Using Google to Help You with Google: How SERP Can Help You Find Alternative Keywords
Consumerism’s greatest sleight of hand is convincing the world, present company included, that to save money, you have to spend more money. I’ve been in countless situations where in order to take advantage of a sale, I have to spend extra and buy things I don’t necessarily need, typically during buy two, get one free deals. I honestly love the irony in this, just like the last time when my computer went wonky all of a sudden and give some gibberish error message every time I tried opening an application.
I looked up this problem on my phone and to fix this, apparently I have to open the Registry Editor, which sounds fine until I tried opening up the Registry Editor only to be presented with the same error message. It is at this point that I stopped seeing the humor in the irony of ‘using X to help you with X’. It turns out however, that SEO services too are presented with this same irony as Google offers you plenty of opportunities to help you with Google when it comes to the practice of keyword research.
Using Google to help with keywords for Google
Keywords are the centerpiece for any SEO efforts since they represent the very thing that you’re optimizing for which makes keyword research an important preparation stage because the success of your SEO efforts would rely heavily on you picking the right keywords. For example, ‘baked rice’ and ‘baked rice recipe’ might sound very similar but someone using the former words might be looking for restaurants that serve baked rice while the latter words are used specifically by people who want to try making baked rice of their own.
It’s a subtle, yet crucial, difference and is especially important because the choice of words reflect the user’s intention. It’s not impossible that someone using the search term ‘baked rice’ was also looking for how to make them but why take that risk when you can use more specialized keywords that is more in line with what you’re offering. It should also be noted that the more generic the keywords, the more hits Google would offer and that means more competition.
Keyword research is about finding the most appropriate term and that isn’t necessarily the most popular one. This is especially true if you’re a small business working in a popular industry as there would undoubtedly be other bigger, more well-known competitors that has a handle on the more generic terms. Taking this into account, you have to be smart about which keywords to optimize for and thankfully, you could take advantage of the various features available to Google search to help you with that. Nothing can be more satisfying than using Google to win over Google, doesn’t it?
Using the ‘People also ask’ (PAA) feature
If you’ve been using Google regularly up until this point, and there’s a 99% chance that you do, then you must’ve seen the box labeled ‘people also ask’ right near the top of the SERP. As can be intuited, this box is filled with queries related to the current search and when one of these queries is clicked, the box would expand to include even more related questions. Theoretically, you could gather an ever-expanding list of keywords using this feature but this is far from perfect as it only took me a few clicks before the queries devolve into nonsense.
In keeping with the culinary theme, I tried using ‘eggs benedict’ as my query. It only took four clicks until I arrive at the eternal question of ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg’, which isn’t exactly related to my first query. This is because this feature uses an algorithm that simply looks at the words being used and since I used egg as a keyword, the chicken or the egg question would naturally come up in the box. As such, while this is quite a useful feature, always use this in moderation.
Using the related searches feature
Scroll down to the bottom of the SERP and you’ll see a list of search queries that are related to the original query. Clicking on any of these queries will lead you to the SERP for these queries and those new SERPs will have eight more related searches at the bottom so like before, you can use this to create an ever-expanding list of questions. Based on my experiment, they don’t devolve to nonsense as quickly as PAA but you’ll be running into semantics and going in circles more often than not when taking advantage of this feature.
Using the ‘People also search for’ feature
This one takes a bit of work since in order for this feature to kick in, you’re going to have click on one of the results for your original query and hit the back button to return to Google’s SERP. I can tell you that it’s worth the effort however as I’ve come across several keywords that I didn’t see with the other two features. ‘Eggs benedict keto’, ‘eggs benedict vegan’ and ‘gluten free hollandaise’ are just some of the new queries I found using this feature, which is interesting as not even the ‘eggs benedict calories’ query I found through related searches brought up any of these health-focused queries.