Basic Keyword Harvesting Techniques to Boost Traffic

Many content managers, bloggers, and internet marketers struggle with SEO and keyword research.

Part of the issue is that they are not using keyword harvesting techniques that actually reflect keywords that are (a) used in the wild, and (b) valuable. The tendency is to brainstorm keywords and then look for those that seem to have high traffic.

This really isn't the best approach.

The best approach to keyword research uses both generating and scraping together. You can harvest keywords from any page, using one of several tools.

Keyword Harvesting

The idea behind harvesting keywords is really very easy: you want to find a way to use content sown by yourself or others into the world wide web to generate root keywords that are both relevant and valuable.

There are two basic parts to the process:

  • Scrape: use a tool to extract keywords from a target web page;
  • Generate: use the root keywords to generate long tail phrases.
The scraping part should use either:
  • Other people's content that comes up in a search for the keyword phrase most closely associated with your niche product or service;
  • Your own content (see the end of this article for an example) created specifically to allow you to harvest phrases related to your niche product or service.

One of the best reasons for using keyword harvesting is that it can be done for free!

Keyword Scraper

There are several tools available to help you scrape keywords from content. The best non-free option is probably something like SEMRush, but there is a Free Generator Tool list here.

However, if you want a tool that is easy to use, complete, free and accurate, then use the AdWords Keyword Planner. The drawback is that you need to do a fair amount of post-processing, but just remember that most of the other tools use the API to this service, so you are essentially using the same information.

(For a lesson on relying too much on third party tools, read "What if all your Keyword Research Tools Disappeared Overnight?".)

The process is easy: just use the "Search for new keywords option", and plug in the URL of the page you want to scrape from in the "Your landing page" box.

Make sure you initially set "Show broadly related ideas" to "No", and set the geographic targeting and language according to your target market. The result is a list that you can export, and then sort according to value. The notion of "value" is a tricky one: for me it's usually a simple multiplication of the volume and expected bid price.

If you want to roll your own selection process, then read "Keyword Selection Strategies for Your Keyword Research and SEO Projects".

The resulting keyword list can then be used to attract visitors to your sales page, site, or blog.

Keyword Generator

Based on content produced by yourself or others, the above process yields a list of root keywords. These can be used as-is but beyond root keywords, many people like to explore content created around long tail keyword phrases.

(For a very thorough exploration of the Long Tail, I suggest reading Chris Anderson's Longer Long Tail book.)

Essentially, long tail phrases combine several words together to represent a narrow niche, and allow you to benefit from the root keyword visibility, combined with the qualifiers that make the phrase unique and targeted.

The combination is usually a much better placement in the SERPs than the root by itself, and by judiciously planning a content web around several related long tail keyword phrases, you can usually corner a bigger segment of the market than if you tried to compete head on with everyone else.

To do this, I tend to use a scraper like which scrapes auto-suggest queries from Google, YouTube, Bing, and Amazon. Starting with the root phrase, make sure you set the correct geo-targeting and linguistic attributes, and then let the tool do the rest.

Once you have the list, you can export it and then import it into the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, and analyse it in the usual way.

Conclusion: Step by Step Harvesting Process

So, here's a process that will yield a steady stream of keywords for you to harvest, but be warned: it actually takes some effort.

  1. Set up a page that will contain an ever-expanding glossary of terms related to your product or service (could also be an FAQ), for example: Robotic Lawn Mower Brands and Models Guide;
  2. Allow page/blog comments, but set them to be moderated (encourage feedback; valuable source of keywords);
  3. Each day/week/month (pick the frequency that works for you), use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner as a keyword scraper to harvest the best (i.e. most valuable) keywords for your niche;
  4. Add any new ones on a Broad Match that are relevant to your master keyword list;
  5. Use a generator like to generate long tail keyword lists to work into blog content, and feed them back into the system as glossary/FAQ items, or make another page to sow new ideas and harvest the most current keywords from.
Regularly applying the above keyword harvesting process will serve as a way to take the pulse of your target market, as well as provide a rich stream of long tail keyword phrases with which to populate your content.

Really useful inspiration!