How do I research keywords? This is a common question I get from clients. And my immediate response is… Long Tail Pro! With the update to Google Adwords Keyword Planner (rendering it near worthless) without paying for Google ads and to test actually search volume for keywords, the generic Avg. search volume range they provide gives you ZERO actionable data! See example below:

So what exactly is Keyword Competitiveness (KC)? It’s only the feature within Long Tail Pro that completely changed the game and made keyword research so ridiculously simple that even a dumb truck driver like me could become an expert! It basically works like this. As soon as you click the button in Long Tail Pro Cloud to retrieve keywords, it automatically calculates a number for each keyword (between 1 and 100) based on several different SEO factors. Lower numbers mean the keyword is easier to rank for and higher means it is harder to rank for. More on that below…

I’ve owned a dozen or so Keyword Tools in my time and most of them are basically the same, but I’ve always thought the best Long Tail Keyword research tool is the very quiet and reserved Keyword Researcher Pro. I don’t see it being shouted from the rooftops and I don’t see any aggressive marketing for it, but my…it’s a real useful tool that I now wouldn’t be without.
If you are looking for keywords in languages other than English, you will find Keyword Tool's features very useful. Keyword Tool allows you to pull keywords from 192 Google domains and use 83 Google language interfaces to generate keyword suggestions. That way we make sure that the generated keywords will be relevant to the country and/or language that you are creating your content for.
I use Ahrefs to find ideas for keywords to add into content, and content to create around keyword opportunities. I like how Ahrefs shows keyword difficulty, search volume, traffic potential (how much organic search traffic it’s possible to get when you rank #1 for a parent topic keyword) and lets you group keywords together to create lists. It’s really useful.
Curious if you’ve found a way to efficiently find underperforming keywords? Currently I have to manually click on each and every keyword to calculate it’s Keyword Competitiveness. Frustrating clicking it hundreds or even a thousand + times. I’d rather just add it as one of the scan settings and wait 8 hours for it to run all 1000 than having to manually click them for an hour and then waiting…
The Google Keyword Tool has a variety of helpful features meant to streamline the keyword research process. By entering terms or phrases into the search box, the Keyword Tool allows you to build extensive, relevant keyword lists from one simple interface. By default, the tool displays Advertising Competition, Global Monthly Searches, Local Monthly Searches, and Local Search Trends for each keyword. Additional options allow marketers to show the estimated Average Cost per Click, Ad share, and Search Share.
The link back to googles API is crap – it keeps coming up with password authentication which renders it virtually useless when trying to find your own rank. Sells you the software initially. But then tries to sell you a load of stuff afterwards which effectively tells you the first version you have already paid for is useless without the extra “bonuses”. Not a nice way of doing business
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.
I’ve owned a dozen or so Keyword Tools in my time and most of them are basically the same, but I’ve always thought the best Long Tail Keyword research tool is the very quiet and reserved Keyword Researcher Pro. I don’t see it being shouted from the rooftops and I don’t see any aggressive marketing for it, but my…it’s a real useful tool that I now wouldn’t be without.
The WordStream suite of Keyword Tools is an integrated and actionable set of keyword tools designed to help search marketers with keyword search, keyword suggestion, keyword grouping, PPC keyword research, keyword analysis, long-tail keyword research, and negative keyword discovery, going beyond the capabilities that a typical free keyword tool can offer.
WordStream's Negative Keyword Tool reduces wasteful PPC spending and improves ROI by preventing your AdWords PPC ads from showing on irrelevant searches. Enter a keyword to get a list of negative keyword suggestions. Then select the ones that aren't relevant to your campaigns and export the results for use in your AdWords account. As a result, your ads will be more relevant to searchers, grab a much more targeted audience and reduce your overall ad spend.

I’ve found google trends to be an interesting way to see if a keyword (and by extension a niche) is growing or shrinking, and whether it’s seasonal or not. I can’t think of any other tool out there that can reliably tell you this information, so that’s really useful. Also, if you’re building a site, especially an authority site, getting onto something that’s trending upwards is a fantastic idea.


This is a rather crude metric because it presumes one can monetize all the traffic they receive AND one can generate as much profit per visitor as Google does. Anyone who could do both of those would likely displace Google as the first consumer destination in their market (like how many people in the United States start ecommerce searches on Amazon.com rather than Google.com).
A service like BrightEdge comes with the biggest costs associated, but its SaaS solution for SEO covers many areas inside of a single ecosystem, including the ability to explore keyword data. This may be a benefit for agencies that wish to reduce redundancies across vendors, but eventually, it is likely that the need for a second tool will present itself as talent and effort levels increase inside of your SEO department.

Wordtracker is another service that requires an annual subscription to utilize all of its features. Their database is made up of 330 million search terms, collected from the major metacrawlers, Dogpile and Metacrawler, and is updated weekly. The search data they show is a record of the number of times the exact keyword or phrase has been searched in the United States over the last 365 days. As in the case of Keyword Discovery, this difference in default keyword matching type causes Wordtracker to display search volumes significantly lower than what Google’s tools show.


This tool allows you to type in your keyword phrase or keyword in the field that is provided and it will generate a long list of suggested keywords.  It has three button level and you can perform a deeper search by clicking on button level 2. You will get a list of keywords or keyword phrases that are related to the original list provided in level one. If you want to continue further, you can click on level three and then click the link at the bottom to download the data. The tool can assist you to discover those keywords that your competitors could be ignoring and use those opportunities to create fresh targeted content.
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. 

3. Finally, there's just good old research through trends and news. Google Trends, keeping up on industry news of the business, and even newsjacking (if there are relevant topics). These all require different resources depending on the business, but once you find the leaders in their news you can not only leverage them for keyword research but also glean insights into how you can become an industry leader yourself (and dominate SEO).
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.
To drive search engine traffic, whether through organic search or paid search advertisements, you need the right keywords, plus a process to expand your keyword lists over time. That’s where our free tool comes in. WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool gives you hundreds of relevant keyword results, plus additional, actionable information like competition level and estimated CPC, all for free!
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.
I ditto what you are saying. All of the keyword volume data the system is stating is completely way off, false and misleading. They are pulling these numbers now from 3rd party sources, which we all know are directional, but in many cases in left field! I just signed up and will probably be cancelling because I can’t trust or rely on their data. What a shame, because before it was such a great tool.
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