What do real customers search for?

It seems like a straightforward question, but once you start digging into research and data, things become muddled.

A word or phrase might be searched for often, yet that fact alone doesn’t mean those are your customers.

When you also factor in voice search and intent, it makes the entire keyword research process even more complicated.

While a paid search campaign will give us insight into our “money” keywords – those that convert into customers and/or sales – there are also many other ways to discover what real customers search.

As someone who is in the SEO trenches, I have the responsibility to get traffic to my clients’ websites.

But that’s not the only responsibility.

If you have been in SEO for even a minute, you know the questions that come up:

  • How does that traffic play into our ROI?
  • Are those visitors converting?

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In SEO, you still experience the burden of getting visitors who will turn into leads, customers, or sales.

That is where this deep keyword research process can help you.

Keyword Evolution

We are in the era where intent-based searches are more important to us than pure volume.

As the search engines strive to better understand the user, we have to be just as savvy about it too, meaning we have to know a lot about our prospects and customers.

In addition, we have to consider voice search and how that growth will impact our traffic and ultimately conversions.

Most of us are already on this track, but if you are not or want to sharpen your research skills, there are many tools and tactics you can employ.

Below are my go-to tools and techniques that have made the difference between average keyword research and targeted keyword research that leads to interested web visitors.

1. Get to Know the Human(s) You’re Targeting

Knowing the target audience, I mean really knowing them, is something I have preached for years. If you have read any of my past blog posts, you know I’m a broken record.

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You should take the extra step to learn the questions customers are asking and how they describe their problems.

In marketing, we need to focus on solving a problem.

SEO is marketing. That means our targeted keywords and content focus should be centered on this concept.

An analysis of the audience can help you get to know the human(s) you’re targeting. It makes your keyword research more personal and relevant.

Read more: How to Know Your Audience to Master Your Marketing Campaigns

2. Go Beyond Traditional Keyword Tools

I love keyword research tools.

There is no doubt they streamline the process of finding some great words and phrases, especially the tools that provide suggested or related terms that help us build our lists.

Don’t forget about the not-so-obvious tools, though.

Demographics Pro is designed to give you detailed insights into social media audiences, which in turn gives you a sense of who might be searching for your brand or products.

You can see what they’re interested in and what they might be looking for.

It puts you on the right track to targeting words your customers are using versus words your company believes people are using.

You can also view competitors and other brands’ audience information on Followerwonk, which provides a word cloud to show you what users include in their bios (i.e., keyword opportunities):

Followerwonk screenshot

You can glean similar data about your prospective customers by using a free tool, Social Searcher.

It’s not hard to use – all you have to do is input your keyword(s).

You can also select the source and choose the post type.

You can see recent posts, users, sentiment, and even related words.

The following is an example of a Social Searcher report:

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Social Searcher screenshot

Pro Tip: let’s say you want to create and optimize videos for certain keywords.

This tool allows you to filter by YouTube so you can see what is already out there and get insight into how you might optimize your videos.

Another great tool is Seed Keywords.

It is especially helpful if you are struggling with your keywords.

This tool makes it possible to create a search scenario that you can then send to your friends.

It is especially useful if you are in a niche industry and it is hard to find keywords.

Once you have created the search scenario, you get a link that you can send to people.

The words they use to search are then collected and available to you.

These words are all possible keywords.

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How to Go Deeper with Keyword Research: Go-to Tools & Techniques

3. Determine Trends

To capture relevant and timely traffic, you need to identify trending keywords.

For instance, if you are optimizing a website that has seasonal products or services, you need to know what people are searching for and when.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were all types of keyword trends that were beyond the obvious words and phrases.

As an example, people were searching for information to avoid weight gain and how to move a team to a virtual environment.

Google Trends is the best source to locate this information.

Be sure to filter by date and even location, if applicable.

4. Dig into Intent

Once I get a feel for some of the keywords I want to target, it is time to take it a step further.

I want to know what type of content is ranking for those keywords, which gives me an idea of what Google, and the searchers, believe the intent to be.

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For the sake of providing a simple example (there are many other types of intent that occur during the buyer’s journey), let’s focus on two main categories of intent: buy and know.

How has the competitive landscape changed?

Find out if your competitors secured their market positions in recent months.

Let’s say I’m targeting the term “organic coffee:”

Organic coffee google search

Based on what is in results, Google believes the searcher’s intent could either be to purchase fair trade coffee or to learn more about it.

In this case, the page I am trying to optimize can be targeted toward either intent.

Here’s another example:

Safe weed removal Google search

In this scenario, if I was targeting the keyword, “safe weed removal,” I would create and/or optimize a page that provides information, or in other words, satisfies the “know” intent.

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There are many tools that can help you determine what pages are ranking for your targeted keywords, including SpyFu, SEMrush, and Ahrefs.

You would simply click through them to determine the intent of the pages.

5. Go from Keywords to Questions

People search questions.

That’s not newsworthy, but we should be capitalizing on all of the opportunities to answer those questions.

Therefore, don’t ever forget about the long-tail keyword.

Some of my favorite tools to assist in finding questions are:

  • AnswerthePublic.
  • Question Analyzer by BuzzSumo.
  • AlsoAsked.com.

AnswerThePublic uses autosuggest technology to present the common questions and phrases associated with your keywords.

It generates a visualization of data that can help you get a better feel for the topics being searched.

With this tool, you get a list of questions, not to mention other data that isn’t depicted below:

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Answer The Public screenshot
The Question Analyzer by BuzzSumo locates the most popular questions that are asked across countless forums and websites, including Amazon, Reddit, and Quora.

If I want to know what people ask about “digital marketing,” I can get that information and sort by question type:

Buzzsumo screenshot

AlsoAsked.com is another tool that helps identify questions.

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It is based on Google’s People Also Ask data.

The tool provides insight into long-tail searches – the relationships between topics and questions.

Below is an example of what you might see on AlsoAsked.com.

Also Asked screen shot

Final Thoughts

New techniques and tools are always helping make our jobs easier.

Your main focus should be on how to get customers to your website, which is done by knowing how to draw them in with the right keywords, questions, and content.

More Resources:

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Image Credits

Feature Image: xanya69 / Depositphotos
All screenshots taken by author, April 2020