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Ultimate Guide To Keyword Research

Genius SEO Tools’ Ultimate Guide To Keyword Research

Introduction: What's In This Guide?

Estimated Reading Time: 34 minutes

Everything.

Well, not everything. For instance, you won’t find a complete taxonomy of South American reptiles in here and you’ll have better luck checking out the Sunday Times or You Magazine for your latest horoscope. What this guide does contain is EVERYTHING any business with a website needs to know about a critical aspect of digital marketing: keyword research.

The choice of keywords and phrases you decide to incorporate into the language of your website and all its informative and promotional content will become the seductive aria that attracts the attention of search engines like Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc. And, like the mythological sirens of Anthemusa who seduced sailors into their clutches with their singing, your keywords will attract web traffic to your business website.

The rest is not history: it’s sales and profit.

The use of keywords is a fundamental aspect of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), the website strategies and digital marketing techniques concerned with putting business brands ahead of their competitors on search engine results pages. Everything SEO experts do begins with keyword research: finding the most relevant and popular (but not too contested) words and phrases that people type into Google when looking for a product or service they need or want.

Our goal with this guide is to explain to you – an entrepreneur with a website – why all of this matters and how you can do quality and effective keyword research for yourself! Understanding how SEO keyword research works empowers you to keep a finger on the pulse of the market and enriches you with insights into what your target audience is looking for. All you then have to do is give them what they want.

Brief Overview

Section A: The Basics of Keyword Research

The theory behind keyword research as it fits into Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and how this practice is gets your website ranking.

Section B: Getting Started!

Where you should begin your research and how Google can help you put together a solid list of valuable keywords and phrases.

Section C: The Best Keyword Research Tools of 2016

Suggestions for this year’s best and most useful free and paid keyword research tools.

Section A:

The Basics Of Keyword Research

“It all begins with words typed into a search box”
The clever digital marketing team at Moz.com

It all starts with keyword research

There are two ways we can explain SEO keyword research to you. The first is to provide a dictionary-style definition, which may satisfy those of you who are more academically inclined:

Keyword research is the practice search engine optimization (SEO) professionals use to find and research actual search terms that people enter into search engines. Search engine optimization professionals research keywords, which they use to achieve better rankings in search engines. Once they find a niche keyword, they expanded on it to find similar keywords.

– Wikipedia on keyword research, Read Full Article.

Beautifully said, Wikipedia. Thank you.

Okay, so there were a few fancy words in there, but don’t worry. That’s why we’re going to explain keyword research another way; and that’s to provide you with a little story that highlights the fact that you’ve been benefiting from this practice since the very first time you used the Internet.

Here we go…

It’s boys’ night and you decide to impress your mates by opening a bottle with your teeth: bad life choice. The beer bottle wins, sending a shower of tooth fragments down your chin. You need to see a dentist, but you don’t really have one. Surprise.

What do you do?

You consult The Oracle (Google) of course! You open up your web browser and type in the phrase “dentists in Bothasig Cape Town” because that’s where you happen to live in this scenario. Google runs a lightning fast search of every webpage in its seemingly fathomless coffers of information and comes back with a comprehensive list of search results (website recommendations) for dentists in, near and around the Cape Town suburb of Bothasig.

Which dentist’s website are you most likely to click on, contact and give your business to? Probably the first, second or third website shown on the very first search result page. This tells you three very important things:

SEO keyword research is crucial for connecting people to the products and services they’re looking for: The fact that you used that specific search term, which we call a keyword or key phrase, connected you with a business that is now profiting from your search.

Keyword research drives targeted traffic to your website: High traffic volume is great for a dentist (or any business website), but unless the people who make up that traffic are interesting in having their teeth done, there’s no point! Keyword research directs the right kind of people to your site, enabling them to benefit from your services and your business to turn a profit.

The higher your website’s ranking on search engines, the more profitable it can be: It is most desirable to get your business website ranking on the first page of Google and preferably in the top 10 search results for a given keyword or phrase. Why? Because ain’t nobody got time to trawl through 248,981 search results pages. The higher ranked a website, the more traffic and attention it will get.

Quite simply, ranking for the right SEO keywords and phrases can literally make or break your website and it applies to absolutely every website and every business under the rainbow: not just the dentist in Bothasig.

And that is essentially how keywords work and why they’re so important!

Before we can blithely sail on to the methodology behind it all, we really need to drive home a few important points. You need to understand the goals of keyword research, how to interpret the various metrics produced by keyword research tools AND the fact that as long as the complex mathematical algorithms that drive search engines are evolving, so too must your keyword strategies.

