How to use Related Searches to Boost SEO

You’ve probably seen ‘Related Searches’ after Googling something. Sometimes these are helpful, other times not so much. 

But did you know that the related search terms which Google suggests can be used to boost your SEO?

In this article we take a look at how to use Google’s related search box to find longtail keywords, uncover unexpected search terms and outsmart your SEO competition.

What are related searches?

Related searches appear at the bottom of Google’s search engine results page (SERP). Google’s algorithm examines semantic features of a search query, and pulls data from various sources to decide which search terms to include in it’s suggestion.

With related searches, Google aims to help searchers find what they’re looking for by offering common search terms that are related to a search term. Depending on the nature of the search term, Google can serve up questions related to the topic or even modifiers like ‘near me’ or ‘for beginners’ appended to the original search term.

An example for the search query ‘ice cream’ can be found below:

For finding keyword ideas

Related searches is a great place to find new keyword ideas. Simply type in a target keyword, scroll to the bottom of the page and see what related searches pop up. Grab any keywords that look relevant and add them to a list.

Once you’ve built up a decent list of related search terms, paste them into your keyword research tool of choice; we like Ahrefs, but you could use Google Keyword Planner, Moz or KWFinder.

Once you have data on keyword diffculty and volume, you can begin to identify and prioritize the SEO opportunities uncovered by related search terms.

For figuring out user intent

As a user’s search experience is an increasingly important factor for ranking on Google, figuring out the user intent behind a search term is a particularly powerful way to leverage related searches.

While it’s never possible to perfectly understand or capture user intent, related searches can get us part of the way there. Since related searches mirror the types of searches that other users have made when searching for a certain keyword, you can begin to analyze the semantics of these queries and act appropriately.

For example, phrases like ‘ice cream near me’, ‘ice cream shop’ or ‘best ice cream nyc’ might indicate that people want to purchase ice cream – they have commercial intent and are using Google to find a way to satisfy that.

On the other hand, phrases like ‘ice cream definition’ and ‘ice cream history’ are more informational – these are queries made by people looking to read authoritative research, and improve their knowledge.

By examining related searches you can pick out more specific longtail keywords to target with your content. Longtail keywords typically have lower competition, so it’ll be easier to quickly rank and move the needle on your SEO strategy. 

Using related searches to improve CTR

Clickthrough rate, or CTR, is a ranking factor used by Google to determine how relevant content is to a user’s search query. 

Related searches can help you improve CTR by giving you ideas for headlines and meta descriptions that incorporate phrases people are already searching for.

Rather than going after the same keyword your competitors do, grabbing some longtail modifiers from the related searches panel will help you differentiate your content, which can pique searchers interest and increase engagement. 

To find out what questions are being asked – and which questions to answer

Answering user questions is what SEO is all about. People turn to Google when they have a question, or need to find something in particular. If you can answer that question concisely, you get rewarded by Google with better rankings. 

This is the beauty of incorporating related searches into your SEO strategy – they reveal the kinds of questions that people are searching for, and allow you to target these with pieces of content that satisfy the query by answering their question!

Is it possible to influence related searches?

Sometimes relates searches can surface terms that aren’t favourable to your brand. Sadly it’s not really possible to influence what appears in related searches. For example you don’t want your brand associated with terms like ‘scam’. 

To combat negative suggestions you should do your best to encourage clicks to pieces of high quality content, and to do your best to manage your brand reputation on other channels like social media and even forums.

Related searches on mobile vs. desktop

Is there a difference between related searches on mobile and desktop? Not particularly, aside from user interface. One slight difference between mobile and desktop is that on mobile devices Google surfaces relevant images related to the search query. See an example below using our ‘ice cream’ search query.


Related searches can be a powerful tool for SEOs! Incorporate the above tips to maximize the efficacy of your organic keyword research, find relevant questions to answer and increase engagement with your content.

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