If you’re still relying on the Google Keyword Planner to tell you what keywords to target, you’re missing out. Here are four keyword research tips you can use to find keywords that your competition will overlook.
By Caleb Malik
The organic search landscape has become progressively more competitive as waves of new content are created every day. The question then becomes: How can you compete in an ever-growing sea of content?
One tactic is to identify the opportunities that your competition is overlooking. This, however, is no easy task. After all, you can’t simply go to a tool and say, “I want keywords to drive traffic for my website about travel in Arizona.” You have to plug in seed keywords, which is inherently limiting. These seed keywords are usually just the first ones that come to mind, which means they’re not unique. Not only that, but your search is immediately skewed by how you would search for content and the topics you think your customers would find interesting.
Fortunately, you don’t need to spend hours pondering the many relevant searches your customers might use. That’s a quick way to experience a whole new form of writer’s block. Instead, here are four keyword research tips you can use to uncover less competitive keywords.
1. Industry Publications
Industry publications are a treasure trove of keyword research opportunities, and most industries will have fairly niche publications that have been putting out content for years. Their deep knowledge and experience with your target audience can easily be accessed with a review of covered content topics.
To illustrate, imagine that you wanted to create content around event planning. You might search for “event planner industry publications.” Which might lead you to Special Events Magazine. Upon review, you might see the article titled, “Blueprint Studios Debuts Virtual Reality Tools for Events.” Within five minutes, you’ve found the keyword “virtual reality tools for events,” which you may not have considered prior to your search.
Using this as a seed keyword, you might find related keywords like:
- Virtual reality in event management
- Augmented reality event planning
- Virtual event planning
- How to use augmented reality for events
If you hadn’t previously considered this topic cluster in the past, you now have a handful of keywords that you can use to start building out content. Not only that, but you’d be creating content early on for a set of keywords that are likely to increase in volume over time.
2. Communities and Forums
Online communities and forums are often the first place your customers will turn if they can’t find the information they need. This makes them an excellent place to conduct SEO keyword research. After all, the users sharing their questions have probably used a search engine already with no success.
A good place to start is with Reddit and Quora, but we also recommend industry-specific forums. For those in the tech space, you might find ideas on G2 or StackOverflow. If you work in the travel industry, check out TripAdvisor. If you’re conducting keyword research in the exercise or wellness industry, you might want to look at sites like CyclingNews.
If we were to visit this last site, we would see the following:
This screenshot alone would enable us to generate this list of seed keywords:
- Quadricep pain
- Quadricep pain from cycling
- Quadricep pain after rest
- Pedaling technique
- Cycling to lose weight
- Cycling to reduce belly fat
- Fitness exercises at home
- Exercises at home for cyclists
When you consider that this screenshot is only a fraction of the hundreds of threads on this forum, it becomes clear that this site offers a treasure trove of opportunity for anyone seeking to educate cyclists.
3. Conversations with Customers
Who better to guide your SEO keyword research than your prospects and customers? Conducting keyword research with their help can be done in several ways.
First, you can acquire this information by meeting with customers and running a formal interview. During this conversation you can ask about their experiences with your product and the problems they are trying to solve. It’s usually not worth this level of investment just for keyword research, but if you’re already running customer interviews (e.g., as part of a rebrand exercise), it’s an ideal place to gather keyword ideas.
Second, you can listen to call recordings with customers. If you use a software like CallRail or Gong, you can learn a lot about your customers and the language they use just by listening to recordings. This includes recordings of both sales and customer service calls.
Third, and finally, talk with your sales and customer service teams directly about the type of questions their prospects and customers are asking. Generally, when a customer or prospect talks with these teams, they aren’t just asking about your product. They’re often sharing broad information about their challenges. This is an opportunity to create content that helps them solve those challenges, positioning your company as a reliable source of insights. Not only that, but your sales and customer services teams will thank you — that content will make their lives a whole lot easier.
4. Google Search Results
This last source of keywords was hiding right under your nose the whole time: look to Google itself. If you knew, for example, that you wanted to create content about visiting Pikes Peak, you could start by entering “visit Pikes Peak” in Google.
As a result, you’d see these frequently asked questions:
As you open each of these questions, new questions will dynamically appear, adding to the list. All of these questions are aligned to commonly searched queries.
Likewise, you can see sections titled, “People Also Searched For” and “Searches related to visit pikes peak” when you scroll to the bottom of the results:
In the first section, you’ll note a “see more” button, which you can use to expose other ideas. Likewise, you can find nearly infinite keyword ideas by clicking the links in the “searches related to” section and repeating this process all over again.
If you want to make your life even easier, you can install the Chrome plugin for Keywords Everywhere. This nifty tool will consolidate related searches and questions commonly searched in the right column. Not only that, but it will provide a search trend graph, and add a link next to each ranking article that directs you to a page that has all the keywords for which that link ranks. As you can see, your review of the search results is made much easier:
With this, and the other SEO keyword research techniques outlined above, you should be well on your way to identifying less competitive keywords in no time.