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Trying to rank for the keyword “Best Headphones” will see your post, page, or article buried in the depths of a billion search engine pages, and it’s never going to surface in the top thousand pages, let alone page one…ever! But going for a keyword, or Long Tail keyword phrase “What are the Best Headphones for Sleeping” will stand you in better shape to get somewhere close, or even on, the first page.
I also want to emphasize that Microsoft Excel and Google Docs perhaps play an equal, if not more important role in keyword research than any of these tools, because at the end of the day, the mountain of data you end up with is of no use if you can’t perform calculations, sort, filter, present or store it in a way that’s best suits the task at hand. Head over to Distilled for a comprehensive Excel for SEOs guide. Alternatively, bug this guy—he’s the Sensei who trains Excel ninjas in the dark of the night.

It’s very easy to use, fast and smooth and gives you tons of Long Tail Keywords. You only pay for the web based software once, so there are never any monthly fees. I’ve also been impressed over the years at how easy it is to update. These updates are free and the creator (Clever Gizmos) is always moving with the ever changing world of SEO and updated API’s to keep his program up to speed and fresh.
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.
Wordtracker is another service that requires an annual subscription to utilize all of its features. Their database is made up of 330 million search terms, collected from the major metacrawlers, Dogpile and Metacrawler, and is updated weekly. The search data they show is a record of the number of times the exact keyword or phrase has been searched in the United States over the last 365 days. As in the case of Keyword Discovery, this difference in default keyword matching type causes Wordtracker to display search volumes significantly lower than what Google’s tools show.
Because someone who is looking for something that specific is probably a much more qualified searcher for your product or service (presuming you're in the blogging space) than someone looking for something really generic. And because long-tail keywords tend to be more specific, it's usually easier to tell what people who search for those keywords are really looking for. Someone searching for the head term "blogging," on the other hand, could be searching it for a whole host of reasons unrelated to your business.
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.
Repeat this exercise for as many topic buckets as you have. And remember, if you're having trouble coming up with relevant search terms, you can always head on over to your employees on the front lines -- like Sales or Services -- and ask them what types of terms their prospects and customers use, or common questions they have. Those are often great starting points for keyword research.
The relevant keywords that you target with your ads will bring the right audience to your website. Showing your ads to people that type relevant keywords will result in higher click-through rate (CTR), lower cost-per-click (CPC) and higher conversion rates for your business. As a result, you will spend less money on advertising and generate a better return on investment.
3) KWFinder is one of the "newer" kids on the block, but it's probably just about the easiest way I have found to find new long-tail keywords quickly. A couple of things I like about this tool is that it allows me to create lists of keywords. So I can group up my different sites by lists and revisit them at a later date. I can export the data to CSV and start building out campaigns. It also keeps a nice scrolling list of the last 20+ keywords you have looked up. The SEO difficulty indicator comes in very handy as well! As far as ease of use goes, KWFinder wins hands down.
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.

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:
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?".
For the first few months, there was certainly a transition period.  However, the new team was able to take over the reigns fairly quickly.  A big reason for the quick transition is because I had automated most of the business already.  So, the fact that I was stepping away didn't make a huge difference since all the sales, marketing emails, and many other details were already happening on an automated basis.
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