My Top 5 Free Keyword Research Tools

[tweetmeme]SEO By Gloria Rand

Getting your website, blog or social media posts found online depends on implementing a successful search engine optimization strategy. And the first step in launching any SEO program starts with keyword research.

Once you come up with a list of words that you think people are using to search for your product or service, don’t just start writing copy with those words. What you think are effective words and what other people are actually using to search may be quite different. So it pays to double check your words with some online keyword tools. You may find some alternative keywords and long-tail search phrases that will be more effective in reaching your target audience online.

Here are a few of my favorite resources for keyword research:

Free Keyword Research Tools

1. Google AdWords

Even though Google AdWords is meant to be a resource for pay-per-click ads, you can still search for words that can be used to help your site rank organically. Simply type in a keyword or a URL of your own website or a competitor’s site, and Google will give you 100 related keywords and phrases to choose from. You can export all of these words into a CSV file. Or if the results include too many keywords or phrases that are not related to your query, choose the ones you do like, and select the “more like this” option to get additional words to choose from.

2. Wordtracker’s Keyword Suggestion Tool

Unlike Google AdWords, this search tool gives you only ten results for free. While Wordtracker is an excellent resource for long tail keywords, you have to pay to take full advantage of the service. Here is an example of the results Wordtracker provided for the phrase “business networking groups”:
Wordtracker free keyword tool results

You can sign up for a free seven day trial, which will give you 100 results for each query. After that, the service costs $69 a month and delivers up to 2,000 keywords per search. You can also measure the level of competition for any keyword in Wordtracker’s database and check KEI or the Keyword Effectiveness Index to hone in on words with high traffic and low competition.

3. KeywordDiscovery.com – As with Wordtracker, you’ll have to sign up for a free trial account to use Keyword Discovery’s service. The free version allows you to do 50 searches per day, but you only get 10 results each time. Those results include trends, but you can’t check domains.

Keyword Discovery sample results

When you click on “analyze,” Keyword Discovery gives you the percentage of searches that generated a click on one of the search results. if you subscribe for their basic plan at $69.95 a month, you get full access to all the keyword databases. You can do 1,500 searches per day. Up to 1,000 results will be displayed, including three domain research results.

4. SEOBook.com – Unlike Wordtracker & KeywordDiscovery, SEOBook.com provides a free account that lasts indefinitely. (I’ve been using it for over 2 years.) Their keyword results are powered by Wordtracker.com but this tool also delivers results from Google, Yahoo, Bing, Google Trends, Quintura, Compete, Keyword Discovery & Wordstream.

SEO Book Keyword results

Of course, as with the other tools above, you get much more functionality if you sign up for SEOBook’s paid membership. This service is the most expensive by far at $300/month. But it includes over 100 training modules covering keyword research, pay per click marketing, site optimization; member only training videos; and much more. There’s no contract, and you can cancel at any time.

5. SEMRush.com – As a free keyword research tool, SEMRush is pretty robust. As a registered user, you will get more opportunities than unregistered, but you are limited to 10 results per request, 10 queries per day. The good news is that those results include ad volume, CPC (cost per click), competition of advertisers for that term, number of search results for that query on Google, and the volume of searches over the last 12 months.

You can also see a list of websites that delivered results for a particular search term. When you click on one of those sites, you’ll be able to see that site’s related keywords – giving you some new keyword possibilities to consider.

Another useful feature, especially if you write pay-per-click ads, is the ability to see which websites bought ads for the search term. You can even click on the Ad icon to see the copy with the search term in it:

Keyword example

In the interest of full disclosure, SEMRush allowed me to use their professional account for free for the last few weeks so that I could do a full test-drive of their capabilities. As someone who has been getting along with ten results at a time from Wordtracker or Keyword Discovery, and 100 more keywords from Google, I have to tell you that SEMRush has spoiled me.

Being able to access thousands of keywords at a time – not only from my search term, but to check those of competing websites has been terrific. Paying $69.95 a month for the ability to export up to 10,000 results per domain into a CSV or Excel file is a good deal, if you ask me. And the fact that you can perform up to 3,000 queries per day is another bonus. Plus, SEMRush doesn’t generate random keywords, unlike the other sites do. Instead, the company provides a statistical analysis of the occurrence of keywords in its results. And, a SEMRush spokesperson pointed out to me that theirs is the only tool to include valuable data relative to a keyword’s value/profitability – another good point in their favor.

Which keyword tool is your favorite? Please comment below!


Keyword Tool is MIA – What happened to Spacky.com?

Spacky.com, a keyword tool that not only showed you the top searches on Google, but also for Yahoo and Bing, has disappeared.

I’ve been trying to access it for a couple of weeks now, but with no luck.  I recently read a blog post by writer Theresa Wiza, who’s been wondering the same thing. She speculates Google put them out of business.  I hope that’s not the case.  But even if Google didn’t, the company is certainly the victor here.  I’m back to using Google AdWords as my primary keyword tool for copywriting, although I do check out Wordtracker from time to time as well.

