How to Build a List of Seed Words for Better Keyword Research

Effective keyword research begins with seed words. Each seed word can turn up dozens of long tail keywords that you can rank for on Google.

In this article I'll show you two techniques for finding seed words.

But first of all, what exactly are seed words?

Listen to a podcast of this article:

'How To Find Seed Words In Your Niche' (8 mins 57secs)

build a list of seed words

1. What Are Seed Words?

Seed words are primary keywords, also known as ‘head keywords’ or ‘main keywords’.

They typically consist of just one or two words.

One characteristic of seed words is that they have not been qualified by a modifier.

In the screen shot below Google Auto Suggest has added various modifiers to the seed word ‘copywriting’:

seed keywords

You can also think of seed keywords as ‘focus topics’ – they are the main topics within a given niche.

For example, if your niche was weight loss, your seed keywords might be ‘recipes’, ‘diets’, ‘fitness’, and ‘lifestyle’.

If you run an online business, your seed keywords will usually be your website’s products and services.

Any niche will typically have a number of seed words, depending on how broad the niche is.

2. Why Do You Need Seed Words?

But first of all, why do you need seed words?

There are two main reasons: topical authority and blog post ideation.

- Topical Authority

One of the ways to rank higher in the search engines is to increase the topical authority of your website.

Through machine learning and latent semantic indexing, search engines are increasingly able to understand context.  And that in turn helps them get an idea of what the main topics are in any given niche.

This means that search engines can measure the topical authority of a website. And when search engines perceive that your website has authority on a certain topic, any web pages you have on that topic will tend to rank higher.

A website that covers all the main topics within a niche has high topical authority. But a website that has gaps in its coverage of the niche, has lower topical authority. So your content needs to cover your niche as thoroughly as possible. 

And to do that, you need to have a comprehensive list of the seed words that that belong to your niche. 

- Blog Post Ideation

When you have a comprehensive list of seed words for your niche, ‘blog post ideation’ (a fancy word for coming up with ideas for your next blog post) becomes much easier.

Whenever you’re stuck for a topic for your next blog post, just take one of your seed words and type it into Google and then look at Google’s Auto Suggest variations: those are long-tail keyword phrases that make excellent topics for blog posts.

In the remainder of this article I'll show you two techniques I use for finding seeds words in my niche.

Finding Seed Words - Technique #1

In this first technique, you extract the headings and subheadings of published articles with high topical authority. Those headings and subheadings contain the seed words for that topic.

- Install SEO Minion Chrome Extension

The first thing to do is install a Chrome Extension called SEO Minion.

This is a free tool that helps with various SEO tasks such as On-Page SEO Analysis and checking webpages for broken links. But we’re going to be using it to extract headers and sub-headers from web pages.

With SEO Minion installed, go to Google and type in a high-level keyword that describes a topic within your niche. For this example, I’m going to use the topic ‘email marketing’.

Next, click on the first result in the SERPs. Then click on the Minion icon in your toolbar, and then click on ‘Analyze On-Page SEO’:

using SEO Minion to extract seed words

A new tab will open and you’ll see a list of the headings in that web page:

using SEO Minion to extract seed words


Click on the download button and those headings will be saved to a CSV file on your hard drive.

- Import the Data Into Google Sheets

Next, go to Google Sheets and open a new document.

Select the top-left cell in the spreadsheet:

using Google Sheets to identify seed words

Then go to File > Import and import the CSV you just downloaded:

importing CSV file into Google Sheets

On the next screen, change ‘Replace Spreadsheet’ to ‘Append to current sheet’:

use Google Sheets to extract seed words

Now select an empty cell beneath the imported records and repeat the steps above for the next web page in the search results.

Follow the same steps for the top 5 results in the SERPs.

- Sort the Data and Eliminate Duplicates

Next, create a new column and enter a ‘Yes’ or ‘y’ for every heading that’s relevant. Once you’ve done that, you can sort the whole table and discard the rows you don’t want.

And with that done, you can then sort the column that contains the headings. Remove any duplicate headings and then create a new column adjacent to the headings column. 

Label this new column ‘topics’. Now extract the relevant keyword from the ‘headings’ column and place it in the ‘topics’ column:

how to find seed words

You now have a comprehensive list of topics for your main keyword.

Each of those topics is a seed word you can use to generate long-tail keywords.

- Find Subtopics Within the Topics

You now need to take the process one step further and look for the subtopics within the topics you just discovered.

Take the topic ‘list building’ (one of the topics under ‘email marketing’), for example.

Go back to Google and type in ‘guide to list building’. 

Then go through the same steps outlined above: click on each of the top 5 pages that rank on Google for that keyword and extract the headings and subheadings into a Google spreadsheet.

