A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post overviewing various web trends and practices on implementing on-the-fly search suggestions. The comments clearly demonstrated the interest of our readers in the subject, so this time I am following up with more actionable advice focusing on the Google suggest feature: how can you, as a marketer, actually use it?
What can a marketer, a blogger or (a keyword) researcher actually do with Google Suggest?
1. Keyword Research and Story Brainstorming Assistance
Before I start talking about going from theory to practice and learning how to actually incorporate Google Suggest into your keyword and market research, let me remind you of a very important thing about this feature:
Google Suggest is personalized in many ways (including your search history, location, etc) – keep that in mind if you are using it for keyword research or anything similar.
The variety of tools based on the Google Suggest API makes it possible (and fun) to use the feature for keyword research and brainstorming. I am sure you will LOVE playing with most of the tools listed below:
1.1. Google Suggest Expansion
As you may have noticed, Google only displays top 10 (or fewer) suggestions for any term you enter. How can these sets of phrases be expanded?
1. Google Suggest Result Expansion… by adding each letter of the alphabet at the end of the provided phrase:
- seo a
- seo b
- seo c
- seo d
Each of these queries will result in 10 more search suggestions. See how easily the keyword set is expanded this way:
Now, good news! There’s a sweet tool that will do the whole job for you and let you export the entire set of results to a text file: Ubersuggest. This feature does the following:
- Takes your base term and extracts Google suggestions for it
- Attaches each letter of the alphabet to your base term and extracts Google suggestions for those as well
At the end you get dozens of terms starting with your base term:
2. Google Suggest Result Expansion… By digging deeper into each phrase:
Now, if you take any phrase you see suggested and enter it in the search box, you will see suggestions for that whole phrase – and you can go on this way until Google has nothing to suggest.
Waiting for the good news, aren’t you? I am not going to disappoint – there is a tool that expands Google Suggest results this way. It works terribly slowly but the outcome is well worth it. It also allows you to set the level of how deeply you want to dig into the results. Here’s an example of two-level digging:
3. Google Suggest Result Expansion… By providing several random (related) phrases:
To get more ideas, just provide more terms to search. This tool can be a huge time saver for that: it extracts Google Suggest results for multiple base terms (the tool is limited to 200 results, so providing more than 20 base terms is not a smart idea).
1.2. Google Suggest Result Visualization
While visualization tools are not as useful for keyword research, they can be an awesome help in brainstorming. Take a look at how this tool called “What Do You Suggest?” works as a mind-mapping utility for developing ideas and discovering new content angles:
- Comparing two very close words (in meaning): e.g. [1200 calories - 1000 calories]
- Comparing two (almost) absolute synonyms: This would usually apply to an acronym versus its full version, e.g. [DIY - do it yourself]
2. More Fun Uses
Putting aside all the arguments on how Google Suggest may influence the searcher’s intent (and thus affecting his results, the feature can actually be a fun playground.
Here are just a few examples of how Google Suggest may speed up completion of your tasks and make your life easier:
1. Discover Alternatives to Tools and Apps
Imagine you are considering some feature-rich (paid) SEO tool but can’t decide on your keywords.
Search commands to use:
2. Discover Most Obvious Competitors
(According to search users)
3. Quickly Learn the Meaning of the Word
This is only one of the various shortcuts available through Google Suggest (most of them don’t work from the toolbar search though – to play with them, use the web interface):
What else? Do you find Google Suggest tool useful or rather annoying? Do you use it and the tools derived from it? Please share your thoughts!