7 Overlooked Sources of Keyword Data

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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.

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.


3) Twitter

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:

What are some of the alternative sources you use for keyword research? Let us know in the comments.

Mike Tekula
Mike Tekula helps small businesses leverage the web, and search engines, to grow.
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  • Marty Martin

    Nice summary Mike.

    Didn’t know about the Facebook lexicon, that’ll be a really interesting resource. Cheers!

  • Ken Jones

    Good list of resources there Mike. I’ve also used Google Webmaster Tools on a few occasions. Their list of keywords and phrases that your site has appeared in the SERPs for, but hasn’t been clicked on are a great source of information on the terms that just need a little bit of tweaking to push you higher up the SERP or display a more enticing snippet and bring you a bunch more interested visitors.

  • Maddie Weber


    Great summary here. Just went on a tangent with the Google Wonder Wheel – what a fun keyword toy! I’ll let you know how much we improve – actually helped me find a new keyword we weren’t ranking on! Brilliant.


  • Ray Towle

    Excellent suggestions Mike . . . exemplary,

    If I may, I’d like to suggest one more; an in-depth interview with the primary decision-maker, the primary recommender, or key subject mater expert (SME) for their best research-related insight. For me, I ask a unique question that is intentionally grammatically incorrect and downright poor English. I ask this, “In your expert opinion, what is the mostest uniquest term, keyword, or nomenclature that is most likely to consistently show up in the best of the research that I gather?” Then I patiently wait for an answer; sometimes longer than 15 seconds. My experience indicates that the more thoughtful the answer, the more valid, reliable, and representative the resulting research will be.

    Just my $0.02 worth. All the Best!

  • Jason Braud

    Great post Mike!

    I really like Google’s new wonder wheel. After using this and getting use to how powerful it really is.. I found a lot of long tail keywords and some really good niches that I dove off into. I highly recommend everyone use the wonder wheel.

    Keep up the great content and awesome value Mike!


  • Ross Hudgens

    Thanks a lot Mike, this was a unique post with some good resources.

  • Tad Chef

    Wow, cool. I didn’t even notice the wonder wheel until now. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • MikeTek

    Glad you guys liked the post – thanks for the kind words. I was hopeful that most people would be new to at least one of these resources. There’s some nifty stuff out there when you start really digging.

  • Rick Oppedisano

    Nice post, Mike. Going to trackback on my blog today!

  • David

    Good post, you can always also use Google Insights for Search.

  • Johannes

    You can also use http://www.keywordindex.com. KeywordIndex has its own database as well as quick links to Google Insights, Bing xRank and other resources.

  • Bob Schnyder

    Thanks for the great tip on Google’s wonder wheel. I am starting work on a site build-out for a new client and the wheel will defitely be a useful tool!

  • SoccerFan

    Thanks for the facebook lexikon. I did not know it befor!

  • Ulana Illiano

    How would you recommend using misspellings on an e-commerce site that wouldn’t appear tacky to a potential buyer? Any suggestions?

  • Iago

    Whoah I say, whoah — the Wonder Wheel!! How come I never noticed this baby before . . . a totally fun toy for experimenting with keywords.

  • Gordon Choi

    Normally, most search engine marketers focus on using the basic keyword research tools provided by the search engines to discover new keywords.

    So Mike, thanks for sharing! I believe that’s a really comprehensive list of keyword data mining tools, and it will take us awhile to work through your list!

  • SEOServiceInStyle

    Nice post, I’d never heard of Google’s wonder wheel and totally overlooked Facebook’s Lexicon but they’re gonna be some useful tools in the future, cheers.

  • Larry Kim

    Check out the Free Keyword Tool http://www.wordstream.com/keywords and the Free Keyword Niche Finder – http://www.wordstream.com/keyword-niche-finder