Here are the subtopics for ‘list building’ that I managed to extract using the same process outlined above:

finding subtopics within your topics

Finding Seed Words - Technique #2

In this technique, we're going to extract 10 seed words from 10 blogs within your niche.

Here's how it works:

- Take 10 Blogs Within Your Niche

Make a list of 10 competitor blogs within your niche

In my case this list might contain the following blogs:

- Choose 10 Articles From Each Site

Then visit each blog site and look at the titles of the 10 most recent blog posts.

Most bloggers know the importance of including keywords in their blog titles so each of these 10 blog titles should contain a keyword or keyword phrase.

These are the seed keywords you're looking for!

Extract these seed words from each of the 10 blog titles and note them down under the name of the blog.

Do this for each of the 10 blog sites that you identified for your niche.

When you’ve completed this exercise, you should have something that looks like this:

successful blogging - seed words
blog tyrant - seed words
blogging wizard - seed words
backlinko - seed words
smartblogger - seed keywords
problogger - seed keywords
copyblogger - seed words
jeff bullas - seed words
neil patel - seed words
income diary - seed words

- Place the Seed Words in a Mind Map

Now go to your favourite mind map software and enter these 100 seed keywords. I use Simple Mind, which is free. You can download it from here.

When you’ve finished, your mind map will look something like this:

seed keywords

- Organise Your Seed Words By Topic

Now you need to sort the seed keywords into categories.

To do this, create 10 to 20 upper-level topics and start grouping your 100 focus topics under these 10 to 20 categories.

You’ll end up with something that looks like this:

mind map

This is the map of your niche territory.

- Convert Your Mind Map into a Word document

Now export your mind map as a text file and then save the text file as a Word document.

You’ll now have a document containing about 100 seed keywords divided amongst 10 to 20 upper-level categories:

list of seed words

You can use this document in two ways:

  • Use the main categories to make sure there are no gaps in your content strategy. The topical authority of your website will depend on the degree to which you’ve covered all the main topics within your niche.
  • Use the seed keywords to find long tail keywords

Conclusion

Compiling a comprehensive list of seed keywords for your niche is a vital part of your content strategy.

It will give you ideas for new blog post topics and help you research new long tail keywords.

But more importantly, having a comprehensive list of seed keywords will help you improve your topical authority by ensuring that there are no gaps in your content.

Last updated on May 5th, 2021 at 02:57 pm

Rob Powell
Follow Me

25 thoughts on “How to Build a List of Seed Words for Better Keyword Research”

  1. Wow, Rob, this is a fantastic article. Thanks for taking the time to create and share it.
    Ramsey over at Blog Tyrant shared it on Twitter…so glad I clicked it!

    I’ve been lucky to have a great specialty niche and have built up great organic traffic the last decade for my websites (I’m a resume writer and LinkedIn profile writer). But things are constantly evolving, the algorithm and search engine gods never sleep – so nothing can be taken for granted in terms of reach, ranking and how the competition evolves.

    I’m more of a pantser and on the fly creator, and that formula has worked well for me (e.g. more instinctively knowing the content and keywords to use and getting a good rank and resonance to back me up). However, your very concrete data mining, mindmapping and transformation suggestions I’d never considered before –and I’ve never seen it explained quite this clearly and appealingly before.
    It seems extremely powerful!
    I will be adding it to my SEO to-do list (the kind of to-do lists that all pantsers maintain 🙂 )

    keep up the great work!

  2. Hey Astrid, thanks so much for your feedback! And thanks to Ramsay for tweeting my article 🙂 I’m a bit of a mind map freak so I love mapping things out. But the main reason I wrote the post is there don’t seem to be any articles on systematically mapping out the seed words for a given niche. One thing I should point out is that in the example I’ve given, the niche is very broadly defined. For some people, each of those ‘focus topics’ would be a niche in itself (e.g. email marketing, SEO). I’m so glad the article was helpful 🙂

  3. Hi Zahir,

    Thanks for your question.

    I’m sorry you weren’t able to see the images in my article. I just checked the article and it’s working fine at this end.

    I found a video on how to use the Simple Mind mind map software: How to Create Simple Mind Maps

    I hope it helps.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

    regards, Rob.

  4. Hi Zahir,

    Topical relevancy, or topic relevance, is a metric used by search engines to measure how relevant the backlinks are that point to a given page.

    The use of topical relevance by search engines makes it difficult for ‘black hat’ operators to game search engine algorithms. This is because search engine algorithms expect to find backlinks from pages that are on the same topic as the page they point to. It’s difficult for ‘black hat’ operators to achieve this.

