Skip to content

Finding keywords for writing inspiration

laptop google search

Share This Post

Why read this? : We explore how to use keywords for writing topic ideas. Learn how uncovering what people search gives you a great starting point on what to write about. Read this to learn how to find keywords for writing inspiration. 

Business writing isn’t like other types of writing.

You don’t write about an interesting topic and then hope to find an audience for it.

Business writing works the other way. You find out what your audience finds interesting first. Then you write about that. You put the customer first.

So you have to find out what interests them. What they need. You research to find out their problems.

One obvious way is direct market research. You ask customers about their problems. But that takes time and money. And people in focus groups don’t always know what they need anyway. Plus, you have to work through many biases to uncover real insights.

But there’s a faster, free and less biased option. You can do keyword research to see what people search for.

Keyword research - what people search for online

What people search for (called keywords) can be very revealing.

Using search is anonymous. Nobody worries about search engines finding out what they put in. That means there are no filters on the terms people use. These are exactly what people want to know. 

You can then look at the aggregated view of all those searches to understand what terms people use. You can find out how many people search on them, when, and how often. 

Google hmne page on a Samsung phone lores

This information can be used for writing inspiration. You write relevant articles and posts based on what people search for. That also means more people are likely to find your article when they search that term. That’s helpful as you want your target audience to find you. 

In addition, writing which solves a customer’s problem strengthens your connection with them. After all, you’ve done something for them. So, when it’s time to buy, they’re more likely to buy you. That’s what you want, obviously.

So, lots of reasons to do it. But where do you start with finding keywords for writing inspiration? 

40 trillion gigabytes of inspiration

An unprecedented amount of data, information and knowledge has appeared online since the internet started 30+ years ago.

It’s a treasure trove of ideas, insights and inspiration for anyone who writes. 

Latest estimates put the volume of data at over 40 trillion gigabytes. You can access this anytime, anywhere you want.

It’s mind-boggling when you think about it. The sum of recorded human knowledge at our fingertips.

Close up of a man's hands holding a light bulb that's illuminated

But is that what people really need? 

Well, yes. And no.

Having access to all that information is great. But at any given moment, you don’t need 40 trillion gigabytes of it. You only need a specific piece of information for what you’re doing right now. 

This is where search engines come in. They help people find specific information. Writers have to make sure their content is search-friendly, so people can find it. That’s why using keywords for writing is important. It’s how customers find you online.

Of course, you should only use keywords relevant to your products and services. But that still gives you lots of choice. From advice and tips which drive engagement to practical selling information like your store opening times, or your latest sales promotion.

You write about topics people search for. That’s how customers find you among the 40 trillion gigabytes. 

Think about how online search works

We all search online, without thinking about how it works. Type what you’re looking for in the little white box. Up pops the results. Easy, right? 

It’s how the internet ‘works’.

But hold on a second. Think about what’s happening when you search.

Because every time you search, it adds more data to the search ‘machine’. And that’s every query that everyone searches on. 

Woman wearing a grey sweatshirt and looking at her phone in a dark room

With that data, you can tell what people are searching for. How many people are searching for it. Which results give the best answers to those queries. It becomes a secondary research tool you can use to understand customer needs. That understanding drives what you write about.

Let’s look at how it works. 

Search analysis tools

For most people, search means Google. As per our secondary research guide, Google accounts for over 90% of the world’s searches.

Part of why they’re so popular is how much information they give away for free.

Most of their income comes from advertising (mainly paid search and YouTube).

That means they can keep you hooked with free tools like Autocomplete, Trends and their Ads Keyword Research tool.

The word Google spelled out with blue, red and yellow M&Ms with a M&M bag and a laptop also in the image

Google Autocomplete

Start typing something into Google and up pops a suggestions list. That’s Google Autocomplete.

You’ll see similar things you’ve searched on recently. 

But you’ll also see a list of other suggestions. Based on what you’ve typed in, Google’s algorithm tries to predict the best results based on what other people who typed those same letters searched for.  

