4 Underused Keyword Research Strategies for Small Businesses

by Brian Dean on March 17, 2014

It’s no secret that choosing the right keywords can make or break your SEO campaign.

Pick the right keywords, and you’ll zoom to the first page and attract hundreds of targeted potential customers.

Pick the wrong keywords and find yourself struggling to crack Google’s top 10. And even if you do, the traffic you get may be full of freeloaders and tire kickers.

And just for the record, (not provided) hasn’t changed the importance of keyword research — just how we track traffic coming from specific keywords.

So how can you find keywords that potential customers actually search for? And how do you know if they’re not too competitive for your SEO budget? By following these 5 underused-yet-powerful keyword research strategies.

#1 Use Suggested Bid to Determine Commercial Intent

One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to keyword research is ignoring commercial intent.

Commercial intent is simply how likely someone searching for a certain keyword is to buy a product or service. Certain keywords — like those containing specific products and services — have obvious buyer-intent. For example, someone searching for “buy a ipad now” may actually have a credit card in one hand while they type the search into Google with the other.

But what about keywords that aren’t so obvious? Well that’s where the Google Keyword Planner’s “Suggested Bid” comes into play. It’s an average of the bids people place on that keywords within Google Adwords. In other words, it’s objective data from the real world.

To find it, just head over to the Google Keyword Planner and look at the “Suggested Bid” column.

Suggested Bid

If you see a keyword with lots of search volume — but a low suggested bid — you may want to reconsider optimizing around that keyword.

2. Mine Blogs and Forums for New Keyword Ideas

Most people begin and end their keyword research with the Google Keyword Planner (which recently replaced the external Google Keyword Tool).

Unfortunately, the Google Keyword Planner (GKP), isn’t especially good at generating new keyword ideas. To do that, you need to find out where your target customers hang out.

For example, let’s say that you run a mail delivery cake service. If you just use the GKP for keyword research, you’ll likely only get keyword ideas that you could have thought of yourself, like “Cake recipes” and “bake a cake”.

But when you go to where the cake enthusiasts like to hang out — like Pinterest — you’ll find lots of fresh new keyword ideas:

Pinterest Search

Other places to consider checking out are popular blogs (especially the comments), forums and even Reddit and Digg.

3. Look for Keyword Ideas in Help Tickets and FAQs

If you run a business that sells a product or service, I bet you get questions from customers…lots of questions from customers :-)

And I bet you never think: “Wow, these are actual living, breathing customers telling us what they want in their own words. I bet there are some great keywords in here.”

Don’t feel bad if you hadn’t thought of it before. Most people don’t see questions from customers as anything but a minor annoyance or expense (just saying).

If you haven’t already, take a look at some of the common threads that tend to come across your help desk. See what words existing and (more importantly) potential customers use. Then pop those into the GKP to see if they’re popular searches.

4. Use This Little Used Feature to Find Keyword Ideas

While entering what are known as “seed keywords” into the GKP can land you some great keywords (especially when you use the strategies from this post). But there’s another feature of the GKP that most people ignore, search using a landing page:

Landing Page Search

This can often uncover amazing keywords that are sitting on your very website. You can take a popular landing page or blog post on your site and enter it into the field.

Or you can even enter competitor’s pages into the tool.

If you play around with this enough you’ll often find keywords that you’d be hard pressed to uncover with seed keywords.

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