Summary: The Goals of Keyword Research

      • To determine the search terms your SEO strategy should be targeting.
      • To better understand your target market, i.e. your potential clients and customers.
      • To drive greater traffic to your website.
      • To get the right kinds of visitors to your website.
      • To keep a finger on the pulse of where the market is at and what trends, preferences and demands are present.
      • To subsequently respond to the ever-fluctuating market environment and always give consumers what they want.
      • To greatly increase online sales and profits.
      • To celebrate your success with a cocktail on a beach in Mauritius.

    The Balance Between Search Volume and Competition

    A keyword’s monthly search volume refers to the number of times people use it to find something they’re looking for. For example: If you’re in New York City, you could expect the monthly search volume for the key phrase “bagel shop near here” to be in the millions, if not tens of millions. So if you have a bagel shop with a website, you know this is a relevant keyword – people are searching for it.

    The more searched for a keyword or phrase is, the more desirable it could potentially be. Obviously you’re going to want to make use of keywords that are popular, commonly searched for and will directly connect web users to your website and its products and services, but this is far from the complete picture.

    Choosing popular keywords comes with a challenge: just as you are trying to use these search terms to drive targeted traffic to your website, so too is every other bagel shop, patisserie and bakery in New York City and there are a billion of them. The more popular a keyword or phrase, the higher its competition, which means that unless you are the Levi Jeans or Coca Cola of baked goods, you are going to be totally drowned out by all your competitors.

    Arriving at the perfect balance between monthly search volume and keyword competition is a veritable art and this art is expressed cleanly as the KEI or Keyword Efficiency Index, which we shall be discussing next. Also – and thankfully for us mere mortals – there is an array of fantastic keyword suggestion tools that can help us become the next Picasso of keyword research. We’ll be exploring those in Section B of this guide, but for now let’s take a look at the KEI.

    The KEI: Keyword Efficiency Index

    The KEI is a mathematical representation of the popularity of a keyword measured in number of searchers (demand), compared to its popularity measured as the number of pages in a search engines index (supply).

     

    KEI is a statistical formulation that reveals the most effective keyword phrases and terms to use in optimizing your web pages for. Efficiency can be many things. According to KEI, it is efficient to optimize for keywords that have many searchers, but only a few competing pages.
    The lower the KEI, the more popular your keywords are, and the less competition they have. That means that you might have a better chance of getting to the top in the search engines and receive a good number of searchers for your effort. Brian Østergaard, Keyword Effectiveness Index

    Read Full Article.

    Brian Østergaard, a Danish web-marketing expert and blogger, also raises the following interesting point with regards to the KEI:

    The KEI makes no statement about the quality of the competition. While there might only be a few competitors in the search results, these competitors could be big players with big SEO teams and thousands of back links.

    And similarly, a keyword might show up has having a lot of competition, but that competition could be a clutch of small, insignificant players. How can you work around this? Simply type the keyword or phrase into Google and see what websites rank highest! If the results make you feel like David in a face-off with an army of Goliaths, you should probably prioritize other keywords with a lower KEI.

    Important Note: Some keyword research tools no longer call this metric the “KEI” and instead use other terms such as keyword difficulty or opportunity. They’re essentially the same thing.

    Ever-Evolving Search Algorithms

    Google is a business and like any good and immensely successful business, it constantly seeks to upgrade and improve its product. It’s all about user experience. Imagine how irritated you’d be if you were forced to trawl through pages and pages of irrelevant and even downright shoddy content to find the information you were searching for? What search engines have to do is constantly find ways to optimise the user experience and make it possible for you to find exactly what you’re looking for in a matter of seconds.

    In order to do this, the maniacal geniuses behind these search engines have devised some incredibly complex mathematical algorithms that analyse a grand suite of parameters on every page they index, and rank them accordingly for every single conceivable search term. These algorithms are constantly being tweaked, adjusted and even completely overhauled in order to ensure that web users are delivered nothing but 100% relevant and useful content.

    googles hummingbird update4
    Photo sourced: http://www.ortecindia.com/

    Okay, So What Does This Mean?

    It means that with every algorithm update, you need to revise your SEO keyword strategy and adjust your research methods. The ways we did keyword research in 2014 and before are no longer relevant to today’s search algorithms: they have become out-dated. In 2013, Google released the “Hummingbird” algorithm update that introduced a few nifty sophistications including the ability to better understand longer search queries and questions: what the industry calls “longtail keywords”.

    Examples of longtail keywords:

    • What should I look for when choosing a good car mechanic?
    • Where in Cape Town can I find a cheap photographic print shop?
    • Should I keep drinking beer if I’ve shattered my front teeth?

