Lately, there has been a bit of discussion within the SEO industry around the idea of keywords and whether or not they still matter.
To me, this is silly. When you are talking about search, of course keywords still matter. People use words to search!
However, the idea that we can look at keywords the same way we always have is even sillier. After all, people are searching differently than they were five years ago. There’s mobile, there’s voice, and even the number of terms we use to search has changed.
But while the idea of keywords for SEO has changed, it doesn’t mean keywords don’t matter to your website and that you don’t need to understand how your users are searching.
Which brings me to the point of this post: How to generate new keyword ideas.
As you are thinking about your own site, you need to be looking at the bigger picture in order to reach your customers and create the type of content they’ll want to consume. This means you must be looking at topics and entities vs. singular keyword phrases (Note: If you aren’t familiar with the idea of entities, see here and here).
The overall goal is to find all of the phrases around a particular topic. And to do that, I’ve listed several tools and tips below to get you started.
Search Query Data (WMT)
Webmaster Tools (ahem, sorry…Search Console) data can be extremely valuable in understanding how users are currently getting to your site. It can also be extremely valuable for generating new keyword ideas.
Within Search Analytics, take a look at what phrases are garnering a fair amount of impressions and also have a high click through rate.
These are phrases the search engines are already associating with your site and users are clicking through on. This is important because we want to identify keyword ideas that will actually drive relevant traffic to our site.
I should note I can’t take credit for this idea. Derek has done this for both KoMarketing and several clients and has seen some very successful results.
Not sure where to start? Try exporting your search query data from the last 90 days and see what you can find.
Earlier in the year, someone in the office brought FAQFox to my attention and I have been singing its praises since.
FAQFox isn’t a keyword tool in the general sense, but what it does is find you discussions and questions around a particular keyword phrase. It searches things like Reddit threads and forums, giving you real-time conversations around a topic.
As a business, it’s your job to answer the questions of your customers and FAQFox finds those questions for you. Take a look at the threads to see what people are asking.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, people are searching in different ways. They are also searching in different places.
What that means for marketers is how someone searches on Google may not be the same way they search on YouTube or even Google mobile.
Enter KeywordTool.io. What I like about this tool is it gives you suggested search queries for Google, Bing, YouTube, and even App Store searches.
I like to use this to find question-based queries but it can also get you started developing a video strategy.
When I think of traditional keyword research, I think of the Google Keyword Tool (which I’ll get to in a bit). The problem with the Google Tool is you won’t get these longer tail terms. And if you decide to plug these terms into keyword planner, you likely won’t see any search volume.
That doesn’t mean people aren’t looking for them.
SERPStat gives you suggested searches pulled from Google USA search results. It also lets you choose “Only questions” to find what people are actually asking around a particular keyword phrase.
Consider matching this data against your WMT data to generate keyword and content ideas.
Site Search Data
It should go without saying but if you don’t have site search enabled, get to it! Internal site search gives you actual visitor data. It shows you what information people can’t find on your site that they actually want and think is important.
If you are looking for new keyword ideas or content ideas, look at what your audience is actually typing into your search bar.
It’s worth noting, I think internal site search is really important for a number of reasons (IA, UX, etc.) but it is certainly important to consider when trying to find new keyword ideas.
Check out Amanda McGowan’s presentation from SearchLove Boston 2015 that discusses how to use internal site search.
There are a number of things I love about SEMRush but, when it comes to keywords, SEMRush can show you live data and help identify keywords you may not have thought of. As they note on the site, “Even if you have already created a comprehensive list of keywords your target audience uses to find information related to your business, you still can find more keywords.”
The phrase match report (seen above) shows you the list of what other phrases were typed in around a particular keyword. Additionally, you can differentiate between desktop and mobile, giving you further insights into how your audience is searching.
What I like about this report is it gives you more than just the phrase itself. For example, I typed in b2b marketing and phrase match returned b2b marketer, b2b vs b2c market size, and b2b target market. When we talk about topics and entities, these are the things we must consider.
If you’ve seen me present in the past year, you have without a doubt heard me mention BuzzSumo. It’s been a hot tool this year and for good reason.
BuzzSumo helps with content research, influencer identification, brand monitoring, and you guessed it…keyword research!
As I’ve already mentioned, when it comes to keywords, you have to go beyond a simple keyword or keyword phrase. BuzzSumo shows you the top content around a particular phrase but consider the following results:
I typed in linkedin examples and the top shared content included the phrases:
- examples of highly impactful linkedin profiles
- examples of great inmail
- examples of linkedinads
- linkedin recommendation example
These are phrases I may not have considered. Thanks BuzzSumo 🙂
AdWords Keyword Planner
Ok, ok. I had to include it. Keyword planner doesn’t do everything we’d like it to but it can provide you with some new keyword ideas.
Instead of going the traditional route and starting with a set of keywords, begin with a few landing pages. In the example above, I took the first URL from the BuzzSumo results and plugged it into Keyword Planner.
None of them are necessarily LinkedIn focused but it does give me an idea of how Google sees the topic and the keywords it related to the topic.
Keyhole is another tool recommended to me by a colleague for finding hashtags. However, it turns out it does so much more!
Keyhole does show you hashtags but it also shows the content around those hashtags, related hashtags, demographic information, top sites, and more.
How does this help with keyword generation? Enter topics:
The tool offers a feature called topics that gives you keywords and hashtags surrounding the keyword you put in. Obviously, looking at the example above, there are some strange ones in there but it can help you start crafting new content ideas.
This tool was recommended by a fellow SEO and I think the concept is brilliant. SeedKeywords lets you ask a question and send it out to your audience to answer.
The goal here is to see the phrases your audience would use to actually search for something. Real data!
It’s important to note, however, that just like any user testing, you have to be aware of bias and who those users are. For example, if I ask a marketing-related question and then send it to my marketing friends, they are probably going to respond in a much different way then say the owner of a small manufacturing company.
Either way, getting some new ideas straight from your audience isn’t a bad thing. Check it out!
Live Chat / Customer Support
Last but not least, when you are trying to generate new keyword and content ideas, talk to the front lines of your organization. Connect with the individuals who are directly in contact with your customers: customer support!
Your customer support team can give you immediate insights into the questions people are asking, any problems, and can help you understand what important information may be missing from your site.
Additionally, if you are running live chat on your site, be sure to check the logs. This is another great place to find real questions from real customers and potential customers.
As search evolves, your keyword strategy must evolve as well. You have to think beyond singular phrases and focus on topics. For marketers, this means generating new keyword ideas on an ongoing basis and understanding how our users are actually searching. Hopefully these tools can get you started.
Did I miss a great tool or tip? Feel free to leave it in the comments!