And so on and so on. The point of this step isn't to come up with your final list of keyword phrases -- you just want to end up with a brain dump of phrases you think potential customers might use to search for content related to that particular topic bucket. We'll narrow the lists down later in the process so you don't have something too unwieldy.
2) SEMrush- This tool offers fantastic competitive research around domains to find what keywords could be driving traffic for your competitors. Looking at paid keywords ad spend can also help you know which keywords might have monetary value worth pursuing organically. If a competitor is willing to spend a high ad budget on terms and you think they do a good job running their ad campaign, then its a good indication it is worth organic ranking effort.

"With Google giving over the home page to ads and their own properties for commercial keywords, the Long Tail keyword is more important than ever. If you have a website, you know that most of your traffic comes from keywords you never would have thought of. With Keyword Researcher, you can find them in advance and make sure that you're the one that snags this traffic. I use it for all of my e-commerce site planning."
While this one isn’t necessarily a keyword research tool, it will give you valuable insight into how the keywords you’ve been optimizing for so far are actually performing for you. You might realize that you could start ranking for more keywords with more difficult competition, for example, or that only keywords on certain subjects are working for you.

KW Finder is similar to the Google Adwords tool; it even pulls up similar results, which aren’t as entirely on-point as the immediate results from SEMrush and Moz. From my experience with KW Finder, the searches are a lot better if you put some time into manually adding in filters like negative keywords and additional keywords you do want to include.
How do you figure out what keywords your competitors are ranking for, you ask? Aside from manually searching for keywords in an incognito browser and seeing what positions your competitors are in, SEMrush allows you to run a number of free reports that show you the top keywords for the domain you enter. This is a quick way to get a sense of the types of terms your competitors are ranking for.
Recently I had a dilemma with one of my projects, it is related to ecards and many people still using word “cards” instead of “ecards” but Google Keyword Planner and some other tools showed almost the same information for both keywords. At the same time I did not want to have many words “cards” and “ecards” on the landing pages. Semrush helped very much. I found correct data and made a nice PPC campaign.

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.
In Keyword Planner, formerly known as the Keyword Tool, you can get search volume and traffic estimates for keywords you're considering. Unfortunately, when Google transitioned from Keyword Tool to Keyword Planner, they stripped out a lot of the more interesting functionality. But you can make up for it a bit if you take the information you learn from Keyword Planner and use Google Trends to fill in some blanks.
Update: I’ve now been using Long Tail Pro for 5+ years. There are now many different keyword research tools and lots of people prefer some of the newer tools. Admittedly – Long Tail Pro had some hiccups and went through some rough times as they transitioned ownership and introduced the newer cloud version. But – all of the bugs and kinks have been worked out and Long Tail Pro is now better than ever! I’m happy and proud to be able to continue to use and promote Long Tail Pro as my keyword research tool of choice.
I came across Longtail Pro this morning, downloaded the trial version and was about to buy the $97 program…seems like a good buy. But the more research I’ve done today, it seems the KC score is an absolute must for anyone who is serious about making money with niche sites. I hate to spend the bucks, but hate even more leaving money and possibly niche site success. Any advice?
1) Ahrefs to quickly see “the big picture” when it comes to any keyword I'm researching. I can instantly see the top holders in the SERPs. I then immediately take the top holders list and go check out their sites. I need to make sure I can beat them content-wise, otherwise I will search for another keyword to try and rank for, or perhaps go down the long-tail route. The Ahrefs tool and data quality get better and better every year. It's one of my favorite tools.

Use the Keyword Planner to flag any terms on your list that have way too little (or way too much) search volume, and don't help you maintain a healthy mix like we talked about above. But before you delete anything, check out their trend history and projections in Google Trends. You can see whether, say, some low-volume terms might actually be something you should invest in now -- and reap the benefits for later.
Creating a psychologically alluring title is important--because search engines will rank our document (in part) based on how many clicks the title is getting--relative to other articles on Google's Search Results Page (SERP). Hence, a title that has some stylistic panache, will (in theory) ultimately rank higher than a title that doesn't have anything eye-catching about it.

Brian, thank you for all of these informative guides! I started out as a digital marketing intern and everything that I learned from your site has helped me land a job as a marketing specialist. I’m truly grateful and enjoy everything that you published so far. If you have a chance, I’ve started using this tool called SEOClarity, I was wondering what’s your take on it? Have you used it before or know anyone that has?

5. Use the Keyword Competitiveness “Fetch Now” feature. Now that your list is trimmed down after you applied all those filters in the previous step, you use the KC “Fetch Now” feature that saves you time in retrieving all that invaluable information. Again, depending on the number of keywords it has to check it make take a while (remember that LTP needs to retrieve information from several sources including Google and Moz). During this bulk check if LTP prompts with Google captchas to fill out, just close the software and wait 10 minutes to reopen it and continue your work. (This issue should have already been fixed now with the latest updates to the tool.)
This is slightly more complicated than it used to be, because you have to actually create a live AdWords Campaign as part of the process! This puts many people off, as it looks as if you have to actually advertise in order to use the tool. You don’t — you can just setup the campaign and then pause it before it runs so you don’t have to spend a penny.

Matthew, are you still using LTP as part of your strategy given the changes with Google AdWords and MOS the past few months. None of their training reflects these changes in the video tutorials, so it’s a bit slower on the learning curve and seems very limiting on some of the LT Keyword options that are registering no data, when we know there is search data for certain words. Seems like something that was designed to work incredibly smooth is playing catch up from changes in 2 major areas, MOZ and Google.

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. 

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.
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.
Jaaxy uses a combination of search engine data from the major search engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo) and Long Tail Pro get its search data from Google alone (via the Google Keyword Planner tool). While this seems to be an advantage for Jaaxy, you might only be interested in getting information from the number one search engine in the World: Google.
You don’t really need to worry about the volume size either. Too big a number just means you will have to work harder to get ranked in Google. It’s now quite commonplace to see SEO people say it’s best to just go with your gut feeling on a keyword. Just go for something you would type into Google search yourself instead of beating yourself up trying to find that ‘one’ killer keyword.
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.
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.
Following a very busy (and lucrative) 2015, I’ve decided to take the majority of 2016 off and use the time to invest in various relationships and things that really matter in the long run. But in the midst of this “time off,” I’ve learned so many lessons and picked up new skills and seen new perspectives that I would never have been exposed to had I just kept on grinding away at the existing business.
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