How to do Keyword Research like Sherlock Holmes?

  • March 13, 2017
  • SEO
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Keyword Search is a still mystery to many. So why not approach it in a way that has not been done before. Let’s look at keyword search through the eyes of the world-famous detective Sherlock Holmes. We all know the famous detective, who used logic and observation to solve the toughest of crimes in Victorian London. Let’s see how he can help. Hope you will have fun.

Image result for what would sherlock do
We all know the importance of Keyword Research. It is an activity that can decide the success or failure of your SEO efforts. When you are able to find the right keywords and optimize your web pages for it, you are sure to get rich dividends. You get the not only a high amount of traffic but when the right visitors come to your website, you are sure to have a great conversion rate as well. But, it is easier said than done. Today, a lot of webmasters are still guessing or using the simplest way out to find new keywords.

Let’s look at this the Sherlock way and see if we end up with better results. Are you ready?


1> Survey the Landscape

Sherlock SEO

As soon as people think about Keyword Research, they just run to the Google Keyword Planner for ideas. But have you ever thought about how similar all the keywords are to each other on Google Keyword Planner? And just think of all your competitors trying to rank for that particular keyword. It would be like trying to speed on a congested road. It’s just not possible.

This is where we need to think differently.

What you are missing is ‘Searcher Intent’. Sherlock would have thought about it that way. What was the person who committed the crime thinking? We need to stop and think; what was the user thinking, what would you do if you were in that position?   

Image result for google keyword planner


2> Look for Hints around you

Sherlock knew the ‘right places to look’ at. You could start with places like ‘Google Related searches’ at the bottom of the SERPs. Start making a list of all the different combinations that people are searching for. Go to the Google homepage and check ‘Google Suggest’.  

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Go to all the forums dedicated to your product/service. Note down all the keywords they are using. If you are looking for easy keywords that can be optimized, check if you already have keywords that are ranking well without your knowledge with the SmartSERP tool.   


3> Use Intuition but never Guess

sherlock seo

Brainstorm ideas with your team. Trust your instincts but try to justify your approach with data. If you believe that you should go for body keywords instead of long-tail keywords for specific web pages, then go for it. Once you have been part of the SEO world, you start getting a good sense of what works and what doesn’t with years of experience.

In the long run, you need to ’take calculated risks’ and measure your impact so that you learn from your mistakes and gain knowledge. If you play safe all along, you will never discover the tricks that are unique to your market and also build confidence in your SEO team to succeed.


4> Observe the Environment

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What are your competitors doing? What are the latest trends? Look everywhere. Sometimes the answers may be staring right in your face, but you may be ignoring them.   

Instead of using long-tail keywords that are just different combinations of the same subject, look for a new angle. Why not ‘explore different niches’ and get the attention of that audience.

For example, if your product is ‘window curtains’, don’t be restricted to just the synonyms and few combinations. You can find numerous questions people have about curtains.

Every user may not be looking to buy curtains. Some may be looking for information about curtains. Others may be looking for new designs. You will find numerous niches like this if you keep searching. This is the best way to outsmart your competitors.    


5> Learn how to Deduce Things

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After all, your users are from a wide range of backgrounds with varied interests and tastes. How do you capture the interest of everybody who could be potential users of your product/service?

Sherlock would start by shortlisting the prospects and reaching the answer. You must also do that when you build a ‘buyer persona’. Have you identified all the major needs of your target users and added them to your target user? When you have built a great buyer persona, your life becomes much easier and you can target your keywords right at them.


6> Analyze using a Step-by-Step process

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Sherlock had the famous powers of deduction. He was extremely good at a process of elimination by which he would discard all the improbable ways one by one and reach the right conclusion.

You may know that there are a hundred ways in which users may look for their information and there could be a number of keywords they may use to search for the exact same thing. So, the first thing you must remember is to ‘never ignore a keyword possibility’ however weird it may seem.

Once you have collected all the keywords you could have, only then you are fully ready to find the real culprits (right keywords). Start by putting them in groups and eliminating the least valuable.


7>  Reach the Right Conclusion                       

Image result for bbc sherlock meme

Now, you have your final lot of keywords with you. You need to put it through numerous filters to see which one of them are the best bet for you. Verify the traffic they are getting using Google Keyword Planner. Find out the difficult level in ranking for these keywords. Find out the business value each of the keywords can give you.

After you have put the keywords through all these filters, you can prioritize the top 20-40 keywords that you need to target. And hence the case is solved.  



Keyword research can be fun and not so complicated as it portrayed as. All you have to do is follow this simple format. Be creative, be curious to find different ways to approach this. Stay connected to your users and be observant of their changing needs. Above all, never guess; instead always depend on data to back up your ideas and measure your impact so that you never repeat your mistakes again.

Do let us know if you liked this post in the comments below.

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