• Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Keyword Research

9 Ways to Find New Keywords and Expand Your Keyword Lis

  • Christian Carere
  • 10 min read
9 Ways to Find New Keywords and Expand Your Keyword Lis


Whether you’re just starting a new project or you’re well into an SEO campaign, finding keywords is a crucial element in generating traffic. Knowing how to find new keywords and expand your list allows you to broaden the reach your website has on new clients and visitors.

It’s a plain and simple fact that website traffic grows a lot quicker when you’re continually adding new keyword targets. This is a big reason why keyword research is so crucial to the success of SEO campaigns.

The problem with finding new keywords

One of the biggest problems that are faced by SEOs and webmasters is that if you’re only using one tool, you end up fighting against thousands of SEO strategists and website owners for the same keywords.

The first thing most SEOs do when analyzing a website is jump on a keyword tool. It’s common practice to look at the top competing sites and see what they’re ranking for to establish a baseline keyword strategy.

Think about it.

If a million people in the US are using the same tool, they’re all seeing the same keyword output if they’re competing in the same or similar niche.

There comes a time when you need to separate yourself from the masses and take a more unique approach to finding new keywords. You can expand your keyword list by trying any one of the following options.

9 techniques to target new search terms and phrases

Each of these research techniques is not necessarily “cutting edge” and you’ve probably heard most of them before. However, the truth is they can uncover new keywords and variations that will lead you to more smiles and high fives in the office and with your clients. Let’s start with the obvious.

#1. Steal your competitor's keywords regularly

As mentioned earlier, one of the first things we do when analyzing a keyword is type it into Google. Using analytic software, we can see who’s ranking at the top and from what other keywords they’re generating their traffic.

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If you’re anything like most humans, you might get stuck in a routine and solely rely on your preferred choice of analytic software. You can make this work for you to find new keywords.

Why? This is never a one-and-done process. The SERP is always changing, and your competition is always adding new content. Therefore they are constantly targeting new keywords too!

If you’re in a competitive niche, the chances are most of the competing websites have some sort of up-to-date SEO strategy. It depends on the niche but the chances of a website not adding new pages each month are pretty slim to none.

By keeping your finger on the pulse of enemy movements, you’re not only monitoring their advances but also the changes in their keyword and content strategy.

#2. Use different keyword tools to spice up your perspective

While most keyword tools will typically give you similar output, you can still get some new ideas and search terms by bouncing between a few of them. Here’s an example of the difference in results between Rank Tracker, Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Ubersuggest when you type in “dumpster rental Dallas”

Rank Tracker

Rank Tracker

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While you can see similarities between Ahrefs and SEMrush, they still offer different perspectives. Rank Tracker’s keyword tool is far more comprehensive in terms of the number of keywords it lists. Ubersuggest gives you something different and gives you more broad topical keywords, rather than a geo-focused keyword list.

Optimize high-volume keywords to rank locally

Many search terms can be used in blog posts to create content assets. If you’re operating in a service area, why not localize the keyword to create local content on your site? Take Ubersuggest’s keyword and add your city: “How much are dumpster rentals in Dallas?”

By targeting a popular keyword in your city, your page has a higher probability of appearing in searches originating from your city.

Expanding your keyword list doesn’t always mean going for the money words or high-volume keywords. Your keyword strategy should incorporate every step of the buyer's journey, which includes answering commonly asked questions.

Your content strategy should be tailored to educate your clients, educate your potential clients, attract links, and increase engagement. Informational, human-centered content is a key element to every SEO campaign when developing a website. When you find keywords and phrases that accomplish these goals, they become fantastic additions to your overall strategy.

This brings us to a semi-controversial topic…

#3. Identify zero-volume keywords with intent

A zero-volume keyword is a long-tail search term that shows up in most analytic software as 0 search volume. The reason this topic has come into the discussion is that there are keywords that show zero search volume and yet have the potential to generate excellent traffic.

How do zero-volume keywords generate traffic?

Simple. Analytic software only tells you part of the story. Many tools don’t have enough data to pick up all of the searches or report on it before the keyword becomes more popular.

In this example, we found a zero-volume keyword that showed promise.

google search

Part of the story suggests this keyword isn’t worth dedicating an entire page when it has no searches a month. However, suppose there’s a crazy storm in Houston? The need for yard waste removal would skyrocket! This keyword would be positioned to generate a LOT of traffic from the need for yard debris removal.

