Alternative Forms of Keyword Research

A lot of site owners and SEO’s are familiar with keyword research tools such as Wordtracker, Keyword Discovery, and the free tools from Yahoo and Google. These keyword tools are an excellent way to not only find keywords which are relevant to you products and the usage popularity of these terms, but you can also forecast a bit with expected traffic and conversions for PPC and maybe even SEO.

It is easy to become dependent on the same tools for similar projects however, and overlook the keyword research tools which exist in your own backyard.

Site Search Box : Most websites offer an internal search engine for searching the pages and content of the site. Some sites only receive a fraction of their traffic from search engines and other forms of web presence drive traffic; such as emails, ads, links, social media buzz ..etc. Once those users are brought to the site from a non-search property, which terms to they use to find the content which they are looking for on the site?

This valuable and private information can usually be found in your site’s log files, tracked by the internal search tool you use, or available via analytics.

Your Customer Service Department & Sales Team : Which people at the company spend the most time communicating with its customers? The customer service department and phones sales teams of course. If you’re lucky enough to have a call center at your fingertips, survey them with a mass form or set up one on one interviews to help identify some of the terms customers are using in natural conversation. In real estate, are they using neighborhood or subdivision? In Ohio, are they calling it soda or pop? Are they calling about tummy tucks, abdominoplasties or tummy lifts?

The call centers are a wealth of untapped content, use them wisely.

Television and News : Monitoring the terms used by talk show hosts, CNN, BBC and other entertainment outlets can identify some amazingly popular terms and help you get the jump on them. Current events can have a huge impact on search behavior; just imagine if Jennifer Anniston wears a dress from a brand new designer to the Oscars and it’s such a massive hit everyone is talking about it. Well if you sell that designer, you should be putting up a blog post or new page about it, linking from your homepage, putting out press releases, updating your PPC campaign before your competition does and hitting Facebook with Ads.

Hitting offline buzz during its transition to online can be massively successful, and cost efficient. If you can’t watch TV all day, check Google Trends and Bing Keyword Tools on a regular basis to see if there are any peaks of interest in your market.

Social Media Buzz : Which relevant terms are people talking about in the world of social media? I really like Facebook because it shows the popularity of terms as they are discussed on Facebook walls/pages/posts between users. Since EVERYONE is on Facebook now, this information is becoming more and more relevant to search marketing. Lexicon compares related terms and analyzes new popular trends, but you can not dig down into long tail terms as its dependent upon heavily discussed terms.

Twitter Search Trending Topics is also a good tool, like Yahoo Buzz or Google Trends, to identify terms that people are discussing on Twitter, in real time.

What other methods do you to identify keywords and trends that are outside of the basic search keyword tool spectrum? Please feel free to share in the comments.

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