In order to develop a high-returning content or SEO strategy that generates visibility, clicks, and (ultimately) dollars, you need to reach people where they are.
The goal is not to change the way they search for content.
The objective is to meet them where they are by targeting the search terms and questions they’re already using.
If this is the case, the challenge is rather simple:
Find out what people are searching for and use this intel to create quality content.
When you cut away all of the fluff and excess, this is the heart of SEO and content creation.
The question is, how do you find out what people are searching for?
There are plenty of tools and resources available online that promise to give you insights into search intent, but if you’re serious about this, you might as well go straight to the horse’s mouth.
We’re talking about Google – the source from which all searches flow.
And the good news is that they make it very easy. Just pay attention to Google’s “autocomplete” feature.
Autocomplete is a unique feature within the Google Search system that makes it faster and easier to complete searches once a user starts typing them. With each keystroke, the system generates predictions of what you’re searching for based on millions of data points from past user searches. Users can then select the search they want to run from the dropdown options (or continue to type in their own unique search if the correct option doesn’t populate).
According to Google, “Autocomplete predictions reflect real searches that have been done on Google. To determine what predictions to show, our systems look for common queries that match what someone starts to enter into the search box but also consider: the language of the query; the location a query is coming from; trending interest in a query; your past searches.”
In other words, Google Autocomplete is dynamic.
Suggestions evolve based on location, time, and search trends – meaning predictions will be much different should a related breaking news event occur.
Unlike the following humorous video Google released over 10 years ago, Google Autocomplete is an algorithmic tool, not a monkey on a keyboard!
As Google explains, “Autocomplete is a time-saving but complex feature. It doesn’t simply display the most common queries on a given topic. That’s why it differs from and shouldn’t be compared against Google Trends.”
While the autocomplete feature might not be intended to provide the same research benefits as Google Trends, it’s difficult to ignore the value. Google might downplay its value; however, autocomplete is arguably one of the most insightful tools you have as a content marketer or SEO who is looking to create content that resonates with your audience.
While Google Autocomplete might have different intentions than Google Trends (from a developmental side of things), the results speak for themselves. This feature tells you what the most common searches are based on search terms, which is enlightening for several reasons:
Again, Google Autocomplete might not be Google Trends, but it’s arguably just as valuable from a search marketing perspective. By creating content that targets the search terms, questions, and phrases found within the autocomplete “engine,” you can create a more targeted approach.
We’ll cover more about how to leverage Google Autocomplete to improve or advance your content strategy in the following section. But for now, let’s dig into how you gather autocomplete search terms.
Step 1: Begin with a “seed” keyword that you’ll use to start the process and type it into the Google search box. (For example: how to buy a house.)
As you can see, this gives you 10 suggested results based on what others are searching. It also gives you local trends. At the time of running this search, I’m in New York City. Notice how a couple of the results have to do with “NYC” and “NJ.” These results would be different if I were in, say, San Francisco or Kansas City.
Step 2: Continue your “seeded” search by typing in each letter of the alphabet after the search term (one at a time). For example:
Each time you type in a new letter, the results change based on the inputs. This gives you an entirely new set of autocomplete terms. If you go all the way through the alphabet, you’ll get 250-plus results.
Step 3: Each time you run a search with a new letter of the alphabet, take a screenshot of the suggested results. To make this process as efficient as you can, have your screenshots copy to your clipboard by default. This will give you 26 individual screenshots in one place (one for each letter of the alphabet).
Step 4: After you’ve gathered all of the screenshots, use an app like the Text Extractor Tool from Brandfolder to turn these screenshots into text files. (There are plenty of other tools that offer similar functionality as this one, so feel free to find one that fits your workflow best.)
Step 5: Take the text file for all of the auto suggested keywords and import them into an SEO keyword tool like KeywordCupid. This tool will cluster all related keywords together and give you some other unique insights and abilities to sort for relevancy.
Based on this five-step process, you’ll have a pretty big list of search terms. (And, remember, this was just one “seed” keyword. Imagine doing this for 10-15 different phrases. You’ll never have to guess how to build out your search content strategy.
(Pro Tip: Hire a virtual assistant to run this entire process for you. Record a screen share video of you doing it a couple of times and then give them a list of 10-15 other search terms and instruct them to repeat the process.)
