Keyword research: Using Twitter and an N-gram Analyser to find popular phrases

Jonny Pathan
Mobile being held and read

Using a combination of Twitter and an N-gram Analyser we can look at popular phrases being used right now as you read this. Reactive marketing is and has been for a while, an important method you should be using in your efforts to spread your message. Not only will this help you understand the terminology people are using relating to your product but it’s also a useful tool when it comes to writing content, advertising and looking at what’s hot right now within your industry. One thing to note, this technique is just using Twitter, so your research will be based off of a particular audience. Having said that, you can use this method with any platform.

What is an N-gram?

In the fields of computational linguistics and probability, an n-gram is a contiguous sequence of n items from a given sequence of text or speech. The items can be phonemes, syllables, letters, words or base pairs according to the application.

Now that we’ve cleared that up! Let’s move on…


First thing to do is create a list of words relating to your product, service or offering. Let’s say you sell headphones, you need to stay on top of what’s hot in the headphone world and you need some ideas for some fresh content.

First thing to do is fire up Twitter and head to the search box and pop in some words relating to your product, let’s start with ‘headphones’.

Headphone Keyword Search

This will give you a list of all tweets using the term ‘headphones’, above the results you’ll see a few options, make sure you click on live, this will give you tweets that are happening right now relating to that term.

Twitter Keyword Search

The next stage is a little primitive but until an easier way to do this turns up this is how we do it at WATB. You want to load as many results as you can before you start to get bored. This unfortunately means scrolling down, loading more tweets and repeating that process for a while, say 5 minutes… You want as much data as possible to get any meaningful results.

Twitter Search Gif

Once you’ve had enough of scrolling, select all. Ctrl + A / CMD + A. Literally, select everything, use you keyboard or you’ll be dragging your mouse pointer for an eternity. Then you’ll want to copy what you’ve selected (Ctrl + C / CMD + C). Now that’s in your clipboard we’re going to want to put all of that data into a Ngram Analyser.

Ngram Analyse

I’m currently using one online that I’ve found, it does the job, it’s quick, free and easy. Head on over to Once there, paste in all the text you copied into the main input box, change the phrase frequency to five times and hit submit.

Ngram Analyser

You’ll see a list of the most commonly used words in your data, ignore the default Twitter words the tool is picking up (retweet for example) and look out for phrases related to your product.

Keywords list

In this example, I’ve just highlighted a few relevant examples, there were lots more to pick from. As you can see a commonly used phrase is Headband Headphones, this is something people are talking about, at this stage you may want to write an article about it or start a conversation online about headband headphones.


A useful method to have in your arsenal. This is just one of many techniques you can use to research phrases, keywords and what’s popular.

Have other ideas?

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