It’s trying to help you find answers faster. You don’t have to type the whole thing if you see what you’re looking for in the suggestions. 

However, for writers, knowing what other people have searched for makes it an interesting research tool.

Whatever your topic, type it in the box, and you get a view of what people search for around that topic. 

Google search corona

It’s an insight into what you can write about to pull in more readers. From a business writing point of view, that means you write about topics you know there’s already an audience for. That helps with your reach and engagement media objectives.

An Autocomplete example

Look at this example from our writing blogs guide.

You can see popular related search terms for writing blogs. Tips, money and SEO are the key writing themes you’d pull from this list. 

If we were writing a blog about writing blogs, those would be the ideal topics to cover. It’s what people want to read about. 

Autocomplete predictions help you focus your writing on what people are searching for.

Writing blogs - screengrab of Google Autocomplete for writing blogs

You can narrow down broad topics to focus on interesting and relevant sub-topics. These keyword suggestions give you an idea of what readers need. Use them to identify key themes to write about.

However, there’s a limit to how much you can get from Autocomplete. You only get 9 suggestions. And they’re specific to you, and what Google thinks you’re searching for. Other people see different suggestions. And it’s only a list, with no indication of scale. You don’t know how many people search for each term, only that they’re among the most popular.

There’s also no time frame. The suggestions give you the most popular options right now. But you don’t know if those have changed recently, or will change in the future. To get an idea of a search term’s history, you have to search elsewhere. 

Google Trends

The next place to look for keywords for writing is Google Trends. It’s a great tool for getting deeper into what people search for.

It also lets you compare the popularity of different search terms over time. That helps you prioritise which keywords to use in your writing.

This history goes back to 2004. Being able to look at trends over time is very helpful for writers.

It can help you identify increases in search triggered by external events. (For example, see our Covid-19 search trends article).

It’s also good for identifying seasonal search trends. Times of the day, week or year when searches are more or less popular.

This example of using Google Trends to research vegan ice cream case study is from our secondary research guide. 

Google Trend screenshot - Vegan, ice cream, vegan ice cream

It shows ice cream searches go up in the summer, with the hotter weather.

We can also see Magnum topped the “rising” list because they launched a vegan ice cream during this search period.

It also gave us interesting themes like flavours (Blueberry) and formats (Ice Cream Sandwich) which we could use as keywords for writing about vegan ice cream. 

Google Trends also lets you change the country. Useful when researching markets overseas. You can also narrow your keyword and trend research down to specific timeframes. From the past hour back to 2004, and all points in between.

It’s a useful place to identify broad topical subjects you can write about.

Writing based on popular trends is a good way to become part of those trends. You use these trending keywords for writing inspiration to make your writing more interesting and relevant. 

Google Ads Keyword Research tool

As per our digital media guide, there are 2 types of search engine marketing.

There’s organic search, which is based on the quality of the content on your website.

And there’s paid search (known as Pay-per-Click or PPC), where you pay to appear at the top of search listings with sponsored posts. 

Through your Google Ads account, you can access the Keyword Planner which underpins paid search.

Google Ads Keywords tool

You use that tool to research and choose which keywords to buy. 

This is based on the number of searches they get, and how competitive the bidding is. But, you can also use the tool for ideas and topics to write about to boost your organic search writing. It gives you the actual number of times keywords have been searched for. 

It’s free to sign up to Google Ads. All you need is a Gmail account. However, you’ll need to pay for some ads to access the most detailed level of search data. 

You can find the Keyword Research tool in the top menu bar. You start by putting in a couple of keywords (maximum of 10) that you think are relevant to your writing objective. 

It tells you the number of searches for each term and how competitive the bidding is for it. The most popular keywords are more competitive and harder to rank for. So, it’ll also give you more keyword suggestions to see if you can find less obvious, less competitive keywords. 

It’s the only Google free tool which tells you how many people search for that keyword. That helps you work out which topics are the most popular, interesting and relevant.

An example of choosing a better Keyword

For example, when we were writing our market research section, we initially called that section ‘consumer insight’. 

