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!
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.
Google Analytics is by far the most widely used web analytics software, free or enterprise level, but it has several downsides, including lack of IP address tracking. You are able to drill down to the Service Provider names but that does not provide enough detailed data, especially if there are several users that use the same ISP but are in no other way related to each other, which can be a problem when analyzing traffic data.
Google Analytics obviously uses IP address tracking in their system but they choose not to reveal that data to its users for privacy reasons. This really does not make much sense to me since nearly every other web analytics tool allows you to track IP addresses. But luckily there may be a way around that by adding custom tracking variables with PHP (although it may be against Google Analytics TOS, which I am not really sure what will happen if you break the TOS).
Now you will be able to look up IP addresses in the User Defined field of the Visitors tab in the Google Analytics dashboard.
I am getting inundated with emails, tweets, links all about the keyword research software Keyword Elite 2.0 which apparently launched today. While it may be a good product, obviously the hype is generated by affiliates trying to make money off selling the software, which should be no surprise to anybody who makes a living online. I have never used the original version so I am a bit hesitant whose reviews to believe.
The feature that catches my eye is the “Google AdWords Time Machine”, which reveals data on which competitors are bidding on which keyword in the past 6 months. The premise is that if a competitor is bidding on a specific keyword for an extended period of time, then theoretically that keyword is making money for them and you should consider bidding on that keyword yourself.
I think I’ll wait a few days before thinking about purchasing Keyword Elite 2.0, unless somebody out there can convince me that I need to buy it sooner!
I was looking at the hottest keywords on Google Trends and it looks like “Maria Belen Shapur Photo” has skyrocketed in searches today. Apparently, Maria Belen Shapur is South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s mistress from Argentina. I didn’t realize that so many people are dying to know what Maria Belen Shapur looks like, and from what I’ve found, there are no pictures available anywhere on the ‘Net! Which is a little strange considering she’s supposedly a professional and yet she has no presence on the web whatsoever. So either they do not have the Internet in Argentina OR this is a completely made up name to cover up the truth – that Mark Sanford did, in fact, escape to the Appalachian Trail for National Naked Hiking Day, after all.
I’m not sure how I stumbled upon this gem of a keyword research tool, but I just had to add it to this site to share with the world as well as so I didn’t forget it. It’s a nifty little tool which utilizes Google’s API for searching multiple keywords that appear in the TITLE tags of websites in Google’s Index. Why is it valuable? Because you can use it to decide between different keywords depending on how much competition each one has. Check it out!
UPDATE : Apparently, the tool that I linked to previously no longer works, so try out Brad Callen’s Search Engine Marketing program which has all of the SEO and keyword research tools you need.
Here’s a sweet keyword research tool from Wordtracker. Plug in a keyword for a list of the most frequently searched questions containing your keyword.