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From: Jared Hamilton
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Greg Bem

Greg Bem SEO Specialist

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Related Search: A Google Goldmine for Keyword Inspiration

Got “optimization block”? It happens to the best of us. However, since we now know the average modern car-shopper shops at least eight dealer websites, it’s more important than ever to make sure your website shows up early in their search and doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

So what do you do when you’re fresh out of killer keyword combos? As Picasso said, good artists copy, great artists steal. Believe it or not this strategy can be applied to your automotive organic search strategy. If you’re fresh out of ideas, turn to one overlooked goldmine of optimization inspiration: related searches. Related searches are the common, similar queries real people-and thus potential referrals-have been entering.

When we think about search behavior, we start with general terms and work our way into long tails. Google and Bing both provide sections in the search box and on the engines’ SERPs that can provide you with the specifics you’ve been waiting for.

If you’re doing a very broad search in Google (a common keyword phrase of two-three words) you’ll find the related searches as links at the bottom of the SERP. Take a look at this example from Google’s search box:

And here’s what the drop-down list of terms looks like in Bing:

The list of similar searches provides nine additional key word variations (or mutations) you can use as inspiration for content, and the key to unlock the referral door. Additionally, when you search for a broad keyword, you’ll find a special section at the bottom of the SERP with related searches. Here’s Google:

Long tail phrases (more than three words) often require you to manually pull up the tool. You can access it by filtering the search results by “Related searches” within Google’s taxonomy on the left-hand side of the interface. Google offers this expanded list of related searches on a separate page for those who really want to go the extra mile in their research. To find it, simply click on the “Search Tools” link on the left hand column of the SERP. It will drop down a list of tools, one of which is called “Related Searches.” A new SERP will load with a larger list of related search terms:

And of course we shouldn’t leave out Bing’s related searches section. Bing’s related searches show up, both for broad keyword phrases and long-tail, below the ads on the right hand-side of the SERP. Bing is actually quite brilliant in semantically connecting the keyword phrase to the organic results, showing searches queries that do and do not include the keywords in your initial search phrase. See below: 

The search terms here may or may not be as related as you want, and those that are related (that have to do with the product you initially searched for, for example) and those that aren’t (such as other manufacturers) should be obvious. Still, the list of related terms if always large enough for great content ideas!

How Google interprets similarities in terms, and how the keywords you already have in your strategy can be expanded into a web or network of keywords, can redefine your strategy and bring it to the next level. It can bring you the next geography you want to target, or reassert popular products and services you may not have focused on yet, or merely give you a better eye on the competition and competitive deals you’re up against.

One of the most important qualities of the related search is that it helps you to think like a consumer. It’s normal now for users to shape their search based on the terms they come across in the search bar and on the SERP.

Using the related searches information as a tool offers little in terms of quantitative metrics, but it does allow for quick insights. When you’re investigating your real-time, organic rankings, make the effort to look into common similar searches and notice any mutations that might be relevant to your strategy. Maybe you’ll find an idea you hadn’t thought of before.

Cassie Allinger
Nice post - I do this ALL the time!
Joey Abna
Good points. Another good place to look is in your Search Queries Report in Google Webmaster Tools. There you may find keywords that you may be ranking for on page 2 or worse that if you could move into the top 3 spots you could see a big jump in site visitors.
Greg Bem
Joey--great suggestion with the WMT report. Have you found anything similar on Bing's end?
Joey Abna
Yes, I think it is called the Search Keywords report under the Reports and Data Tab.
Jim Bell
Great points. I will be honest and don't focus on Bing at all and need to. I am assuming that there is a backend like what webmaster tools is for Google?

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