Keyword research has been a fundamental component of successful SEO campaigns for years for good reason – it’s where it all starts.
Regardless of whether your objective is customer acquisition, eCommerce sales, organic traffic, or something else entirely – that potential revenue begins with someone typing words into a search engine.
Understanding how people search – and why – is essential to targeting the right audience with the most relevant and attention-grabbing content. The success of your business depends on it.
The most common tactic is using popular keyword research tools to find the most high volume search terms for an industry. The next step is then creating content to try and compete with countless other websites targeting the same queries. The problem with the most common tactic is fairly obvious – everyone else is doing it too – and it often fails spectacularly. It’s an expensive strategy and extremely difficult to achieve much success which results in an exceptionally low ROI for the business owner.
Savvy SEO professionals have taken a different tact with their keyword research and subsequent content creation efforts. Finding less competitive long-tail keywords used by in-market consumers ready to take action.
They aren’t bogged down by search volumes because they’re focused on outcomes and revenue. But how do they find these golden keyword opportunities?
The creativity within the SEO community seems to have no limits but here are four uncommon keyword research tactics that the experts use to drive better traffic.
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1. Mine your reviews
It’s no accident that Google offers keyword filtering for users browsing through the reviews of a business they’re interested in.
The folks leaving reviews will often mention the products, services, and attributes related to their purchase and users want to read reviews from customers similar to them.
If customers are writing about it in their reviews and users want to read about it, you should probably be writing about it in your content.
The Canadian Tire location below has a lot of reviews that mention “auto service” and a variety of related terms. That’s all useful feedback towards creating the content that their customers really want.
This strategy is by no means limited to Google reviews either. Every industry has its own niche review sites and there are numerous platforms for eCommerce reviews as well.
Anywhere your customers are leaving feedback about their buying experience is where you want to live.
2. Use Google search suggest
Based on the above example you might be thinking “hey, wait a minute” isn’t auto service one of those high volume/high competition terms you told us not to chase after?
You’re right, and that’s where Google search suggest comes in. When you start typing something into Google’s search bar it automatically populates similar suggestions based on what other users have searched for.
That’s really useful intel for a keyword researcher trying to find great long-tail opportunities. Using the Canadian Tire example we might start a search with “auto service edmonton” and get the following results.
Now we’re getting somewhere, “auto service edmonton southside” is a great keyword for a business that offers auto service specifically in south Edmonton.
Searching for that query and reviewing the related searches at the bottom of the page reveals further opportunities that could be worth looking at like “southside auto repair centre”.
3. Reverse-engineer new sites with high rankings
The first time I came across this keyword research tactic was from Glenn Allsopp at Detailed SEO. The premise is that if new websites are already ranking well for valuable keywords, they must be relatively low competition queries that you could target and have a good chance to rank for, particularly with an already established website.
These new sites have stumbled upon some golden keyword nuggets and you just need to find them.
Unfortunately, that’s the hard part but it’s not impossible. For the average user that doesn’t have the cash to spend on expensive tools there’s a free way to get the job done as long as you’ve got some time on your hands.
To get started you’ll need a large list of keywords related to your niche with enough volume to be worthwhile for your particular business. If you’re not sure how to do that just search up one of the countless articles on best keyword research tools.
Once you have that just jump on over to Google and start searching. Keep an eye out for brands that you don’t recognize – ie. not Amazon. From there you can punch those domains into whois.net or whois.com to find out how old they are.
When you find new domains that rank well – say a couple years old or less that rank on the first or second page – you can use Ahrefs or SEMRush to reverse-engineer all the keywords that the website is getting traffic from.
It’s a tedious task but one good find could quickly turn into a big win for your business. If you’re still having trouble you may need to pause and troubleshoot your own search ranking issues.
4. Snoop on competitors with TagCrowd
Identifying the winning strategies of your competitors can be a great way to boost results for your own company. TagCrowd is an easy way to snoop on top performing websites and get a nice visual of the keywords being used in their content.
Simply head over to the TagCrowd website and pop in the website url you want to see a visual for. Check out the below example from jeffbullas.com.
You can use this as a starting point and get more data from paid tools like Ahrefs or SEMRush if you have the budget.
Alternatively, you can use these keywords to help you find long-tail opportunities in your niche by trying different combinations in Google search suggest as noted above.
Guest author: Patrick Leonard is the Founder of Brighter Digital, an Edmonton-based digital marketing agency. He’s interested in all things local search marketing to help businesses better connect with local consumers.