Keywords may no longer be quite as important as they were in the past, but that doesn’t mean they’re no longer useful. You simply need to learn how to use them properly to improve the quality of your content and increase your chance of landing on top of search engine result pages (SERPs). Long-tail keywords, in particular, can be very helpful in letting search engines know what your website is all about. They are also advisable in light of Google’s Hummingbird update, which seeks to determine the intent behind online searches instead of matching individual words contained in the search query.
The problem is that it can be quite difficult to find new keywords that would prove valuable to your Search Engine Optimization efforts. First of all, you’ll have to step out of your current mindset (if you’re like most online marketers) of optimizing your site based on how you perceive your products. Rather, you should think about how your target market is searching for the kind of products you sell. That is how you can identify the keywords that will be of use to you. Fortunately, there are tools designed specifically to help you out with this task.
Among the top tools for keyword research, of course, is the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. This tool, however, has recently undergone a major update and is now known as the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. The online marketing world seems to agree, though, that the update was not a very good idea. If you agree with this sentiment as well, then you’d be sure to appreciate the following list of alternative tools that can help you identify new and valuable keywords. And the best news about these keyword research tools is that they’re free!
There are keyword research tools that work simply by suggesting keywords related to a primary keyword you provide. These tools provide you with what is probably the easiest way to identify new keywords. Some of the best examples of keyword-suggest tools are:
1. Auto Suggest
Okay, technically, this isn’t really a keyword research tool, but it can be very helpful. Have you noticed that when you start typing in a query on any search engine, a list of query suggestions automatically drop down? These suggestions are generated based on the most common queries conducted that are related to your own query. It would therefore be a good idea for you to take note of these suggestions and use them as inspiration for new keywords.
2. Bing Keyword Research
Perhaps the best thing about this tool is that all keyword suggestions come from organic search, thereby providing you with the most natural keyword ideas. You can also use the tool to get keyword suggestions from a wide range of countries or regions and in a wide range of languages, which is indeed very useful if you’re serving several markets. It even has a “history” feature that allows you to view which topics you’ve already researched.
3. Keyword Eye
Just like Bing’s keyword tool, Keyword Eye gives you the ability to gather suggested keywords in several languages and for several countries. Note that it defaults to UK results, since it was developed by a UK team, so you may have to change the setting if you want to get results for the United States or any other country you serve. You may also appreciate the fact that the tool allows you to order the suggestions according to search volume or AdWords competition.
4. SEOChat Suggestion Keyword Finder
The value of this tool lies in the fact that it not only runs the primary keyword through the suggestion tool, but it also runs the suggested keywords through the tool twice. You therefore get a deeper and larger set of suggested keywords.
This tool searches for keyword suggestions provided by Google to its users. It gives you the top 10 suggestions based on the keyword you provide, plus suggestions for the keyword and each letter of the alphabet. A single search could turn up over a hundred keyword suggestions, thereby giving you plenty of options, which you may then use for further keyword research.
It also helps, of course, to find out what keywords your competitors are targeting in their own SEO efforts. There are tools designed to get those keywords straight from your competitors’ web pages.
As the name suggests, this tool allows you to spy on your competitors by using the Domain Spy feature. By typing a competitor’s domain into the search box, you’ll see what keywords they spend the biggest amount of money on; you also get a pretty accurate estimate of how much that particular website spends on paid search. You can even export the lists into Excel or Google Spreadsheets, a feature usually unavailable on free versions of keyword tools.
2. Link Sleuth
This isn’t technically categorized as a keyword research tool, but it can be very helpful for keyword research because it provides you with a list of Meta keywords, title tags, headings, and Meta descriptions for any public website. The Meta keywords data, in particular, will tell you what keywords your competitors are currently using.
3. Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Developed by a professional SEO company in the UK, the free version of this tool has the ability to crawl up to 500 URLs. If you don’t have that many competitors, then this may be good enough for you. However, if you plan to gather information on large e-commerce websites, then you may have to get the paid version.
Database Keyword Tools
There are keyword research tools equipped with their own database and aren’t tied to the data of search engines. When you enter a keyword, therefore, these tools will offer suggestions based on which keywords in their database they deem relevant.
1. Trellian Keyword Discovery
When you enter a keyword, this tool will provide you with related keywords and tell you how many times those keywords are searched per month. You can use these results to get keyword ideas and as the first step towards further keyword research. The free version of the tool is available for up to 50 searches; the paid version offers more keyword analysis features.
Wordstream has a free keyword tool that contains over a trillion keywords in its own database. It offers the top 30 keyword suggestions along with their monthly search volumes and some suggestions from profitable niches that are also related to the keyword you entered. This tool can help you identify profitable long-tail keywords and serves as a good way to start your keyword research. For more suggestions and analysis features, you may want to pay for their full toolset or at least sign up for a free trial.
Of course, you shouldn’t use any of these keyword research tools as a substitute for a truly detailed keyword research. Rather, use them to identify keywords that are the most valuable to your competitors and your target market and then use those keywords as the focal point of your detailed research. Tools, after all, are just that —tools. It is still your effort that will give you the best results.