Given you have a good idea of where to start and are fairly confident you are speaking the same language as your client, jump start research by generating related keyphrases and long tail variants with the ever so easy to use Google Autocomplete. This tool makes predictions based on what you are typing that are a reflection of Google search activity.
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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.
"I've used many keyword tools over the years and Keyword Researcher is up there amongst the most useful of them. Apart from being a great way to get ideas for content, as an AdWords consultant, I also use it to uncover words and phrases that my clients would not want to be bidding on (negative keywords). This is a real time saver for me and a budget enhancer for my clients! All in all, this is a great app and should be used by any professional search engine marketer."
The reason I sometimes use this facility with the GKP is to find volume amounts for the keywords I’ve chosen. But, these days, it’s not so important. As long as the Long Tail Keyword makes sense and is something I would put into a search engine, then it’s good enough. Sometimes the most blazingly obvious keywords are often over looked by eager, trying-to-be-clever marketers. Sometimes you need a tool to highlight them.
Google Suggest isn’t exactly a tool, but I’ve found that it can be useful for identifying potential keywords. As you type a query on Google.com, Google Suggest recommends search queries based on other users’ search activities. These searches are algorithmically determined based on a number of purely objective factors (including popularity of search terms) without human intervention. The Suggest dataset is updated frequently to offer search queries that seem to be trending upwards. This feature is largely one of the reasons that you may see repeat traffic of seemingly long tail keywords. By identifying these long tail keywords and optimizing for them, marketers can capitalize on seemingly obscure keywords with little competition.
If you already have a keyword list, the Free Keyword Grouper can transform your list (up to 1,000 keywords) into an organized keyword structure ready for high-performance PPC campaigns and an SEO-friendly information architecture. Just paste in your list to get back keyword groups in seconds. This keywords organizer tool will help you sort your list of keywords into structured, workable groups that can then be used for easy ad text creation. The keyword tool can also be used as an SEO keyword organizer to assist in site design.
In a nutshell, Long Tail Pro helps you quickly find keywords in bulk based on a seed keyword that you input. In addition to returning hundreds of related keywords, the tool also shows search volume (monthly search volume), advertiser bid, number of words, rank value, and my favorite Keyword Competitiveness (helps you judge the competition and keyword difficulty).