Attention digital marketers looking for content research tools: there’s a free, effective research method right under your nose, and it’s one that you likely know well.
Google Search is one of the optimal ways digital marketers can conduct content, topic, and keyword research. It’s a door into the world’s most sophisticated content database, giving you insight that, used well, will transform your content marketing into well-researched works that hit the mark every time.
It’s impossible to be a content writer or marketer without understanding the power of keywords, and more than that, which keywords and topics will resonate with your ideal readers and consumers.
The market is vast and shifts rapidly, and staying on top of it with keyword research helps put your content where it needs to be — in front of the viewers who will act on it.
There’s a balance to strike, however, between obsessively researching content and keywords, while falling behind on the content creation side of things, and forging ahead with creating content without any research to back your decisions. The ideal solution is keyword research that is simple and straightforward, reducing the burden on your time and other resources. Play your cards right, and you will expend a minimal amount of time and effort in finding keywords that you can then use to get your content to the right kind of visitors.
Not all keywords are made alike, which is why keyword research is so important. There are several features of Google Search that make for excellent keyword and topic research tools. Again, these are all free and intuitive to access as you’ve likely been using Google for a long time! Working these techniques into your marketing research is effortless.
Here are our 7 reasons why Google is the best content research tool…
1. Search Suggestions
When you start typing a query into the Google search bar, you may notice that the search engine offers up various suggestions for how to complete your search. For example, if you type in ‘content writing’ you may see suggestions like ‘content writing jobs’ or ‘content writing tips.’ These are the things Google users are commonly searching for, and that makes search suggestions a window into the minds of your potential clients.
2. Related Searches
When you perform a Google search, there is an option to see related searches near the bottom of the page. This lets you know what Google thinks people look for next in their browsing, which informs you of the typical train of thought of someone Googling for what you are offering. If you click on the related searches that seem relevant, you can keep uncovering more and more results that should give you a good idea of the kinds of search terms and user behaviors that will lead people to your site.
3. People Also Ask
Naturally, many search queries are in the form of questions. People have problems and need solutions, or are asking for more information about something. When you Google a question you will see the People Also Ask feature. It’s similar to related searches and search suggestions but focused on the actual questions other searchers are posing to the search engine.
The value in this is that you can easily see what topics are in demand. Check out the list of questions that are being asked, and you should find something you can tailor your content to answering, knowing that there are people out there seeking that information.
4. Top-Ranking Content
Looking at the top-ranking content is arguably the easiest way to see what is popular and resonating with searchers. Companies and individuals vie to get their content at the top of the search engine results pages, as these are the places where searchers are most likely to click. The more people click on a link from Google or another search engine, the higher it ranks until it reaches the top. It is a self-fulfilling action at some point, as the higher, it gets in the rankings, the more likely it is to be clicked.
That being said, you should pay careful attention to top ranking content for your topics and keywords of interest. Take a look at the headlines, the link structure, and the snippet of writing underneath the main result. That is where you will gain insight into what keywords and sub-topics are most commonly found within the search engine results, as well as what styles and tones of text are the most compelling.
Top ranking content lets you see what the competition is doing. It also enables you to see how many returns there are for your specific query, so you have a good understanding of how difficult it will be to make your content climb the ranks using that query. If the market is saturated, it may make sense to focus your efforts on a different angle, which you can uncover through the techniques in this article.
Pay attention to who is ranking in these results, not just what their content says. If you see a lot of big-name businesses ranking it may be more challenging to overcome their presence than if you are fighting for space with an organization with a smaller, less impactful web presence. After all, it’s not just the keywords that matter — you also have to consider how much work it will take to use your chosen keywords to your advantage. If the work is not going to net you good results, it’s time to think about a different set of keywords or a change of topics, so your efforts pay off in a timely way.
Tip: Search Analysis Tools can help you conduct a deeper analysis of the top ranking pages.
5. Search Ads
When you use Google to search for something you will likely see ads returned alongside regular web links. Yes, these ads are paid for by the content owners, so that they will populate. However, that does not mean they aren’t valuable information. Ads populate and rank based on keyword optimization, just like other content. So, you can look at ads that show up based on your queries to understand how other organizations are using keyword research to sell their products and services effectively.
Ads also tell you how valuable these keywords are. If there are many ads returned for your query it likely points to a valuable search string, one worth the cost of advertising. The more ads populate based on your chosen keyword, the more value advertisers see in putting up their links for a potential click and conversion.
6. Other Search Tabs
Google is a very robust search engine with a lot more to offer than the standard web search tab. Take a look at the other search tabs available when you perform a query. You can focus the search down to news, books, images, videos, and other specific content. This is useful to spark new ideas that may not have come to you if you stuck with the general search engine results page. People creating content for news, books, and other formats may take a different approach, and the top ranking results are from people who have made a strategy that works. If there is something in there you can translate to your research and content marketing, all the better.
7. Fresh Content
Sometimes you are just looking for a novel, refreshing angle. Google lets you limit search results to the best content of the past month or year. It’s an easy way to see what is trending when it comes to your topic of choice, or what new tactics others are trying. Yes, there is value in evergreen content, but if you can harness something new to go alongside your existing, strong content, you may be able to bring in new viewers who are interested in your fresh approach.
Note: Tools like BuzzSumo can help you find fresh topics based on social media shares.
Go Do a Google Search and Make Awesome Content!
There are many content marketing tools out there, running from free all the way up to premium paid services. While in many cases you get what you pay for with content marketing, we assure you that Google Search’s free status does not mean it is worthless, by any means. As we have outlined above, a simple Google search — something you probably do several times a day — can unlock a ton of valuable keyword and content information, without much effort.
We recommend using Google Search and these specific techniques so that you can focus your efforts on content creation rather than getting bogged down in complex, and possibly expensive, keyword and topic research. There’s practically nothing easier to do than a Google search. So, if you take those low-effort searches and use a critical eye to analyze them, you’ve turned an everyday activity into something that can boost your content marketing efforts in a big way.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in trying to dive deeply into keyword research, and in the idea that big-money applications and services are the only way to get reliable and useful information. Google Search turns those notions on their heads, showing that in fact, keyword research can be simple, straightforward, and free.