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What Are They & 7 Actionable Ways to Find Them



What Are They & 7 Actionable Ways to Find Them

Let’s just get this out of the way right now: Seed keywords are not a silver bullet for SEO success.

But they are the foundation of good keyword research.

Spending a bit of time to develop a good seed list often results in better outputs from keyword tools.

In this guide, you will learn the following:

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:

Matching terms report results

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.

Why seed keywords are important in the keyword research process (+ examples)

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 Explorer (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

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

List of keywords with corresponding data like KD, Volume, etc

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:

List of keywords with corresponding data like KD, Volume, etc

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.

How to find seed keywords (seven methods)

A lot of articles about keyword research skip over 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):

Related terms report results

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:

List of keywords with corresponding data like SF, Volume, etc

Had I just used the seed “beards” in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, I would have possibly missed this related term.

Keeping on the topic of “beards” and staying inside the Organic keywords report, I’ll also add a filter to remove any keywords that contain the word “beard”:

Organic keywords report results

Why do this? Because I want to see potential keywords I may miss, and this is a good way to speed that up.

There are two great things about using this method:

  1. Your competitors have done the research for you, speeding up your work.
  2. When you run out of ideas, you can use Ahrefs to find more competitors and go again.

3. Look at the SERPs (like PAA boxes and related searches)

If you are aiming to rank on Google—and let’s be honest, you are—one of the best places to get more information is on the SERPs.

Simply search one of your seed keyword ideas and poke around the pages for inspiration.

Here are some things to look at:

People Also Ask

People Also Ask (PAA) boxes are a Google SERP feature. They directly answer questions related to a search query. Answers are pulled from webpages, with Google providing a clickable link to the source.

In terms of finding seeds, you can look through PAA boxes for recurring terms:

PAA boxes showing various queries and answers about mountain bikes

Related searches

At the bottom of the SERPs, you’ll find Google’s “related searches,” showing other potential search terms related to your initial keyword search:

"Related searches" section on Google SERP

For some searches, you’ll even get a list of related brands to potentially use as seeds:

Row of pictures of bikes with brand names

Page titles and meta descriptions

Every SEO knows (and should put into practice) to add the targeted keyword into a page title.

So it makes sense that title tags can be a great source of seed keywords:

Title tags on SERP

Don’t neglect to look at meta descriptions too. These can also contain potential seeds:

Meta description on SERP

Of course, if you want to take it a step further, go to those pages and review the subheadings for even more potential seed terms:

Subheading showing seed keyword "enduro" in an article excerpt


Blog posts generally work better than e‑commerce product pages here, as they are more likely to have multiple keyword-rich subheadings.

4. Review communities and forums

One of the best sources for finding seed keywords relates to your audience. Specifically, you should look at where they hang out online.

Some places to look online:

  • Blog comments – Read any questions and comments left on industry-relevant posts
  • Social media – Read posts, comments, and polls in niche social media groups
  • Niche forums – Read what people are talking about/asking for in forums
  • Online communities – Read the questions and comments on online communities, e.g., Quora, Reddit
  • Help and support – Read through help requests and support tickets (if you have access) or even documentation and other support documents

I like to focus on Reddit and niche forums (related to the topic I’m researching, obviously).

Below, I’ve detailed more tips for using these to develop a seed list.


Reddit can be a goldmine when doing keyword research. It has a massive (and diverse) audience you can use to determine the population of topics.

For example, search “bbq” in Reddit, and you’ll get a bunch of subreddits to explore:

Search results for "bbq" on Reddit

Pick a subreddit and then drop the URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. Go to the Organic keywords reportto see if there are any worthwhile seeds:

List of keywords with corresponding data like SF, Volume, etc


With the rise of Facebook groups, Slack channels, and other online communities, niche forums aren’t used as much anymore. However, they can still be a good source of keyword data.

Popular forums, even if now outdated, will have a bunch of ranking pages that you can look into.

