15 Ways to Brainstorm for Keyword Ideas (and Jumpstart Your Brain)

By Spencer Haws |

Brainstorming for keywords is the process of generating seed keyword ideas.  These seed keywords are what you will plug into keyword research tools to generate additional ideas and eventually select an single keyword to target for your niche site.

So, today I will focus exclusively on the brainstorming process. I will NOT focus on how to select an individual keyword to target or how to use software tools to generate additional ideas, this will be covered in the future. 

Think of this process as where to get those initial ideas that you can then branch out of and find those hidden gem keywords.  Below are 15 ways that can give your brain a “jumpstart” when it just feels like you can't come up with anything on your own. After that, I talk about using tools to help you brainstorm.

I highly recommend that you use Long Tail Pro to make it fast and easy to find great keyword ideas.

Start a free trial of Long Tail Pro

How To Brainstorm For Keyword Ideas

There are millions of different ways to that range from the mundane to the inspirational.  However, in order to help you develop more of a system that can be followed when you are having a “mental block”, I have made a list of ways to generate root keyword ideas.

  1. Look Around You. The items you see on your desk, in your room, or anything else within view can often be great root keyword ideas.
  2. Watch TV. Write down the names of TV shows, products sold during commercials, or even the items you see during the TV show.  All of these items can be used as seed keywords.
  3. Go Shopping. Wal-mart (and other stores) holds hundreds of thousands of items, and all of these could technically be a root keyword.  When you are looking at items don't just write down the exact name of the item, like “Nike AirMax Lebron VII” (although that's good to write down also); you should also write down the generic item or similar keywords – like “shoes”, “sneakers”, “basketball shoes”, “AirMax”, “Lebron”.  Notice how this one item turned into 6 potential root keywords and could be more.
  4. Use Google Trends. If you just can't think of anything, head on over to Google Hot Trends and see what people are searching for on Google right now.
  5. Use Amazon Products, Categories, Descriptions, and best sellers. Amazon has millions of items, and hence millions of root keyword items.  Don't just look at product names, also use categories and the words you see within the descriptions to spark new ideas.  To see the top selling items, browse through the Amazon bestsellers of all the categories.
  6. Use eBay Products and Categories. Obviously you can browse individual items; however, I have also found categories to be helpful.  If you go to this categories listings page on eBay, you will see many more categories than usual.  Also, if you click “See All … Categories” you will see much more details.  For example, here is the “See All Collectibles Categories” page. Hundreds (maybe thousands?) of root keywords right there.  Also, you can use eBay Pulse to see the top selling and other hot items.
  7. Use Affiliate Networks. If you are stuck for ideas, simply log into any number of affiliate networks and browse the products and READ the other keywords that are used in descriptions of those products.   A few affiliate networks that I have used are: Clickbank, Commission Junction, Neverblue Ads, Clickbooth, Linkshare, and many others.
  8. Go to the Library. Book titles are a GREAT way to find niche ideas.  In fact, even the most obscure section in the library probably is a pretty big niche online.  The library just doesn't have room to include all the tiny niches that can be found online.  So walk down the isles of the library and this could keep you busy for months (or years?) with keyword ideas.
  9. Use Google Instant. I'm personally not a huge fan of Google Instant (because it often makes me forget what I was going to type in because of all the random ideas it throws up); however, it can be great way to generate some root keyword ideas.  If you are just not thinking of keyword ideas on your own, simply type in a few letters into Google and check out some of the results.  Try starting with just random letters or type in any word that pops into your mind; the suggestions given can lead your mind into some great niches.
  10. Try Wikipedia. Okay, for Wikipedia you probably need to start with some basic query before anything pulls up, but once you start reading ANY article on Wikipedia, you can find lots of great root keyword ideas within the text.
  11. Read Forums.Go to your favorite forum, or visit Big Boards to browse through all of the biggest forums online.  You can find thousands of forums that people have a passion for – which usually also makes a great niche.  If you actually read some of the posts, you can find some excellent root keywords.
  12. Pick up a Newspaper or Magazine. This one is pretty self-explanatory.  Get the juices flowing by simply writing down what you are seeing on the page.
  13. Look at Online Ads. I have used this a few times.  When I am browsing other websites, I will take note of what is being advertised on the site and the specific keywords that are in the ads.  This can very often lead me to think about niches that I probably wouldn't have thought of on my own.
  14. Copy other Niche Websites. This is a hidden gem that I have used many times.   Often when I am doing research or simply browsing other niche websites, I will find that a site owner is linking to lots of other niche websites ( which they most likely own and operate as well).  Once I find a network of niche websites, I will try to discover the keywords they are targeting and use these as root keywords.  
  15. Ask Someone. When all else fails, ask your friends, wife, family, or other for ideas.  If your brain is stuck for ideas, try someone else's brain for a little bit.
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Using Tools To Help You Brainstorm Keywords

So using one of the 15 methods above, you have a few keyword ideas. Now it's time to use technology to our advantage.

For this, we're going to be using a keyword research tool (check out this article on the best keyword research tools). 

Let's say that I went shopping with my wife and we went through the furniture section of the mall. I saw a bunch of different couches, and I thought up the keyword idea “house decor ideas”.