     

    In addition to this, Hummingbird recognises the actual meaning of every word you use to describe what you’re looking for! This enables Google to provide search results for similar meaning words, phrases and sentences: something referred to as “semantics.” How cool is that? You type up a search query and Google actually understands and intelligently interprets it to yield the best and most relevant results. This applies even if the exact words and precise word sequence you use doesn’t show up on the results page.

    This particular upgrade – aptly called “RankBrain” – really empowers Google to go over and above on delivery. It is also responsible for processing the 15% of previously neglected search queries that are unfamiliar or have never been seen before, which, if your spelling is absolutely atrocious, really comes in handy.

    These updates are what ensure that Google provides consistently useful and relevant results for its users and in a matter of seconds, so this change is good! But it does require business websites and the people who maintain them – whether that’s you or your digital marketing team – to constantly update your keyword research methods and SEO strategy to make sure they comply with the latest search engine algorithms.

    Section B:

    Getting Started

    How Do You Do Keyword research With Google?

    While it might seem to web marketers that Google is out to trip them up by making their previously tried-and-tested SEO strategies redundant, this is really not the case. In fact, Google provides an abundance of valuable information and tools that can help you identify relevant keywords and phrases. “Autocomplete” and Google’s suggestions for related searches are the two first steps on any quest for the best keywords.

    Open up a web browser and go to www.Google.com. Now start typing the search query “how do I do keyword research,” but stop short of completing that phrase and see what Google predicts you’re looking for. You should see something along the lines of the following:

    Keyword research using Google

    This autocomplete function is a really great place to start when looking for longtail keywords that are relevant to your products, services, business and industry. These suggestions are similar keywords and phrases that have also been searched for, which is why Google is putting them forward.

    But wait, there’s more!

    If you then scroll down to the bottom of the search results page, you will find some great keyword suggestions under the headline “Related Searches”:

    Googles related searches keyword research tool

    Here’s an industry insight: Everyone in the SEO game starts with Google’s autocomplete, but this is just the first step. Once you’ve jotted down a list of anywhere between 10 – 100 keywords and phrases (depending on the size and scope of your business and budget), you will need to consider the following before you assume you’ve done your job:

    1. How many people are searching for these keywords per month?
    2. How competitive are these keywords?
    3. #1 and #2 combined: What is your chosen keyword’s KEI?
    4. What is the difficulty rating? In other words, how hard will it be to get your site ranking for this keyword?
    5. ARE there any opportunities that my competitors have missed?

    More importantly, how the heck are you supposed to deduce these metrics? Never fear, that’s why you’re reading the Ultimate Guide to Keyword Research! Let’s delve in and get our hands nice and dirty.

    Keyword Research With Google’s “Adword Planner”

    Google has provided quite a nifty and useful keyword research tool that can be seen as the next step in your journey to establishing your keyword list. It’s called “Adword Planner” and it’s easy, FREE to use and provides some really important metrics related to the keywords you’re looking at. Awesome!

    All you need to use Adword Planner is a Gmail account and to get started, click on the Link below:

    https://adwords.google.co.za/KeywordPlanner

    Once you have signed in to your account, select “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category” as shown in the screenshot below. We’ve used the longtail keyphrase “how do I do keyword research”:

    Google's AdWord keyword research tool

    Next, take the list of keywords and phrases you made from that initial Google search exercise (pg. 10, 11) and put them into this Google keyword research tool. Make sure you fill in the details of the audience you’re targeting, like country, language and product category, etc. Finally, once the page has loaded, select “Get ideas” and you should see something similar to the screenshot shown below…

    Googles adword planner results page

    You can see from these Adword Planner suggestions that from just ONE keyword – “How do I do keyword research?” – Google has come up with a staggering 742 alternatives! With all those options, surely there’s no need to look any further!

    Yes, there is.

    The trick with Adword Planner and with many free keyword research tools is that you can’t rely on just one to procure a list of highly targeted, searched-for, KILLER keywords that will bring your website loads of online business. Effective and profitable keyword research requires that you examine multiple sources and if you have the money to make use of paid keyword research tools, GREAT! If not, there are enough free tools to get you a really good-looking list.

    Four Ways Google’s Keyword Planner Might Be Tricking You

    Before we move on to take a closer look at keyword metrics, it’s worth considering a fantastic article written by Forbes’ Top 10 web marketer, Neil Patel. In the article titled Four Ways Google’s Keyword Planner Might Be Tricking You, Neil explains:

    “There are many keyword research tools out there, but for the most part, they just pull data from Google’s keyword planner anyway. They may do it in a more effective way than you could on your own, but it’s important to understand that they still have limitations. Why?

