Keyword research is probably the most important aspect of SEO, as Google and other search engines assess the quality of web pages primarily, by the words in the content of the pages. Choosing keywords to target is a balancing act between the competitiveness of the keyword and the volume of monthly searches. When you get keyword research right, you are likely to achieve higher rankings in search engines, which usually results in greater amount of web traffic.
The process of keyword research involves the use of keyword research tools and also taking about searcher intent. There are many free keyword tools, which you can utilise for your research. The most common tool used keyword analysis is the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, which is available in your AdWords account (you do not need to use AdWords to have AdWords account).
This tool can estimate the search volume of the keyword, generation new keywords with a combination of keyword lists, produce keyword variations based on the root keyword and provide a degree of competitive analysis by examining keywords used on competitors’ websites.
The AdWords Keyword Planner has its limitations, however, as it does not show long-tail keywords and it is primarily a tool for AdWords, and not specifically built for SEO. There are other options, such as Google Suggest, which are also free.
Google Suggest or auto complete is a tool which automatically suggests frequently search terms when a user types a word into the Google search field. It works mainly by displaying words which users searched for previously, which are related to the base keyword. While this tool is not a keyword research tool, it can generate keyword ideas, which can then brainstormed.
If you intend to use Google Suggest as an SEO tool, you will need to sign out of Google as Google will use your history as suggestions when you have signed into Google.
The Google planner tool and Google suggest are just two ways, which you can improve your SEO at no cost. Both have their uses and their limitations, and if you want to drill down and find real keyword nuggets, then you should consider premium SEO tools for keyword research. I will be discussing some of these in the following paragraphs.
Free tools for keyword research can only do so much, and if you want to dig deeper, then you are going to have to invest in a paid keyword tool. Many SEO keyword tools offer a free trial, and I would encourage anyone to avail of a few free trials, before deciding on buying a keyword analysis tool.
Market Samurai is one such company which offer a free trial. In fact, this was the first keyword research tool that I bought and one that I still use today. Market Samurai is a stand-alone research tool that helps to research the best keywords in your niche. While it is strong in keyword research and can help small businesses in optimising their keyword performance, it is not as robust as some other paid tools in competitor analysis, but it is a once off cost of $149 (at the time of writing), while most other paid tools are subscription based.
Subscription-based tools will work out more expensive as they have a monthly fee, but they can also offer more functionality and greater research.
Two of the best subscription based SEO keyword research tools are SemRush and Serped. SemRush has been around for a while and is a favourite among SEO consultants and Internet marketers. It is fantastic for unearthing valuable long tail keywords and discovering competitors’ keywords. However, it is much more than a keyword tool; it also has other SEO tools, PPC tools and brand management tools.
Serped is rather new to the market and may not be well known as it is only open to new members for short periods. Serped is an all round suite of tools that help you find the ideal expired domain, analyse keywords and competition and get backlinks to your website. It uses data from SemRush, Majestic, Ahrefs among others. The price starts at $79 per month, and I find this tool essential for SEO.
Keyword research is probably the most important topic for those interested in getting higher ranking in the search engines and of course, traffic. If you are a novice in SEO, then you should start with the free tools; Google planner tool and Google suggest. These will give you a good start on your SEO journey. When you are more experienced, you can try a paid tool like SemRush or Serped, if it is available at that time.