To find niche-relevant forums, you can use these (very) simple Google search operators

[intitle:forum keyword] or [inurl:forum keyword]

Using these, I found this hiking forum, which is another potential “seed keyword” source:

TrailGroove forum

Take the URL and run it through Site Explorer. Then head over to the Organic keywords report:

List of keywords with corresponding data like SF, Volume, etc

5. List out products/services/brands associated with your keywords

Listing products or services associated with your keyword can be a really simple way to find seeds.

Example: For Apple, this can be “iphone,” “ipad,” “mac,” etc.

To find products and services associated with your keywords, just start Googling and looking for niche-specific sites with related offerings.

However, this method can be easy or hard, depending on how well you know the niche you are working in.

But don’t worry. Here are some simple methods to gather products/services/brands:

  • List posts – Google [seed keyword] + “brands” and make a note of brand terms in listicles
  • E‑commerce sites – Go to a site like Amazon (or a niche-relevant store) and look at the facets
  • Affiliate posts – Google “best” [seed keyword] and see what products affiliates are promoting

Let’s say my search term is [coffee “brands”]. Once I have some brand terms, I can copy those, paste them into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, and go check out the Matching terms report:

List of keywords with corresponding data like KD, Volume, etc

In all, 65,177 keywords are generated from 18 seed keywords. Not bad for an additional 30 seconds of work.

6. Look at website navigation menus

Looking at navigation menus works well (especially for e‑commerce sites).

For example, let’s say you are doing keyword research for an online bodybuilding store with a focus on whey protein.

If you check out the menus of large e‑commerce stores in the space, you’ll find potential seeds:

Menu on a webpage divided into 3 columns; each shows items that could be potential seeds

Sometimes, “website navigation” menus may not be helpful for finding seed terms. In these cases, it’s worth checking out top-level category pages.

These often list out the droids seeds you are looking for.

For example, if I’m looking for mountain biking seeds, this category page will be useful:

Category page in grid format; each grid is the name of a type of bike

7. Review terms in Google Search Console

If you are trying to develop a seed keyword list from a site you have access to (aka your site or your clients’), you can and should look at keywords in Google Search Console (GSC).

Here’s how:

  1. Open up GSC and go to Performance
  2. Select Queries
  3. Review the terms you are ranking for
GSC Performance report results

You can also use Ahrefs Webmaster Tools here. While GSC shows the top 1,000 keywords your site is ranking for, AWT shows all known keywords.

Whichever method you choose to use, you should look for keywords you are ranking for but not actively targeting.

Then you can factor these into your keyword research plan or see if there are opportunities to find more terms (using them as seeds).

How to create a seed keyword list

Think of the methods listed in this article like a buffet menu.

You don’t need to use all these methods every time you do keyword research. You may get enough seed keywords by using just a few methods. Hence, just pick the ones you like and adapt them to your workflow.

Once you’ve settled on the methods you like, it’s time to start pulling them together to create a list.

Putting together a seed keyword list and then using it to do keyword research may look like this:

  1. Find seed keywords using the methods that work for you/your niche
  2. Plug seeds into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer to generate a list of ideas
  3. Filter down your keyword opportunities into a usable list
  4. Evaluate your choices (based on relevance, intent, volume, difficulty, etc)


Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer processes seed keywords 10 at a time. So if you have lots of seeds, you may need to batch them together.

Final thoughts

Building a list of seed keywords gives you a solid foundation to build on as you do your keyword research.

Seed keywords aren’t a substitute for doing good keyword research. But they do increase the chances of you finding more usable terms.

Got a question on developing a seed list or keyword research in general? Tweet me.

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Google Updating Cryptocurrency Advertising Policy For 2024




Google Updating Cryptocurrency Advertising Policy For 2024

Google published an announcement of upcoming changes to their cryptocurrency advertising policies and advises advertisers to make themselves aware of the changes and prepare to be in compliance with the new requirements.

The upcoming updates are to Google’s Cryptocurrencies and related products policy for the advertisement of Cryptocurrency Coin Trusts. The changes are set to take effect on January 29th, 2024.

