Whether you’ve written a blog or delved into keyword research, you’ve likely dealt with seed keywords. Finding and developing an extensive seed keyword list is the very first step toward an effective keyword research process — making a strong pillar for your content strategy.
So what exactly is a seed keyword list? And how do you put together a keyword strategy that will raise your ranking for important keywords? And once you have your seed keywords, what do you do next?
What are Seed Keywords?
In simple terms, seed keywords are short-tail, usually one or two-word keywords that describe a topic broadly that is relevant to the searches for which a business would like to rank. Finding these overarching keywords provides a starting point to dig into more specific terms and phrases to draw in customers who are trying to find answers to specific questions.
These more specific keywords can vary greatly in length but are generally referred to as long-tail keywords. These can include common questions related to the relevant topic, phrases that are associated with that topic, and even terms and phrases that are relatively synonymous with other keywords on a list.
So when you look to establish a seed keyword strategy for your SEO projects, what you’re doing is finding the terms for the big picture elements of your product or your service. That may sound simple, but it takes more work than you might think.
This is because important seed keywords won’t necessarily show up if you limit your seed keyword compilation process to the terms that your team can think up in a brainstorm session. To develop an effective list, you need to dig deeper than that.
Finding Your Seed Keywords
Once you have an understanding of what a seed keyword is, you can begin to compile lists relevant to your brand, products, and services. The quality of your seed list will directly affect the quality of your keyword research and mapping, so it is important to be thorough.
You already know some of the general terms that are important to your industry. Those can be a good place to start. But you will also want to look at your own website. By going over your established web presence, some keywords that you hadn’t yet thought of may jump out at you.
After you have looked over your website with an eye focused on seed keyword discovery, you are almost ready to look elsewhere. Before you look outside your own website, you should run it through a website crawling tool.
One of these tools will go through, not just your page titles and headings, but through the metadata and meta descriptions of your website. That crawl will provide a very thorough list of keywords for you to choose from. You won’t necessarily want to use all of the website crawler’s keywords, but there are bound to be some great ones there that you missed.
But that’s just the beginning. You can apply that same process to your competitors’ websites. Use your crawler to dig into their meta descriptions and look for keywords that you haven’t been using or that they are using more prominently than you.
By understanding what keywords your competitors utilize, you can gain insights into how they are able to attract their customers. You can then use that information to try to reach that pool of customers first.
This is not to say that you should automatically include any keyword you find on a competing site as a seed keyword. Your competitor may not have an SEO optimized page or they may be using poor keywords that they don’t rank for.
Be aware of the quality of the websites you examine. And keep in mind that your SEO competition may come from different websites than just your competitors’ official company websites.
Think Like Your Customers
Look At Google Search Suggestions And PAA
Looking at your web presence and the websites of your competitors is just one of several ways to find items for your seed keyword compilation. Those keywords will cover many industry terms, but what about the terms used by your customer base?
The chances are good that your customers don’t have the in-depth knowledge of your business that you do, so they may not know enough to search using common industry terms—they may have a problem and not know the exact phrases that the solution can be found through.
So how do you, someone who is not a layperson in your field, figure out how a layperson would search for your products? The simple answer is you let the search engines themselves tell you what you want to know.
When you search for a keyword, you get your search engine results page—your SERP. Your SERP will show you the organic results of your search, but you can also look at the people who ask (PAA) results.
The PAA on a given search will show you similar and related search terms used by other people making similar and related searches. This can include searches for basic information on a topic or more detailed questions than your initial search asked.
Your SERP will also give you a list of related searches. If you run a search using an umbrella term for a service you provide, the related searches will show up with more granular keywords that touch on more specific aspects to that service.
But even before you get to your SERP, your search engine of choice can provide you with some valuable seed keyword options. As you type your keyword into the search bar, you will get a list of autosuggestions.
These are valuable because many times, a customer will start typing in their search and see an autosuggestion that matches the question that they wanted to ask. Naturally, once that comes up, they will click on that autosuggestion, so putting those exact terms into your seed list is a wise move.
Scour the forums
There are great external sites like Quora, Reddit, or niche forums that are great places to look for goldmines of information. This option is great for businesses in industries that are relatively new and haven’t adopted for search yet, or industries so niche that there aren’t a lot of keywords out there. You can use search operators to find web pages related to your industry or seed keywords you are trying to expand on.
In the following example, we are using the search operator “site:reddit.com” to make sure we only see results from Reddit and then I put my keyword in quotation marks which will find exact match results that contain it. You can also try”site:reddit.com intitle:keyword”, which would only show posts that have the keyword in the title. Besides those two options, you can play with search operators to find even more results and information.
What Should Your Seed Keyword List Look Like?
So you’ve gone through your website, you’ve brainstormed with your team, you’ve looked through your competition’s keywords, and you’ve examined the kinds of keywords your audience is likely to be directed towards by their search engine of choice. So how do you organize all the seed terms you’ve compiled?
You could list your seed keywords in a text document, but that wouldn’t be the most efficient way to look through them. A spreadsheet is your best bet because the spreadsheet will help you accommodate information from your further keyword research.
You can then add information about minimum and maximum volume for each seed keyword, as well as identifying keywords for which you already rank. Information about the competitiveness of the keywords on your seed list.
The more information you can find and apply to your seedlist, the better you can utilize those keywords. Then you can sort your list depending on the vector you want to prioritize with your SEO strategy.
Grow Your SEO from the Right Seeds
These are the basics when it comes to a “how to build a keyword list” breakdown. The seed keywords you identify give you the raw materials to develop your keyword research and map your keywords to your web pages.
By taking your seed keyword compilation seriously and pairing it with quality information regarding keyword volume, difficulty, and ranking, you can put your SEO strategy on the right path to improve the web traffic that comes through your websites.
In order to make the most of your seed keywords, though, it’s a good idea to work with people who know SEO inside and out. At WiRe, we have spent years honing our strategies for SEO optimization and deployment.
If you are ready to get more traffic on your website, WiRe Innovation is ready to help you. Contact us today!