Seed Keywords: What Are They & 7 Actionable Ways to Find Them

Seed keywords are words or phrases that you can use as the starting point in a keyword research process to unlock more keywords. Think of them as the building blocks of keyword research.

For example, if you sell coffee online, then you can use seed keywords like coffee, espresso, cappuccino, French press, percolator, etc.

When you drop these seed phrases into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and navigate to a keyword ideas report, you’ll generate millions of potential keywords:

After identifying a few relevant seed keywords for your website, you can build on them with modifiers to generate more keyword ideas.

But why is it important to spend time developing a good seed list?

I’m glad you asked.

The long and short of it is this:

The output is often only as good as the input.

This is true when building a keyword list. To get the most from Ahrefs’ Keywords Explore (and most SEO tools, for that matter), you need to have the best inputs.

Identifying seed keywords may also help you build out your topic clusters by finding new subtopics that you may not be aware of.

Seed keyword examples  Best database provider | classy database

Here are the keywords generated if I drop in the seed keyword “mountain bike”:

In the example above, Ahrefs generated 264,608 keywords from my single seed keyword.

Pretty good. But with more seed keywords, could this be better?

Let’s use a slightly more developed seed list this time:

  • [mountain bike]
  • [mountain biker]
  • [mountain biking]
  • [MTB]
  • [mountain bicycle]
  • [hardtail]

And then run the same process again:

This time, Ahrefs generated 519,830 keywords.

That’s (let me just whip out my abacus) an extra 255,222 keywords, and I did so by just inputting a few more seed keywords.

A lot of articles about keyword research skip over India Phone number seed keywords in favor of the more fun and interesting parts of the process.

These articles may offer some vague methods:

  • Think about terms associated with your product/service
  • Explore related terms (like long-tail keywords)
  • Look at your competitors’ keywords

There is nothing wrong with these methods. In fact, some of these I am going to cover in this guide.

But I think my point still stands: These are vague in terms of going from zero to a spreadsheet full of relevant keyword ideas.

So try these (hopefully less vague) seed keyword research methods instead:

1. Brainstorm variations of your target keyword

Sometimes, the best tool is your brain.

For finding seed keywords, start by creating a list of obvious variations and synonyms of the term you are researching.

This is important because of the way most keyword research tools work.

Here’s an example: If you put “mountain bike” into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, then you’re not going to see keyword ideas for the plural “mountain bikes.”

You should also look for other industry terms during your hunt for seed keywords. While you are already in Keywords Explorer, you should toggle the “Also talk about” tab (under Related terms report):

This can be quite useful for finding other industry terms. It shows keywords that the current top-ranking pages mention.

One more simple method for uncovering industry terms is by going to the Wikipedia page that is most closely related to your topic.

Then simply drop that URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. Start reviewing the keywords the page ranks for and then look for potential seeds. I go into more detail about this method in my article on topic clusters, so go check that out if you want.

Based on these methods, if you sell mountain bikes online, then you’ll likely brainstorm words and phrases such as:

  • [mountain bike]
  • [mountain biking]
  • [MTB]
  • [mountain bicycle]

These methods may be a bit harder if you know nothing about the niche. In which case, you may want to check out competitors to get some ideas.

2. Reverse engineer competitors with Site Explorer

If you are less familiar with the industry and need some ideas, look at what keywords related sites are ranking for.

When using Ahrefs’ Site Explorer for uncovering seed terms, I mainly use the Organic keywords report and the Top pages report.

Here’s why:

Looking through the Ahrefs organic keyword data is one of the quickest ways to identify potential seed keywords.

For example, let’s say I want to research the topic “beards.”

So first, you want to pick a site related to that topic. For the purpose of this example, we’ll go with BeardBrand.

If I look up the organic keywords it is ranking for, I see “mutton chops,” which is a term that doesn’t immediately come to mind when I think of keywords associated with beards

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