Keywords are the new basis for any Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) efforts to push up your brand in the digital realm.
These are the words that people use in their Google searches and thus what your business needs to target in order for your ads to show up or your website to rank high on the results.
Hence, keyword research tools are irreplaceable in today’s fast-moving world where people’s searches are changing constantly. This is especially so as keywords don’t just refer to single words but also phrases.
Researching phrases and words related to your business is critical for you to be able to predict which are the most commonly searched words and phrases to optimise your page for them and show up at the top of the results page.
After all, when was the last time you checked out results beyond the first page or even the first five?
This is crucial for your business as it means you could be missing out on a huge amount of traffic / new business if you aren’t showing up on searches. How huge an opportunity are we talking about? Google alone processes 3.5 billion searches on average daily!
How do you take advantage of keyword research tools in your SEO?
You can find out the commonly searched phrases and words and use them in content on your website. You can jump up in rankings for the particular keywords by simply using it multiple times within meaningful content on your page.
There are several other techniques including meta tagging and other SEO tricks that you can use to ensure you rank highly for particular keywords. You can search more on SEO techniques to find out the specifics.
We also suggest looking into long tail phrases and keywords which are less frequently searched but are very specific to your niche. This allows you to show up higher on those particular searches as fewer competitors will be targeting those long tail keywords.
10 Top Free Keyword Research Tools
1. Google Keyword Planner
The first option you should always default to is Google Keyword Planner, after all if you are optimising for Google searches, they have the most complete data.
It gives you search volume (how many people are searching this) and feedback on average cost of advertising on these keywords which is important in telling you how hotly contested these keywords are by competitors.
Google Keyword Planner also only provides you with broad ranges for search volume such as <100, 100 - 1k, 1k - 10k, etc.
While it’s free to use on Adwords, you do have to customise your view to “expert” in order to access the keyword planner without first creating a campaign.
2. Google Trends
Google Trends is another free tool provided by Google which visualises the search volume of keywords. It's great for spotting seasonality or certain spikes in searches due to particular events.
This allows you to plan ahead for certain timings and push out or republish the appropriate content to maximise your SEO during these trending periods.
It also allows you to avoid downtrending keywords which may look higher on average searches in Google Keyword Planner but in reality are losing relevance over time.
You can also use Google Trends to get related queries which may be more trending to find related topics / keywords you should be using.
3. Google Search Console
While Google Search Console is only applicable to your site’s performance in terms of organic keyword searches, this is still a great free tool that should not be neglected.
You can identify keywords that have been working best for your site and continue to utilise them in new content, or find new keywords that you may be showing up in many searches for but not currently targeting.
You can also identify pages or content that are doing particularly well and replicate your success or conversely refine the poorly performing links.
Moz is a paid keyword research tool however as it has limited free version as well as a free trial period, we have included it.
It’s pretty useful in terms of how it does everything for you from search volume, related suggestions to analysis on how easy or hard it is to rank on those keywords.
SEMRush is similar to Moz, being a paid tool with a limited free trial. It does have useful features such as competitor gap comparison which will suggest keywords your competitors are targeting that you may be missing out on.
6. AHrefs Keyword Generator
AHrefs Keyword Generator is a useful tool for generating more keyword ideas as they allow you to find up to 150 keywords based on a keyword you provide. They also provide a difficulty ranking which tells you how hard it is for you to rank higher on the results.
AHrefs Keyword Generator is also usable for keywords ideas on other platforms like Bing, YouTube and Amazon.
7. Keyword Sheeter
Keyword Sheet is a useful free tool that pulls autocomplete suggestions from Google. Given that autocomplete data is based on trending searches, this provides you with trending search phrases ideas.
Unfortunately, it is quite simple and doesn’t provide search volume or other data. If you are intending to find similar or related keywords instead of phrases, this tool is also unable to do so.
It does have the ability to filter and allow you to quickly generate and export large amounts of keywords ideas. All in all, it’s a useful supplementary tool but definitely not a one-stop go to tool.
8. Keyword Surfer
Keyword Surfer is quite different from the other tools on this list as it is not a standalone page or platform but rather a free Chrome extension.
It provides you search volume estimates directly on Google itself as you search and also shows similar keywords. That said, it doesn’t allow you to do bulk searches, but is definitely a useful supplementary tool.
9. Bulk Keyword Generator
Bulk Keyword Generator is a free tool that generates keywords relevant to what your business provides.
This is great for you to check if you have missed out any keywords for products or services you provide and make an effort to rank for them. Once again, this is a supplementary tool for ideas.
10. Answer the Public
Answer the Public finds questions, prepositions, comparisons, google autocomplete suggestions and related searches to your keyword.
This allows you to rapidly get keyword ideas but it doesn't provide volume data, hence we recommend it only as a supplementary tool.
There are many free keyword research tools out there, however we recommend sticking to one to three tools that work for you as there are multiple overlaps in most tools.
Beyond the tools and data they provided, it is also important to know how to convert the insights into useful SEO strategies that will help improve traffic to your website. While the basics are easily learnt, we recommend looking for expert assistance to truly scale and grow your business.