Great article again. I was just thinking why can’t I find an article of yours on keyword research and then boom here it is. Thanks again. On another subject are your articles on link building still relevant ?. As I have been guilty of as Brian Deane calls it the publish and pray method. I would really like to know what is method of choice for link building. Thanks again Ian.
To answer your final question, yes but not really. You can definitely use AdWord keyword planner tool to get solid organic search volume estimates. However, don’t just stop there. Leverage other tools to find longer tail variations you can map against various stages of the buyer journey. I like to use SEMrush, Keyword Tool.io and Google autosuggest.

You can also filter by query, which is useful when looking at branded queries, or when looking at specific words. For example, only show keywords that include the term "SEO". The graph also allows you to spot trends in across the available metrics and compare week-on-week or month-on-month. This can help you to drill down and monitor progression over time, allowing you to answer questions like "have my branded keywords received more clicks in the last month compared to the previous month?", "has the CTR improved?", "did average positions in Google improve?".
The local data that is returned is a 12 month average of all search queries in the United States using the Google Search Engine and affiliated Google search properties. Using the sidebar on the left, marketers are easily able to specify the keyword matching type (Broad, Exact, Phrase), change the category, and refine their results to contain specific terms.

I ditto what you are saying. All of the keyword volume data the system is stating is completely way off, false and misleading. They are pulling these numbers now from 3rd party sources, which we all know are directional, but in many cases in left field! I just signed up and will probably be cancelling because I can’t trust or rely on their data. What a shame, because before it was such a great tool.

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3) Google: This is pretty straight forward but it’s the main reason I like it. I search for my main seed keyword in Google, and use the keywords that Google itself highlights in bold on the search results, plus the “Searches related to” section at the bottom to get keyword variations or LSI. That’s basically what Google is telling you that topic is about. No need for a thousands other tools. I use these to optimize the on page of my target pages as well.
To drive search engine traffic, whether through organic search or paid search advertisements, you need the right keywords, plus a process to expand your keyword lists over time. That’s where our free tool comes in. WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool gives you hundreds of relevant keyword results, plus additional, actionable information like competition level and estimated CPC, all for free!
Be sure to re-evaluate these keywords every few months -- once a quarter is a good benchmark, but some businesses like to do it even more often than that. As you gain even more authority in the SERPs, you'll find that you can add more and more keywords to your lists to tackle as you work on maintaining your current presence, and then growing in new areas on top of that.
1. AdWords Keyword Planner - It's still the standard, although Google keeps making changes that just aren't helpful. I get that they want us to treat closely-related keywords in such a way that we're not creating multiple pages when we should just have one, but I'd appreciate it if they'd still break down the volume for each keyword that makes up a group (or at least list the keywords they're clumping together into a group).
2) SpyFu: I suggest to have paid account on SpyFu. I just need to find my competitors who using Adwords and review them using this tool. It will show me what ads and keywords they are using. Note that my competitor who paid for that particular keyword knows exactly that it is important for his business including recent trends. Also using SEO feature you can input any URL and find our which keywords they are ranking for.
Keyword Researcher is an easy-to-use Keyword Discover Tool. Once activated, it emulates a human using Google Autocomplete, and repeatedly types thousands of queries into Google. Each time a partial phrase is entered, Google tries to predict what it thinks the whole phrase might be. We simply save this prediction. And, as it turns out, when you do this for every letter of the alphabet (A-Z), then you’re left with hundreds of great Long Tail keyword phrases.
Update: I’ve now been using Long Tail Pro for 5+ years. There are now many different keyword research tools and lots of people prefer some of the newer tools. Admittedly – Long Tail Pro had some hiccups and went through some rough times as they transitioned ownership and introduced the newer cloud version. But – all of the bugs and kinks have been worked out and Long Tail Pro is now better than ever! I’m happy and proud to be able to continue to use and promote Long Tail Pro as my keyword research tool of choice.
This isn’t the only tool that mines Google Autocomplete. There’s also KeywordTool.io, but this tool restricts results to ~700 keywords (more are available for “pro” members). Infinite Suggest is another alternative, but despite the name, I’ve found that it still doesn’t find anywhere near the number of keywords that Keyword Shitter finds. And there are tons of other Google Autocomplete miners too. Just Google “google auto suggest tool” for more. There’s also this tool from SEOChat which mines autocomplete suggestions from Google, Bing, Amazon, and YouTube.
Before you can put it to use and start making Long Tail Pro pay for itself, you first need to understand exactly what Long Tail Pro does and how it will benefit you. The number one benefit and feature of Long Tail Pro is that it helps you analyze the competition in Google much faster and more effectively than if you tried to do it only using free tools.