    “Because Google will never tell you everything it knows, just bits and pieces. So, while the keyword planner is a fine starting point for keyword research, it is not enough. If you only use the keyword planner, you will end up missing out on many opportunities and spending your time and resources on keywords that aren’t as good as they appear.”

    Read Full Article

    The take-home message here is that Adword Planner is a fantastic platform on which to start your SEO keyword research and it provides you with some important metrics, such as average monthly searches, competition, cost-per-click and more. This brings us neatly to our next topic!

    What Keyword Research Metrics Should You Be Looking At?

    What metrics should you look for when doing keyword research

    The keyword metrics that are measured and reported on vary depending on the analytics program or tool that you use. Most will provide statistics and valuable insights into the parameters listed below, but just make sure that you understand what these mean and how they are reported on before acting upon it. Keyword research is not that pesky household appliance you try to work without reading the instructions first: it can cost you a lot of money and potential business to invest in the wrong keyword list!

    Average Monthly Search Volume

    The average number of times people have searched for the exact keyword or phrase based on the search network targeting and location you’ve selected. The numbers shown to you are averages for a 12-month period. The more a keyword is searched for, the greater its potential to be quite useful is, but your choice absolutely needs to take other factors into consideration such as competition…

    Competition

    The competition is a measure of the number of advertisers that showed up for each keyword relative to all keywords across Google. In other words, it answers the question: how many other businesses are targeting and bidding for these keywords in their advertising campaign? Again, this information is specific to your chosen search network targeting and location. Keywords that have a high average monthly search volume, but a low competition are the ideal choice.

    Keyword Difficulty (KEI)

    The keyword difficulty or KEI is really a measure of how tricky it’ll be to get a website ranking for a particular keyword or phrase. This is typically calculated by taking into account which pages and domains those keywords are ranking for and how much authority those sources carry. If the pages and domains you’re going up against are very powerful and well “liked” by Google, getting your own site to rank for those keywords could prove to be too difficult and a total waste of your time and money. Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valour and you’re better off channelling your efforts elsewhere.

    Here’s a really relevant article you should take a look at when making use of free keyword research tools, such as Adword Planner: Why You Can’t Bank On Google’s Keyword Planner Tool. Author Darren DeMatas, who has an MBA in Internet Marketing and certification in Copyblogger Content Marketing and Google AdWords, also delves into issues of competition and difficulty that play a big role in the pursuit of the ultimate list of SEO keywords:

    “I use the Google Keyword Planner tool every day. It’s free. You can’t bank on free. Spend a little cash on a keyword difficulty tool. Set aside a small AdWords budget to help find long tail keywords that convert. You can’t afford to chase the wrong keywords with PPC or SEO.”

    Darren DeMatas: Follow him on Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.

    Keyword Opportunity

    Organic search results are preceded by ads and – in many instances – by an instant answer box, which pretty much negates the need for the user to click on any website for answers. So, even though a page might rank # 1 for a certain keyword on the organic search results yielded by Google, it’s not the first item web users see! It could be the second or even fourth or fifth. “Opportunity” provides a measure of the actual click-through rate a page is going to experience given it’s position on the search results page.

    It’s a good idea to run a search query of every keyword and phrase you’re considering, not only to determine what ads you’re competing with, but also what kind of content these pages are featuring so that you know how to compete.

    Average Cost-Per-Click

    Are other advertisers forking out a lot of money to rank for the keywords you’ve selected? Can you afford to invest in those keywords and give your site a good shot at ranking for them, or would you get drowned out by the competition? In other words: are your chosen keywords WORTH ranking for?

    The average cost per click in Google AdWords is between $1 and $2 on the search network, but there are some giant corporations that fork out as much as $50 per click in order to rank highly for a particular keyword or phrase!

    And Now? We’ve just discussed five key metrics here, but in reality there are countless more, many of which are variations of the above. It’ll be your job to thoroughly investigate the metrics your particular keyword research tool offers up so that you understand and put to good use the valuable information they’re providing you.

    Google treads

    What Is “Google Trends” And How Can It Help?

    As it was previously mentioned, the “average monthly search volume” is an incredibly broad term and while it can provide you with a good indicator of how relevant a keyword is to your business/industry, it doesn’t say much else beyond that! This is where Google Trends can step in to become an exceptionally useful free keyword research tool. Google Trends shows “how frequently a particular keyword or phrase is used relative to the total search volume across various regions of the world, and in various languages.”

