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4 techniques to up your keyword research game

July 15 2019

Keyword research has been done the same way for 10 years. It starts with you typing your website’s main topics in Google Keyword Planner to receive a list of keyword suggestions – synonyms and keyword variations – which you then build your content plan around.

Say that you operate an eCommerce website selling clothes and wish to optimise your section about dresses. You simply add dresses to Keyword Planner, remove irrelevant keywords, and end up with this type of list:


This list shows the most popular search phrases around dresses. And don’t get me wrong; this is still useful data. But it won’t tell you that anything about who the searcher is and their intents.

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Real people have questions, wants to be inspired and need more than, say, “general information about dresses”. The generic search phrases don’t reach the people behind the search.

But how can we do that?

How to address real, human real questions

At BrightonSEO, Stacey (Cavanagh) MacNaught (@staceycav) from Tecmark, held a truly inspiring conference speech on this topic. In this post, we’re going to borrow some of her ideas and present techniques on how to reach people beyond the traditional keyword spreadsheet.

Use customer surveys

Do you know the major reasons why people are interested your products? Chances are that your perception of what you sell and people’s perception of what they buy are quite different. At the Brighton conference, Stacey MacNaught used washing machines as an example.

According to a survey conducted by a washing machine website, virtually no one bought a washing machine because there was a new, amazing feature available. Instead, people mentioned very practical and – to a washing machine producer – uninspiring reasons: “My old one broke”, “I just moved and need a washing machine”, “we have a baby now and need a bigger machine” etc.

These answers indicate that your keywords and content should revolve around solving problems in people’s everyday life rather than boosting the machine’s durable ceramic heater, air bubble wash system or 360-degree circulation of water.

Those are simply not reasons for buying a new washing machine.

The public has the answers

On the website answerthepublic.com, you can write a keyword and instantly get a picture of what questions people have around the topic. You’ll also see the most common words people use in conjunction with it.

Say that you’d like to go a bit deeper into the topic of dresses. This is what you’ll get:

An overview of most common questions people have around dresses:

common questions about dresses.png

Most common search queries based on prepositions: 

Queries nased on prepositions.png

Quite a few of the questions and phrases will be irrelevant for your business, but you will also find great search queries you didn’t think of before. These have to go into your keyword and content plan.

Find selling adjectives

We know that search engines today base rankings on context rather than traditional keyword optimisation techniques (you know, stuffing keywords in URL, meta description, headline and throughout the on-page content.)

What this means for your keyword research is that you can’t only focus on your main keywords, but also have to think about how the topic is described. What words do you want to use in conjunction with your main keywords and questions?

Stacey MacNaught mentioned a simple, yet brilliant, technique on how to find the words you want to include in your content:

  1. Find reviews of websites in your field
  2. Take all five-star reviews and copy the content
  3. Filter out all descriptive words (fast, easy, convenient, helpful, simple etc.)
  4. You now have a list of words that describe what people want from your business
  5. Add this to your keyword research

Also make sure to send a copy to your marketing and CRM team. We promise you that they love this data.

Use on-site search data

Finally, we have to mention what we specialize in here at Loop54 – on-site behaviour. If you can extract data from your on-site search, this will guide you to new keywords and topics.

While keyword data from Google, AnswerThePublic and general reviews tells you something general about the topic, your own search data provides information about how people communicate with your brand.

For more information about integrating online search in content strategies, read this piece on shopper intent and content

Key takeaway

We’d like to thank Stacey MacNaught for great insights. Much of it is common sense; find me one online marketer who doesn’t want to address people’s questions! But MacNaught provided tools and actual strategies to make it possible, which is necessary to make this part of an overall strategy.

If you’re struggling with a keyword and content plan, make sure to speak to your audience.

Simply relying on Keyword Planner data won’t get you there.

Download our 'Site Search and Navigation UX Design Guide'


eCommerce Strategy

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