Seed keywords: The starting point of every good keyword research operation.
Seed keywords (aka “primary” or “head” “main” keywords) refer to the keyword that your article is baseline keyword that your article (or articles if you are making a list of seed keywords) is about.
Think of these like your foundation, or ground zero, for building out all the topics & articles you will write about on your website.
When we create content for our websites (with SEO in mind) we usually start by finding seed keywords and then expanding on those keywords (similar to making an outline) by finding supporting keywords – before we start writing an article.
Seed keywords are usually the primary topic, or subtopic, that many other articles can be written about.
Let’s say your site is about health, and one thing you sell is vitamins. You can start with that and easily expand just the word “vitamins” into TONS of other topics – here is a quick example of how fast that evolution can happen just using the Google search bar:
1. Start with “Vitamins”
2. Expand on that
3. Add a modifier word “for”
4. Pick a direction, in this case, “women”
You can see we now already have a TON of topics, and we only went down ONE rabbit hole.
Finding seed keywords & creating a list is not an exact science, but there is a loose process we follow each time to give us awesome results.
Creating your seed keyword list before you starting writing will significantly improve the organization, and SEO success, of your website. It will also make your life much easier when you actually sit down to start writing.
Depending on how familiar you are with the industry of the website you are planning (if it’s your website you will be very familiar, but if you are doing this for a client you might need a little research first) will dictate where you start.
To help you master this skill we will use real-life examples from different industries throughout the article so you can see how to successfully put this into practice and apply it to your industry.
How To Find Seed Keywords
Some of the primary ways we start building a seed keyword list are:
- Product or Service Terms
- Google Related Searches
- Competitor Keywords
If you know your industry then start by using your brain – think & write down some topics.
For example, our industry is Digital Marketing, and within digital marketing, there are many areas of expertise:
- Conversion Rate Optimization
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Website Design & Development
So, just by laying out those topics we (potentially) have a list of seed keyword terms, or at the very least a list of topics that we can further break down into seed keyword terms (depending on the size of the topics).
For us, each of the topics in the area of digital marketing is extremely large, so we would want to tackle these one at a time.
You can see a real-life example of this when you go to SERP University and look at how we broke down each of these topics, but I’ll keep going with this example so you can get some more practice.
Let’s take SEO for this example.
Because we know our industry I can break down the topic of SEO into further topics that we can potentially use as seed keywords.
Within SEO we have:
- Local SEO
- Ecommerce SEO
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO (link building)
- Technical SEO
- White hat SEO
- Black hat SEO
An example of seed keyword/topic planning using a mind map:
In fact, we actually recommend you use a mind map, or a spreadsheet, or Dynalist.
An example of seed keyword/topic planning using Dynalist:
An example of seed keyword/topic planning using a spreadsheet:
We normally will use a spreadsheet, or Dynalist – depending on how many layers the topic can break broken down to, how many keywords there are, etc.
Summary: If you know your industry, just start writing down the main topical areas of interest and then breaking them into subtopics. We will verify the search volume, difficulty, and sub-topics we can create around these primary topics later.
Product or Service Terms
Another great way to start understanding & creating your seed keywords list is just by making a list of your products/services.
This time we will use a Dentist as an example.
I would start by listing the main products/services the Dentist provides (and also what they help).
Remember, you want to try and use colloquial terms – things normal people would search for. For example, if you sell something like Opalescence PF 35% Whitening Gel, you would probably want to just list that as “teeth whitening”.
We also recommend listing the names of your specialties, because people search those terms too, like: orthodontist, periodontist, etc.
- Teeth whitening
- Teeth cleaning
- Dentistry for kids
- Root canals
- Wisdom Teeth
- Bad Breath
This is going to act as a great starting point for creating your seed keyword list.
We will verify the search volume, difficulty, and sub-topics we can create around these primary topics later.
Current Ranking Keywords
If you are a little less familiar with the industry and need to get some ideas, one great way to find seed keywords is to look at what keywords the website is already ranking for.
Use a tool like Ahrefs to see what keywords the site is already showing up for and that will begin to guide your seed keyword creation.
If your website is new, or just doesn’t have any current rankings, you can look at your competitors’ rankings.
Use Ahrefs to look at the competitor’s keywords:
Once you run out of ideas from your competitor, you can actually use Ahrefs to find MORE competitors, and then look at their keywords.
Create a Seed Keywords List (Thinking Outside The Box Methods)
If those primary ways don’t work for you, here are some other great ways to find some seed keywords to start your keyword research journey – remember, you are trying to get inside the head of your industry and competitors, but most importantly of your audience & potential customers.
- Blog Comments: Read the questions & comments on your industry-relevant blog posts.
- Social Media: Read the posts & comments in industry-relevant social media groups
- Forums: Read what people are talking about / asking for in industry-relevant forums.
- Online communities: Read the questions & comments on online communities like Quora, Yahoo Answers, Reddit, etc. (e.g. Reddit and Quora).
- Help & Support: Read through all your past help requests & support tickets.
Building a list of seed keywords sets the foundation for your content creation initiative & will significantly help the success of your SEO campaign.
Creating your list of seed keywords is just the beginning of the keyword research & planning process, so be sure to keep reading.
See you inside!