Top keyword tools to predict audience trends

Feb. 11, 2014 | by Steve.Hutton

Keyword research is the process of searching for user intent across the web, and this information can be used to inform SEO or content strategy. It’s a powerful activity that digital marketers can take advantage of, and it’s often very quantifiable so it can be easy to spot and assess opportunity.

Having done a fair bit in my time I wanted to share some of the processes, tools and considerations I have when I’m on the lookout for new key terms or gaps to target.

One point I must make early on is that key term research for SEO doesn’t involve choosing 20 high volume search terms for your strategy, it’s a basis to discover intent and inform a much more holistic view on how people are searching for your product or service. The days of targeting specific high value terms are over and we must be a lot more strategic in 2014.

Check out

Google keyword planner

A lot of keyword research starts with the Google Keyword Planner – which isn’t a bad thing as it’s the biggest database of terms and their monthly search volumes. The Keyword Planner has been rolled out over the last six months as a replacement to Google’s last keyword tool, which was a little more flexible. The tool is still free to use and allows you to get search volumes for a range of your own key terms and they’ll provide suggestions on other similar terms that you can export and manipulate. There’s an image below that shows two highlighted columns that are useful for SEO, the others are only applicable to PPC – for example competition level.



Google suggest

Although sometimes forgotten, Google suggest is still a great way of identifying terms in niche markets where the keyword planner might claim there is no search volume. If a term appears in Google auto – suggestion, then people have been searching for it. Simply start typing into Google and note down what they are throwing back at you. You can then put these terms back into the keyword planner to find other suggestions.



YouTube keyword tool

Powered by Google, YouTube is another huge database of search data, and with YouTube being especially popular with tutorials and how-to videos it is a great source for research into content that you could be publishing on your site to add value to your product offering. I recently noted that there was a lot of search volume for beauty related videos giving tips and hints and this gave me plenty of ideas for future content recommendations for some beauty brands I work on.

The YouTube keyword tool often tells you there isn’t enough data on many queries, but it’s still worth trying a few terms and exporting the recommendations for any nuggets.

Analytics package data

Although Google has really cracked down on the data it provides you about organic search terms that referred traffic to your site over the last year, there’s still data available from Bing and from earlier in 2013 as well as years past. Export this data and you’ll be able to gather what sorts of terms were bringing people to your site. You can overlay these terms with ranking positions and identify opportunities. Perhaps some terms that referred a lot of traffic are sitting at the top of page 2 – these could be groups to target for quick traffic wins.

coremetrics GA webtrends omniture


Internal site search

Many websites have internal search functionality – especially if you are in Ecommerce. Export this data and you’ll be able to see what people are actually looking for and this can form an important basis for intelligent research or a starting point for terms to expand upon. You’ll be able to get search volumes for these terms from the Google Keyword Planner.


Always consider long tail – think big

SEO is very different to PPC – you’re hoping to become visible for a whole range of long-tail terms as a result of targeting some of the more popular head terms. This gives you true visibility and you should remember that targeting a small number of key terms is not the way to approach SEO – but to have a more holistic view that will filter down to a lot of different terms based on the site’s content. A medium sized website can be tracking over a thousand key terms but still receive traffic from several thousand terms every month, and this is the sort of broad visibility you want to aim for with your SEO strategy and keyword research. You’re looking for the gems of insight that inform on your user intent rather than just the actual term itself.

For example, if you are in the business of jewellery, are your visitors looking just to buy jewellery or is their intent different? Perhaps they want to know more about how to use jewellery as fashion statements, or where to find the best retailers, or how to spot fake jewellery, or even how to decide whether a piece is good value. Covering this intent will inherently target a wide set of key terms if the content is strong.

Think beyond the keyword, as it were.

Consider difficulty

When choosing key terms to target it can be very tempting to choose the ones with the highest search volume, but its best to spot check these and see who is ranking for them. It might not be realistic to compete for these terms, and focusing on a handful of niche or long-tail terms could have a better payback as they are less competitive and may suit your product offering better.

Experiment with


This tool scrapes Google news, shopping and other product lines to help with suggestions based on a head key term. The output is often similar to that of other tools but it’s still a good one to check and have a play with.

Merge Words

This is a great tool for combining words in order to create longer lists of terms. Have a play with Merge Words to create lists of similar variant key terms.




Wordtracker is great for providing recommendations for key terms you might have missed. Simply enter a term and ask for suggestions to get a list of high volume terms that you might not have thought of.


Although more of a competitor research tool, SEM RUSH can still provide you with key terms that may have referred traffic to a specific site. Look up your own site and its competitors to see what terms are driving traffic and could present an opportunity.


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    Comment (1)

    • Jake

      Great post for social media. Cool and interesting.Mar 4, 2014 02:49 pm

    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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