Shame Googling: A Keyword Research Strategy | Emotional keywords

shame googling? yes, it’s an actual thing.

TW: mentions of eating disorders

If you’re having trouble in your marriage, you wouldn’t go into a local Facebook group and say,

“Hello, does anyone have a marriage counselor or divorce attorney they recommend?”

Or maybe you think you could be pregnant, but you don’t want to share that with people before you finish your first trimester. So you go to Google to look up the symptoms of that two-week window before you can take a pregnancy test.

Or you’re thinking about leaving your job and you’re not sure if you’re qualified for something else so, in the middle of the night, you start looking for different positions or how to update your resume.

I call this: “Shame Googling.”

what is shame googling?

“Shame Googling” is any time that somebody has a problem that they don’t feel comfortable sharing with other people.

There are so many different ways that people use Google to gather information on topics that they don’t necessarily feel comfortable talking about to the general public.

So even when people don’t want to share what they’re going through with others, there is a place that they can get information where they feel safe, and where they feel like they’re anonymous – and that place is Google.

In the book, Everybody Lies, the author calls Google a, “digital truth serum” where you can get real information about how people are thinking and behaving because that information feels anonymous to them.

This quote from the book really stood out to me:

In the pre-digital age, people hid their embarrasing thoughts from other people. In the digital age, they still hide them from other people, but not from the internet and in particular sites such as Google and PornHub, which protect their anonymity.

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

So how can we as business owners and content creators utilize this information that Google’s giving us and tap into the truth that our ideal clients are telling to Google that they may not necessarily express to us?

That’s where keyword research comes in.

Instead of only looking for topics that feel very tactical, outcome-driven, and/or rational, I want you to take a few minutes and think about what your ideal client might be shame googling.

What is it that they’d turn to Google for that they may not necessarily turn to their friends for?

This is especially true for those of us who work in more sensitive areas like:

  • parenting coaches
  • marriage counselors
  • therapists
  • money advisors
  • career coaches

(Basically, if there’s any chance that you’re following HIPAA regulations, or you may have to sign an NDA, this could be a really good exercise for you to think about the things that your ideal client struggles with that they may not feel comfortable talking about, but would go search for).

do your keyword research

So it’s time to do your keyword research and figure out what those exact phrases are that people are searching for; Maybe even tap into the emotion that is showing up in those keywords.

If you’re not sure what people are worried about, a good way to get started is to go to Google and check out the autocomplete.

Let’s type in “anxious about” and see what pops up:

Let’s click on something general like, “anxious about the future” and see what shows up in those search results (I like looking at the “People also ask” section).

Turn on your Keywords Everywhere plugin to see even more ideas about what people are anxious about and see other keywords that people are searching for.

You see that people also searched for “constantly worrying about the future”, so maybe you want to write a blog post that says something like, “Constantly Worrying About the Future? Here’s What You Need to Know”.

You can literally take one of these longer keywords that people are curious about, and use them to create content for something that people are already searching for.

So, if you’re a meditation coach, you could create a blog post like, “Here are 20 Ways to Use Meditation to Stop Feeling So Anxious About the Future”.

Another thing you can try Googling is “I’m worried about…” and type in whatever it is you help people with. So if you’re a therapist who works with children, maybe you type in:

Let’s take a look at that last one.

Using these long-tail keywords that people search, you might want to write a blog post about, “If You’re Worried That Your Daughter Has an Eating Disorder, Here Are Ways You Can Talk to Her About It.”

Now, this is obviously a sensitive topic, so you can approach this from a place of empathy. If a parent is in a place where they’re not quite ready to go to a counselor just yet but they want to start asking these questions, you can come in and create content to be that place of “anonymous” and safe information for them.

disclaimers for your keword research strategy

If you’re planning to use this as part of your keyword research strategy, I do have a few disclaimers.

1. Realize this can be a sensitive topic

When searching for topics of this nature, you have to recognize that these can be more sensitive topics. Why is this important to keep in mind? You don’t want to just put together some bland tutorial – you want to find a way to acknowledge people’s problems, and then bring them into your world in a way that feels in service to them.

You may see a huge volume of people looking for a certain topic and think, “bull’s eye“. But remember that these are still people who may be feeling a lot of emotions or going through something painful. You don’t want to exploit the situation just to get yourself pageviews, so approach your content in an empathetic way, acknowledge the problems that they’re going through, and then give them a step towards a solution.

First, give them something that can help them at that moment to solve whatever problem they’re coming to you with – and then maybe you can say “book a consult call with me,” “join my email list,” “buy this product,” etc.

2. Make sure you’re qualified to help

Don’t get in over your head just because you see something with a really large search volume that you are not certified or accredited to help people with.

If you’re not a licensed therapist, don’t create content that’s based on topics that should be handled by somebody who has that certification. Just because the keywords are out there doesn’t mean that you have to be the one to answer those questions, so make sure that you’re both qualified and prepared to support the people who might be struggling with whatever those keywords are that you’re looking for.

Don’t just go chasing traffic – make sure that you are the right solution to those problems, not that they’re simply your ideal client.

So if you’re looking for ways to create better, more relatable content for your ideal client, finding out what those emotional keywords are is the key to be able to turn that into useful content.