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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.
This is a rather crude metric because it presumes one can monetize all the traffic they receive AND one can generate as much profit per visitor as Google does. Anyone who could do both of those would likely displace Google as the first consumer destination in their market (like how many people in the United States start ecommerce searches on Amazon.com rather than Google.com).
I recently decided to go with ahrefs after using spyfu for a couple years and trialing secockpit. I was a moz client for awhile too about a year ago. I found spyfu data to be sketchy (or just plain wrong) fairly often, and moz, I don’t know, just didn’t seem like they were really into supporting what I wanted to know. secockpit was achingly slow for a trickle of data. ahrefs isn’t nearly so graph-y as spyfu, but they are so blazing fast and the data is so deep. I enjoy it a great deal, even if it is spendy.
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?
This is slightly more complicated than it used to be, because you have to actually create a live AdWords Campaign as part of the process! This puts many people off, as it looks as if you have to actually advertise in order to use the tool. You don’t — you can just setup the campaign and then pause it before it runs so you don’t have to spend a penny.

So which tool should you use? The simple answer is ALL of them!! If the data from several tools suggests that a keyword may be a good keyword to target, than you should feel fairly confident that it is. If your results appear to be contradicting one another for a particular keyword, then you may want to be hesitant in including that keyword in your selection. SEO professionals should never rely on one resource for research. No one tool is going to be 100% accurate and you stand the best chance at making the correct strategic decisions by using a variety of sources.
I would like to get LTP but I’ve read that people have some issues according to Keyword Planner and Moz. Do you still recommend this tool? How accurate is it’s data comparing to previous versions? Does Keyword difficulty still works as it should? Maybe it’s better to wait untill some stability of this software? I don’t want to waste money for some tool which doesn’t work properly.
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How do I research keywords? This is a common question I get from clients. And my immediate response is… Long Tail Pro! With the update to Google Adwords Keyword Planner (rendering it near worthless) without paying for Google ads and to test actually search volume for keywords, the generic Avg. search volume range they provide gives you ZERO actionable data! See example below:
Because I’m naturally leery of tools, I was very hesitant to make any snap judgments on Long Tail Pro. But after I read the reviews on the product and learned more about its seriously cool developer Spencer Haws, I decided to give it a go and made the $97 purchase. As soon as I started using the tool, I quickly fell in love with these two main features:
6. Filters. On the top area of the main pane, you can find the “Filters”. These will allow you to filter your keyword suggestions list in real time. Just start typing and your list will be filtered accordingly. You can filter for “Keywords” (to only show keywords that include a specific word or words); “Suggested Bid” & “Local Searches” allow you to enter minimum or maximum values; “Advertiser Competition” (this comes in handy, because the higher the competition the more money there is to be made if you target that keyword); “Avg. Amazon Reviews” (a neat feature for those who sell products on Amazon or have an Amazon FBA business — less reviews equal less competition, hence more chances to rank on top of Amazon’s product search pages); “Avg. Keyword Competitiveness” or “KC” is Long Tail Pro’s proprietary metric that calculates how hard it is to rank for a keyword in a range from 0 to 100 — 0 being no competition and 100 impossible to rank for. All of these filter columns can be used to sort the keyword suggestion list as you prefer.
I also hang out in SEO forums and groups and see KC scores tossed around and talked about and pretty much everybody is on the same page. Most agree that you can’t completely rely on the KC score (there are a few factors that can’t quantitatively be measured with a number) – but that the KC score is a VERY good indicator of the competition level for specific keywords. The following diagram realistically shows exactly what to expect from certain KC scores…
The keywords you want to focus your SEO on should closely resemble the vocabulary of your audience. In order to come up with the proper keywords you really have to get inside the heads of the people who search for your website. What terms will people use? How do people search? Which question does your website answer? You should create a list of all search terms people could use and think of combinations and nuances within these search terms.
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This is a rather crude metric because it presumes one can monetize all the traffic they receive AND one can generate as much profit per visitor as Google does. Anyone who could do both of those would likely displace Google as the first consumer destination in their market (like how many people in the United States start ecommerce searches on Amazon.com rather than Google.com).
The Google Keyword Planner used to be great it's now frustrating to use.... and almost impossible to get in to without setting up your first ad. Big shame google big shame. I would love to share more info about your tool over on my website [link removed by moderator] for my local business clients - have you got something you can send over for me to add to the site?
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.