    Thanks again, Wikipedia. See full Wikipedia Article Here.

    Top reasons you should use Google trends for SEO

    Where traditional keyword research tools are focused on delivering exact-match monthly keyword volume, Google Trends wasn’t built to hand over static keyword volume; it was built to generate visual, dynamic insights that paint a portrait of the life of a keyword phrase – past, present, and potentially (as much as we can predict it) future. Self-proclaimed by Google as the “always-on Google zeitgeist,” Google created Trends so we could see the pulse of search as it happens with stats about trending phrases and hot-right-now queries at our fingertips, and as it happened with 2004-to-present historical data.

    Unlike keyword research, which tends to be very one-dimensional, Trends shows you a multidimensional view of queries and how they have evolved as a result of factors like seasonality, geographic location, and media coverage.

    Google Trends is a serious marketing strategy tool that can be used for keyword research, but really shouldn’t be consider just another keyword research tool.

    • Bruce Clay Inc, 10 Reasons You Should Use Google Trends for More Than Just Keyword Research, View Full Article Here.

    Where To From Here?

    What we’ve essentially shown you in this Section is where to begin your keyword research and that’s with the very engine SEO pivots around: Google. Google’s “autocomplete,” “related searches,” Adword planner and Trends all empower you to create a list of keyword and phrase possibilities that could vastly increase your business’ online visibility and profitability.

    But this is only the START. Google’s free keyword research tools come with many deficiencies and are only a portion of the entire picture. What you should really do now is enlist the help of several other keyword research tools that operate outside the realm of Google. The good news is that there are a myriad to choose from and many of them are free. However, as with most things in life, the paid options are often the most comprehensive and useful.

    In our next section, we’ll be discussing the best keyword research tools, both paid and free.

    Section C:

    The Best Keyword Research Tools of 2016

    In this section, we’ll be discussing our selection of 2016’s best free and paid keyword research tools. As a digital marketing and SEO agency, it’s our priority to keep a finger on the pulse of all the keyword generators and research tools on the market, so that we can constantly offer our clients the most cutting-edge and profitable keyword suggestions for their industry, business, products and services. Let’s start with a look at the best free keyword research tools of 2016…

    Section 1:

    The Best FREE Keyword Research Tools of 2016

    We all know the adage “the best things in life are free,” but when it comes to business, there’s ALWAYS a catch. It’s in this realm that the saying “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” hold far greater punch!

    Having said that, there is an abundance of free SEO keyword generators out there and they are exceptionally useful, especially for those with a super tight or even no budget at all. You can get by on these alone, BUT (and there’s always a “but” when you’re talking about no-cost) they don’t offer the depth of insight that the paid programs do.

    Because of this, free keyword research tools tend to fall short of helping you set up your lists in a way that will deliver keen insights and bankable results. For this reason, these tools are great for refining the searches you did using Google’s Adword planner, Google Trends, Google’s Search Autocorrect function and Google Related Searches (discussed in Section B), but you’d do well to enlist the help of a paid keyword generator as well.

    Now that you understand the potential shortfalls of these programs, let’s focus on the many wonderful positives the following have to offer…

    • WordStream
    • Answer the Public
    • Keyword Tool
    • Word tracker
    • Ubersuggest.io

    WordStream

    URL: www.wordstream.com/keywords
    30 Free searches and then you pay

     

    Wordstream is a keyword generator that pulls data from Search Engines, Browser Toolbars and Internet Service Providers to deliver highly relevant keyword recommendations. This program offers a suite of really useful tools, all of which are free:

    • Keyword Generator: Compiles lists of relevant keyword suggestions.
    • Negative Keyword Tool: Isolates difficult and redundant keywords that would be impossible to rank for and a waste of money to bid on.
    • Keyword Niche Finder: Displays profitable keywords in categorized groups.

    Each of these tools can be used up to 30 times (10 times up front and then once per day thereafter), before you’re required to create an account. This is basically put in place to prevent marketing agencies from exploiting the system to get unlimited free services. For individual entrepreneurs, it’s more than enough. Wordstream is recommended by SEO experts as one of the best choices for free keyword research.

