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.
Long Tail Pro is a keyword research tool. Keyword research helps you find exact keywords that people are actually searching for. Some keywords are high competition (meaning it is harder to rank for on your site) and some have lower competition (easier for you to rank). How does Long Tail Pro work? First it finds the actual keywords for you based on the ‘seed keywords’ that you input. Then it helps you analyze the competition to see which keywords will be harder or easier for you to rank. How does this benefit you? You can take those ‘easier to rank’ keywords and use them in your content to increase search engine traffic to your site.
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.

When I finally made the decision the get Long Tail Pro way back in December of 2012 – I honestly had no idea how much this one piece of software would impact everything I do online. I knew that it would help me find more and better keywords right off the bat. But I didn’t know exactly how much it would positively affect my ability to actually make money online. I can say with confidence, that Long Tail Pro is the one tool that has made the biggest difference (by far), in my ability to get traffic to websites and actually earn money online.


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.
How do I know this? Because I’ve done it! In late 2013 I was still struggling to earn a respectable income online. I started up a keyword research service and marketed it to just this blog audience. It turned out to be quite popular. Basically – I would find niches using Long Tail Pro then create Keyword Research Packages. Each package contained usually several hundred keywords with KC scores calculated. I was selling these packages for anywhere between $97 to $147. I even sold one single package for $597! That one had very high search volumes and very low competition.
I use Ahrefs to find ideas for keywords to add into content, and content to create around keyword opportunities. I like how Ahrefs shows keyword difficulty, search volume, traffic potential (how much organic search traffic it’s possible to get when you rank #1 for a parent topic keyword) and lets you group keywords together to create lists. It’s really useful.
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. 
How do I know this? Because I’ve done it! In late 2013 I was still struggling to earn a respectable income online. I started up a keyword research service and marketed it to just this blog audience. It turned out to be quite popular. Basically – I would find niches using Long Tail Pro then create Keyword Research Packages. Each package contained usually several hundred keywords with KC scores calculated. I was selling these packages for anywhere between $97 to $147. I even sold one single package for $597! That one had very high search volumes and very low competition.
Spencer, it seems like you got out at just the right time and made your money? Seeing as Google has basically stopped giving access to their free keyword tool. I own the FULL lifetime license $290+ I think is was. Now Longtail Pro is useless due to the restrictions that Google has put in place. Do you know what the future plans are for Longtail Pro to get around this issue that I’m sure everyone is facing? Or can you get some feedback from the new owners?

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.
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.
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.
I’ve bought and used just about everything under the sun.. Swissmade marketings product.. MS ..stealth jw analyzer.. Ilovegooglepage1 the list goes on. I used LTP platinum. The one I use is kw blaze. I bought it in 2012 and still goes to this day with Skype support is vgood if there’s any update issues. It has kw competirveness.. Moz rank ..fb likes.. A researcher.. And more quite powerful yet is free of mo.thly fees.
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!

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.

Earlier, I wrote a post about the use of long tail keywords. Focusing on long tail keywords could be a good strategy, especially when trying to rank in a highly competitive market. But how do you decide on which (long tail) keywords you want to rank? This post will give you some handy tips and keyword research tools to make your keyword research a bit easier.
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.
Successful SEO requires multiple interrelated activities on all fronts: competition, keywords, link building, on-page and technical optimization. It creates a need for diverse tools, which is expensive. SEMrush solves this problem with an award-winning all-in-one toolkit that includes 17 tools covering all SEO fields. We’ll walk you through your SEO workflow, explaining how to get the most out of our toolkit.
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!
So what exactly is Keyword Competitiveness (KC)? It’s only the feature within Long Tail Pro that completely changed the game and made keyword research so ridiculously simple that even a dumb truck driver like me could become an expert! It basically works like this. As soon as you click the button in Long Tail Pro Cloud to retrieve keywords, it automatically calculates a number for each keyword (between 1 and 100) based on several different SEO factors. Lower numbers mean the keyword is easier to rank for and higher means it is harder to rank for. More on that below…

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.

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. 
* Please note our tool currently assumes Google having ~ 83% of the market, with Bing + Yahoo! splitting the remaining 17% of the market. Actual market conditions may vary significantly from that due to a variety of factors including: search location, search market demographics, how much marketshare mobile search has relative to desktop in that particular vertical, etc.
Keyword Overview looks at the entered term on its own and addresses expected searches per month, the difficulty of competing against Page 1 results for the same term, a rough estimate of organic click-through opportunities (versus paid ads and non-organic positions on the search engine results page), and the perceived priority that the user should assign to optimization for this term, where the higher the score, the higher the demand and a lowered level of competition.
What are you waiting for? Today is the first day of the rest of your internet marketing life. Yesterday would have been a better day to get Long Tail Pro. Tomorrow might be okay too. But today is even better. I’m telling you – when I first got my copy of Long Tail Pro – I was like a kid at Christmas time. It was SO much fun opening up new possibilities that I didn’t have without Long Tail Pro.

