Research kicks off the writing process for any search engine optimization (SEO) project. When you know what terms resonate with readers, you'll know just what to cover as you write.
If you have access to Google Ads, you have a powerful research tool at your fingertips. Pull keywords from your pay-per-click ads and use them to guide your writing.
But if you don't have access to Google Ads, you're not stuck in the dark. Here are three free options anyone can use to find SEO keywords that work.
Search with Google
You don't need an active Google Ads account to dig into data and find the right SEO keywords. Use common search functions in innovative and sneaky ways.
Follow this step-by-step process:
Distill your business into one word. Drill down into your products, services, or location. Find just one word that should sit at the core of your content.
Open a search box. Head to Google, and tap your distilled word into the box.
Head to "People Also Ask." You'll see a series of questions related to your query.
These steps help you find so-called "long-tail keywords." Length is on your side here. Rather than competing in a tough market filled with content optimized for one word, you could be the only soul writing about the niche keyword you discovered.
Scout Out the Competition
Put your competitor's hard work to good use. Dig into their details, and you could find a few gems that work for you.
Head to your competitor's blog, and scan through all the recent entries. Does one term or phrase appear over and over again? Consider making your own content with the same term.
If you follow this route, any content you make must be better than your competitor's. Don't grab the same structure, key points, or conclusions. Take the time to put your spin on the concept so you can advance to the top of search results.
Tap Into Instagram
Long-form content isn't designed for visual-heavy Instagram. Epic photography is prioritized on this site. But nearly every post on the site is attached to a hashtag, and each one comes with a popularity score.
Think of Instagram's hashtag ranking as a shortcut for keywords. Some of the terms you find here could inspire you to write the perfect long-form content to thrill your readers.
Make this work in a few simple steps:
Use a private account. Don't let a mistake become a public post. Protect yourself and ensure you're doing work that no one will see.
Begin a post. You must go through the motions of posting, and that means choosing a photo and pretending that you're about to load up something new.
Start tapping keywords. As you type, Instagram will suggest related terms. Each suggestion comes with a popularity score.
At the end of your research, you should have a list of terms that seem just right for content creation. But don't stop now. Use those same keywords to pull up posts Instagram relates to the term. If something you found pulls up objectionable content, strike it from the list.
Never Stop Digging
These are just three ideas. Know that there are many more. Once you start thinking about keywords and getting creative, you may find that you're surrounded by a sea of terms and phrases that could guide your work.
Each time a phrase pops into your head, evaluate it through one of these same methods. You could find that a term you loved just doesn't resonate.
With a bit of time, patience, and practice, you'll be a keyword expert.