Now that you know precisely how to collect a list of Google Autocomplete search terms, let’s dig into some of the specific ways in which you can use these search terms. Here are several ideas to get you thinking creatively about various options.
Any good onsite content strategy consists of pillar blog posts. These are foundational pieces of copy that make up the bedrock of your search marketing strategy.
Pillar posts tend to be thorough and comprehensive – often ranging from 2,000 to 5,000 words in length. They target common groupings of search terms and are designed in a way that makes them easily “linkable” (both for onsite content and offsite link building).
Google Autocomplete is the perfect tool for developing a pillar blog post strategy. You can take 5-10 of the top search terms or questions and turn them into subheadings within the blog post. Then all you have to do is answer the questions or provide an explanation beneath each of these subheads. Suddenly, writing quality content becomes as simple as painting by numbers.
While pillar blog posts tend to combine a variety of related sub-topics within a single larger topic, good content strategies also consist of cluster content. Cluster content is typically much smaller and more focused than pillar content. It takes one of the niche topics discussed in the pillar piece and develops a 1,000-word to 1,500-word post. The cluster post links back to the pillar post to create a “web” of content that enhances your SEO efforts.
You can set your business up for success by offering exceptional customer support and a frictionless online user experience. One way to accomplish this – or at least aid in the pursuit of this goal – is to develop a robust knowledge base on your website.
A knowledge base is essentially a digital repository that’s full of documentation, guides, and other resources that help customers find answers and access important information. Depending on the types of products and services you sell, it may include guides, manuals, FAQs, troubleshooting guides, how-to information, videos, and more.
Creating a knowledge base can take time. However, you can speed up the results by using targeted research. Your Google Autocomplete data is a great place to start. You’ll discover the precise questions and queries your customers are using. Based on this, you can create guides, FAQs, or even self-help videos.
If you’ve ever wanted to launch a YouTube channel for your brand but have been unsure of what kind of content to produce, just study your Google Autocomplete data and look for the biggest questions. Using the screenshots from Step 1 and Step 2 above, a real estate company could create YouTube videos about the following:
The list goes on and on. You could easily create 50-75 videos about buying a house using nothing more than autocomplete suggestions. They don’t have to be massive videos with revolutionary ideas. Some simple five-minute videos with the right keywords can help you grow a channel over time. If nothing else, it gets you in front of the kind of prospects you’re trying to connect with.
You can use the same approach mentioned in the previous section about YouTube videos to create podcast episodes. In fact, if you’re interested in doing both YouTube videos and podcasting, you can double-up and repurpose your content for maximum efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Once you’ve created your YouTube videos, all you have to do is export the video’s audio file and upload that to your podcast host. This instantly gives you a podcast episode. (It’s possible that you’ll need to add a unique intro and outro. If this is the case, you can use some basic audio editing software to splice together a few clips prior to uploading.)
It’s always a good idea to know what people are saying about your business or brand online. And while there are plenty of tools that can help you monitor what people are saying and searching, Google Autocomplete is a great place to start. Simply type in your brand name and see what pops up. Play around with different word choices and search structures. Record what you find and make this part of your regular weekly or monthly process. Over time, you’ll start to identify trends and see how your brand’s search presence evolves.
As previously mentioned, one of the neat things about Google Autocomplete is that it’s updated in real-time based on millions of data points and searches. This makes it one of the best sources for up-to-date trending content ideas.
If there’s a trending topic that you’re interested in writing about, make sure you run it through Google first to see what permeations and unique terms people are most likely to search for. This can inform your keyword strategy, title creation, etc.
Google is big on local search (and it’s trending more and more in this direction). With Google Autocomplete, you can gather local SEO search ideas that you might not have ever considered before. Use this as creative fodder for new business ideas, or leverage the keywords to enhance your own local search marketing strategy.
A shotgun approach to building out a content strategy doesn’t work. You need a calculated process that allows you to target the right people with the right keywords and the right content. If you have the time, energy, and expertise to do this on your own – more power to you! But if you’re busy running your company and would rather outsource keyword research and content creation to professionals, we’re here to help.
At SEO.co, we work with everyone from small startups to established Fortune 500 companies to make creating authority-building, traffic-magnetizing content simple and cost-effective. Want to learn more about how we can help you? Click here to get started!
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