This is one of the best articles on Keyword research tool that I have encountered. However, To add more to this, I just wanna point out a tool (LSI Graph) for an outstanding long tail & semantic keyword research. After the recent Google algorithm, Google is now, however focussing more on context & semantics than keyword alone. What do you think about it?
So whilst Long Tail Pro has just continued to grow in revenue every single year and comes highly recommended, you may want to check if all the important features are fully functioning before signing up. Especially the KC feature (keyword competitiveness) as it is so fundamental to keyword research and making an informed choice on whether or not to go into a particular niche.
I was going to post screenshots here showing my numbers for the past year – but the dashboards in the old affiliate platforms (Clickbank and JVZoo) don’t provide the best visuals – so I’ll just show you my total affiliate income for the past year. In one year (March 13, 2015 to March 13, 2016) I earned $3867.60 in commissions for promoting Long Tail Pro. Not bad for having just a mildly popular ‘passive income blog’ and only a small email list!
Analyze Keyword Difficulty – Targeting difficult keywords with the highest competition is not always the best idea. The SEMrush Keyword Difficulty tool helps you determine keywords’ difficulties. By indicating a particular keyword’s percentage of difficulty, this tool helps you estimate how easy it would be to seize your competitors’ organic positions in the SERPs.

Note: If you can’t justify using Ahrefs on a monthly basis, you could sign up for a month, do your KW research and cancel. That said, if you can justify the monthly pricing it’s well worth keeping because you’ll get access to the ongoing functionality such as rank tracking and web monitoring. It also means there’s no need to use any other tools to track rankings or monitor mentions on the web.


Understanding which websites already rank for your keyword gives you valuable insight into the competition, and also how hard it will be to rank for the given term. Are there search advertisements running along the top and right-hand side of the organic results? Typically, many search ads means a high-value keyword, and multiple search ads above the organic results often means a highly lucrative and directly conversion-prone keyword.


Analyzing the current top 10 search results in Google is the most important part of keyword research. This is where you determine whether or not you can produce a webpage that can beat any or all of those results. The process is known as first page analysis – and it is by far the hardest process to understand and really figure out (especially when you first start out). Don’t worry though – Long Tail Pro has detailed and in-depth instructional videos available that show you exactly how to do this.

Customize the data that LTP is going to fetch with pre-filters like “Suggested Bid” (or Cost per Click [CPC], i.e. the amount of money an advertiser is willing to pay for a click on their AdWords ad that is targeting that specific keyword), “Local Search Volume” (average number of monthly searches for a specific keyword), “Advertiser Competition” (the amount of advertisers competing for a specific keyword) and “Number (of) Words” (very important when you’re trying to find long-tail keywords).


How do you figure out what keywords your competitors are ranking for, you ask? Aside from manually searching for keywords in an incognito browser and seeing what positions your competitors are in, SEMrush allows you to run a number of free reports that show you the top keywords for the domain you enter. This is a quick way to get a sense of the types of terms your competitors are ranking for.

Bing Webmaster Toolbox: Oh yeah, remember that other search engine? Yes that’s right Bing has a whole collection of tools of their own, including keyword tools. The data will be taken from Bing itself, which means that you should be able to make relative assumptions about keyword popularity. because lets face it, Bing users aren’t that different than Google’s.
This database was built using data from BEFORE Google required active ad accounts to get good keyword data & before they started blending data together for similar terms. Even if you set up an AdWords account and spend significant sums of money with them, they may require you to run your ad campaign for 3 or 4 months straight before they will show reasonably precise data instead of exceptionally broad data ranges.
Well, if you haven’t heard the news yet, the word on the street is Google has shut down their widely popular keyword tool for public use. Now if you want access to Google sanctioned keyword data you have to sign up for an Adwords account. Of course there are a ton of theories surrounding why Google would make this decision, some are more obvious than others. But to many of us Google’s motivations seem pointless when we still have work to do! Luckly we exist in a vibrant industry where innovation is at the core of most of what we do. As such we have a slew of different tools available to replace Google’s tool.

Keyword research is an activity you undertake every now and then. If you have a clear definition about the product or service you want to ‘sell’ with your website, you should be able to come up with keywords, related keywords, and even more related keywords to make your awesome website (more) findable. As your product and the market will evolve, your keyword strategy should do the same.


Keywords are supplied with accurate, clickstream-based metrics, some of which are exclusive to Ahrefs. For example, Clicks and Clicks Per Search can give you a better idea of how much traffic your content can get. That’s a burning issue today – many queries never translate into clicks because Google reveals answers for them at the top of SERP (i.e., Knowledge Card).
1) SEMrush - I believe that among all the 3rd party software, SEMrush has the largest keyword database. Their search volume data is pretty accurate and aligns with the Google keyword planner. Also, based on the type of content that needs to be produced (i.e. informational, transactional, etc.), one can utilize different filtering options available in it.
"I rarely get excited about SEO and SEM tools...But, when it comes to keyword research it is virtually impossible to produce a quality worksheet without software. When I have to perform the same task for my customers, the process is even more daunting and time consuming...there is now a better way to manage huge keyword lists and this tool is called WordStream."
If you already have a keyword list, the Free Keyword Grouper can transform your list (up to 1,000 keywords) into an organized keyword structure ready for high-performance PPC campaigns and an SEO-friendly information architecture. Just paste in your list to get back keyword groups in seconds. This keywords organizer tool will help you sort your list of keywords into structured, workable groups that can then be used for easy ad text creation. The keyword tool can also be used as an SEO keyword organizer to assist in site design.
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Before you can put it to use and start making Long Tail Pro pay for itself, you first need to understand exactly what Long Tail Pro does and how it will benefit you. The number one benefit and feature of Long Tail Pro is that it helps you analyze the competition in Google much faster and more effectively than if you tried to do it only using free tools.
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