Four Tools To Break You Out Of The Keyword Research Box

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Need inspiration for expanding your keyword research? Columnist Paul Shapiro has some creative suggestions for you.

4 Lesser-Known Ways of Coming Up with Ideas for Keyword Research

Keyword research is a fundamental activity for an SEO professional, and although everyone does it a little bit differently, there are a few typical steps most people employ:

  1. Come up with a list of base keywords that will be used to come up with more ideas.
  2. Expand upon your base keywords using autosuggest and/or other means.
  3. Find search volume, competition and/or prioritize your list of keywords.

This post will tackle some little-known, alternative ways to accomplish steps 1 and 2, to come up with a greater number of keyword ideas without relying purely on brainstorming or the Google Keyword Planner.

Bing Image Search On Mobile

Back in April, Bing added a layer to its search suggestions for images, but only for mobile search.

These intelligently grouped “bubble” suggestions are different from the old autocomplete suggestions for images (which are still available), and they provide a bounty of useful keyword ideas.

bing mobile image bubble search suggestions

  1. Type in a very broad keyword to the search box, and Bing will give you semantically related modifiers that can be added to the search. Under each bubble, there are also related suggestions.
  2. To easily access the suggestion on your desktop in Chrome, open the developer tools by pressing Control + Shift + I for Windows, or Command + Option + I on Mac.
  3. Once the dialogue box opens, click the little mobile phone icon in the corner.

    enabling mobile emulation in Google Chrome

    You can then choose to emulate a specific mobile device. I typically choose an iPhone, but you can choose whatever mobile phone you wish. You may need to refresh the view to get it to display correctly.

    Bing Mobile Image Search Emulated in Chrome

  4. Now you’re free to click around and play with some of the suggestions, adding them to your keyword research.


Almost exactly the same as Bing’s bubble suggestions are Pinterest’s Guided Search suggestions.

My fellow columnist Clay Cazier did an incredible job of outlining some of the ways you can use Pinterest for keyword research, including the addition of Promoted Pin Suggestions and Pinterest’s autocomplete suggestions.

For our purposes, however, we will focus on Guided Search, as I feel it provides broader, more exploratory data.

  1. Head over to, log in, and do a normal search.

    Pinterest Guided Search for keyword research

  2. If you don’t already have it installed, grab the Scraper Extension or Data Scraper Extension for Google Chrome (either will work fine).
  3. Right-click on the bubble suggestions, and use the following XPath:


  4. For the Scraper Extension, click Scrape, and then either “Copy to Clipboard” or “Export to Google Docs” to access your new keyword list.

using Chrome scraper extension to get keyword ideas from Pinterest

You can play with adding on layers of keyword combinations and see what is suggested. They will be different every time you add another modifying keyword.

Survey Data

People are an often overlooked source of keyword data; surveying people is a great way to explore possible keywords. You can use a tool like Seed Keywords to create an easy survey that you can share around.

  1. To do so, create a search scenario.

    For example, if I run a florist website, my scenario might be: “I want to send roses to my wife. What would you search for to find a florist that is reliable and has the best price?”

    using survey data for keyword research

  2. Follow the prompts, fill out your scenario prompt, and Seed Keywords will give you a survey URL to share around. Send via email to some friends and colleagues, post it to your favorite social networks, or push it to Amazon Mechanical Turk to populate keyword ideas from real people.

Competitor Keyword Data

There are some tools like SimilarWeb Pro and SEMRush that will attempt to give you the various keywords a domain ranks for on Google.

Using these tools, you can simply input one or several competitors of yours and try to see what keywords they are doing well on, and then add those to your keyword research.

getting competitor keyword data from SEMRush

If you aren’t a subscriber of SimilarWeb or SEMrush, K-Meta is a free alternative that is worth checking out. The data may not be as robust,  but you can’t beat the cost!


There are many ways to tackle keyword research and come up with new ideas. SEO professionals have a tendency to rely too heavily on Google’s Keyword Planner and Autosuggest for ideation, despite the availability of some excellent alternatives.

If you’re looking to take your keyword research even further, I recommend checking out what your competition is doing, what Bing is suggesting for image searches on mobile, the keywords people search for in real scenarios and the wealth of data that Pinterest can provide.

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