Despite how important of a role keyword research plays in our everyday online marketing campaigns, too many people all but skip the in-depth research that can be necessary to really find the best terms to target. Most people turn to the usual suspects:

  • Keyword research tools
  • Analytics
  • Competitors
  • Site search

Now, let me first clarify that those are all excellent sources for keyword research - and you should absolutely use and explore all of them. However, if you are in the unfortunate situation that you are either in a highly competitive industry or a more niche market - it can be very difficult to find the right terms to target.

What are the right terms? To me, a good keyword to target fits three requirements (in no particular order):

  • Relevancy - the keyword accurately describes what your website sells/offers. In other words, someone who came to your site via the keyword has a high chance of converting.
  • Traffic - the keyword has the potential to drive a significant amount of traffic to your site
  • Competition - could my site realistically rank in the top 1-3 listings for the keyword?

So if you've run into a rut when it comes to finding keywords to target, look no further than these seven opportunities.

Company Receptionist


A company's receptionist has terrific insight into the way potential customers describe a product/service. Everytime he/she receives a phone call, they instantly are treated with a potential keyword: "Hi, I needed to speak to someone about my [keyword]" or "I was calling to find out if you offered [keyword]". I recommend sitting down with the receptionist and help them figure out a system where they can keep track of those keywords. Have them write down any keywords they hear for at least a week, and then start running them through your favorite keyword research tool.

Customer Sales Reps


Customer sales reps are masters at communicating with the potential customer. They know exactly how to explain their product/service in a way that the customer will understand. On a routine basis they are also asking the potential customers a lot of questions in an attempt to understand what their pain is so they can fix it for them. That insight is invaluable and exactly the type of information you should be looking for.

Exhibit Staff


Is your company or client routinely exhibiting at shows? Although there may be some overlap with the sales staff in this case, you should encourage your booth staff to take note of what keywords are best resonating with potential customers, what keywords they are hearing the booth visitors use the most - and which products/services/features are people most excited about?

Usability Testers


As more and more companies jump on the usability train, it's important to take advantage of the opportunity usability testing creates: the ability to ask potential targeted customers how they would describe your website, product and service to a friend (and other probing questions). Work keyword research questions into the process, and take note of the way they are explaining your website throughout the usability testing process.

Contact Forms


Contact forms are a great way to collect keyword opportunities from your visitors. Which keywords are you seeing used the most? I'd recommend adding a "Subject" or "Topic" open entry to your forms, too. This will help encourage them to describe what about your product/service they are looking to learn more about.



Do you or does your company run webinars? If you open up the webinar to Q&A there is a great opportunity to learn the language your targeted customers are using. We run them weekly at Raven Tools, and we are routinely asked very descriptive questions that help give us a better idea of what keyword someone is using to describe a service we provide.



Forums. They're ignored by so many marketers these days, but they provide so many great learning resources for marketers. One of which, is keyword research. By going through a industry forum thread list, you'll see hundreds of potential keywords you could be targeting. If you use a keyword research tool that lets you analyze a particular page, throw a popular thread in there and see which keywords are referenced the most. You'll be amazed at the gems you'll find.

Have you tried any of these keyword research sources? Have a favorite unconventional tool that I didn't mention? Share it with the Search Engine People community in the comments below!