Best Keyword Research Tools for SEO
I have been doing search engine optimization (SEO) for many clients for about eight years now and I am often asked questions about how do I know which keywords to target and how do I know how many times a keyword is searched and so on. To which I reply that I have several keyword research tools at my disposal, many of which are free and available for anybody to use.
First off, I just wanted to point out one of the challenges I frequently come across in dealing with SEO clients. Oftentimes, a new client will come in and demand that they rank #1 on Google for a random keyword phrase such as “buy uber profitable biz now for sale” simply because that’s a keyword that they thought of on their own. Then I calmly explain to them that I can certainly work on getting their website to rank #1 for that phrase, but I guarantee nobody is searching for that phrase besides him and thus there’s going to be no benefit in ranking for that phrase besides his own vanity. And instead of having to waste my breath on trying to convince him, I simply plug in that phrase into my keyword research tools and show him that nobody searches for that keyword phrase and provide him with some other more popular options.
The primary keyword research tool that nearly every competent SEO will use is the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Why? Because it provides keyword data directly from Google, which is by far the world’s most used search engine. Also because it is 100% free. Now, it’s a little tricky to use correctly for SEO.
The first step is to go to https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal.
Next, enter in your keyword ideas in the form at the top. Most of the time you will want to tick the checkbox that says “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms.” Then click the Search button.
Next, you should get a list of keyword phrases in a table. Now here is the most important option in using this keyword research tool for SEO – Scroll down on the left hand side of the screen where it says “Match Types” and only tick the checkbox that says [Exact]. This means both Broad and “Phrase” match should be unticked!!! Otherwise, you are wasting your time.
Next, sort the table of keyword phrases by “Local Monthly Searches.” Pay no attention to the Competition column because that only applies to AdWords, not organic rankings which we are trying to target for SEO. Now you will have a list of the most popular keyword phrases related to your original keyword and the approximate number of times that keyword is searched in the United States each month. Copy and paste the most relevant keywords to a spreadsheet.
Next, take those keywords and search them in Google to determine how competitive they are. It would be awesome if you could get your site to rank #1 for all of the keyword phrases, but 99% of the time, the most popular keyword phrases will be very competitive and thus will take a lot of effort to rank highly for. The goal is to find those keyword phrases that get a decent number of searches but have low competition.
Which is what I will teach you in Part 2 of this post, coming soon!
The previous interface for the Google AdWords keyword tool is so much better than the new interface that is turned on by default. The previous interface is much simpler to use and even better, it provides suggestions for related keywords, which the new interface does not offer. Who knows how long the previous interface will be available, but it currently is available for the time being. You can access it by simply clicking “Previous Interface” from the Google AdWords keyword tool dashboard or you can access it directly by clicking the link below:
I just purchased and downloaded the popular keyword research software Micro Niche Finder and have been playing with it the past few days. It seems to help with automating a lot of the tasks I normally use when doing keyword research and competitive analysis, but I’m still not quite sold on the accuracy and thus usefulness of the tool. For example, consider the two screenshots below. One is the keyword data from Micro Niche Finder and one is from the Google AdWords keyword tool for the exact same [exact match] keywords:
Micro Niche Finder
Google AdWords Keyword Tool
As you can see, there are huge discrepancies in not only the volume of Global and Local searches, but even more troubling is the huge difference in the actual trend for Local Search Trends. What is the deal with the MASSIVE SPIKES in Micro Niche Finder’s data? This particular keyword is not any kind of hot seasonal item that would warrant that kind of crazy spike during a certain time period, so obviously something is amiss. Either Micro Niche Finder is completely worthless or they both are. Without knowing which set of data to believe, I’m essentially not any better off now than I was before when I started doing the keyword research.