Keyword research is one of the most challenging pieces of online marketing and SEO. It is easy to do the research, but not so easy to filter through it for the nuggets of value.
Today I will review some of the top free keyword research tools available online.
NOTE: click the headers below to open up each tool in a separate tab.
The easiest tool to think of and use is provided by Google. Keep in mind that the main purpose of this tool is to investigate potential keywords for Google PPC / sidebar advertising.
Why is this an important caveat? The tool provides both search volumes and competition. Competition is crucial for SEO, because it can massively slow down your progress against SEO goals.
Be careful not to confuse SEO competition with PPC competition, though. The value shown in this tool indicates how many competitors are bidding on a keyword for PPC ads – on Google AdWords. SEO competition needs to go deeper, and it involves how many pages rank for a term, what authority those pages have, and how optimized the content on the page is.
But as a starting point, this is a fine tool to use. Just be sure to properly set your match types so you do not over-estimate the potential of any keyword.
I just came across this one today. Pingler is a great service for initiating a simple ping of a new web page to multiple search engines. They now offer this tool, which takes any keyword you already have in mind and suggests permutations of it. This is great for figuring out multiple angles for positioning keywords.
This comes in handy for two purposes:
- Optimizing multiple pages or blog posts on your website for related but different terms.
- Properly using keyword permutations for anchor text on backlink efforts.
Surely there are many other uses, but these are some simple ways to start using it today.
WordTracker is a premium keyword research tool that costs $69 / month. However, they offer this free version with a more limited feature set.
It is good to have multiple views of keyword recommendations, so keep this on your list as another option. If you like it enough, you can download a free 30-day trial of the full version to see if it is worth making the larger investment.
Yahoo provided a free tool called Overture several years ago, but it was discontinued some time back. When that happened, this tool was released to help SEOs and PPC professionals with their keyword research.
I especially like that this tool pulls from multiple search engines. I have heard decent feedback about it, so give it a whirl and see if it works for you.
WordStream is another premium keyword tool (pricing starts at $329 per year). They also offer a free version that operates similar to the WordTracker tool above. I recommend you try both before deciding to pay for a full version of either. Both are good quality tools.
There you have it – some good free research tools for keywords. You should be able to do good basic research with one or more of these tools.
What premium tools have you used in the past? What would you recommend? Did I miss any great free tools that should be included? Add them freely in the comments!