You can use your keyword for this. Whatever you come up with, go to your favorite keyword research tool and plug it in. I'm going to be using Long Tail Pro.

I typed in “house decor ideas” and here's what I get:

long tail pro keywords

You can see that I have a ton of awesome keywords here! “best home decor ideas”, “best interior design ideas”, “bedroom design ideas”. And I have 397 more keywords like that.

So if you can come up with the seed keywords, a keyword research tool can go a long way in helping you flesh your ideas out. They might cost a little, but can be huge helps when it comes to building new ideas.

I highly recommend that you use Long Tail Pro to make it fast and easy to find great keyword ideas.

Start a free trial of Long Tail Pro

Conclusion and Your Thoughts

So there you have it, 15 great ways to get your mind ticking so that you can find root keywords.  Now once you have these seed keywords you will want to expand that list by using the Google Adwords Keyword tool or other software to generate additional keyword ideas.  As mentioned, I will be discussing how to expand your keyword list with software and other tools in a future post.

Generating root ideas is a critical step to building successful niche websites.  If you are able to start with a large list of diverse root keywords, you greatly improve your chances of finding a low competition niche that you can dominate.

So, what other methods have you used to generate root keyword ideas?  Let me know below!  If you have any other comments or questions, I would love to hear them as well.

SEO | 45 comments

By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding, and co-founding You can learn more about Spencer here.

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

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Trent Dyrsmid

Hey Spencer,

Great post, thanks for sharing it.

Re Google instant; here’s an idea that I use. I type “how to a” and see what comes up. Then I type “how to b” and see what comes up. Then c, and d, and e, etc…

Taking this a little further, you could type “how to ab” and then “how to ac” and each time you will get all sorts of ideas.

Other prefixes to try instead of “how to” are “get rid of” or “eliminate”.

You can also think of major themes in society. Like starting with “how to overcome….”

For me, this works wonders.




Great tips on using Google instant! I really like your ideas of adding “how to” or the other prefixes you mentioned. If nothing else, this should help generate lots of great ideas.


Graham Lutz

Trent – I didn’t even get past the google instant idea before when right over there and type “how to a” into the bar!

I’m sure this could be an unlimited supply of ideas with enough prefixes!


Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best!

You’ve just given me a great idea for a new site.




Awesome list!

There’s an option in the Adwords Tool where you can find keywords in specific websites. So I look in sites like, etc.


Ardegas – great suggestion! I’ve never actually tried looking at site keyword with the Adwords tool to generate root ideas – but that would definitely work. Thanks!



Its useful to reverse engineer other peoples sites as well.

Heres another tool for extracting keywords from other peoples sites and also seeing there rankings for those keywords

its very cool I use the pro version now but the free one is pretty cool.


Great article. In the past I was using amazon to get some ideas. But since I’m not targeting “Products” keyword anymore, now I’m using popular yahoo! answers.

Another good way to find keywords is to use “Adjectives” for example:
fast, late, long, modern, old, quick, rapid, short, slow,swift, young… etc

You can find more adjectives here:

Select the Exact much type in Google keyword tool and check “Only show ideas closely related to my search term” and add the <$2 filter and fast keyword –> fast keyword keyword –> fast keyword keyword keyword

Hope this help. Thanks!



Great suggestions to use Yahoo Answers and adjectives. Never tried the adjectives technique, might have to give it a shot…thanks!

discount wedding invitations

Good,comprehensive list.
I think people’s biggest difficulty is not finding a niche is ranking and monetizing well..


I agree that people have troubles ranking and monetizing their sites well, but I disagree with you as to the reason for that. I believe that people dont rank well and hence don’t make money is because they do not find a good low competition niche/keyword. So, if fact most people choose their niches poorly – so this should be useful info. Although my future posts about judging competition will be more detailed.


I also think luck plays role here.


Spencer you have broken link to Yahoo Explorer in idea #14.


I agree. You absolutely need low competition keywords to make money in any niche. Here’s a free keyword scoring tool I found that your readers might also be interested in. The comments here are much more helpful than nonsense you see on so many other blogs. Thanks!



Well if you have longtailpro thats less of an issue !!

My problem now is i find to many and cant simply build them all……


Kristi Hines

Nice ideas… sometimes we’re too focused on doing all of our research with keyword tools and online when there’s a big world of ideas all around us. Great way to multi-task your next money making idea with your next shopping trip.


Agreed! Might as well find keywords that can make you money while you are out shopping and spending your money!


Good tip about Google Instant. Will uses this!



hello sir

i am using adword google keyword external tool to find keywords to make new website
1. What should i look for? high competition or low competition
2. How much should be global monthly visitors for [exact] keyword? …..plz answer




Raj – dont worry too much about the competition shown in the Google adwords keyword tool. If you must look at it, look for high competition ON THIS TOOL. However, you want LOW competition in the top 10 results of Google. (Which is totally unrelated to what is shown on the google adwords keyword tool.). I only look at LOCAL EXACT match searches. This should be 1000 or more (I use the US as my local search volume).