Another reason zero-volume keywords work is that they’re generally long tail keywords and can phrase match with many other popular searched terms. So if you’re content is on point with answering intent, you can generate more search volume from multiple search terms.

In this example, the website that ranks #1 for yard waste pickup Houston…

google search

It also ranks #2 for yard waste removal. Which gets 40 searches and also has commercial value to a trash hauling company. With certain right zero-volume keywords you can potentially rank for a large volume of traffic based on the growth potential (topic is trending up) and on other non-competitive long tail phrases that generate good traffic.

Google’s Keyword Planner

Zero-volume keyword caveats:

There’s always a flip side to everything… The first is many of these phrases are low-volume keywords. To get a big payoff there needs to be a few things in place:

  • The keyword needs to be positioned to grow in popularity because of a trending niche or topic
  • The keyword shouldn’t be an unpopular way of spelling a competitive term
  • Your content needs to adequately answer the search intent of your long-tail phrase

How to check the validity of your zero-volume keyword

If you’re scouring a keyword report for your website and a zero-volume keyword pops up, check Google’s Search Console. You can see how many impressions your keyword received and see if it’s meeting or beating expectations.

You can also check Google Trends to see whether there’s growth in your niche or your keyword topic is trending upward.

The bottom line here is that keyword tools are guides to figuring out the bigger picture of a keyword strategy. If a keyword shows zero volume but the topic is trending, it’s like investing in a stock before it rises.

#4. Use Google’s keyword planner against the competition

Google’s Keyword Planner is an obvious go-to for adding new keywords. When using the keyword planner, you can select up to 10 keywords as sources for the output. You can also enter the URL of your website to filter out the services you don’t offer.

I used one source keyword as a test and our URL produced 432 keyword suggestions:

google ads

If you want to see the keywords Google suggests for your competition's website, throw their URL in the keyword planner. The beauty of this is that Google produces a list based on semantic keywords and the content posted on the site.

google ads

One of our competitor's URLs produced over 1,000 keyword suggestions from the same source keyword! That’s more than 600 potentially new keywords to add to your list.

google ads

The result is Google’s recommendations of new keywords that could potentially make your competition money and therefore YOU as well! Download your newly discovered keywords to a spreadsheet so you can work with them more easily.

#5. Target semantic keywords and phrases you already rank for

Search engines pick up on semantic keywords when assessing how well your page satisfies intent. So if you’re ranking for all of your target keywords, see what other keywords you’re ranking for that may not be on the first page.

You should have a slew of closely related phrases and terms that could provide you with a boost in traffic. Sometimes you need to carve out a new page to target these terms and sometimes it’s just making a slight adjustment in the optimization of your existing content.

#5. Use Wikipedia to source new ideas and similar directions

This one is no surprise, but it has to be mentioned. Wikipedia is like Google’s favorite child. Google trusts Wikipedia and sources it for what seems like everything. Why? It’s layered with factual knowledge from credible sources and links to hundreds of associated entities on every page.


When you visit a page on Wikipedia, you can scour the page for links to see what type of associations they’re making. The table of contents is a primary source of related topics so it’s best to start there. There are still a ton of different links that lead you to more highly related topics, ideas, and keywords.

#6. Use brands, titles, and authors as keywords that represent your offering

Kelly Felix (from Bring The Fresh when it was on top of its game!) was the first person to mention this strategy and it works like gold…

Think like your target audience.

What would they be typing if they didn’t know you existed?

Next question.

Who DOES exist that they have a good chance of knowing? By using popular brand titles and authors you can attract the same target audience they attract.

If you’re offering a program or online course for making money online, then “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill is an excellent parallel to your product. Someone looking to read this book wants to make more money in their life.

They’re a match for your offering.

Using competing brands can get tricky. It puts you on their radar and opens up the possibility of them targeting your brand. While it’s generally accepted in PPC campaigns, it doesn’t always feel right when you’re declaring war outright on your website.

Nonetheless, we did it anyway.

The client liked the idea so we optimized for an easy keyword that incorporated a brand name.

Petco Plano

The keyword “Petco Plano” gets around 450 monthly searches. So far no comments, concerns, or hostile contact. Fingers crossed!