    What Wordstream Looks Like:

    Wordstream keyword research tool

    Answer The Public

    URL: http://answerthepublic.com/
    FREE

    Answer The Public is a favourite of our online marketing company solely for the fact that it goes over and above the usual keyword or keyphrase suggestions and delivers longtail question-form keywords that people commonly ask search engines. For example, we ran a search of the keyphrase “keyword research” and you can check out the many suggestions Answer The Public provided us with in the screenshot below…

    What Answer The Public Looks Like:

    Answer the public keyword research tool

    They even go one step further with the longtail question-form keyphrases by breaking it down into “what,” “how,” “if” etc. For example:

    Answer the public keyword research

    How is this useful? Many people actually type out questions into Google’s search bar when looking for information:

    • Where is the nearest bagel bakery?
    • How much are flights to Mauritius?
    • What is the best accounting firm in Cape Town?
    • Who am I and why are we here? (just kidding)

    By targeting these specific questions in your content, you put yourself ahead of your competition as far as being seen as relevant by Google is concerned. Also, a preference for these question-form keyphrases is a feature of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update.

    This is one of the reasons Answer The Public is so useful… it focuses on question-form keyphrases, which are often neglected by other keyword generators. Having said that, you’ve got to be a little careful with your selection from these many suggestions, because only 22 of the 40 results we got had any search traffic. As such, Answer The Public is best used alongside Google’s Adword Planner to make sure you’re not using any dead-end keywords.

    Keyword Tool

    URL: http://keywordtool.io/
    Pro-Package: $88 (± R1,375)

    Keyword Tool is another really useful free keyword generator you can use to put together your lists and it offers both the keyword suggestions AND question-form keyphrases that Wordstream and Answer The Public do. Additionally, Keyword Tool is great if you only want your keyword suggestions to start with the actual word you type into their search box.

    What Keyword Tool Looks Like:

    Keyword tool keyword research tool

    By clicking the tab adjacent to “keyword suggestions” near the top of the page you’ll get to see lists of longtail question-form keyphrases, which would be great to target since Google’s Hummingbird is such a fan.

    Wordstream, Answer The Public and Keyword Tool are three of our favourite FREE keyword research tools. They deliver lists of fantastic keyword suggestions as well as longtail question-form keyphrases, which are highly relevant to today’s search engine algorithms. The problem with these programs is that they don’t provide enough or even any data on each of its keyword suggestions, such as search volume, difficulty, opportunity, cost-per-click and all those other parameters we discussed in Section B.

    Understanding the metrics behind every single keyword suggestion is really critical in helping you decide on the best, most relevant and profitable SEO keywords you can use to promote your business online. This is where another free keyword research tool steps in and offers us just that little bit extra…

    Wordtracker

    URL: https://www.wordtracker.com/

    FREE

    Wordtracker is a great free keyword suggestion tool – it delivers all the punch of the one’s we just discussed AND it provides you with great insight into the supporting metrics, such as search volume, Cost-per-Click (CPC), keyword difficulty (KEI), search trends and competitiveness. All of these metrics should play a pivotal role in your ultimate selection of a keyword list that you could get your site to rank highly for, making Word Tracker one of the more exceptional free keyword research tools.

    What Wordtracker Looks Like

    Here are some screenshots showing the results our search for “keyword research” yielded and their associated (1) search volume, (2) competition and (3) KEI.

    Wordtracker keyword research tool

    The only shortfall with Wordtracker is that you only get seven keyword suggestions and then you have to click “Continue Your Research” to view the associated metrics. This is hardly a problem – it’s not like you’re going to get carpal tunnel from clicking through a few pages to get to the information you want – however, you are limited in the number of searches you can perform per day. This can be frustrating if you’re relying solely on Wordtracker to do your keyword research, which is why we suggest you use the afore-mentioned resources AND Google to narrow down your list of keywords and then use Wordtracker to investigate their metrics.

    If you still find yourself shackled by the inconvenience of a measly 7 searches, then you can always upgrade to a paid package, which starts at $27/±R420 per month.

    Ubersuggest

    URL: https://www.Ubersuggest.io

    FREE

    The final free keyword research tool we like to make use of is Ubersuggest. It doesn’t offer anything ground-breakingly special over and above the ones discussed beforehand, but variety is the spice of life and you might find yourself preferring the functionality and aesthetic of Ubersuggest.

    The nice thing about this tool is that it returns a lot of keyword suggestions, which are listed in alphabetical order. The downside is that you only get suggestions that begin with the keyword you actually searched for, which means all those valuable long-tail, question-form keyphrases will not show up in the results. Once again, this emphasises the importance of using more than one keyword research tool, or else you risk cutting yourself off from vastly profitable keywords.

    What Ubersuggest Looks Like

    Ubersuggest keyword research tool

    We suggest you give each of these tools a go to see what results they yield and how these results correlate. You might find some of these keyword generators revealing unique insights that the others miss! Also, given the fact that some come with limited searches per day, or even limited trial periods, it really is recommended that you combine their powers in your quest for the ultimate profit-turning keywords.

