How to Think Like a Buyer when Using Keyword Research

Google’s semantic keyword searching algorithm may delight Google users, but it has some SEO strategists in a panic. The fact that a keyword search is now re-interpreted by the Google search engine to provide more meaningful results makes it much tougher for marketers to rely on single keywords alone as a means of getting attention back to their sites. Just repeating some particular keyword a set number of times in an article is not going to provide much of a benefit at all anymore. Even though using multiple keywords to generate a topical theme might still help, ultimately the keywords are far less important to Google, even as they remain highly relevant to business owners trying to sell a particular product or service. How can business owners gain the most from keyword research now? They need to look at keywords through the eyes of their customers, not just Google.

The Virtual Online Buyer

Buying online is far different than shopping at a department store. When a buyer walks into a brick-and-mortar store, they know that the store can only carry a limited amount of inventory that suits mainstream tastes. You will see the latest trends and fashions and 'what’s hot' but if you’re looking for a purple jumper in the middle of summer, you’re going to be out of luck. That is, unless you’re online. Now, a buyer knows that they can search for the most obscure things online and they will likely be served a ton of pages of vendors who sell it online, no matter what the season. So, what eventually brings them to a particular store? What store do they end up at online will depend on the query they drop in the search engine. Three ways to get better targeting with your keywords is to exploit location-based searches, long-tail keywords, and grouped keywords using a core idea or theme.


Location-specific queries are becoming very popular because people still like to shop within their immediate area. Some types of products and services need to be provided locally, as well. For instance, someone driving around in their city may decide they want Chinese food for dinner. They will pull out their smartphone and type in 'cheap Chinese food in Victoria' or wherever they’re located. If they want Moo Shu pork only, they might better define the search by including that term. If they are using Google Voice, they might put in a search by asking the smartphone: 'What is the best Moo Shu pork in South Yarra, Melbourne?' The query doesn’t specifically ask for a restaurant or even the word 'food,' but Google knows, semantically, that the searcher is looking for a restaurant and will pull these results up for this particular neighbourhood in Melbourne. This is a brilliant move by Google, but then, how does a business owner attract Google’s respect if the keywords 'Chinese restaurant' or 'Chinese food' are no longer even important? You focus on specific types of searches and the mindset of the buyer. In this case, you would focus on emphasising your location keywords, drilling down to neighbourhoods, if necessary.

Long-Tail Keywords

Another way that has been used before and is becoming even more relevant, due to semantic searching, is the idea that people shopping online are not your average mainstream buyer. They are very particular and know what they want, even if it is a purple jumper in the summer or Moo Shu pork in South Yarra. To work, keywords are becoming more complicated and conceptually important. Broadly defined keywords no longer carry the punch they used to. Keywords with too broad a scope may end up costing a whole lot to implement as well, since competition might be higher. However, if you focus on long-tail keywords, those phrases that are not as popular or mainstream, then you stand a better chance of getting a good rank out of them. In addition, more specific long-tail keywords also indicate that the buyer has narrowed down their decision and might be in the stage of the buying cycle that goes from broad comparison shopping to narrower pricing. Once they start looking for a specific brand or model in a long-tail keyword, in other words, they’ve made a decision on product and are working on pricing or some other criteria. They are ready to buy. This should also be taken into account when picking long-tail keywords to target.

Keyword Ideas and Themes

When specific keywords don’t work as well, what can you use to help you with your keyword strategy? Keyword ideas and themes are one way to determine what keywords to add to your website copy. The truth is, that even if you target specific keywords that the Keyword Planner Tool shows as a group, many of the actual keyword searches that lead people to your website may not even be included in that listing. The listing that Google gives you is their idea across multiple industries, but the searches you see when you analyse your website traffic tells you more about the buyer’s intent. Once you have an idea of what themes and ideas are important to the buyer, you can create a grouping of keywords that will draw attention from your ideal customer demographic, even if they don’t rank on the first page of Google for their most popular searches.

Top 5 Tools to Help You Define Location, Long-Tail, and Themes for Keywords

To get started, you will need a few more tools in your toolbox besides the Google Keyword Planner tool, although, you definitely want to include this one, too. However, you can still get some other great keyword choices and strategies out of using the other tools that aren’t related to Google. Here is how you might use some of these tools to do your keyword strategising, while taking into account location, long-tail research, and themes.

1. Google Keyword Planner – This tool is still ideal for some types of keyword strategies, like local searches. The Keyword Planner tool lets you drill down to smaller towns within major city areas and see the keyword volumes for each geographical keyword. It will also give you a good idea of the competition for those particular local keywords. The Google Keyword Planner has recently updated. Find out more.

2. Wordtracker – This tool will help you quickly figure out the best long-tail keywords to include in your campaigns. It will also give you related keywords that are different than the seed keyword used as the basis of the search. You can get thousands of keywords with hundreds of related keywords using this one simple tool.

3. – This tool works similar to the Google search engine autosuggest when you don’t hit enter, except that you can also narrow the suggestions to a particular vertical category, like shopping. It also has more data in it than just that collected by Google. For instance, if you wanted to create a themed idea behind the seed keyword “purple jumper,” you would type that in and let the tool go through the alphabet a letter at a time to fill in the next word. You would get for "purple jumper +a" another possible long-tail keyword “black and purple argyle jumper.” You can drill down further and get even more specific, thus generating a themed grouping of potential keywords with Ubersuggest.

4. Bing Keyword Tool – This tool makes up for the loss of the Google Keyword Tool, which SEO experts adored. It gives you some idea of the competition and difficulty for the types of themed words or ideas you choose. It only uses Bing search data, so it isn’t as comprehensive in nature as the old Google Keyword Tool.

5. Google Webmaster Tools – This tool provides you with keen keyword insights on how Google perceives your usage of the keywords on your site. It will give you keyword ranking on your site to let you know which keywords are most effective. It will also provide the click-through-rate on your keywords. You can even see the keyword performance over time in a visual graphic display. You can link this tool with Google Analytics, which will provide you with traffic impressions and your average position in Google Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Webmaster Tools will give you authorship information for your content across the web, not just your site, which is one of the largest changes made to SEO recently. The more Google perceives that you are an 'expert author' on a particular topic, the higher you get ranked for those keywords. Using any of these tools, a business owner can create a content strategy rich in effective keywords that will bring loads of inbound traffic to their doors.


Demers, J. (2014) How-to-Guide: 5 Ways to Use Google Webmaster Tools to Maximize Your SEO Campaign. Retrieved from: Wordtracker (n.d.) Reveal high-performing keywords in minutes. Retrieved from: The Moz Blog (2013) Using Google Keyword (and Other Tools Instead) for Keyword Volume. Retrieved from:

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