1) SEMrush - I believe that among all the 3rd party software, SEMrush has the largest keyword database. Their search volume data is pretty accurate and aligns with the Google keyword planner. Also, based on the type of content that needs to be produced (i.e. informational, transactional, etc.), one can utilize different filtering options available in it.
Well there are a few things I look for (I will produce a bonus video about this topic and add it to the other bonus video tutorial) but basically I like to see sites like forums/niche sites/Q&A sites in the top 10 along with other things like sites that are not targeting exact keyword in title/meta, sites with low page authority and domain authority, sites that are less than 3 years old etc etc
Google prefers to not share long tail searches in this tool – because the tool is designed for Google Adwords advertisers. If advertisers bid on those long tails – they would have less competition and therefore pay less for the Adword, and therefore Google would make less money e.g. bidding on the term weight loss for girls under 18 is cheaper than weight loss. 
SEMrush is a very useful tool for both researching competitors when starting a site or for growing an established site. I really like to find weaker niche sites that still seem to be ranking for lots of keywords; SEMrush helps me see what they are ranking for and what I can potentially target. You can also see what keywords you’re on the cusp of ranking for with your established site - another very useful feature.
Once you've entered a keyword, you'll be presented with a range of data: Google Search Volume, Competition, CPC, and Opportunity Score. This data provides advertisers with at-a-glance data that they can use as the basis for their next campaign. No other free keyword tool provides as much free keyword data as WordStream's new and improved Free Keyword Tool. Try it today and see how much easier keyword research can be with WordStream.
We at Moz custom-built the Keyword Explorer tool from the ground up to help streamline and improve how you discover and prioritize keywords. Keyword Explorer provides accurate monthly search volume data, an idea of how difficult it will be to rank for your keyword, estimated click-through rate, and a score representing your potential to rank. It also suggests related keywords for you to research. Because it cuts out a great deal of manual work and is free to try, we recommend starting there.
To get started with the Free Keyword Tool, just enter a keyword or search term into the relevant field. If you want to conduct competitive intelligence research into your competitors' keyword data, you can also enter the URL of a specific webpage to view keyword data for that page. You can also enter your industry and country to see even more accurate results; it's not unusual for the cost-per-click and other metrics to differ widely from one country to another, even for advertisers bidding on the same keywords in the same industry. 

But maybe you didn’t watch the tutorial video yet. Or maybe you didn’t know about the extremely powerful KC feature. Maybe you didn’t know how quickly, easily and effectively you could analyze Google top 10 search results with Long Tail Pro. And maybe you didn’t even know how profitable it can be to simply target just the really long tail keywords.
We’re not here to dwell on the good and the bad of Google’s decision. I personally am elated that this debate has brought the crucial SEO function of Keyword Research into the limelight once again. There’s more to it than taking the first 10 results from the Google Keyword Tool and scattering them left, right and center in your content. Savvy keyword research is what separates strategists from headless chickens.
The Google Keyword Planner used to be great it's now frustrating to use.... and almost impossible to get in to without setting up your first ad. Big shame google big shame. I would love to share more info about your tool over on my website [link removed by moderator] for my local business clients - have you got something you can send over for me to add to the site?
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.

Well, if you haven’t heard the news yet, the word on the street is Google has shut down their widely popular keyword tool for public use. Now if you want access to Google sanctioned keyword data you have to sign up for an Adwords account. Of course there are a ton of theories surrounding why Google would make this decision, some are more obvious than others. But to many of us Google’s motivations seem pointless when we still have work to do! Luckly we exist in a vibrant industry where innovation is at the core of most of what we do. As such we have a slew of different tools available to replace Google’s tool.
Keyword research is an activity you undertake every now and then. If you have a clear definition about the product or service you want to ‘sell’ with your website, you should be able to come up with keywords, related keywords, and even more related keywords to make your awesome website (more) findable. As your product and the market will evolve, your keyword strategy should do the same.
If you go to Search Console under the Acquisition tab and then click Queries, you’ll be able to see different searches (aka keywords) that users found you through. You may have to set this up, but it’s easy to do and only takes a few minutes; you can see how here. Use this information to evaluate and monitor your keywords to see what’s working and what needs to be changed.
How much is a keyword worth to your website? If you own an online shoe store, do you make more sales from visitors searching for "brown shoes" or "black boots"? The keywords visitors type into search engines are often available to webmasters, and keyword research tools allow us to find this information. However, those tools cannot show us directly how valuable it is to receive traffic from those searches. To understand the value of a keyword, we need to understand our own websites, make some hypotheses, test, and repeat—the classic web marketing formula.
It's important to check that you have a mix of head terms and long-tail terms because it'll give you a keyword strategy that's well balanced with long-term goals and short-term wins. That's because head terms are generally searched more frequently, making them often (not always, but often) much more competitive and harder to rank for than long-tail terms. Think about it: Without even looking up search volume or difficulty, which of the following terms do you think would be harder to rank for?
This comes with a monthly fee though, so why have that recurring revenue drain when you can just get MS or LTP for that matter on a one off fee. They are both virtually the same in my opinion. This is the only thing that is stopping me from buying the software. If the calculation of keyword difficulty was included in the one off fee, i wouldn’t mind paying the full $97.
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.
This isn’t the only tool that mines Google Autocomplete. There’s also KeywordTool.io, but this tool restricts results to ~700 keywords (more are available for “pro” members). Infinite Suggest is another alternative, but despite the name, I’ve found that it still doesn’t find anywhere near the number of keywords that Keyword Shitter finds. And there are tons of other Google Autocomplete miners too. Just Google “google auto suggest tool” for more. There’s also this tool from SEOChat which mines autocomplete suggestions from Google, Bing, Amazon, and YouTube.
While the tool is a not a magic product that works wonders for you, know that the instrument would be useful as it can help you get thousands of keywords overnight, which you can simply use for your business. If you want to build a successful online carrier, then it is recommended that you use the instrument and nothing more. The instrument does not deliver any kind of keyword, it specializes in delivering only those keywords that are very profitable, and which would make your website, your products, and your business to rank very high on the search engines. You would soon discover that this tool is the best online investment that you can ever make.
Although more and more keywords are getting encrypted by Google every day, another smart way to come up with keyword ideas is to figure out which keywords your website is already getting found for. To do this, you'll need website analytics software like Google Analytics or HubSpot's Sources tool. Drill down into your website's traffic sources, and sift through you organic search traffic bucket to identify the keywords people are using to arrive at your site.
1 – I’ve found a niche with low competition and good CPC . but the thing is the while doing competition analysis. I observed that most of the sites that are in the top 10 serps ranking are small ecommerce site selling their own product or sites like niche specific classified ad site with low and thin content. What are your suggestions ? Should I go for such keywords ?
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