywords in your list is important, even if the holidays are a long way off. Think about how the seasons affect shopping habits as well.

Do any of your products fit in perfectly with spring, summer, fall, or winter? If so, see if there are any season-specific keywords that fit your store.

Keywords by Region

Depending on where your customers live, keywords may change slightly in different regions. There can be multiple words or phrases for the same thing. Think of the classic “soda vs. pop vs. coke” issue in the US. See if there are any variations of words you’re using that you may not know about.

There’s a big difference between using the same words and using similar words.

Organizing Your Keywords

Now that you’ve gotten your list of keywords, it’s time to organize them. It’ll be helpful if you transfer your list into a spreadsheet. Doing so will keep everything clean and easy to refer back to. Have one column be your keywords and the other columns be what we discuss below.


Search engines rank content based on relevance. Relevance means how much your content is connected to what a searcher is looking for. This is where the 5 different types of searches come into play. Create a column for the search types and write what kind of search that keyword is connected to.

Organizing this way allows you to narrow your field of keyword possibilities and guides you on the right content path.


Search engines will rank content higher if it seems authoritative. Authority means you know what you’re talking about and other sites have linked your content within their own content.

Try organizing your keywords based on how authoritative you believe you’ll be. You can use a scale of 1-10 or even low to high to designate how authoritative you’ll be.

Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t very authoritative, you’re just starting out.

Search Volume

Next, organize keywords by how often they’re searched for. Different tools can help you determine their monthly search volume. Again you can use numbers or a scale of low to high.

Long-Tailed or Short-Tailed?

Make sure to create a column that says whether your keyword is long or short-tailed. This will help you balance your content creation between the two.

By the end your spreadsheet should look something like this (these are fictional numbers):

Spreadsheet with columns for keywords, type of search, authority, search volume, and long-tail or short-tail keyword. One row has keyword research, informational, low, 1 million a month, short-tail, the second row has black POD shirt, transactional, low, 5 million a month, and long tailed, the rest is empty

Time to Use Your Brand New Keywords

Now you’ve done all your research and your keywords are organized. It’s time to finally start using them. You can use them in your product pages, page titles, within blog content, and meta descriptions. Using keywords this way will get search engines’ attention. Please refer to our Keyword Basics article for more ways to implement them.

Follow Up After Publishing

Once you find your keywords and publish your content, you might think your job is done. But, you’d be wrong.

Don’t forget to analyze the results of all your hard work. See if you notice an uptick in visitors after a week and a month of publishing your content. You may notice that some keywords work better than others. There are plenty of tools out there to help you analyze all this information so you don’t have to feel overwhelmed.

Don’t Be Afraid to Use Research Tools

You don’t have to do all this research on your own. There are plenty of free and paid tools you can use.

  • People Also Ask: If you scroll halfway down a Google search page, you’ll see a box that says “People Also Ask” and it offers suggestions. This is not only helpful for searchers but for you as a keyword researcher. It’s a free tool that can give you more ideas based on keywords you’ve already thought of.
  • Related Searches: Similar to People Also Ask, if you scroll to the bottom of a Google search page, you’ll see related searches. Use this as a free tool to check out other keyword avenues.
  • Google Trends: This tool is exactly what it sounds like. It’s Google’s tool for keeping track of different trends around the world. You can put in a topic that you want to explore and see how popular it is in individual places, overall search interest, and even look through the past.
  • AnswerThePublic: This is a great tool for looking at variations of words. AnswerThePublic uses autocomplete data from search engines to help you find all the helpful phrases and searches around your keyword. You can even change the country and language to make sure you speak like the locals. You can try it for free or sign up for one of their three plans.
  • Keywords Everywhere: This is a browser extension that helps streamline the keyword research process. It looks at search volume data, CPC, and competition data on every kind of search engine. This is a great choice for those who don’t want to commit to a monthly plan because it’s based on credits. Credits meaning one keyword, so you can pay for how many keywords you want to put in. Their plans start as low as $10.
  • Ahrefs: Ahrefs is actually an entire SEO toolkit, but they do have an in-depth Keyword Explorer. It will offer keywords suggestions from all over the world. It shows data from 10 different search engines and gives you monthly search volume updates. They will also help find similar terms for the keywords you’ve already used. You can do a week-long trial for $7 and they have 4 different plan options.
  • Ubersuggest: This tool will be able to give you suggestions, search volume numbers, content ideas, and more. It will show what works for competitors and how you can use similar tools for your own business. It will walk you through every step. Plans are on a monthly basis and you have 3 choices.
  • Moz Keyword Explorer: You can enter a website or a keyword to see what the best keywords are to target. They claim to have over 500 million different keywords that will drive traffic to your site. This tool will organize keywords by search volume, predictive text, and keyword difficulty. It’ll save your list and let you export it. This is a free tool, though you do have to create an account with Moz.
  • KWFinder by Mangools: KWFinder is a great resource for finding long-tail keywords. You can search by keyword or domain in any language and country in the world. It will also show you what your competitors rank for. It will analyze data from search volumes and trends. You have a choice between monthly and yearly plans that each have their own benefits.