    Now, let’s take a look what 2016’s best PAID keyword research tools are and where it is you should be investing a little money to perfect that SEO keyword list of yours.

    Section 2:

    The Best PAID Keyword Research Tools of 2016

    There is a reason those afore-mentioned tools are free… they are simplistic and are intended to entice and upsell their users to paid packages that offer far greater functionality, detail, insight and value. Sure, make full use of the free keyword research tools we’ve discussed. But if you are serious about building a keyword list that will jet-propel your website to stratospheric heights of web traffic, leads and sales, then you should enlist the services of at least one paid keyword research tool.

    You’ve got to spend money to make money!

    FreshKey

    URL: http://freshkey.com//b>

    Cost: $49.95 (±R780) Once-off

     

    FreshKey makes use of a grand suite of sources to offer up their keyword suggestions and not just Google Search, as is the case with most of the free keyword tools. This nifty program empowers users to source and analyse buyer data from Etsy, Google Marketplace, Amazon, eBay, and more, which essentially enables you to spy on your competitors and find their most profitable keywords! FreshKey then lets you view your results and – as they put it – “find out how big the universe is for your newly found buyer intelligence by running the same search on Google, Bing, YouTube and more!”

    What FreshKey Looks Like

    FreshKey keyword research tool

    Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Well, there is one downside to Freshkey and that’s that they don’t really provide enough data, aside from Search Trends. If you have the budget, it’ll be a good idea to tie FreshKey to another paid program that will show you keyword metrics.

    HitTail

    URL: http://www.hittail.com

    Cost $9.95 (±R155) Per Month

     

    HitTail does two awesome things:

    1. It analyses your website’s existing traffic (something that is completely unique to this tool) and generates suggestions that are based upon the keywords that are getting you your most traffic.
    2. It does this on a recurring basis and instead of spewing forth a sea of keywords you have to trawl through, HitTail provides actionable suggests that are specifically tailored to your website.

    What you can then do is create content focusing on each of the suggested keywords – keywords you aren’t ranking highly, or even at all for – which should then enable you to improve your website’s SEO and visibility to search engines.

    What HitTail Looks Like

    HitTail keyword research tool

    HitTail works really well when paired up with Google’s Adword Planner, because the latter will give you all the juicy details related to monthly searches and other metrics you might like to know about the keyword suggestions. This will help you decide whether it’s worth writing content for those keywords.

    So far, we’ve presented two paid keyword research tools… and in spite of the fact that you’re paying for them, it STILL seems like you have to recruit the help of other tools to get the full picture. What’s the point of paying for a service if it isn’t providing you with the A-Z of keyword research?

    Quite frankly, FreshKey and HitTail are much better and more comprehensive than any free keyword research tools. And while they will cost you a little money, they really are inexpensive and will empower you to build high-return keyword lists. And then there’s our third recommended tool, which blows all other keyword tools out of the water…

    Long Tail Pro

    URL: http://www.longtailpro.com/

    Cost: $37 (±R580) Per Month

     

    What sets Long Tail Pro aside from anything we’ve discussed so far is the fact that (1) their software is lightning fast (about 8 times faster than Market Samurai, or so they claim) and most importantly (2) they give you a tonne of information in the form of Competitor Analysis. This is really a crucial aspect to examine when conducting keyword research and Long Tail Pro knocks it out of the ballpark!

    What Long Tail Pro Looks Like

    Long Tail Pro keyword research tool

    Long Tail Pro quickly analyses the top 10 Google results for each of your keywords and provides great data like search volume and competition. It also provides important Search Engine Results Page (SERP) information, such as domain and page authority, domain age, page rank, the number of backlinks, keyword usage the title and meta tags, Moz rank and more.

    All in all, Long Tail Pro is a great keyword research tool that will help you get solid results. We do advise that you watch the following video, which demonstrates how their product works, especially when combined with some additional (really useful) products:

    Find More Keyword Ideas With Soovle and Long Tail Platinum

    SEMrush

    URL: http://www.semrush.com

    Cost: $69,95 (±R1,095) Per Month, Pro Package

    SEMrush provides valuable insights into your competitors’ strategies in both paid and organic search, display advertising, and link building. It also allows you to cross, combine and illustrate data to estimate keyword difficulty and compare competitive domains. AND you can launch global campaigns for your website and gather all the competitor and keyword metrics you need to perfect your on-site SEO.