Cryptocurrency Coin Trusts are financial products that enable investors to trade shares in trusts holding substantial amounts of digital currency. These trusts provide investors with equity in cryptocurrencies without having direct ownership. They are also an option for creating a more diversified portfolio.

The policy updates by Google that are coming in 2024 aim to describe the scope and requirements for the advertisement of Cryptocurrency Coin Trusts. Advertisers targeting the United States will be able to promote these products and services as long as they abide by specific policies outlined in the updated requirements and that they also obtain certification from Google.

The updated policy changes are not limited to the United States. They will apply globally to all accounts advertising Cryptocurrency Coin Trusts.

Google’s announcement also reminded advertisers of their obligation for compliance to local laws in the areas where the ads are targeted.

Google’s approach for violations of the new policy will be to first give a warning before imposing an account suspension.

Advertisers that fail to comply with the updated policy will receive a warning at least seven days before a potential account suspension. This time period provides advertisers with an opportunity to fix non-compliance issues and to get back into compliance with the revised guidelines.

Advertisers are encouraged to refer to Google’s documentation on “About restricted financial products certification.”

The deadline for the change in policy is January 29th, 2024. Cryptocurrency Coin Trusts advertisers will need to pay close attention to the updated policies in order to ensure compliance.

Read Google’s announcement:

Updates to Cryptocurrencies and related products policy (December 2023)

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SEO Trends You Can’t Ignore In 2024



SEO Trends You Can’t Ignore In 2024

Most SEO trends fade quickly. But some of them stick and deserve your attention.

Let’s explore what those are and how to take advantage of them.

If you give ChatGPT a title and ask it to write a blog post, it will—in seconds.

This is super impressive, but there are a couple of issues:

  • Everyone else using ChatGPT is creating the same content. It’s the same for users of other GPT-powered AI writing tools, too—which is basically all of them.
  • The content is extremely dull. Sure, you can ask ChatGPT to “make it more entertaining,” but it usually overcompensates and hands back a cringe version of the same boring content.

In the words of Gael Breton:

How to take advantage of this SEO trend

Don’t use AI to write entire articles. They’ll be boring as heck. Instead, use it as a creative sparring partner to help you write better content and automate monotonous tasks.

For example, you can ask ChatGPT To write an outline from a working title and a list of keywords (which you can pull from Ahrefs)—and it does a pretty decent job.


Create an outline for a post entitled “[working title]” based on these keywords: [list]


ChatGPT's outline for a blog post. Pretty good!ChatGPT's outline for a blog post. Pretty good!

When you’ve written your draft, you can ask to polish it in seconds by asking ChatGPT to proofread it.

ChatGPT proofreading my content and making it betterChatGPT proofreading my content and making it better

Then you can automate the boring stuff, like creating more enticing title tags…

ChatGPT writing enticing title tagsChatGPT writing enticing title tags

… and writing a meta description:

ChatGPT writing a meta descriptionChatGPT writing a meta description

If you notice a few months down the line that your content ranks well but hasn’t won the featured snippet, ChatGPT can help with that, too.

For example, Ahrefs tells us we rank in position 3 for “affiliate marketing” but don’t own the snippet.

Ahrefs showing featured snippets that we don't own, despite ranking in the top 3Ahrefs showing featured snippets that we don't own, despite ranking in the top 3

If we check Google, the snippet is a definition. Asking ChatGPT to simplify our definition may solve this problem.

ChatGPT rewriting a definition and making it betterChatGPT rewriting a definition and making it better

In short, there are a near-infinite number of ways to use ChatGPT (and other AI writing tools) to create better content. And all of them buck the trend of asking it to write boring, boilerplate articles from scratch.

Programmatic SEO refers to the creation of keyword-targeted pages in an automatic (or near automatic) way.

Nomadlist’s location pages are a perfect example:

Example of a page from NomadListExample of a page from NomadList

Each page focuses on a specific city and shares the same core information—internet speeds, cost, temperature, etc. All of this information is pulled programmatically from a database and the site gets an estimated 46k monthly search visits in total.