When you’re running the Rank Checker feature sometimes you see Google’s captchas pop up and which can be annoying. I have only experienced this on a computer with an old OS (Windows XP) though; I haven’t seen this on Windows 7 or Windows 10 machines. Again, if you close the software and reopen it after a few minutes, everything will be okay again. UPDATE: one of the latest updates fixed this issue.

3. Ninja Outreach: Full disclosure this is my own tool, and it is actually an outreach tool, so you may be wondering how it plays into Keyword Research. The fact is there are quite a few data points that NinjaOutreach gets for me that I find useful in keyword research, such as the articles that are ranking for the keyword in Google, their domain authority, their page authority, the number of backlinks they have, and other social and contact data. It's pretty valuable stuff, especially if there is going to be an outreach campaign tied into the keyword research. I wrote a great article with Jake from LTP showing the combination of the two tools.
This comes with a monthly fee though, so why have that recurring revenue drain when you can just get MS or LTP for that matter on a one off fee. They are both virtually the same in my opinion. This is the only thing that is stopping me from buying the software. If the calculation of keyword difficulty was included in the one off fee, i wouldn’t mind paying the full $97.
This is another free tool for keyword research. The tool allows you to combine your keywords in a very easy manner. It has three main match types which include broad match, phrase match and the exact match. You can choose on any of them depending on your keyword search objectives. In addition, you can either use broad modifier or optional keyword or both. Most users are finding it to be a very useful tool in their search for the most appropriate keywords.
Here’s where this tool’s value really comes in: Keyword Tool has keyword research tools for multiple search engines, not just Google. If you want to do keyword research for YouTube, Bing, Amazon, the App Store, or eBay, they’ve got keyword suggestions (and data) for you. If YouTube videos, for example, are a central part of your marketing strategy, this could easily be worth the money.
3. Set your pre-search filters. Depending on whether you are looking for a new niche to build a site around or trying to find keywords to target on your already existing website, the minimum amount of local monthly searches (LMS) you set might vary. For new niches my LMS criteria is 1,500-5,000 searches, for posts anything from 10-800 is fine. Also, depending on one of these goals you can add a lower or higher number of words in the respective filter: for new niches 3 (or, at times, 2) words minimum, for new posts from 3 or 4 words up.

