I often write in my articles that content creators should not focus on keywords; they should focus on writing relevant and engaging content that people will want to share. The most important thing is the value that your content brings to your readers. I still maintain that this is the best piece of advice I can give to writers and content strategists today.
Make sure that you top everything else that has been written on the subject and your engagement will go through the roof.
However, this doesn't mean that you should abandon keyword research totally. It's an essential building block upon which everything else you do lies and getting rid of it would be a horrible step in a totally wrong direction. Keyword research is going to be very helpful in determining what you'd want to get yourself into and determining the search volume for every topic or an idea that you get.
This article lists 5 free keyword suggestion tools that are going to help you in a few ways:
- Choosing the best keywords that have a decent number of searches in your niche
- Determining the exact phrases that your audience is using to search for any given keyword
- Researching long tail keywords you will use to capture quality traffic
- Getting an idea of what your competition is doing
- Finding long tail (alternative) keywords that you're going to use to signal to Google and other search engines that you know what you are talking about
Right now we're focusing on that last benefit. Using alternative keywords increases your standing with the algorithms and helps you to avoid keyword stuffing. It allows you to position yourself as an expert on the topic.
There are a lot of tools out there that you can use for this purpose but I'm going to focus on the ones that are either completely free or have a free trial period that allows you to check out all the functionalities of the tool. The list doesn't rank tools from best to worst – I believe that every one of these tools can be of use to you and sometimes you're going to have to use 2 or more in conjunction to get an accurate picture.
Moz Keyword Explorer
I think Moz Keyword Explorer has to be the freshest tool on this list. I didn't do much research on it but it's a fair guess. Of course, we all know about Moz and the good work they do over there. Their most popular products help you improve your SEO (such as Open Site Explorer, MozBar, and others) so it's no wonder they've decided to dip their toe into keyword research and suggestions.
Once you enter your keyword, Moz will immediately calculate search volume, difficulty to rank, and opportunities and potential for the said keyword. However, the box below those metrics will show you alternative keyword suggestions that you can use to enrich your content and create some magic that relies on latent semantic indexing.
The suggestion box will also indicate the relevancy (the higher the better) and a search volume range. Keep in mind that this tool is still fresh so there is some data missing (not every suggestion will display search volume). I'm guessing that this is because they still have some work to do on building their data base.
Moz Keyword Explorer gives you 2 free searches every day but you can sign up for a free 30-day trial if you need more than that. After that you're going to have to pay for Moz Pro ($149 per month if you want 5,000 keyword reports and 30 full keyword lists included) or you can continue using the limited free features every day.
Answer the Public
Sometimes all those tables are simply too much and we just want a nice graphic representation of related keywords that we can use to beef up our content. This is exactly what you get with Answer the Public – a nice, clean representation of related terms and a great visual depiction that you can save, email to other people, or share via social networks.
Although Answer the Public lacks relevant metrics (search volume and competition, to be exact) it's still a wonderful tool for bloggers who want to build their content around questions the users are asking frequently. The tool shows most frequently asked questions and statements starting with prepositions so you can use it to get ideas on what to write about.
SEO Book's keyword suggestion tool is completely free, but there is one little snag – you have to register to get access to it. This is a bit of a nuisance in my opinion but a small price to pay if you're looking for a quality tool at $0 pay.
This tool gives you an opportunity to see all relevant metrics such as search volume for every search engine, average bids for paid ads, and more. I will say that the tool looks and feels slightly outdated and cluttered – I'm guessing that it's not maintained as it should be since it's free. However, it includes a keyword suggestion box with tons of results and estimated volumes so it does its job.
Long Tail Pro
I know I said I'll be talking about tools that are free or have a free trial period but I'll bend that rule with this one. Not by much though Long Tail Pro offers a $1 monthly trial on all of its plans, which isn't all that bad for such a comprehensive tool. There are no strings attached and if you don't like it you can walk away after a month.
One of the greatest strengths that Long Tail Pro has over other tools is the fact that it can spew out very large volumes of keywords related to your seed keyword. One seed keyword can generate a ton of other keywords but you can also add several seeds and end up with a list of 3,000 related keywords.
For each of those keywords, you will find search volume data, average PPC bid, competitiveness, and even a number of local searches. This will prove to be invaluable info if you're doing local SEO and want to find traffic that is close to you.
After the recent search volume update on Google Keyword Planner, Long Tail Pro found itself in a bit of a pickle because they depended on that data, However, the team managed to figure out a solution and launched it a couple of days ago.
Google Keyword Planner
Last but not the least is the Google's own Keyword Planner Tool. You simply can't skip it since you would be skipping the source. Keyword Planner Tool is the alpha and omega of all keyword suggestion tools. Not because it's the best – it isn't. It's because it's managed by Google and 90% of the time that's the search engine that most people use.
Keyword Planner generates up to 800 results (alternative keyword suggestions) and gives you an idea (well, these days it gives you a range) about average monthly searches. You will also get data about competition and suggested bid, which might come in handy if you ever need to use it for Google Ads.
Keyword planner is comprehensive but it's also completely free and you get to use all the features for absolutely nothing. Google wants you to do well because it's in its interest that your content is quality content and that you're not adding crap to the Internet. Also, maybe Google is just a big old softie and loves handing out stuff for free. Who knows, right?!
So, these are my favorite keyword suggestion and research tools. Do you have any others that you would like to add to the list? If you do, make sure to leave a comment below and I will check it out. Now start writing and creating excellent content for your audience!