    In fact, the only way to ensure that the backlinks pointing to your page are topically relevant is if you are a genuine authority on that topic and people who also write on that topic are linking to your content.

    To clarify an important distinction: topical relevance refers to the relevance of backlinks whereas topical authority refers to the relevance of content itself.

    I hope this helps.

    Rob.

  5. Hello sir ! I am a new blogger but I have face many problems. I have a mobile and creat blog. it’s a very easy but no view in my site .How we can find the best way of keyword research?
    Your site and every articles is veryusefull .

  6. Hi Rajendra,

    Thanks for your question.

    The best way to do keyword research is to find long tail keywords (keywords containing 3 or more words) with low competition. You need a keyword research tool that shows you (a) the Google Page #1 search results for that keyword and (b) the key metrics for each of the ranked pages. If there is a page in those results that has a domain authority (DA) close to your DA, then you have a good chance of ranking on Page #1 for that keyword.

    You may find these articles of mine useful:
    Using the KWFinder Tool To Get On Page #1
    How To Do Keyword Research with SEMrush – 2 Simple Techniques

    I hope this helps,
    Rob

  7. Hello, I am a new user to your blog and I really find this article very helpful and Informative . Thank you for sharing such a wonderful Information.

    Your site seems really helpful and supportive for digital marketers.

  8. Hey Rob! thanks for sharing this highly useful blog post. I followed every step of it and ended up with more seedwords than i bargained for 🙂

    Except the mindmap software part. I skipped that for now -didn’t have the software. I’ve found a free and opensource mindmap software called freemap. i’ll try it out.

    I’ll arrange the keywords under my categories. Then use answerthepublic or soovle to get nice logtail keywords for each.

    Thanks for the tips.

  9. Hey Nasiru,

    I’m so glad to hear that you used the technique and it worked for you. Awesome!

    By the way, the mind map software I mentioned in the article has a free version (fully functional).

    Answer The Public and Soovle are both great sources for LTKs.

    All the best 🙂
    Rob

  10. Hey Rob,

    fantastic job answering each and every comment patiently. Not many do this.

    Quick question for you.

    Apart from blogs, whatever you have indicated holds true for websites too correct? I am reworking my website with extremely limited Digital marketing knowledge.

    Hoping you put me on the right track.

  11. Hi Santosh,

    Thanks for your feedback and your question.

    Apart from blogs, whatever you have indicated holds true for websites too correct?

    In general, that’s correct. Product pages can rank well for very specific product-related keywords (e.g. ‘excel training in Goa’ or ‘Canon EOS 200D Single Kit with EF-S’). Blog posts are good for targeting more general keywords. I see that you have a blog attached to your website, which is great. So you would be able to rank for both product pages and blog posts.

    I hope this answers your question.

    Best, Rob.

  12. First, thanks for your helpful article. Especially for a newbie like me.
    I have a question, please reply to help me understand better
    I searched for the seed keyword in the first 10 topics of Successful Blogging blog but why not find the same 10 keywords like below in your article?
    1. Blog Design Tips
    2. Monetizing
    3.Blog Traffic From Instagram
    4. Branding Your Blog
    5. Finding the Right Domain
    6. Email Marketing
    7. Blog Post Ideas
    8. Writing Blog Posts
    9. Promoting Your Blog Post
    10. List Building

    If possible please carefully analyze the process of finding these 10 keywords.

    Best regards,

  13. Hey Rob,
    I have read many posts on your blog.
    Really helpful, thank you for such quality posts
    I have a question for you
    I am newbie, I look forward to setting up a website.
    So, what articles do I need to read first? Please list the articles I need to learn to be able to create my website right from the first steps.

  14. Hi Trung,

    Thanks for your question.

    I extracted those 10 seed words from blog post titles on successfulblogging.com.

    The process I used was to simply find 10 blog post titles on that website. I then identified the keyword in each title. Those keywords are the ‘seed words’ that I use to find long tail keywords.

    I’ve made a video about seed words that you may find helpful: https://vimeo.com/343404466/f75780c0cc

    Hope this answers your question.

    – Rob

  15. Hi Rob,
    Thank you so much for your answer.
    It was really helpful to me
    Hopefully, in the process of building a blog, I will get help from you.

    Best Regards,
    Jonhny Kat

  16. Hi Rob,
    I have another question about your blog.

    Currently, what theme does your blog use?
    What plugins are you using for this blog?
    I am building a website in the field of baby,
    So which theme should I use accordingly?

    Best Regards,
    Jonhny Kat

  17. Hi Trung,

    Sure, no problems. I use Magazine Pro (by Studio Press) on the Genesis Framework. The plugins I use are shown in this screenshot:

    My Plugins

    Best regards,
    Rob

Comments are closed.