Estimated monthly search traffic to NomadListEstimated monthly search traffic to NomadList

Programmatic SEO is nothing new. It’s been around forever. It’s just the hot thing right now because AI tools like ChatGPT make it easier and more accessible than ever before.

The problem? As John Mueller pointed out on Twitter X, much of it is spam:

How to take advantage of this SEO trend

Don’t use programmatic SEO to publish insane amounts of spam that’ll probably get hit in the next Google update. Use it to scale valuable content that will stand the test of time.

For example, Wise’s currency conversion pages currently get an estimated 31.7M monthly search visits:

Estimated monthly search traffic to Wise's currently conversion pages (insane!)Estimated monthly search traffic to Wise's currently conversion pages (insane!)

This is because the content is actually useful. Each page features an interactive tool showing the live exchange rate for any amount…

The interactive currently conversion tool on Wise's pagesThe interactive currently conversion tool on Wise's pages

… the exchange rate over time…

The exchange rate over time graph on Wise's pagesThe exchange rate over time graph on Wise's pages

… a handy email notification option when the exchange rates exceed a certain amount…

The email notification option on Wise's pagesThe email notification option on Wise's pages

… handy conversion charts for popular amounts…

The handy conversion charts on Wise's pagesThe handy conversion charts on Wise's pages

… and a comparison of the cheapest ways to send money abroad in your chosen currency:

The useful comparison table on Wise's pagesThe useful comparison table on Wise's pages

It doesn’t matter that all of these pages use the same template. The data is exactly what you want to see when you search [currency 1] to [currency 2].

That’s probably why Wise ranks in the top 10 for over 66,000 of these keywords:

Wise's keyword rankings for currency conversion pagesWise's keyword rankings for currency conversion pages

Looking to take advantage of programmatic content in 2024 like Wise? Check out the guide below.

People love ChatGPT because it answers questions fast and succinctly, so it’s no surprise that generative AI is already making its way into search.

For example, if you ask Bing for a definition or how to do something basic, AI will generate an answer on the fly right there in the search results.

Bing's search results for "definition of mental health"Bing's search results for "definition of mental health"
Bing's search results for "how to add drop down list in google sheets"Bing's search results for "how to add drop down list in google sheets"

In other words, thanks to AI, users no longer have to click on a search result for answers to simple questions. It’s like featured snippets on steroids.

This might not be a huge deal right now, but when Google’s version of this (Search Generative Experience) comes out of beta, many websites will see clicks fall off a cliff.

How to take advantage of this SEO trend

Don’t invest too much in topics that generative AI can easily answer. You’ll only lose clicks like crazy to AI in the long run. Instead, start prioritizing topics that AI will struggle to answer.

How do you know which topics it will struggle to answer? Try asking ChatGPT. If it gives a good and concise answer, it’s clearly an easy question.

For example, there are hundreds of searches for how to calculate a percentage in Google Sheets every month in the US:

Estimated monthly search volume for "google sheets percentage formula" via Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerEstimated monthly search volume for "google sheets percentage formula" via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

If you ask ChatGPT for the solution, it gives you a perfect answer in about fifty words.

ChatGPT's answer to the Google Sheets percentage calculation formulaChatGPT's answer to the Google Sheets percentage calculation formula

This is the perfect example of a topic where generative AI will remove the need to click on a search result for many.

That’s probably not going to be the case for a topic like this:

Example of a topic that AI shouldn't impact too muchExample of a topic that AI shouldn't impact too much

Sure. Generative AI might be able to tell you how to create a template—but it can’t make one for you. And even if it can in the future, it will never be a personal finance expert with experience. You’ll always have to click on a search result for a template created by that person.

These are the kinds of topics to prioritize in 2024 and beyond.


None of this means you should stop targeting “simple” topics altogether. You’ll always be able to get some traffic from them. My point is not to be obsessed with ranking for keywords whose days are numbered. Prioritize topics with long-term value instead.

