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Finding keywords for writing inspiration

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Why read this? : Keyword research helps you write more relevant content for your audience. You look at what people search for, and use those keywords for writing inspiration. We share how to turn keyword research into writing ideas and insights. Read this to learn how to write more about more relevant topics for your target audience.

Business writing isn’t like other types of writing.

You don’t write about what you find interesting, 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 think like a marketer and put the customer first. 

To do that you need to know what interests them. Usually with business writing, it’s about problems they need to solve.

To find out what problems they have, you need to do some research.

Direct market research is one obvious option. You can ask customers what problems they have. But that takes time and costs money. And people in focus groups don’t always tell you the whole truth anyway. You need to work though a lot of biases to get to what people really need.

But there’s another option that has less bias. You can look at what people search for using keyword research.

Keyword research - what people search for online

Looking at the terms people search on (called keywords) is revealing.

Search data that goes to Google (and others) is anonymous. Nobody worries about search engines finding out what they search on.

That means the keywords they put in are unfiltered and reveal what they want to know. 

While you can’t look at an individual’s search history, all that data gets aggregated by the search engine providers. And that you can access.

Google hone page on a Samsung phone lores

Anyone can go look for writing insights and inspiration in among all those keyword results.

What did people search for? How many people searched for that? And when and how often do they search for it?

You can find the answers to all these questions with keyword research. And you use those answers to find ideas on topics to write about.

There’s different online tools you can use to access this data. They tell you what keywords people use, and how many people use them. These insights help you write more relevant articles and posts. 

Using keywords which people search for in your writing makes it more likely you show up in search results. That’s clearly a good thing. You want your audience to find you. 

And of course writing that solves a customer’s problem make them feel more connected to you. After all, you’ve done something for them. So, when it comes time to buy, they’re more likely to buy you. That’s also good, 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 in the 30+ years the internet’s been around.

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. And every one of us has access to almost all of that.

As long as you can get online, you can access it anytime and anywhere you want.

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

It’s mind-boggling when you think about it. The sum of human knowledge and experience at our fingertips. But is that what people really need? 

Well, yes. And no.

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

And this is where search engines come in. They help you find specific information. Writers need 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 only use keywords which are also relevant to your products and services. But that still gives you lots of choice. From advice and tips that 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 how it actually 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 actually happening when you search.

Because every time you search, it adds more data to the Google 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

What people are searching for. How many people are searching for it. Which results give the best answers to those queries. 

What many people don’t realise is everyone can access much of that data. You use it as a secondary research tool to better 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 we share in our secondary research guide, Google accounts for over 90% of the world’s searches.

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

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

That means they can keep you hooked in 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 list of suggestions. That’s Google Autocomplete.

It’ll include similar things you’ve search 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 on 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 which are more engaging and reach a bigger audience. Reach and engagement are often part of your objectives. Using the insights from Autocomplete helps your writing deliver against these objectives. 

An autocomplete example

Look at this example from our writing blogs guide.

You can see popular related search terms to writing blogs. Tips, money and SEO are the key writing themes you’d pull out of 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 want to read about.

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. You can use them to identify key themes to write about.

However, there’s a limit to how much insight 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 may see a different list of 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 need 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 insight into what people search on.

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

This history goes from today all the way back to 2004. Being able to look at trends over time makes it a very helpful tool for writers.

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

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 comes 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 an 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 you’re researching markets overseas. You can also narrow your keyword and trend research down to specific timeframes. From the past hour all the way 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. They keep 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 that 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) 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 on 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 ‘market research’ was a much 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 article on the importance of market research for more on this). 

Another example using the Keyword Research tool

When we started to write the content in 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.

But 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 much 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.

So, 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).  

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 uses 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.

Check out 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 that answers those needs. 

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

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 guides to secondary research and SEO writing for more on this. Or contact 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


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