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.
You don’t really need to worry about the volume size either. Too big a number just means you will have to work harder to get ranked in Google. It’s now quite commonplace to see SEO people say it’s best to just go with your gut feeling on a keyword. Just go for something you would type into Google search yourself instead of beating yourself up trying to find that ‘one’ killer keyword.
Joost developed his own keyword research tool to come up with keywords as well! Yoast Suggests uses the Google Suggest functionality you know from searching in Google. It finds the keyword expansions Google gives and then requests more of them. So if you type ‘example‘, it’ll also give you the expansions for ‘example a…’ till ‘example z…’ etc. Just go on and try it and fill out some of your potential keywords. It’s a great way to quickly find more long tail keywords you can focus on.
What I really like about them is extensive detail including the keyword difficulty. Ahrefs uses clickstream data to also show how many clicks you will get from the search engine. This is very useful after knowledge graph integration, as many keywords may have huge traffic but they hardly get any clicks from the search engine. Reason being, they get answers directly from the Google search result. Example of one such query is: “birthdate of any celebrity”
The objective of keyword research is to generate, with good precision and recall, large number of terms that are highly relevant yet non-obvious to the given input keyword.[2] Process of keyword research involves brainstorming and the use of keyword research tools. To achieve the best SEO results, it is important to optimize a website as well as backlinks for the most relevant keywords. It is good practice to search for related keywords that have low competition and still a high number of searches. This makes it easier to achieve a higher rank in search engines which usually results in higher web traffic. The downside of this practice is that the website is optimized for alternative keywords instead of the main keyword; main keywords might be very difficult to rank for due to high competition.[3] There are three essential concepts to consider when conducting keyword research. Good keywords are closely related to the subject of the website. Most search engines use an internal quality system to check website relevance related to possible keywords, a non relevant keyword is unlikely to rank well for a website.[4] Good Keyword that are highly competitive are less likely to rank in the top. Keywords that have no monthly searches generate no traffic and therefore are useless for SEO. Keyword stuffing in a web page should be avoided.
If you go to Search Console under the Acquisition tab and then click Queries, you’ll be able to see different searches (aka keywords) that users found you through. You may have to set this up, but it’s easy to do and only takes a few minutes; you can see how here. Use this information to evaluate and monitor your keywords to see what’s working and what needs to be changed.
Long Tail Pro helps to assess the strength of your competition and put you ahead of your competitors. It would help you to rank higher than your competitors. When it fetches the keywords for you, it filters it and delivers the relevant ones after filtering them and making them relevant to your domain. This way it would help place your business and your website ahead of its competitors.
In addition, you can dig into the paid side of search and find out what keywords your competitors are bidding on, and then leverage those keywords for your own organic benefit if you're not already doing so. Search Metrics does this as well, but I've found SEMRush to provide a greater range of keywords and they save more historical keyword data than Search Metrics.
You cannot have a guarantee that you will enhance your ranking and get to the top ten results by making use of the most popular keywords. The situation may worsen when you keep on increasing the amount of content on your website. The only way you can be sure of recording success in your campaigns is by making use of keywords that are not only creative but also relevant. This is the main reason why we have the AdWords and SEO keyword permutation generator tool. The interface of this tool is very easy to use and has three boxes for text entry and you will be required to fill in as many keywords and you like and the generator will work out several permutations that produce very creative and useful keywords that you can include in your content. However, you will be expected to keenly watch the keyword generator because some of them may not make sense.
These are usually single-word keywords with insane amounts of search volume and competition (for example, “insurance” or “vitamins”). Because searcher intent is all over the place (someone searching for “insurance” might be looking for a car insurance quote, a list of life insurance companies or a definition of the word), Head Terms usually don’t convert very well.
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).
If you're struggling to think of more keywords people might be searching about a specific topic, go to Google.com and take a look at the related search terms that appear when you plug in a keyword. When you type in your phrase and scroll to the bottom of Google's results, you'll notice some suggestions for searches related to your original input. These keywords can spark ideas for other keywords you may want to take into consideration.
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.
Hey Alex – this is a good question. No tool is going to be spot on. My advice is to not look too much into the accuracy of the metrics, but look at it more as a relative measure. I’m finding Ahrefs to be a good barometer for keyword competitiveness, but I’ve also heard great things about KW Finder lately. I think it’ll more come to personal preference. Both are solid options.

Google prefers to not share long tail searches in this tool – because the tool is designed for Google Adwords advertisers. If advertisers bid on those long tails – they would have less competition and therefore pay less for the Adword, and therefore Google would make less money e.g. bidding on the term weight loss for girls under 18 is cheaper than weight loss. 
The WordStream suite of Keyword Tools is an integrated and actionable set of keyword tools designed to help search marketers with keyword search, keyword suggestion, keyword grouping, PPC keyword research, keyword analysis, long-tail keyword research, and negative keyword discovery, going beyond the capabilities that a typical free keyword tool can offer.
But if you’re serious about content and inbound marketing, and you want to create great industry-related blog posts that lead to more traffic, leads, and sales–then you should at least give it a test drive (assuming you need content ideas). Like I said, it comes with an excellent guarantee, and you can visit the site here or click the image below to watch more videos regarding this impressive tool.
Am I worried that my keyword research might not be effective since I only look at the KC score? No. Not really. Because I tend to target only the longer tail keywords these days. I don’t go after the huge main keywords anymore. They’re too hard to rank for. But long tail keywords are really easy to find with Long Tail Pro and they are usually much easier to rank for.
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