Google Sets Alternative: No Clone, Replacement, Or API Hack Needed. Just Google Docs.

Google Sets Alternative using a Google Docs SpreadsheetGoogle has shut down many Google labs projects including Google Sets. It was a fantastic tool for finding words related to a topic. This was a helpful tool for content marketers and writers as a way to discover words and phrases that should be included in an article. It was also a great brainstorming tool, that helped us discover related topics to write about.

I looked everywhere for a Google sets clone or replacement. I was even willing to put on my ‘programming hat’ and get down and dirty with the Google sets API. (Turns out they may not be providing an API for it.)

I’m not the only one looking for a Google Sets alternative…

Influential voices in the SEO community have even proposed a petition to bring back google sets.

Now, there are reverse dictionaries out there like, and many folks have recommended the good ole’ But until today, I had yet to find a good alternative to Google Sets.

I wish I could take credit for this answer, but credit has to go to Ben Inkster. He discovered that you can use a Google Docs spreadsheet to pull data from the Google Sets api.

Happily, there is no programming knowledge required. Simply begin a set by entering a few keywords into cells in a column, then select those cells, hold the CTRL key (or Command Option key on Mac), then click and drag the little square in the lower right corner of the selection and drag it down.

The subsequent cells will automatically be populated with the same kind of related terms that you would have gotten from Google Sets.

BAM! There’s your answer to “What alternatives are there to Google Sets?” Easy as pie & no assembly required.

Ben’s video demonstrates this quite nicely:


  1. Alan Rosenthal says:

    Holding down the command key on a Mac doesn’t do it. As the video says, you have to hold down ‘option’.

  2. Paul Burani says:

    Love this trick! We even put up a video walk through:

  3. Achmad Karno Widjaya says:

    Hi Glen,
    I really like this post, make me easier to find related keywords for my website.
    I like to read About Glen where you offer free consultation until end of this year, it’s just great. But, i am just a newbie, how dare i ask for advice or suggestions from you?
    Thank you.
    Achmad K W

  4. Matt Lowe says:

    Excellent! I felt lost without Google Sets, now I have it back 😀 Thanks for sharing this.

  5. Darcy says:

    Does this still work? When I try it, all I get is duplication of what I’ve already written. It won’t give me any new terms. Am I missing something? Thanks!

    1. ZenGlen says:

      Be sure to hold down the CTRL key on a PC or the Option key on the Mac.

  6. Matt says:

    Thanks for bringing back Google sets. This is awesome!

  7. tricky11 says:

    Worked like a charm! Fantastic discovery :)

  8. Hi!

    Great tip! Thanks!

    On a Mac OSX Lion with Chrome the command-button trick nor the Ctrl-button trick doesn’t work, but if you try the Alt-button, you will be amazed :-)



  9. Glen
    OMG, yes! That is simply brilliant. Thank you so much. Whew, obviously I loved Google Sets – and I love Easter Eggs:)


  10. Pouya says:

    it actually fetches data from Google Sets. is there any way to do this programmatically?

    I really need this ……..

    Thanks for the tip

  11. Martin says:

    Have you figured out, how this can be done programmatically? Meaning a script to run it when a few words are given?

    1. ZenGlen says:

      I haven’t, but it seems possible.