Keyword Research on Regular Expressions Steroids in Grepwords

There really hasn’t been much innovation in the keyword research space for a while and for good reason – the largest problem of getting good data has long been answered by top providers like SEMRush, Trellian KeywordDiscovery, WordStream and others like KeywordSpy. The data they provide is wonderfully useful, but the one thing that always felt limiting was the way we could get at their data. While they might provide accurate estimates for Google traffic, or useful data on large numbers of keywords, getting at the data required clumsy querying techniques no better than exact, phrase and broad match. As a developer, I found this cumbersome.

Recently, though, I have found a better solution – Regular Expressions.

At Virante we have long had access to some major internal keyword databases like the wonderful Xedant database that we could query using regular expressions. However, unless you want to drop a few hundred bucks on the data, build a responsive database to hold the several gigs of data, and then manage the servers you store it on, it hasn’t exactly been something that was useful to those outside agencies.

While working on this post for Moz on keyword data, a new player on the arose on the scene, GrepWords. Their data is limited to the US, which is a pretty big shortcoming, but they have a couple of unique features that have filled some voids that others have yet to, one of which is querying with regular expressions. You have to set the flag in the API to regex=1 for these to work, but it is nice to be able to accomplish dozens of searches all at once. As mentioned above, you can also use these queries if you have your own database of words to work from.

So, without further adieu, here are some awesome regular expressions you can use to find great keywords in a single query…

Return multiple phrase match words

Description: So this one is simple. Where you see (romney|obama) is where you would put the phrases you would want to match. You can put as many as you like and subsequently return any keywords with those phrases all at once.

API Call

Return questions related to your keywords

Description: When building out a FAQ or looking for new content to write, a great place to start is finding all the questions people are asking about your subject matter. You could do phrase match searches for each question word like what, when and where plus your keyword, or you could do this…

API Call

Find the state related searches for your keywords

Description: National brands often need to find where most people are searching for their products and services. Here is a simple query to find all the queries that include both state abbreviations and walmart related keywords.

API Call

Find the zip code related searches for your keywords

Description: The same thing, but let’s find 5 digit zip codes.

API Call

Find high commercial intent keywords

Description: This regular expression will allow you to find all keyword phrases that have the words buy, purchase, cheap, or get in them along with your keywords, in this case, toy and doll.

API Call

Just the Start

With Regular Expressions, we have far more control over the types of words returned. This is useful in a practical manner because I can exclude data I don’t want before it is returned, avoiding wasted API fees, but more importantly it means that I can get to the answer I need faster and with far less work.

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  1. Adriana Spencer
    Aug 23, 2013

    I can’t comment on the content , it’s too technical for me yet. I am sure I will learn something from it. The only problem I have is with the words. It’s ” without further ado” not ” adieu”. Please, correct it. 🙂

  2. Spook SEO
    Aug 23, 2013

    Interesting post. I’ll give this a go later tonight. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Matt
    Sep 18, 2013

    Thanks Russ 🙂 You could add amend the regex for the ‘questions related to your keywords’ so it returns questions containing the whole word only. This can be done be adding \b before and after each keyword, for example: ^(who%20|what%20|when%20|where%20|how%20|why%20)(.*)(\bbaseball\b|\bsoccer\b|\bfootball\b)(.*)[^\n]


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