Mythical sea creatures are really cool, right? Any massive octopus-like thing that can easily bring down large ships is a beast to be reckoned with. My two (very-soon-to-be-three) kids also think the name “Kraken” sounds totally awesome. (This digital marketing tangent brought to you by ongoing early parenthood.)
And you know what else is awesome? Keyword research! Ooph, not my best segue, but who’s got time?
True, not everyone finds keyword research as exhilarating as fending off a massive pretend-being, but finding inspired keywords and topics to drive your SEM campaigns still requires plenty of creativity and resourcefulness. Alright, getting there on the segue.
The problem with a lot of keyword research conducted specifically to expand paid search campaigns is it’s too often done in the vacuum of the AdWords or Bing keyword planner tools alone for ease and efficiency. PPC Strategists will diligently look at a client’s existing site and existing analytics data, throw some existing keywords and themes into the platform planner, and use these results to build or add to a keyword list. For those more advanced or adventurous-types you might even see some SEMRush research.
But using just these tools with backward-looking data can lead to some serious tunnel vision, and missing out on super-rich topics that would be a great fit for the business.
To venture out from these safe shores of surface-level research into deeper water, let’s talk about some less common tools that can keep this type of ideation from feeling completely overwhelming. After all, there be monsters in the deep.
Answer the Public
Answer the Public provides a bevy of keyword information for each search result. The results page for a query provides a visualization of questions stemming from terms like “can” or “who,” resulting in glorious phrases such as “can kraken be trusted?” There are also preposition ideas beginning with words such as “is” or “with,” providing “kraken is based in” type results.
Want more? You can also get comparison suggestions (“kraken vs. man o war”) and keyword ideas listed alphabetically (“kraken jokes” and “kraken killer seafood”).
For businesses with a product or solution that answers a question or concern, this tool is particularly useful for discovering related search queries that can be targeted via paid efforts. Presto, no more tunnel vision!
You probably already use Google Suggest and may not even know it! Any time you perform a search query and haven’t opted out of the Google Suggest function, as you type suggested queries will populate in the box below the search field.
This is a great hack in that it’s both easy and based on actual search patterns on Google. Type in a simple word or phrase and see a whole list of related queries that real people have directly searched on Google.
Just start typing a phrase or question in a Google search bar and let the ideas flow.
Moz Keyword Explorer
The Moz Keyword Explorer is part of one of the best SEO toolsets available on the market. But we’ve seen time and again that their keyword planner can be a great tool for paid search specialists looking for help in ideation, and somehow gets overlooked.
Click into the keyword section after specifying your topic. You can sort the suggested keyword ideas several different ways, from closely or broadly related topics, synonyms, questions, search volume, or go crazy with a mix of all of these parameters.
Another great tool is Google Trends. Beyond just a great tool for spotting topics on the rise, if you have a seasonal product or service it’s a great way to build your understanding of changes or patterns in search volume for the terms that drive your business.
By plugging various keywords or phrases into this tool you can get a great picture of the most popular searches and topics around a theme or industry, and how the interest in those topics is changing over time. All the way back to 2004.
Ubersuggest provides the option to combine both Google Keyword Planner and Google Suggest data into 1 set of results. You can also create filters for key terms you want to have included in the results. Or go the other direction and specify negative terms you want to see excluded.
As with the Keyword Planner, you can get a CPC average and search volume from Ubersuggest. But wait, there’s more! For terms that have CPC data they go further and provide a graph that indicates an approximate breakdown of the available traffic by ad position.
So Which One Should You Use?
That’s definitely a trick question. They’re all great!
While none of these tools are a replacement for on-platform Keyword Planners, they should absolutely be part of your toolset as you ideate, build, and budget.
If you pressed me to pick a favorite approach or order in which to use these: Answer the Public is the best place to start as you look for questions to answer, and prioritize the topics you can address easily or most effectively. For quick keyword ideation around topics that already have a baseline of volume, Google Suggest works well. For broader ideation and some nifty filtering options that can help sift through a lot of topics quickly, the Moz Keyword Explorer and Ubersuggest tools are great. And if you want to go after seasonal or on-the-rise topics, Google Trends is the go-to.
If you liked this post and want more suggestions for great SEM tools, check out our massive list of the best digital marketing tools.