A few people may have realized that the Google Related Searches tool has seemingly disappeared altogether from the “More Search Tools” section. This tool can be quite useful when trying to determine what keywords to target, especially when you may need a little help in finding other relevant search topics. However, even though this may cause a bit of a panic for some SEOers who depend greatly on the help of this very useful tool, it’s not time to get angry at Google quite yet. Google offers different tools to help with keyword research of related terms that, although they aren’t exactly the same, can help keep you from being left high and dry. Here’s a deeper look at the related keyword research tools and similar options:

What was the Related Searches Tool?

If you hadn’t heard about the Related Searches Tool that Google had to offer, you might be wondering what the hullabaloo is all about. The Related Searches Tool (which I will affectionately refer to as the RST), was a tool located at the left side of a SERP (Search Engine Result Page) that allowed you to look at other keywords that are related to the keyword you had just searched. These related keywords would show up in a nice box at the top of the Paid and Organic Results. This allowed search engine users and keyword researchers to determine what keywords were related to the keywords they may already look up. It’s important to note that this RST is not the same as the “related” search operator, which finds related sites for URLs. (Related Searches Tool screenshot courtesy of GoogleHung Hong.)

UPDATE January 25, 2011: It appears that Google has reinstated the Related Searches tool. However, you might still be interested in using these other alternatives:

What can be used to supplement the RST?

Hope is not lost if you are still looking for an alternative to related keyword research. You have a few avenues to take and here are a few suggestions:

Wonder Wheel

Google’s Wonder Wheel came out back in May 2009 and has been providing a graphical display of related searches for Internet Marketers and SEOers. However, although the visual representation of this data proved useful for many, it didn’t necessarily provide as much information as the RST. With the RST, you could previously have found up to 20 other related keywords, but with the Wonder Wheel, you can only view up to 8 keywords per individual query. However, I must add that although you can only see 8 results for individual queries, the benefit to the Wonder Wheel is that you can actually trace back your previous queries and their related terms. Much like delving deeper into the rabbit hole, you can get deeper and deeper into your related keyword research quite easily with the WW, while also being able to track back pretty easily where you came from. In this example, I’ve looked up related searches for the keyword “san diego nature walks”.

Instant Keyword Suggestions

It may not be the most useful, but you can use Google Instant to find other related queries. Even though this may not show related searches  for exactly what you are looking for, it can show you some of the keywords that would come up when entering in a specific keyword. In this example, you can look up “san diego nature ” to see what other related keywords are coming up. It may not be exactly what you were looking for, but it is definitely an approach you might want to consider nonetheless. It doesn’t take long, and it might still be useful so it should be considered worth the time and effort.

AdWords Keyword Tool

It would make sense that if you are going to use the AdWords Keyword Tool (AWKT) that you would also use it to find other relevant keywords, and indeed, you can do this. However, it doesn’t hurt to start off with some ideas that are kicked out of the Wonder Wheel first. If you decide to use the AWKT, don’t be afraid to play with the Categories drop downs or the Include & Exclude term functions. For more resources on how to use these functions, check out this post about the new features of the AdWords Keyword Tool.

And Now, For Something Completely Different…

No, not a Monty Python sketch. It’s another feature/tool of Google search results and you won’t have to worry about Self Defense Against Fresh Fruit in the process. In some cases, you might be able to find helpful keyword ideas in the “Something Different” section. This, however, is more of an indirect relation of keywords, so it’s not an exact substitute of the RST. However, it might prove useful. If you do decide to use Something Different, you might have to look for broader terms and remove any unnecessary geographical modifiers. However, for local keyword research, this tool may not necessarily be helpful, but it might give you some ideas for plugging into the AdWords Keyword Tool.

Is the RST Gone for Good?

I can only speculate about the return of the RST. With Google making so many changes to their interface, I would like to believe that they are just testing out this change. One would hope that if enough people complained about the absence of the RST, then Google would eventually bring it back. But in the meantime, regardless if they bring it back, you now have a few other options to consider, so get out there and get cracking on your keyword research!

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