A big piece of the inbound marketing puzzle is SEO and content. At the center of those pieces are keywords. But when I – as an Inbound Marketer – am putting together campaigns, strategies, and content calendars, I’m often asked, How can you tell that people are using certain keywords?

When it comes to figuring out what keywords potential buyers, clients, and customers are using, there’s a whole lot of due diligence to be done, and it’s something I take very seriously. In this article, I share to you a few keyword research secret weapons so you can DIY, if need be. Below are a few tried and true ways to gain some insight into what keywords people are using.

1) Use Your People

Yes, your people. Who qualifies as “your people?” Your customers, potential buyers, staff, etc. Anyone who is familiar with your business, uses your product, purchases your goods… even those who choose a competitor – those are your people. So, do some homework – what questions are they asking? What are ‘hot topics’ or trends?

These notes will be big players in your keyword game. When you’re doing this, be sure to remove yourselves from the process and put yourselves in your persona’s shoes – use the words and terms they use, ask questions in the way they ask them, etc. Oftentimes, the keywords a business thinks they should rank for or talk about are not the terms their customers are actually using.

2) Get Social

Don’t overlook your social media channels – especially when it comes to trying to figure out what your people are talking about, asking, or complaining about. Advancements and updates to social channels have brought with them a look into trending topics and more, including:

Facebook: Facebook has made a whole lot of updates to their graph search tool, which allows you to search pretty much anything your connections might be talking about. Take a few minutes to learn more about Facebook Graph Search and how to best use it. They also have a Trending toolbar on the right side of their newsfeed that show popular topics, and the option to narrow into Politics, Science & Technology, Sports, and Entertainment.

Twitter: Twitter actually has two different ways to get an inside look at what people are talking about. And the good news is, you don’t actually have to tweet yourself to see them (although you will need to follow others from an account.) On the left sidebar of Twitter’s homepage, you can see trending topics; these can be tailored based on location and interest. You can also use Twitter’s search functionality for trending topics, keywords, and hashtags.

Google+: When you login to your Google+ account, you can head to the Trending page – similar to Facebook and Twitter – to see who is talking about what on Google+.

YouTube: Like its social media platform friends, YouTube also has a Trends Dashboard – right here – that will show what the most popular videos and topics are. You can narrow in on these trends by selecting a city, state, or country, an age group, and gender. According to YouTube, “Trending Topics are algorithmically-generated topics from keywords in the title, tags, and description of the video within sets of videos that are currently rising in popularity. Trending videos are based on embedded video views and views on YouTube.”

3) HubSpot Keyword Grader

HubSpot’s Keyword Grader allows users to get real time information and statistics on keywords that are most relevant to their business and industry. You can compare keywords, search volume, rank, and more – all in one place – and, in a way that integrates with the rest of your content.

4) Google Tools

It probably comes as no surprise that Google has a whole suite of tools to help you get to the bottom of the keywords and phrases. And in this case, they have a few golden tickets to keyword insight…

Google Trends: This tool is one of my favorites – it fascinates me. This allows you to get an inside look at Google’s databases of searches. You can look at Google searches by regions, categories, languages, and set the time and search properties (image, etc.). You can look at one single keyword, or compare multiple terms.

Google Autocomplete: You know when you go to search for something, and Google starts to finish your question or thought? That’s autocomplete. Google explains, “Autocomplete predictions are possible search terms… The search queries that you see as part of Autocomplete reflect what other people are searching for and the content of web pages.” Pretty cool.

5) Wordtracker

Wordtracker is a tool that gives insight as to whether or not a keyword or particular keyword phrase is worth content efforts. This tool gives users an estimate of how many times a keyword or keyword phrase is searched each day, plus any related phrases or keywords. Wordtracker does require a membership, but you can try it a few times for free.

Even the biggest questions can be answered with some time and tools, so making raucous use of these tools can create a great change in your SEO outlook and can create more traffic for you from Search.

I hope this has been helpful.