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3 Powerful Ways to Expand Your Keyword List

It only makes sense to start an SEO project by finding the exact keywords related to the products or services you offer.

After all, unless you discover what phrases your specific audience uses in search, you might end up optimizing the site for the wrong keywords.

But here’s the catch: most of those phrases are already highly competitive, with thousands of domains trying to rank for them in the search results.

If you run a small or newer website, breaking through the competition might prove too challenging.

In this post, I’ll show you three lesser-used ways to reach beyond your top industry’s keywords to expand your organic reach and increase the search traffic.

#1. Identify Semantically Related Keywords

Although the idea of semantic search has been around for quite a while, not many businesses focus on finding semantically related keywords.

And yet, semantic keywords offer a compelling opportunity for reaching a wider audience and expanding the search visibility.

To fully understand how to use them, though, we need to discuss semantic search first.

So, What is Semantic Search? defines semantic search this way:

“In short, the purpose of semantic search is to go beyond the ‘static’ dictionary meaning of a word or phrase to understand the intent of a searcher’s query within a specific context.”

Take the word “apple”, for example. Someone typing it into a search box might be looking for one of the three things:

  • Fruit
  • The electronics company, the makers of iPhone, iPad, and bunch of other stuff
  • A record label once owned by the Beatles

(Not a surprising search result, given my fondness for certain laptops and portable devices ☺)

Using the searcher’s past search history, location, the context of the query, and other data, search engines today can be more precise in their results.

Of course, there’s much more to semantic search than this. And if you’re interested in finding out more, I recommend you read these guides:

But What about Semantic Keywords, Then?

Since semantic search looks for the meaning behind a search phrase, it needs terms and phrases closely related to your main keyword that help communicate that meaning.

And that’s the role of semantic keywords, to provide that meaning and help the search engine understand what your content is about.

Using our example above, we already know that the word “apple” might refer to at least three separate things: a fruit, a technology company, or a record label.

So, how does a search engine knows which one your page relates?

You guessed it, by analyzing semantic keywords.

For example, it knows that if you wrote about fruit, your content could include phrases like delicious, grown, trees, cultivars, and much more.

For a technology company, you’d probably include words and phrases like iPhone, iPad, Cupertino, Steve Jobs, innovation, etc.

And that’s where your opportunity to expand the keywords list comes in.

By finding and enriching your content with semantic keywords, you can make it more relevant to specific searches, increase the number of phrases your page could rank for, and position it for a more relevant traffic.

How to Find Semantic Keywords

The process is quite simple. Nick Stoyanov lists four main ways to do it:

  1. Use Google’s instant search
  2. “Searches related to” results
  3. Bold words in SERP results
  4. Keyword research tools
seo keyword strategySEMrush SEO Ideas Tool

I recommend you read his full guide to finding LSI keywords to discover in detail how each of these methods work.

#2. Target Your Competitors’ Branded Keywords

Each day, customers look for your competitors’ brands and products online. They type their brand or product name into the search box, eager to learn more about them or even buy their products.

That is exactly the traffic you’d want to attract to your site!

After all, these people are already seeking the products or services you sell. Granted, they are looking for your competition, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t buy from you, provided they learn about you, right?

And that’s the premise behind the second strategy I want to talk about – using your competitors’ branded keywords.

Unlike the semantic keywords method, this one’s a little bit trickier.

You see, if done well, targeting other brands could attract highly-relevant traffic to your site. Sure, these keywords probably have a low click-through rate. Since these people are looking for a specific brand, they aren’t as likely to click on a different one.

Still, they offer a chance to expand your visibility and reach a new, but relevant, audience with almost no effort.

This strategy could also lead to some unpleasant situations, problems with law and legislation, and will immediately put you on the competitors’ radar.

After all, as Evan Cummins says in this article on Wordstream:

“One serious downside to bidding on a competitor’s brand name is that you are basically starting a war. You are openly inviting your competition to bid on your brand name and start poaching some of your potential sales.”

So tread carefully, pick competitors whose brands you want to target wisely, and never cross the line.

#3. Use Trending Words and Hot Topics

Finally, you could also target widely discussed topics in your industry to find relevant keywords with less competition to drive more traffic.

Every so often your target audience gets excited about a new hot topic, idea, or a trend.

And they may spend crazy amounts of time searching for information about those topics.

That’s where this strategy comes in.
By knowing what’s hot in your industry right now, you can quickly create content targeting those keywords and position your site for new, relevant phrases.

And the best part is, finding those trending topics isn’t difficult.

Many dedicated tools allow you to monitor industries for trends and topics. For example, Ruzzit helps you scout the web for keywords to find the most popular content.

Reddit, and particularly subreddits relevant to your industry, can deliver great insight into what’s hot for your audience.

Wikipedia Trends and Google Trends allow analyzing the change in particular topic’s popularity.

And monitoring Google News can help you spot any recent developments before other websites catch on them.

By using these techniques and combining them with your traditional keyword research, you’ll earn more traffic to your website and introduce your company to a brand new audience.

What other less- common strategies do you use to increase your online visibility and gain new visitors?

Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Pixabay

Screenshot from SEMrush.  Taken in October 2016.

Category SEO
Anna Lebedeva Head of Media Relations at SEMrush

Huge digital marketing, SEO, tech, and web culture fan with a strong background in startups, full cycle marketing communications, public ...

3 Powerful Ways to Expand Your Keyword List

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