Keyword Research is an obvious first step in researching a niche for yourself or for a client.
Keywords, and their results, make up the terrain of search marketing – and knowing the terrain (and who else is playing in it) helps us navigate up the mountain (and determine when the mountain is maybe too crowded to climb).
Google’s AdWords Keywords tool isn’t a bad place to start, but if you’re operating in a competitive niche there isn’t much of an advantage there – even my grandma uses it (not really, my grandma still has a rotary phone, but you get the idea).
Your real advantage comes from looking in places where your competitors aren’t to identify “under the radar” keywords.
Here are 10 sources of keyword data that are often overlooked in the course of everyday keyword research.
1) Misspelling Tools
Typos happen to the best of us. Sometimes they happen when we’re searching.
While misspelled keywords won’t have the traffic volume of correct-spelling versions they are rarely targeted by competitors. And people’s fingers slip a lot more than you might think.
- MS adCenter Labs Misspelling Tool
- SEO Book Misspelling Generator
2) Technorati Tags
Technorati is a blog search engine – and a great way to research the blogosphere overall or just find some new sources.
Their tag section represents “popular tags used on Technorati.com over the last month.”
Browsing here is a good way to find out what topics are buzzing in the blogosphere lately – and, more importantly, what language is being used. You won’t find volume data here, but it’s a great place to look when you’re brainstorming keyword lists.
While Twitter isn’t exactly a microcosm of the online population (think demographics) the real time stream provides a good study of the topics of the day and the language people are using to discuss them.
There are quite a few Twitter tools out there that you can use to monitor the buzz surrounding keywords (or find new ones). Here are a few worth looking at:
- TweetBeep – think Google Alerts for Twitter – monitors keywords for you and notifies you when they’re mentioned
- Trendistic – allows you to track keyword trends in Twitter (with nice graphs that visualize the data)
- TweetVolume – see how often your keyword(s) appear on Twitter
4) Facebook Lexicon
Facebook released Lexicon in April of 2008. Essentially, it allows you to enter a keyword (or multiple keywords) and it graphs their use over time. It’s a good way to research keyword seasonality (but they don’t display actual usage volume – just a relative comparison).
5) SEOBook’s Keyword Suggestion Tool
This one may not be terribly overlooked, but it’s incredibly useful so I’m including it anyway in hopes that a few of you are unaware of it.
This tool brings a tremendous amount of data and other research tools to your fingertips. It reports daily estimated for WordTracker, Google, Yahoo! and Bing. It also links you to various other research tools – automatically pulling up the data for your keyword to save you plenty of time. It’s a must-bookmark for sure.
6) Google Wonder Wheel
This experiment from Google shows keyword relationships with a nifty wheel/hub visualization trick. This tool is great for brainstorming keywords – leading you to related keywords you may not have thought of.
To experiment with the Wonder Wheel you have to first perform a search at Google.com – then, at the top of results, expand the “More Options” link and select “Wonder wheel” (about 3/4 down the column). Clicking a keyword one of the spokes of the wheel expands a new wheel around that keyword (made up of related terms).
7) Your analytics
I may be preaching to the choir somewhat here (hopefully we’re all actively reviewing keyword referrals in our analytics data) – but your analytics data represents arguably the best source of keyword data as well as new keywords you may not have thought of.
If your site has any authority and a decent breadth of content your referrals are already telling you about keywords you hadn’t thought of – and better yet, you have actual usage data to go along with it (so you can tell which keywords bring in the users you want).
Here are a few related posts from around the web worth reading if you’re looking for smart new ways to research keywords:
- An Exhaustive List of Search Engine Based Keyword Research Data | SEOmoz
- Keyword inspiration – Aaron Wall of SEOBook.com shares his secrets | Wordtracker
- 10 Free Google SEO Tools Everybody Should Use | SEOptimise
What are some of the alternative sources you use for keyword research? Let us know in the comments.