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?)
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.
Long tail keywords can find people who are later in the buying cycle, and more ready to buy. For example, somebody searching for “tents” is probably early in the buying cycle, just starting to research what they want. Whereas somebody who searches for “North Face Kaiju 4 person tent” already knows what they want, and is more likely to be ready to buy.

Creating a psychologically alluring title is important--because search engines will rank our document (in part) based on how many clicks the title is getting--relative to other articles on Google's Search Results Page (SERP). Hence, a title that has some stylistic panache, will (in theory) ultimately rank higher than a title that doesn't have anything eye-catching about it.

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.
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.
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.
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.
"With Google giving over the home page to ads and their own properties for commercial keywords, the Long Tail keyword is more important than ever. If you have a website, you know that most of your traffic comes from keywords you never would have thought of. With Keyword Researcher, you can find them in advance and make sure that you're the one that snags this traffic. I use it for all of my e-commerce site planning."
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.
This keyword research tool is effective, automatically providing you with keyword suggestions that other sites haven’t necessarily turned up (which it’s intended to do), along with their search volume, CPC, and Adwords competition. In order to get any actual information about the keywords, though, you need to upgrade to Keyword Tool Pro (which is a little misleading on the site copy). This plan is $88 a month, and if you’re just doing keyword research for Google, I’d recommend choosing one of the other tools for the price.

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.
Following a very busy (and lucrative) 2015, I’ve decided to take the majority of 2016 off and use the time to invest in various relationships and things that really matter in the long run. But in the midst of this “time off,” I’ve learned so many lessons and picked up new skills and seen new perspectives that I would never have been exposed to had I just kept on grinding away at the existing business.
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