Keyword research is a huge part of search engine optimisation (SEO). By finding great keywords, you put yourself - and you website - in a great position to be easily visible in the search engine results page (SERP).

But is that the right goal to focus on? The way people are searching is changing. How can you make sure you offer exactly what your customers need and get best placed for them to see it?

We offer some tips as simple alternatives to keyword research tools that might get you talking.


The human touch

In a previous post, we spoke about the simple ways to humanise your SEO. We want to do that here too. We also asked you to imagine your website as a shop front on a busy high street. This is a great way to start simplifying the process, as it allows you to consider the essentials of what you do and how people might interact with it.

But it also aligns with the core principles of Google: the world’s most-used search engine. Google’s focus is on their users who search for content. They want their experience to be as simple and efficient as possible. Think about it:

  • - If you search for something sellable - there’s thumbnails to buy from.
  • - Search for something to watch - you’ve got a list of videos.
  • - Want something topical - all those news stories.

Back to that shop of yours. A customer enters - how do you greet them? A warm welcome, hopefully, swiftly followed by  asking them how you can help. How would that work online?

Quick aside:

As Google is – by far – the most used search engine in the UK, we’re going to refer to that. But it’s worth considering which search engine your customers might use (do you know how many have a Hotmail / Outlook email address? Should you refer to Bing?)

Is Google - and Google Suggest (this is what pre-empts your search and offers you a list of related searches) – the best forum? Or should you think of something more specific to look at?


Search Out(side) the engine

If you run an ecommerce site, why not search on Amazon or Ebay to see how users are looking for similar products there?

If you have instructional videos, what are people searching on Youtube?

Are you informative - what does Wikipedia have to offer, what other articles are linked to relevant pages, what are the headings used... could they be relevant keywords?

Often though, these searches come up with depersonalised searches. Let’s say you want to find a nearby restaurant. What would you search for online to find that?

Did you start typing, “best local restaurants”?

Is this how you would ask someone? Again, think about humanising your SEO and keyword research. If you were to ask someone their advice, wouldn’t you be more exact, and more personable?

“Hey, do you know any good sushi bars nearby?” 

Look at all the different keywords used for essentially the same question.

To mine this approach, think of online communities your customers might use. Are you offering a helpful product for new parents? Get over to Mumsnet – find out how they talk, the language that can help come up with new keywords you can utilise for your website.

By doing this, you’re not only focusing on the exact needs of your users to allow yourself to best market your work, but you’re also preparing for developments in AI.


Hey Google...

Artificial Intelligence – think Siri, Google Home, Alexa, and Cortana – is having a daily impact on people’s lives. Not everyone, certainly, but the numbers of users is growing dramatically and it is something tech firms are investing heavily in. Google even have a team – Google Brain – dedicated to researching deep learning artificial intelligence research.

It is important to consider how voice searches might impact search engine optimisation. So considering verbalised keywords is a great way to think about it, but also how your web pages are displayed. Are you answering the question quickly and effectively?

Thinking about how you would interact with other people in person about the topic and content you want to publish online is a great, and simple, way of rethinking your keyword research. It also gets you thinking about how you can adapt to voice searches and the improvement of artificial intelligence.