SEO success relies heavily on the keywords you choose to target.
But most SEOs/marketers rely on the same tools (e.g. Google Keyword Planner) for keyword ideas and thus, many people often end up targeting the same small group of terms.
The result? It becomes more difficult to rank for said keywords.
I’m not saying keyword tools aren’t useful; they can give you almost endless keyword ideas.
However, they tend to work best when you’re in a broad niche with many subtopics, as each subtopic will contain hundreds of thousands of relevant keywords (e.g. “fitness” may embody “weight loss” and “bodybuilding”).
But what if your niche is quite narrow? (e.g. “used cars”)
What if all the juicy keywords typically thrown out by keyword tools have already been nailed by the competition?
In this case, you’ll need to learn more about your target audience and how they speak. This is the only way to find hidden keyword gems that haven’t already been picked up by your competitors.
In this post, I’ll outline 4 simple ways to do this. I’ll also explain how to analyze them for traffic potential and ranking difficulty.
Let’s get started!
Beginner's guide to keyword research
New to keyword research? Check out our
Beginner’s guide to keyword research
#1 - Get inside the heads of your customers
Brainstorming is the quickest and easiest way to get some initial keyword/topic ideas.
But, because we’re SEOs, most of us tend to subconsciously try to think of keywords that may have high search volumes.
This is all fine until you consider the following:
Most of these keywords will be incredibly difficult to rank for;
People search in many different ways (in fact, 16-20% of Google searches have never been performed before).
It’s, therefore, important to get inside the heads of your customers and think about the counterintuitive ways they may be searching for what you offer.
Let’s take the example of a simple flower store.
Most flower store owners will focus on conventional keywords (e.g. “buy flowers online”, “flower delivery London”, “cheap flower delivery”, etc.)
But, if you sit down and think about how real people may search online, you may come up with things like:
“best flowers to say sorry”
“should I bring flowers on a first date”
“best flowers to give a girl”
SIDENOTE. Remember, it’s just about collecting ideas at this point; there’s no need to worry about search volumes or keyword difficulty (we’ll cover that later).
If your mind goes blank during this process, here are a couple of “tricks” that may help:
Pretend you have zero knowledge about your chosen industry/topic (this will help you to get inside the mind of the “ordinary” customer and how they may search);
Pretend your product/service doesn’t exist, then brainstorm how you’d describe it.
For example, many people aren’t aware that air humidifiers exist (solution) but they do know they have an issue with dry air (problem). These people will search for things like “dry air home remedies” rather than “buy air humidifier”.
And if you’re still struggling, think about how potential customers with zero knowledge of your niche may talk to their friends about the topic.
How would they phrase things?
What language would they use?
Would they naturally use layman’s terms or industry jargon?
It’s all about getting into the mindset of your telemarketing list customers and how they may search.
#2 - Talk to your customers
It’s easy to lose touch with your customers, especially when you’re working in an industry, day in, day out.
It’s, therefore, important to get customer feedback.
While it’s not always possible to talk to these people face-to-face, there are a number of methods (e.g. autoresponders, on-site search, onboarding forms, etc.) that can be used to gain some feedback.
Here’s part of a form we recently incorporated into our onboarding process here at Ahrefs in order to understand our customers a bit better:
It asks them about their goals/struggles and it’s something we now show to all new customers.
This is primarily to help us better understand their needs, so we can build a better product.
But, as a secondary benefit, it helps us to understand the kind of language they use; this often leads us to discover new keywords that we previously never thought of targeting.
For example, here are a few of the responses we’ve received so far to the question “what are you looking to do with Ahrefs?”: