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Can't go wrong with the Google Keyword tool, SEMRush and Google Trends. The Keyword tool for volume estimates, SEMRush to see what keywords competitors are ranking for/targeting, and Google Trends to make sure the traffic is actually coming from countries I'm trying to target. Gives a relatively accurate picture of when to expect traffic spikes and seasonality insight.
Great Top 10 keyword research tools list. Thank you for posting Robbie! I really appreciated the feedback from the experts. There are a definitely a few tools here worthy of taking note of. I have also been using DYNO Mapper (http://www.dynomapper.com) as a keyword research tool. DYNO Mapper is a visual sitemap generator that delivers keywords on all pages of any site. The user simply inputs any existing URL into the system and it will scan thousands of pages.
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.
Curious if you’ve found a way to efficiently find underperforming keywords? Currently I have to manually click on each and every keyword to calculate it’s Keyword Competitiveness. Frustrating clicking it hundreds or even a thousand + times. I’d rather just add it as one of the scan settings and wait 8 hours for it to run all 1000 than having to manually click them for an hour and then waiting…
Making a list remains hard. And up until a few years ago, doing your keyword research was much easier. You could simply check Google Analytics to see which terms people used to find your website. That is no longer possible. So you’re pretty much left in the dark about the terms people use in search engines to end up at your website. Luckily, there are some other tools which can make your keyword research a bit easier, and could help you speed up the process a bit:

Depending on your topic / vertical and your geographic location the search engines may have vastly different search volumes. The tool can only possibly offer approximations. Exact search volumes are hard to find due to vanity searches, click bots, rank checkers, and other forms of automated traffic. Exceptionally valuable search terms may show far greater volume than they actually have due to various competitive commercial forces inflating search volumes due to automated search traffic.
Although more and more keywords are getting encrypted by Google every day, another smart way to come up with keyword ideas is to figure out which keywords your website is already getting found for. To do this, you'll need website analytics software like Google Analytics or HubSpot's Sources tool. Drill down into your website's traffic sources, and sift through you organic search traffic bucket to identify the keywords people are using to arrive at your site.
SEMrush is a very useful tool for both researching competitors when starting a site or for growing an established site. I really like to find weaker niche sites that still seem to be ranking for lots of keywords; SEMrush helps me see what they are ranking for and what I can potentially target. You can also see what keywords you’re on the cusp of ranking for with your established site - another very useful feature.
And so on and so on. The point of this step isn't to come up with your final list of keyword phrases -- you just want to end up with a brain dump of phrases you think potential customers might use to search for content related to that particular topic bucket. We'll narrow the lists down later in the process so you don't have something too unwieldy.
I came across Longtail Pro this morning, downloaded the trial version and was about to buy the $97 program…seems like a good buy. But the more research I’ve done today, it seems the KC score is an absolute must for anyone who is serious about making money with niche sites. I hate to spend the bucks, but hate even more leaving money and possibly niche site success. Any advice?
The “Starter” tier, with 1000 keyword lookups every 24 hours should be enough for anyone starting out in blogging – or even people who are quite established. It’s pleasing to see a product where they don’t seem to trick you into having to pay for a more expensive version. On the more negative side, I did feel that you’re nudged towards doing annual payment, with the monthly option kept slightly “hidden.”

As for the history of the company, as I explained, I created Long Tail Pro back in 2011.  At the time, I was creating tons of niche sites and was doing alot of keyword research and content creation.  I was trying to figure out what types of keywords would rank quickly in the search engines, specifically Google, and I was frustrated with the other keyword research tools (in particular Market Samurai) out there.

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