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.
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.

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:
Earlier, I wrote a post about the use of long tail keywords. Focusing on long tail keywords could be a good strategy, especially when trying to rank in a highly competitive market. But how do you decide on which (long tail) keywords you want to rank? This post will give you some handy tips and keyword research tools to make your keyword research a bit easier.
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.
The limit on manual keywords could be higher.  I personally wish we could input 10,000 keywords at a time, instead of 200.  However, I understand the costs that Long Tail Pro has to maintain each time a new manual keyword is input.  Not a deal breaker, I just wish the limit was higher. (To be fair, I don't think most keyword tools have a bulk manual option at all).
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