In Keyword Planner, formerly known as the Keyword Tool, you can get search volume and traffic estimates for keywords you're considering. Unfortunately, when Google transitioned from Keyword Tool to Keyword Planner, they stripped out a lot of the more interesting functionality. But you can make up for it a bit if you take the information you learn from Keyword Planner and use Google Trends to fill in some blanks.
But it’s still very useful for getting search volume data (provided your account still shows this), which is helpful when choosing which of the many keywords you’ve found to focus on (although you should take these estimates with a pinch of salt, they are still useful in indicating the relative search volumes of different keywords, even if the absolute estimates are a little off).
Google has introduced Google Suggest in 2012. Google Suggest is typically used as a live feature while a user is typing a search phrase into the browser or google website. Google Suggest uses the organic search input of billions of users and try to "guess" that way what a user might be searching for even before he completed entering the query or all the words of a keyword phrase.
Most keyowrd databases consist of a small sample of the overall search universe. This means keyword databases tend to skew more toward commercial terms and the core/head industry terms, with slighlty less coverage of the midtail terms. Many rarely searched for longtail terms are not covered due to database size limitations & lack of commercial data around those terms. Plus if those terms were covered, there would be large sampling errors. Google generates over 2 trillion searches per year and claims 15% of their searches are unique. This means they generate searches for over 300 billion unique keywords each year. The good news about limited tail coverage is it means most any keyword we return data on is a keyword with some commercial value to it. And with Google's Rankbrain algorithm, if you rank well on core industry terms then your pages will often tend to rank well for other related tail keywords.
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).
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.
Using the good ol' free Google Keyword Planner is great. But there is an alternate universe of Long Tail keyword phrases that live in Google's other database--namely, their "Autocomplete database." That's the database that is accessed when you're typing queries into the Google search box (notice that list of suggested keywords that pop up as you type?)
I’ve owned a dozen or so Keyword Tools in my time and most of them are basically the same, but I’ve always thought the best Long Tail Keyword research tool is the very quiet and reserved Keyword Researcher Pro. I don’t see it being shouted from the rooftops and I don’t see any aggressive marketing for it, but my…it’s a real useful tool that I now wouldn’t be without.
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.

The developer of the program Spencer has even modified the program to make it better and faster. Recently, a platinum edition of the software was released. This was to help webmasters in their internet efforts. The new version simplifies the competition process, because it allows its users to store their favorite keywords and get them anytime they need them. Moreover, the newer version makes it easier for its user to track their website ranking in all the search engines.


How much is a keyword worth to your website? If you own an online shoe store, do you make more sales from visitors searching for "brown shoes" or "black boots"? The keywords visitors type into search engines are often available to webmasters, and keyword research tools allow us to find this information. However, those tools cannot show us directly how valuable it is to receive traffic from those searches. To understand the value of a keyword, we need to understand our own websites, make some hypotheses, test, and repeat—the classic web marketing formula.
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.
1. Create a New Project. By clicking on the “+” icon located at the left upper corner, a new pane will show up allowing you to: enter your new project Title; choose your project’s Country (which affects the total of local monthly searches and top 10 Google results shown); pick your project’s Language (which affects generated keywords and the top 10 Google results for users that use that language); select your Search Network (which affects the number of reported searches depending on your choice between “Google” or “Google & search partners”); and toggle the Adult Ideas switch on or off.
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.
I actually don't use any keyword tools aside from Google Trends, but only rarely do I even use that. I try to talk to many of our target audience members (entrepreneurs) as I can. I attend events, I have phone calls, I sit next to them while working. Generally speaking, I think it's a waste of time to START with keyword tools instead of actual customers. Yes, you can target people in broad swaths and get a high level sense for what's interesting and trending, but at least in the case of our business at NextView Ventures, it's way more powerful to talk to actual "customers" you serve.
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.
One possible problem is that although the Keyword Planner has some cool new features (including integration of the Google Traffic Estimator, which will be retired too), as of this writing, the indispensable Exact Match and Phrase Match features are nowhere to be found! Whole books will become useless without these, so I hope Google will eventually port them to the Keyword Planner. Nor do you see the “Include specific content” option, which is a life-saver for the adult industry, which spends the most on Google PPC.
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.
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.

Let me show you an example. I just surfed over to a very popular blog called The Busy Budgeter (www.busybudgeter.com) to find an example topic. Rosemarie is the blogger over there and I’ve been following her journey recently. She’s absolutely killing it online! But, I happen to know that she gets most of her traffic from Pinterest and that working on SEO is one objective that she wishes to tackle. So, let’s see if we can help her out… A quick scan of her homepage tells me what type of content she produces and who her audience is. It appears her audience is largely female, lots of stay-at-home moms and a good portion of her content revolves around teaching others how to make money online.
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