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.
Basically, Google shows the autocomplete suggestions whenever you start typing anything into Google search box. It is in Google's best interest to show the most relevant keywords in the autocomplete suggestions. Keywords that would help Google to retrieve the most relevant websites and help users find the most relevant content for their search query.
In fact, Google Suggest is the best way to find good long tail keywords that people use to find information on Google. Google admits that while Google Autocomplete (another name for the Google Suggest feature) was not designed specifically for marketing, it can deliver meaningful insights and help stay on top of trends. There are also many clever ways to use Google Autocomplete that can help you with SEO.
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).
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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).
Great Top 10 keyword research tools list. Thank you for posting Robbie! I really appreciated the feedback from the experts. There are a definitely a few tools here worthy of taking note of. I have also been using DYNO Mapper (http://www.dynomapper.com) as a keyword research tool. DYNO Mapper is a visual sitemap generator that delivers keywords on all pages of any site. The user simply inputs any existing URL into the system and it will scan thousands of pages.
Long Tail Pro is a keyword research tool that helps you quickly find low competition keywords for your website. In particular, the tool is built for people doing SEO (search engine optimization) as opposed to people doing paid ads (Google Adwords PPC). I'm sure there are some advertisers that use the tool for paid ad keyword research, but the tool was built for SEO keyword research.