A Quick Guide to Question Based Keyword Research

Conducting great keyword research is a crazy-cakes important step to ranking webpages in Google.

I would say that it’s the most important step, if you get it wrong disappointment and binge drinking will follow.

In this short-ish guide I’ll break down my favourite form of keyword research, which is looking at what questions people are asking.

Providing the answer to questions is great for developing ideas for blog posts + it makes you feel all fuzzy inside because you know that you’re helping others with your awesome-saucy content!


People love asking Google questions; how much is this thing? What’s the current strength of the dollar? What is hair pomade, best winter jersey for my Schnauzer…?

Question based search is so prominent that Google has even included an Answer Box for certain search terms in the current SERP (search engine results page) landscape:

Answer box search result

Why target question based search?

Standard keyword research tends to focus on core commercial terms but understanding which questions your audience are asking can be a great way to develop informational content. Let’s consider the question above – ‘what is hair pomade?’

In this case it’s unlikely that somebody searching for this phrase is looking to buy pomade – at least not right now. Targeting this term may not be appropriate for a commercial landing page, however it would lend itself to a blog post or a deeper page within a pomade hub on a hair products site.

Targeting informational search in this way can be a great way to build brand awareness and to establish your site as a voice of authority within your niche. If ‘inform, don’t sell’ is the mantra of content marketing then answering the questions you know users are asking is a great way to achieve this.

How to discover which questions your audience are asking

I recommend three free tools that will help identify some great question based keywords. These tools are:

These three tools are all you really need to find some great search terms for yourself or your clients. There are many other free and premium keyword tools that you can use, some of these are:

Let’s say we are purveyors of hair pomade and would like to write articles on our blog answering questions that people are asking Google about pomade.

First, let’s take a look at Google trends to see how popular our product is currently, this will give us good insight into whether there might be need for answer-style blog content.

Google Trends graph

Bingo! We can see by Google trends that interest for hair pomade globally has been climbing steadily since 2011 and it doesn’t look like it will be declining anytime soon. This gives us confidence that our pomade may have a market that is looking for information regarding our product type.

Google Trends results

When we look at related searches above, we see that the top search query is ‘best pomade’ and ‘what is pomade’ is also included, both these queries may be considered question based. We’re off to a good start as there is definitely interest in our product and questions being asked about it. Let’s shoot over to Answer the Public and hunt for some more search terms.

Answer the Public homepage

Above is the homepage of Answer the Public. We inputted ‘pomade’ in the search box and clicked ‘Get Questions’.

Answer the Public results

Above is a screenshot of the results. Answer the Public has found 105 question based search queries, displayed in a fancy flow-graph. Other than the 105 question based keyword results, Answer the Public also gives us a useful list of prepositions and an alphabetical list of related search queries.

Now that we have our lists of 105 questions, 115 prepositions and 305 alphabetical search queries we can now deep-dive into each list and choose search terms that we think would make great blog post topics for helping people learn more about pomade.

After much curation we have our list of question based keywords that we have cut and pasted into a text file. Save your text file somewhere safe. Next we will make use of Google Adwords’ Keyword Planner to further flesh out our question based keyword research and look at average monthly trend for our selected list.

Monthly trend graph

In the screenshot above we can see an average trend of all our question based keywords combined, with an average monthly search volume of just under 12,000.

Note: For this example I’ve set the Keyword Planner to give us data from all locations.

Keyword planner results

The top 10 search queries relevant to average monthly traffic volume.

Although these tools offer some great insight into what questions people are searching in Google, they are never as sharp as the human brain; add questions to your keyword list that you think people would be likely to be asking.

Once you have a list of that you’re happy with, it’s time to create some content that will rank in Google based on the research you’ve completed.


  • Check Google Trends to ensure that your product or service has a potential market
  • Use Answer the Public to generate lots of question based keyword ideas
  • Upload your curated list of question based keywords to Google Adwords Keyword Planner to get a good idea of the average monthly search volume and keyword trend
  • Use your research to write awesome blog content. Wowee!

Questions? Pop me an email.

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