How To Find Industry Keywords In Your Niche

In order to create an effective content or social media strategy, you need to understand keywords and how they impact the visibility of your content and the rise in traffic to your website.  In 2011, this Social Strand blog garnered a mediocre 40,000 or so visits. In 2012, that rose to 400,000 visits.  When we look back at our content strategy, some of it had to do with social media promotion, but the majority had to do with our keyword strategy. Here’s how we did it and how you can do it too!

To understand what keywords people use in search is to understand that people usually go to the web and type in a phrase or more commonly, a question they have in order to find information. Sometimes you are too close to your industry to figure out what the obvious keywords are for your niche. For example, marketers use words like “content marketing” or “social media marketing” or “engagement”, but when people are looking for answers on marketing, they are usually typing in something specific like, “How to increase likes or comments on Facebook.”

First and foremost, what are keywords?

When someones searches for something online they type in words or phrases describing what they are looking for into the search engine. These are keywords. The search engine then returns a list of websites or blogs with content that relates to the keywords used.

Second, there are lots of tools you can use, such as:

  1. Ü (free tool). Get thousands of keywords generated from real queries. This can give you blog ideas or help you with your next PPC campaign. Works in a variety of languages and verticals like shopping, news, images, or just the web.
  2. Google Keyword tool – free tool. track the # of searches your keyword or phrase is getting locally and globally. The competition column tells you how many advertisers are bidding for that word. Only if you are using keywords for advertising, does this matter. Otherwise, you can ignore it. Also, click on the other tab, Ad Group and let Google group keywords together for you.
  3. Keywordspy (fee based). Although you can sign up for a free trial with no credit card. You can look at related keywords, similar keywords, misspelled keywords, PPC and organic competitors.
  4. Contextual Targeting Tool (free tool). Yes, it’s always been there but recently I found out that it runs on the same engine as the former Google Wonder Wheel. It batches keywords for you into ad groups. To access, log into AdWords, click the Tools and Analysis tab, and then select Contextual Targeting Tool.
  5. SEOMoz Keyword Difficulty Tool (fee based $99/mo included with SEOMoz Pro). Analyzes organic search and compares it to the competition. Allows you to get keyword difficulty scores & see top 10 ranking with competitive analysis.
  6. Allintitle search on Google (free too). Essentially you type into your Google search: “Allintitle:your keywords”.  This gives you all of the sites, news, etc. that have that keyword in it. You can also add location to make it a more local, rather than global search results.

    If that doesn’t make sense, then see this video for a how-to tutorial.
  7. Free Keyword WordTracker – partially free. Gives you 7 day trial  for free and then you need to purchase.
  8. Socialmention (free tool). Allows you to type in a topic or phrase and see how your prospects are talking about the topic. (FYI – I don’t love this tool, but it’s okay. It’s a little broad for my liking, but worth mentioning.)

Third, you need to have an action plan to handle your keyword research.

  1. Make a spreadsheet with a key phrase on each tab.
  2. Start looking up these phrases using some of the tools above.
  3. Review this every 3-6 months, as keywords change over time.

Now that you’ve done all of the work, start adding them to your website, blogs, product descriptions, and more. But don’t overstuff your pages with keywords, because search engines will penalize you for doing so. Try to find a nice balance.

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About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.


  1. Tracy, thank you for the post. I love reading each one of yours – usually just having woken up in the morning, taking my phone and starting my day with your very well stated, deliberate article. Helps me getting inspired for the day! :)

    • Tracy Sestili says:

      Thanks Jennifer! It certainly is a Good way to start off the week, isn’t it? Happy Monday!

  2. Hi Tracey – I just have to say “wow”! what a really helpful article you have written for us. I knew about only 2 of the online tools you explained for us. A very easy to read article, and full of superb value for me at least. I’ll be sure to book mark this site. thank you

    • Tracy Sestili says:

      Thanks Richard! Glad you enjoyed the article and found a few useful nuggets (that’s always my goal). :)

  3. Amen!

  4. Tracy,

    GREAT set of tools!

    I have found that technology and engineering companies add a layer of complexity. For example, a specialized Australian electronics engineer that designs telecommunications hardware / software and consults with the installers, doesn’t want to just be randomly found by a Google or Bing search. Their customers are highly specialized and know their electronics engineering services by referral or industry reputation. Finding the website and social media is often done AFTER the initial in-person contact. The web and social acts like a tear-sheet and digital brochure.

    I recommend also gleaning keywords that are familiar to a niche audience:

    * Larger companies in a similar industry – in this example Raytheon, Intel and Telstra
    * Ideal clients – in this example national law enforcement, air traffic control and railroad engineers
    * Suppliers – in this example overseas microchip manufacturers and radio antenna vendors
    * Industry publications – quarterly journals, engineering societies, trade-show promoters

    The above approach takes a human read, but helps ensure that the unique customer that is looking to validate a technology company in a highly specialized industry recognizes and can validate this company.

    The tools you mention above are a great value-add to testing and comparing words for the niche audiences! Grateful for the tips.

    • Tracy Sestili says:

      Hi Shauna, great points and all too often they’re overlooked. Thanks so much for your well thought out and (useful) comment! I think many could learn from it.

  5. Jeannie says:

    Hi! I’ve been following your blog for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from New Caney Texas! Just wanted to mention keep up the great work!


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