    SEMrush is rated the fourth best company from which to get tools, so it’s really worth checking out!

    semrush keyword research tool

    SECockpit

    URL: http://secockpit.com/

    Cost: $69,95 (±R1,095) Per Month, Pro Package

    You’ve really got to love the Swiss… not only did they give us great cheese, watches and chocolate, they’ve also brought to the world of Search Engine Optimization a stunning program called SECockpit. This keyword research tool comes with an App for your phone, allowing you to stay at the very forefront of your website’s SEO, regardless of where in the world you are!

    Ideas sometimes strike at the most inopportune of moments, but with SECockpit Mobile App at your fingertips 24/7 you can test your idea to see if it’s worthwhile. Better yet, everything you do through your mobile account will be reflected on your computer.

    What SECockpit Looks Like

    SECockpit keyword research tool

    In addition to the convenience of the program, the SECockpit keyword research tool provides you with a healthy mix of data relating to your results page, from monthly searches versus competition, CPC and a nifty function that tells you which domain is available for your selected keyword phrase. Thank you, Switzerland!

    Ahrefs

    URL: https://ahrefs.com/keywords-explorer

    Cost: $99 (±R1,545) Per Month

    Ahrefs keyword research tool is definitely a top recommendation of ours, because it provides you with a suite of metrics, including search volume, keyword difficulty, CPC and more. However, we find their best feature to be the one that allows you to see who is ranking in the SERPs for a particular keyword, as well as their domain rating, backlinks, social metrics, URL rating and more! What this tells you is EXACTLY how difficult a keyword will be to rank for and whether it’s even worth investing in. And this is gold!

    The $99 it costs per month might seem substantially more than many of the other paid keyword research tools we’ve discussed, but it does include the Ahrefs Site Explorer, Rank Tracker and Content Explorer.

    What Ahrefs Looks Like

    Ahrefs keyword research tool

    Moz

    URL: https://moz.com/products/pro/keyword-explorer

    Cost: $600 (±R9,375) Per Year

    If you are in the SEO game, then you will certainly have heard of Moz Pro. Well, only last month (May 2016) Moz released it’s own keyword research tool called Moz Keyword Explorer, which, for $600, provides users with all the data they need to perform thorough keyword analysis, including opportunity, search volume, difficulty and potential. They also provide great keyword suggestions, mentions and SERP analyses. You could pretty much use Moz on its own to build a rock-solid keyword list for any niche AND know exactly how difficult it will be to get that keyword ranked, which is why it’s a favourite of our agency.

    $600 up front might seem like a steep price to pay, especially in South Africa, but it is intended for those who are serious about keyword research and about landing really bankable results. Moz Keyword Explorer is only a month old, but it’s already proving to have reset the bar for keyword research tools!

    What Moz Looks Like

    Moz keyword explorer

    Congratulations!

    You have just completed your journey through the ultimate guide to keyword research *virtual handshake*. You now know what keyword research is, why it’s important, what metrics you should be examining to get your site ranking highly how you can do it for free or for a price.

    Now that you’ve made it through relatively unscathed (and a whole lot smarter), we’d like to introduce ourselves…

    We are Genius Web Solutions and Search Engine Optimisation is our game, our passion and our special talent! Our experience in the industry has enabled us to put together this information and, of course, our list of recommendations for free and paid keyword research tools. But what we’d like to end off saying is that we offer our own keyword research tool, which is actually only one of a suite of tools we offer people interested in taking the reins of their own website’s SEO.

    Our SEO software comes with a multi-level keyword research tool that enables you to:

    • Work with groups of keywords and lists,
    • Get access to insightful key metrics per keyword (global and local searches, search trends, KEI and bid competition),
    • And fully integrate keywords into landing page SEO analysis and SERP tracking tools.

    Our entry-level package costs $25 (±R399) per month, which gives you full access to our Do-It-Yourself SEO Checklist, along with our other super useful SEO tools, such as:

    • Backlink quality checker,
    • Competitor backlink spy,
    • SEO analysis,
    • Technical audit,
    • Rank tracking,
    • Web analysis

    These are only a handful of about 15 tools that you can use, not only get the best keywords for your site but also to get your website ranking highly on local and global search engines!

    Want More Insider Info?

    Sign Up For Our Newsletter

    The ultimate guide to keyword research is a totally free resource we encourage everyone to use, whether you sign up for our SEO tools or not. The cool news is that we plan on publishing similar guides for other key areas of SEO, not to mention regular helpful blogs, tips and advice. If you enjoyed and benefitted from this guide, therefore, we encourage you to sign up for our Newsletter, so that we can deliver this super helpful, no-obligation insider info straight to your inbox!

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