Until we looked at Google Ads Keyword Planner and saw that ‘market research’ was way more popular.

More searches on “market research” meant by using that term in our writing rather than “consumer insight”, we could potentially reach more people. 

More reach means potential website visitors

Person holding glasses in front of them against a blurry street background

So that’s why we used the Keyword market research in that section. (See also our importance of market research article for more on this). 

Another example using the Keyword Research tool

When we started writing our writing skills section, we had an open mind about what the topics would be. So, we used the Google Ads Keyword Research tool to help generate ideas.

We started researching broad subject areas like ‘writing’, ‘writing skills’, ‘how to write better’ and ‘get better at writing’.

From this initial list, the Keyword Research Tool gave us more suggestions. We reviewed these to see which were relevant for our target audience.

Close up on person writing (typing) on a MacBook

So, some suggestions like ‘essay writing’ and ‘letter writing’ weren’t relevant. We ignored those.

However, we found some suggestions like ‘persuasive writing’ and ‘business proposal’ which generated a new set of keyword ideas to research. And from those ideas, we got to ‘business writing’, ‘advertising copy’ and ‘sales copywriting’. That’s where the ideas for those articles came from. We wrote all those articles based on keyword research.

So you can see how we went from broad “writing” keywords down to more specific ideas. That’s what the Keyword Research Tool helps you do. 

Other search tools you can use

Google doesn’t have a monopoly on Keyword research tools though.

There are others you can use.

For example, Here, you enter a general topic. It finds the most common questions searched for about that topic.

These questions start with who, when, how, why, where as well as others like which, will, can and are. The example here shows the most common questions searched for about marketing.

You also get similar visualisation for prepositions (for, to, with, without, near, is, can) and comparisons (like, or, vs, versus, and). (pedantic people might observe ‘is’ and ‘can’ aren’t prepositions. But don’t let that stop you using the tool).  

Screengrab from Ask the public website for marketing with key questions starting with how, why, which, are, when, what, ca, how, where and will.

It works on the same principles as Google Autocomplete. The interface is more practical though. And you get a wider range of ideas. This is also helpful for finding keyword inspiration for writing more relevant content. 

There are also Search research tools like Ahrefs, Moz and SEMrush where you can analyse competitor websites. These sites tell you which keywords those competitor sites use. You can identify where they’re strong and weak on different search terms. This helps you decide which keywords to use on your own site.

It also gives you information on backlinks they’ve set up. You can follow those to see what related sites write about. That gives you even more ideas about what to write about on your website.

Using these keyword insights for better writing

Writers can use all this free search data to find insights and come up with new ideas. 

It means you’re no longer writing in the dark, trying to guess what people might want to read about. You’ve got reliable data which shows what interests them.

The next challenge is how you apply those insights.

You still need strong writing skills. You need to build good writing habits which include thinking about your audience. Good editing skills so your writing is clear and concise. 

Person wring at a table - close up of their arm with a coffee mug in front of them

Keyword research doesn’t tell you how to write. But it gives you a good idea what to write about. And it helps your writing be more likely to be found on search. (See our SEO writing guide for more on this). 

Conclusion - Finding keywords for writing inspiration

Great business writing always has a specific customer or segment in mind. The writer finds out what readers need, and writes content which helps answer those needs. 

They do this by accessing the large amount of free search data on keyword research tools like Google Autocomplete, Trends and Ads.

Use these tools to identify the most popular keywords on a topic. And use those for ideas and inspiration to make your writing more relevant for your audience.

laptop google search

Check out our secondary research and SEO writing guides for more on this. Or email us, if you need help finding keywords for writing inspiration.

Photo Credits

Google on a laptop : Photo by Benjamin Dada on Unsplash

Woman writing on a laptop : Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Google Tablet : Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. from Pexels

Light bulb : Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

Woman looking at phone in dark room : Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash 

Google M&Ms : Photo by lalo Hernandez on Unsplash

Glasses : Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

Person typing on a laptop : Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash


Share this content

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest blog posts

Subscribe to get Three-Brains updates