Keyword Research Techniques

Previously, Trada has written about keyword research tools such as Wordstream and the problems/solutions of keyword research tools. For more information, please check out Intro to Keywords, Exact Match vs Broad Match vs Phrase Match, Negative Keywords and 9 PPC Tips: Creating Keywords.

Good keyword research can be the difference between a bad, good, and outstanding PPC campaign. You’re already familiar with common keyword suggestion tools such as Google’s keyword suggestion tool. The problem with these tools is that everyone else is using them too, so they tend to suggest more competitive terms. Not to fear though. There are many ways to find amazing keywords for your campaigns if you’re willing to think out of the search box a little.

Google Related Searches

Go to and type in a common keyword. On the left hand side you’ll see a menu of items to augment your search. Under “more search tools” you’ll reveal an option called “related searches”. Click on this item and look underneath the search box. Google provides a list of searches they think are related to the one you entered. This is keyword research gold.

First, Google suggests the most commonly used related searches. So you know there will be a bit of volume on these terms. Second, these are user-created terms – what real humans are typing in versus computer generated semantic matches. Third, you usually see some approaches to your products and services that you may not have thought of. People searching by product name perhaps? Or maybe location-based searches? Sometimes you’ll see adjective modifiers that lead to really cost effective phrase and exact matches that you had not thought about.

To dig even further, click on one of the related search terms and Google will not only search on that result but also update the related search terms relative to the new search. By clicking around for a while you can find a wealth of keyword ideas. Related search terms is the first place I go to do keyword research these days.

Keyword Research Techniques: Related Searches

Google Wonder Wheel

Included in the “more search tools” area of the homepage is the “Wonder Wheel”. This nifty little widget shows you conceptually related terms to what you searched on. This is slightly different than related searches. Typically there are some tangentially related search terms that will send your keyword research off in a whole new direction. While not as useful for generating specific keywords to use, it can help you think more broadly (no pun intended) about your keyword strategy.

Keyword Research Techniques: Google Wonder Wheel

Use a Thesaurus

One of the simplest tools you can use to expand a keyword list once you’re ready to put in phrase and exact match is the thesaurus. You can use the online Type in your categorical words and see what comes back. Then use Google related searches to explore the searches users have typed in with various similar terms. Depending on the category, this can really juice your keywords.

Keyword Research Techniques: ThesaurusLook at Competitor Site Meta Tags

There are a lot of tools out there to scrape these automatically for you, but simply go to any of your competitors’ web sites, view the HTML source, and look for meta tags (search on “<meta”) that tell the search engines what keywords to use for SEO. You’ll find some gems in there that you haven’t thought about. It will also give you a bit of insight into how your competitors think about attracting users.

Keyword Research Techniques: Meta Tags

Misspellings and Typos

Depending on the relevant keywords to your site, misspellings and typos can attract a lot of low cost clicks and conversions. A great example was a campaign I worked on a long time ago in the jewelry space. The number of ways that people spell jewelry is unbelievable. There are some simple typo generators you can use such as the one from SEObook.

Broad Match Fishing

Broad match fishing is the act of intentionally putting a very categorical keyword term (e.g. “blackberry phone”) into an ad group, bidding it highly to get high ad position (and thus high Quality Score and great data to work with) with the express purpose of looking at the search terms that Google matches to it. What you’re really doing here is letting Google do the work for you. They spend $100Ms of dollars on algorithms to figure out someone’s intent with a search – you should reap the benefits. I simply look through the search terms for these broad matches from time to time and usually discover a treasure trove of ideas I hadn’t thought of.

There are lots of traditional ways to build the core of your keyword lists for PPC or SEO. I have found that a little research in unusual places can really juice a campaign. Give some of these a try. With the exception of broad match fishing they are all free techniques. Those are always the best!

2 responses to “Keyword Research Techniques”

  1. Chris Cameron

    Excellent post!

  2. George Mayfield

    Hi Neil,

    Thanks for the information, very useful. It’s easy to get in a rut with keyword searches and these suggestions should be really helpful. I think the meta tags will be especially useful.


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