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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.
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.
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.
I just have the free version right now so I don't know all that the pro one can do. But even the free version has A LOT of tools you can use, I haven't even figured them all out yet. But one that I have used is their Content Optimizer. You can take a new or existing content piece of yours, and compare it to one of your competitor's pieces on a similar topic, and see where you might be lacking based on the keywords that are used in each piece.
If you are somewhat new to this whole ‘make money online’ thing – then surely the cost of Long Tail Pro is a major factor for why you haven’t purchased it yet. Believe me – I know! When I first started out – I refused to pay for anything at all. I did everything the free way. I tried doing all of my keyword research with the free tool that Google provides – and my keyword research efforts were terrible! You know how I know? Because my sites weren’t getting any traffic and I wasn’t making any money.
These keyword research tools should make it easier to create a list of relevant search terms. You should make sure to create awesome landing pages for keywords you want to be found on. You should also think about cornerstone content articles and a great internal linking structure in order to make your SEO strategy complete. In our SEO copywriting course we dive much deeper into keywords, landing pages, and long tail keywords.
This makes Google Suggest a relevant source for keyword research, it contains a large amount of organic keywords very closely related to a full or partial keyword and can be used to find additional most searched appending keywords that make the whole keyword less competitive. Google Suggest can be researched through the Google Search website or through a compatible browser for a small amount of keywords but also in large scale using free scraper tools.
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:
Google Adwords search volume tool is highly effective and extremely easy to use. If you’re new to keyword research and just want some quick info on the search volume and competition level of a few keywords you have in mind, this is a great tool to use. Just enter in the specific keywords that you want to compare, and then view the results. You’ll be able to see the search volume, general competition level, and suggested Adwords bid.

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.
What are people looking for on your site? These terms are keywords in the vocabulary of your actual audience and should definitely be added to your keyword list. Do not forget to look at the keywords people filled in that didn’t get any results: this was stuff people were expecting but didn’t find. You can look into the results of your internal search in Google Analytics at Behavior → Site Search → Search Terms.
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.
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.
One of the most important aspects of an effective SEO strategy is the ability to research, analyze, and ultimately select the keywords that are most likely to result in success for your clients. There are a variety of free tools available on the web specifically designed to help online marketers do just this. Each tool has its own unique methodology for collecting and presenting this data. Comparing any of the tools’ results without knowing the subtle differences can lead to incorrect inferences and an SEO strategy based on misinformation.
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).
They’ll show you information like how many external links the site has, the number of Facebook and Google+ shares, estimated visits per month, and its page authority. All of this is valuable intel that can give you insight into where your page could potentially rank against them, without needing to do more research with a separate tool or on another page.
If you're a regular blogger, these are probably the topics you blog about most frequently. Or perhaps they're the topics that come up the most in sales conversations. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer personas -- what types of topics would your target audience search that you'd want your business to get found for? If you were a company like HubSpot, for example -- selling marketing software (which happens to have some awesome SEO tools ... but I digress ;-) -- you might have general topic buckets like "inbound marketing," "blogging," "email marketing," "lead generation," "SEO," "social media," "marketing analytics," and "marketing automation."
I’ve found google trends to be an interesting way to see if a keyword (and by extension a niche) is growing or shrinking, and whether it’s seasonal or not. I can’t think of any other tool out there that can reliably tell you this information, so that’s really useful. Also, if you’re building a site, especially an authority site, getting onto something that’s trending upwards is a fantastic idea.

If you're a regular blogger, these are probably the topics you blog about most frequently. Or perhaps they're the topics that come up the most in sales conversations. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer personas -- what types of topics would your target audience search that you'd want your business to get found for? If you were a company like HubSpot, for example -- selling marketing software (which happens to have some awesome SEO tools ... but I digress ;-) -- you might have general topic buckets like "inbound marketing," "blogging," "email marketing," "lead generation," "SEO," "social media," "marketing analytics," and "marketing automation."
"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."
KW Finder is similar to the Google Adwords tool; it even pulls up similar results, which aren’t as entirely on-point as the immediate results from SEMrush and Moz. From my experience with KW Finder, the searches are a lot better if you put some time into manually adding in filters like negative keywords and additional keywords you do want to include.
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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