I think if Microsoft truly wants to take Bing to the next level, they should create a keyword tool for that search engine. Let’s face it, it’s a little strange to do a search on Bing for “keyword tool” and see Google AdWords as the first sponsored listing, and the second organic listing (after Wordtracker).

Bye-bye, Spacky. It’s been nice knowing you.



Keyword Rich Titles Get You Noticed

Shhh… Don’t tell Yellow Pages this, but Google has taken over its territory!

When I need to look up a phone number, I don’t drag out that heavy telephone directory (that still gets sent to my house for some reason).  I just hop online to Google!

No more flipping page after page, squinting because the print is too small.  If the company I’m looking for has optimized their site correctly, I’ll find the phone number I’m seeking right away.

But wait a minute…. What if a site ISN’T optimized right?

For example, what if someone told me about a gourmet coffee shop, but I can’t remember the name of it.  To find it online, I’d probably search “gourmet coffee” + Orlando (if that’s where the shop is located).

If that business has a website, and wants to be found by local customers, the easiest way to get noticed is to make sure the meta tag titles of its site include keywords such as “gourmet coffee” and the name of the city where the store is located.

What’s a meta tag title?

It’s essentially a headline that describes the contents of a web page.  It’s found in the web site’s source code and gets displayed on a search engine results page.

It’s important to keep two things in mind when crafting a title for your web page:  keyword placement and character length.

Let’s go back to our gourmet coffee shop.  In this example, we’ll pretend the name of the shop is Java Jean’s, and the domain name is javajeans.com.  If you know nothing about search engine optimization, you might be tempted to use Java Jean’s as your home page title.  But that would be a big mistake.

Remember – you need some keywords.  After doing some keyword research on sites like wordtracker.com or Google’s keyword tool, you decide to use “gourmet coffee” in your title.  Which of the following titles do you think will rank higher?

Java Jean’s – Gourmet Coffee

Gourmet Coffee – Java Jean’s

It seems logical to put the company name first, but from an SEO standpoint, the keyword “gourmet coffee” will rank higher on Google & the other search engines since it’s more relevant to what the web site is about.

What about character length? The titles listed above are fairly short.  You can add more information to a title, such as including a location for example.  But don’t go crazy.  Titles should be no longer than 65-75 characters, including spaces.  Anything longer will just get cut off by Google, when it’s displayed on their page.

Don’t forget about the rest of your web pages.  Each one should have its own unique title featuring keywords that are relevant to the content on the page.  While it’s common for sites to feature the same basic pages, such as “About Us” or “FAQ’s,” these titles are opportunities to provide keyword rich content for the search engine spiders to find.

Your home page title also doesn’t even need to feature your company’s name, especially if that name doesn’t describe what your business does.  That’s what the description is for.  But I’ll save that discussion for another day. 🙂


How to Attract Visitors to Your Website and Convert Them into Customers

Ever wonder why some companies seem to struggle online, while others rank high on Google and make money hand over fist?

If all things are equal between two companies in the same industry – the difference probably lies with the firms’ websites.

Odds are the successful company has a user-friendly site that features a customer-benefit headline so a visitor can quickly see what that company has to offer.

Write content for your site that quickly conveys the benefits your company provides to potential customers.

You only have about 3-5 seconds to make an impression online. If you don’t have an attention-grabbing headline on the home page – your visitor will hit the back button and do business with someone else. 

Once you grab that visitor’s attention, keep it by writing copy in a conversational style. Make your paragraphs short and to the point. Emphasize the benefits of your product or service, not just its features. People buy because they want to, not necessarily because they need to.

Of course, if you are in the B2B market, features are important.  A person shopping for a new copier for their business wants to know if the machine can handle small or big jobs, whether it can print in color or just black and white, and the printing speed.  But don’t neglect the benefits here either. If a particular copier will make his job easier, and doesn’t cost his company a fortune, those are important benefits to note in your copy.

Include keywords in your website content.

Keywords are words and phrases people use to search for a particular product or service. If you want your website to be found by the search engines, the content on your site must include these keywords.

To ensure the search engines find your site, keywords also need to be included in the title and description meta tags found in the source code.  The title and description are displayed on the search engine results page. If you don’t specify this information in your source code, Google and the other search engines will pick out information from your site and display whatever it wants.  Creating unique titles and descriptions for each page of your website, and including carefully selected keywords in them, enables you to control the content displayed.

How do you find these keywords? Google is a good place to start. The popular search engine has its own keyword tool at https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal. This tool helps you see which keywords are used frequently and which are not. Two other excellent sources are KeywordDiscovery.com and Wordtracker.com. These are subscription services, but they do offer free trials.

The key to effective website design is keeping your customers’ needs in mind.

Provide solutions in clear, concise language and include appropriate keywords for the search engines to find. When you take these steps, you’ll convert website traffic into paying customers. That’s a return on investment your business can appreciate, in any economy.