First: Understand the 3 Types of Keywords.
Keywords come in many shapes and sizes. Let’s use this article as an example. The term, “SEO” is a keyword in and of itself. No “sane” person would try to target that as a keyword, though. A quick check of Google shows 948,000,000 uses of that keyword.
KeyPhrases are the next step. These are normally 2-5 words long. This article uses, “Keyword research and SEO” . This takes the nearly 1 billion articles of competition and pares it down to a cool 7 million. Still too competitive.
Finally you get to long-tail keywords. A long-tail keyword is a longer phrase (4-8 words long usually) that is desirable to rank for. The volume of searches for these keywords is greatly decreased, but the chance of ranking for them on page #1 of Google is greatly increased. A good longtail for this article might be, ”Best Keyword Research practices for Helium Articles”. That phrase knocks the competition down from a billion to 400,000 articles. –Still too competitive in many ways, but getting a lot closer on a very competitive area.