Google Search Console

Once again, an obvious, yet powerful source for making use of new keywords you may not have thought of before. Search Console shows you every keyword your pages appear for, and how many clicks were made to your page. You can extract useful data using Google Search Console.

search console

This can help you understand where more opportunities lie by either tweaking your optimization or targeting those keywords with new pages.

If you haven’t noticed, Google has a section at the bottom of the page titled “Related searches”. This aids in your quest for semantic keywords as well as offers you different variations.

Here’s the related searches section after a search for dumpster rental Fort Worth:

google search

From this section, it can be inferred that using these keywords in your optimization both on-page and off-page will add to more traffic.

Google is telling you “Hey, if you’re searching this keyword, then you’re probably also looking for these too.”

The output in this example gives you phrase match keywords (Fort Worth Dumpster), prices, a near me keyword, a semantic keyword (junk removal), and then three brands that are popular in DFW.

All of these keywords are worth noting because they represent additional search volume that can be added to your keyword list.

#8. Maximize your keyword list with Google Autocomplete

This is a personal favorite of mine. Every time you search Google, it suggests different keyword searches as you’re typing. Using this function can give you a wide range of related search terms to add to your keyword targets.

For instance, when you add words like for, to, and, in, to your seed keyword, you get a big list of options. As you may or may not know, SEO on its own as a keyword is probably among the toughest of keywords to rank for on Google.


The power of long tail keywords means the more words you add the more precise the intent of your search terms become. There is however a trade between volume for lower competition in most cases. Such is the case when you add “services”


What gets interesting is when you add modifiers. By adding “for” look what we get!

google search

Suddenly, you’re looking at keywords with a lot less competition. Yes, you sacrifice the search volume, but these are valuable to an SEO company duking it out with the big guys.


You can even take the phrases you find and keep the process rolling!

google search

Sometimes these phrases may show up as zero search volume on your software. It doesn’t mean they’re not valuable. It depends on what you're using your keyword for and what you’re expecting.

You wouldn’t base your entire campaign on a zero-volume phrase. You could, however, use a zero-volume phrase in your strategy to compliment similar content on your site and make sure you show up for a phrase that’s valuable to your business.

Google suggested it for a reason. It may not be a huge breadwinner, but there’s value in most of your findings. It’s also a way to confirm whether searches are being made or are trending.

#9. Create your own keywords to create content assets

One strategy we use in local SEO is to create content that ranks #1 for phrases that local businesses would find attractive. We use a seed keyword that people fight for and then modify it so we can rank quickly if there are no searches.

This may sound evil but it’s a strategy that works and despite the laborious effort that goes into the outreach, this can generate some fantastic local backlinks.

It starts with a seed keyword that local businesses recognize. We used pool contractor in Durham as ours. We created content titled “How to Hire a Pool Contractor in Durham Region” Not only did this page rank #1 for hire pool contractor in Durham…

google search

It also ranked for pool contractor Durham:

google search

AND hire pool contractor!

Meet Ranktracker

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Behind every successful business is a strong SEO campaign. But with countless optimization tools and techniques out there to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. Well, fear no more, cause I've got just the thing to help. Presenting the Ranktracker all-in-one platform for effective SEO

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By simply thinking of what our audience would want for their business, we created content based on a keyword with zero searches. No tools are required! And we got the links we needed too by featuring companies on our page.


Final thoughts on keyword research

You can accomplish a lot by doing what has already been figured out and laid out for us. For the most part, we all use similar software and have the same resources. Thinking outside the box is a valuable skill that can lead to genius thought.

The difference between intelligence and genius is that intelligence is defined as a high level of competency in being able to accomplish tasks and solve problems. Genius is defined as an exceptionally high level of cognitive ability that incorporates original thought and innovation which leads to ground-breaking discoveries.

You don’t need to be a genius to find new keywords, but it doesn’t hurt trying! In the meantime, you’ve now been presented with the tools and resources to find new keywords and expand your keyword list at will!

Christian Carere

Christian Carere

SEO Consultant

Christian Carere heads the SEO team at Austin Bryant Consulting as well as runs his own SEO agency in Toronto (Digital Ducats Inc.) A good portion of days are spent eyeballs deep in client SEO and dreaming of how to make them more money while working from an office with sand, water and crashing waves.

Link: Digital Ducats Inc

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