Bonus: 3 SEO trends to ignore in 2024

Not all SEO trends move the needle. Here are just a few of those trends and why you should ignore them.

People are using voice search more than ever

In 2014, Google revealed that 41% of Americans use voice search daily. According to research by UpCity, that number was up to 50% as of 2022. I haven’t seen any data for 2023 yet, but I’d imagine it’s above 50%.

Why you should ignore this SEO trend

75% of voice search results come from a page ranking in the top 3, and 40.7% come from a featured snippet. If you’re already optimizing for those things, there’s not much more you can do.

People are using visual search for shopping more than ever

In 2022, Insider Intelligence reported that 22% of US adults have shopped with visual search (Google Lens, Bing Visual Search, etc.). That number is up from just 15% in 2021.

Why you should ignore this SEO trend

Much like voice search, there’s no real way to optimize for visual search. Sure, it helps to have good quality product images, optimized filenames and alt text, and product schema markup on your pages—but you should be doing this stuff anyway as it’s been a best practice since forever.

People are using Bing more than ever before

Bing’s Yusuf Mehdi announced in March 2023 that the search engine had surpassed 100M daily active users for the first time ever. This came just one month after the launch of AI-powered Bing.

Why you should ignore this SEO trend

Bing might be more popular than ever, but its market share still only stands at around ~3% according to estimates by Statcounter. Google’s market share stands at roughly 92%, so that’s the one you should be optimizing for.

Plus, it’s often the case that if you rank in Google, you also rank in Bing—so it really doesn’t deserve any focus.

Final thoughts

Keeping your finger on the pulse and taking advantage of trends makes sense, but don’t let them distract you from the boring stuff that’s always worked: find what people are searching for > create content about it > build backlinks > repeat.

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter X.

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Mozilla VPN Security Risks Discovered




Mozilla VPN Security Risks Discovered

Mozilla published the results of a recent third-party security audit of its VPN services as part of it’s commitment to user privacy and security. The survey revealed security issues which were presented to Mozilla to be addressed with fixes to ensure user privacy and security.

Many search marketers use VPNs during the course of their business especially when using a Wi-Fi connection in order to protect sensitive data, so the  trustworthiness of a VNP is essential.

Mozilla VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN), is a service that hides (encrypts) a user’s Internet traffic so that no third party (like an ISP) can snoop and see what sites a user is visiting.

VPNs also add a layer of security from malicious activities such as session hijacking which can give an attacker full access to the websites a user is visiting.

There is a high expectation from users that the VPN will protect their privacy when they are browsing on the Internet.

Mozilla thus employs the services of a third party to conduct a security audit to make sure their VPN is thoroughly locked down.

Security Risks Discovered

The audit revealed vulnerabilities of medium or higher severity, ranging from Denial of Service (DoS). risks to keychain access leaks (related to encryption) and the lack of access controls.

Cure53, the third party security firm, discovered and addressed several risks. Among the issues were potential VPN leaks to the vulnerability of a rogue extension that disabled the VPN.

The scope of the audit encompassed the following products:

  • Mozilla VPN Qt6 App for macOS
  • Mozilla VPN Qt6 App for Linux
  • Mozilla VPN Qt6 App for Windows
  • Mozilla VPN Qt6 App for iOS
  • Mozilla VPN Qt6 App for Androi

These are the risks identified by the security audit:

  • FVP-03-003: DoS via serialized intent
  • FVP-03-008: Keychain access level leaks WG private key to iCloud
  • VP-03-010: VPN leak via captive portal detection
  • FVP-03-011: Lack of local TCP server access controls
  • FVP-03-012: Rogue extension can disable VPN using mozillavpnnp (High)

The rogue extension issue was rated as high severity. Each risk was subsequently addressed by Mozilla.

Mozilla presented the results of the security audit as part of their commitment to transparency and to maintain the trust and security of their users. Conducting a third party security audit is a best practice for a VPN provider that helps assure that the VPN is trustworthy and reliable.

Read Mozilla’s announcement:
Mozilla VPN Security Audit 2023

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Meilun

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