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5 Unexpected Keyword Research Sources

5 Unexpected Keyword Research Sources

If you’re like most digital marketers or website owners, you understand how important it is to target your website’s content to valuable SEO keywords – as well as how to use popular keyword research tools like the Google Adwords Keyword Research Tool in order to find the keyword phrases that best suit your particular website.

However, if you only ever pull keyword data from a single research tool, you’re only seeing part of the picture!  Different keyword research tools pull from different search engines – and even those that utilize the same search engine data sets may generate different results based on a number of programming factors.  As most keyword research tools return data on such a limited percentage of the market, using a single service is bound to leave you with an incomplete understanding of your industry’s keyword usage.

To round out your keyword research data set, it’s important that you utilize multiple sources of keyword phrase information.  And if you’ve exhausted the list of popular keyword research programs that are available today, you might be interested in the following five unusual keyword research sources:

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Source #1 – Your website’s contact form submissions

If your website uses a “Contact Us” form script, you might be surprised to find a number of potential keywords embedded in the responses you receive from website visitors.

Imagine that your website in the personal security niche received a contact form submission that read:

“Hi there.  I’m interested in learning more about how your personal security service can be used in child custody cases.  Please contact me at your earliest convenience.”

Right away, this response reveals two potential keyword phrases – “personal security service” and “child custody cases.”  Because an individual website visitor already associates these words with your company’s website, it’s likely that future readers will demonstrate a similar affinity for these phrases.  Add them – and any others you find in past contact form submissions – to your keyword research list.

Source #2 – Your industry’s most popular forums

Next up, stop by your industry’s most popular forum and skim through the titles of the hottest threads (that is, those conversations that are receiving the most views or responses).  Chances are you’ll find a wealth of possible keyword ideas that should be added to your research list.

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As an example, a recent thread on the popular Warrior Forum website was titled “Best accounting software to manage internet business.”  Though the thread had only been live for a few hours, it had already received more than 100 views – indicating that this subject was of particular interest to the internet marketers who frequent the site.

If you were a website owner catering to this niche, this thread topic could prove particularly useful in that it provides two possible keywords (“best accounting software” and “manage internet business”) – as well as a specific subject that could be utilized in future blog posts on your own site.

Source #3 – Your industry’s listings on eBay

If you’re a retailer of physical products, you’ll definitely want to pay attention to this unexpected keyword source!

To find out what types of keywords potential buyers associate with the products your company sells, head over to eBay and start typing in a few generic seed keywords.  As you type, eBay will automatically generate a list of possible queries that can be hugely valuable in your keyword research process.

As an example, the following screenshot showcases the list of keywords that were displayed in response to the seed keyword “computer parts”:

ebay search

If you were a retailer in the computer parts industry, any of the options listed above – including “used computer parts,” “scrap computer parts” and “desktop computer parts” – could all prove to be great fodder for your keyword research process.

Source #4 – Your competitors’ “best post” lists

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On the other hand, if you run a blog – rather than a physical product retailer – you likely won’t find any possible keywords in this way.  But you can find them by searching out “best post” lists in your industry…

Often – especially at the end of calendar years – popular blogs will release “round-ups” of their most viewed posts over a given time period.  Not only can these post offer useful resources for improving your own business, they can also be a powerful source of potential keyword ideas!

As an example, imagine that you run a blog in the tech industry.  There are plenty of notable blogs in this field, including plenty that regularly release data on their most popular posts.  Chances are you already know some of these sites off the top of your head, but if you need assistance finding best post lists, enter the following query into Google:

“[your niche] best posts of [most recent year]”

For even better results, add the word “traffic” to your query, as many of these best post lists report the specific number of visitors each article received.  Then, once you’ve located a few post lists, analyze the articles linked to from each list and try to determine whether the content is targeting a particular keyword.  If so (as demonstrated by the presence of the same phrase in the title, headline tags and/or body content), you’ve got a new keyword phrase that can be added to your research list!

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Source #5 – Your company’s receptionist

One final unexpected keyword research source is your company’s receptionist (or any other customer service employee who takes incoming phone calls for your business).

If that sounds strange, think about the first thing that receptionists hear.  After offering your company’s greeting, most receptionists hear something to the effect of, “Hi – I’m calling about your lawn mowing service,” or “Hey there – could you tell me more about your current hair styling tool sale?”

Both of these examples involve industry-specific keyword phrases (“lawn mowing service” and “hair styling tool sale”) that could represent major SEO opportunities for your company.  As with the contact form submission source listed above, keywords generated in this manner can be especially powerful, as you already know that your customers recognize them and associate them with your brand.

Obviously, you won’t be able to use this source if you don’t employ any customer-facing staff members.  But if you do, this can be an incredibly powerful way to generate additional keywords to research outside of the same standard tools that all of your competitors are using.

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Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that these sources represent keyword research opportunities only.  Just because you’ve generated possible keyword ideas using these sources doesn’t mean that their overall search volume or relative competitiveness represent a good fit for your company.  Following the example above, just because a potential customer used the phrase “lawn mowing service” in a call to your company doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea for your business to go after this keyword!

Instead, use these unexpected sources for idea generation only.  Once you’ve compiled a new list of potential keywords, run these phrases through the same filters you’d apply to any other set of keywords you’ve compiled in order to make sure you’re targeting the right queries.  In addition, make sure to vary your techniques, as relying on a single source of keyword ideas is a sure-fire way to miss out on great opportunities within your niche.

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Yes, all of these different processes involve more work than simply running your favorite keyword research tool, but the results will definitely be worth it.  With just a little extra effort, it’s possible to uncover great ranking opportunities that your competitors are missing out on – just by expanding the number of sources you draw on for keyword ideas.


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Sujan Patel

Sujan Patel has over 12 years of digital marketing experience and has helped hundreds of clients increase web traffic, boost ... [Read full bio]

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