Man .. I’ve been dabbling with adwords and getting really confused with masses of advice, some of it pretty contradictory. Just wanted to say a BIG thanks for this site … you are truly a legend .. now .. about that loan 😉


I don’t know about being a legend, but thanks for the kind words!


Great site Spencer!

You mentioned Amazon and remembered seeing this tip on another site. Put the following query into the Google search bar to target the best of the bestsellers (with quotes):

“Amazon Bestsellers Rank:”+”price: $400..20000000″+”50..9999999999 Customer Reviews”

Feel free to adjust the parameters to your liking.


I must have done it wrong, didn’t get anything.


Not sure why that didn’t work. Try this link instead:“Amazon+Bestsellers Rank”+”price:+$400..20000000″+”200..9999999999+Customer+Reviews”


well, that didn’t work with a copy/paste from the page here.

It looks like the blog converts plain text quotes to rich text ones…that don’t work

Craigslist Moving

I love this list.

Actually, another item that could generate keyword ideas is the business that one is working in.

For instance, I am a professional mover. So I created my blog because I was getting a lot of searches to my site. So look at what keywords are being used to come to your business or job and that could also give you a good set of keywords.



Thanks for the great ideas Spencer!

I’ve been doing keyword research all weekend and these ideas should definitely help my strategies.

Right now I have my wife helping me which is great because she thinks differently than me. However we may have tapped out of ideas if I didn’t find this post.


Check your wordpress blog spam comments. People will spam you with their keywords. Often times you can find a good idea in other people’s spam comments.


lol, great idea!

Naveen Kulkarni

Spams are not really that Spams 🙂


Spencer – I’ve been using Amazon to garner ideas for so long, THANK YOU for pointing me in the direction of ebay.

Now please excuse me, I’ve a date with ebay listings…


Lol, sounds great Benjamin…it should help you get some new ideas for sure!


Hey Spencer,
thanks for the great ideas. I am new to this and have been trying to pin down a niche for some time. great ideas.



Amazon and eBay are alright if your looking to sell a product or making a review site for said product. It’s kinda useless if your looking to get into a service or self help niche.


A technique I use is to take a keyword and then drill down by a certain demographic. For instance, if the keyword is “cowboy boots” then I’ll enter “cowboy boots for toddlers” or “cowboy boots for seniors”. You can always add adjective before the keyword to get even more niche.

Spencer, what kind of keyword title competition do you look for before selecting a niche using long tail pro? 10 or less? 400 or less?


amazing ways to find a lot of keywords without really stressing myself in finding keywords from different different sources…. thanks man…

Andy Green

Not sure if it has already been mentioned but one way I have found to get some really lateral ideas is to go browse the web sites for sale on flippa.
The range of sites is quite phenomenal and you can get some idea of which niches appear to be making money.


I’ve been using this one for a while too – it’s like google instant and bing suggest all rolled into one….ubersuggest. Great ideas spencer, and love your emails full of ideas

Naveen Kulkarni

This is such an awesome list Spencer,
That means, in reality anything can be our root keyword provided it passes through Long Tail Pro test or Google Keyword Test for that matter.

This gives me another idea, why don’t you build an Long Tail App for Google Glass? When your app is integrated with Google Glass, you don’t need to type anything, Glass will tell you which is the right Niche keyword for you 🙂


Spencer Haws

Sounds complicated :). Who knows…maybe in the future – but no plans at the moment.

Will Griffiths

Hi guys,

If you want more keyword ideas you can use a seed keyword like ‘craft’ or ‘camping’ with Facebook’s precise interests targeting to find more ideas:

1. Google ‘Facebook Advertising’ and click the first link
2. Click ‘Create Ad’ (You need to be logged into FB)
2. Choose a dummy URL (you need one to access the feature)
3. Chose ‘United States’ or your desired location (You can also chose an age group)
4. Type your seed KW into the precise interest category e.g ‘Camping’
5. Look at through results for related KWs (Ranked according to audience size.)

Optional – Click on a second interest e.g. ‘Hunting’ then remove your original e.g. ‘Camping’. You now have another 10 slightly different KWs. You can continue this chain to search for seed KWs quickly.
Camping >> Hunting >> Deer Hunting >> Deerskin Trade

Happy KW hunting!!!


PS. Spencer you should join in the SPI Niche Site Duel. 😉

Using a seed KW of ‘Camping’ the results are:
Audience: 19,700,000
Audience: 890,000
Audience: 21,800,000
Audience: 2,100,000
Audience: 3,200,000
Audience: 3,900,000
Audience: 162,000
#Outdoor cooking
Audience: 242,000
#Camping and Caravanning Club
Audience: 268,000
#High adventure
Audience: 54,000
#Camping in New Zealand
Audience: 2,000

sean rithya

Hi Spancer! It is great idea for me to look for new keywords as now i have no idea on which keywords i should start first.


Hi. I’m loving Long Tail Pro. After generating competitors for a Keyword I looked at what one of them was really ranking for with Google tool. They where ranking for something other then the main keyword and they didn’t target it very well. I choose those words for my site. Leave no stone unturned.

Nisha Pandey

Great ideas. It really helped me lot.Thanks for sharing Spencer.

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