I also want to emphasize that Microsoft Excel and Google Docs perhaps play an equal, if not more important role in keyword research than any of these tools, because at the end of the day, the mountain of data you end up with is of no use if you can’t perform calculations, sort, filter, present or store it in a way that’s best suits the task at hand. Head over to Distilled for a comprehensive Excel for SEOs guide. Alternatively, bug this guy—he’s the Sensei who trains Excel ninjas in the dark of the night.
One of the most important aspects of an effective SEO strategy is the ability to research, analyze, and ultimately select the keywords that are most likely to result in success for your clients. There are a variety of free tools available on the web specifically designed to help online marketers do just this. Each tool has its own unique methodology for collecting and presenting this data. Comparing any of the tools’ results without knowing the subtle differences can lead to incorrect inferences and an SEO strategy based on misinformation.
These are usually single-word keywords with insane amounts of search volume and competition (for example, “insurance” or “vitamins”). Because searcher intent is all over the place (someone searching for “insurance” might be looking for a car insurance quote, a list of life insurance companies or a definition of the word), Head Terms usually don’t convert very well.
TIP: A really good strategy for increasing your search engine rankings (and maybe even getting a featured snippet), is to pick a number of popular questions, and answer them in your content. You can do this in the form of a ‘Question & Answer’ section or maybe ‘FAQs’. Just pick half a dozen or so questions, and list them, together with a short answer.
2) SpyFu: I suggest to have paid account on SpyFu. I just need to find my competitors who using Adwords and review them using this tool. It will show me what ads and keywords they are using. Note that my competitor who paid for that particular keyword knows exactly that it is important for his business including recent trends. Also using SEO feature you can input any URL and find our which keywords they are ranking for.
The only problem is that you can’t possibly laser-target every ad to the search query, and your landing page will definitely not be as targeted as it could be either. Not even dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) would help, because who wants to click on an ad with the headline of just “Bounce House”? Let’s just say it gets tricky, and you’re a little lazy if that’s all you do.

Taking this site as an example, “home working” is a pretty important keyword. I’d love it if I could be at the top of Google for that phrase. However, despite pouring heart, soul and a great many man-hours into creating a useful resource for home workers, I’m not yet anywhere near the first page of Google’s search results. (I’m actually languishing depressingly on the 11th page of results at the time of writing!)

They also seem to be getting this wrong often enough that I've got less confidence that the keywords that make up these groups really belong there. I recently tried to check the volume for the keyword [active monitoring] (the practice of checking on a network by injecting test traffic and seeing how it's handled, as opposed to passive monitoring) and the Keyword Planner gave me the volume for [activity monitor] (aka Fitbit).

Given you have a good idea of where to start and are fairly confident you are speaking the same language as your client, jump start research by generating related keyphrases and long tail variants with the ever so easy to use Google Autocomplete. This tool makes predictions based on what you are typing that are a reflection of Google search activity.
I actually don't use any keyword tools aside from Google Trends, but only rarely do I even use that. I try to talk to many of our target audience members (entrepreneurs) as I can. I attend events, I have phone calls, I sit next to them while working. Generally speaking, I think it's a waste of time to START with keyword tools instead of actual customers. Yes, you can target people in broad swaths and get a high level sense for what's interesting and trending, but at least in the case of our business at NextView Ventures, it's way more powerful to talk to actual "customers" you serve.
Keyword Researcher is designed to search the Autocomplete databases of Google, YouTube, and even Amazon.com. That's a lot of keyword sources! As you probably know, if you're building an authority site, or if you would like to become a dominant player in your niche, then starting with a large database of keywords (that your customers are actually typing in) is a powerful marketing tool.

In a nutshell, Long Tail Pro helps you quickly find keywords in bulk based on a seed keyword that you input.  In addition to returning hundreds of related keywords, the tool also shows search volume (monthly search volume), advertiser bid, number of words, rank value, and my favorite Keyword Competitiveness (helps you judge the competition and keyword difficulty).
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