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.
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.
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.
Be sure to re-evaluate these keywords every few months -- once a quarter is a good benchmark, but some businesses like to do it even more often than that. As you gain even more authority in the SERPs, you'll find that you can add more and more keywords to your lists to tackle as you work on maintaining your current presence, and then growing in new areas on top of that.
Hey Alex – this is a good question. No tool is going to be spot on. My advice is to not look too much into the accuracy of the metrics, but look at it more as a relative measure. I’m finding Ahrefs to be a good barometer for keyword competitiveness, but I’ve also heard great things about KW Finder lately. I think it’ll more come to personal preference. Both are solid options.
Keyword Researcher is an easy-to-use Keyword Discover Tool. Once activated, it emulates a human using Google Autocomplete, and repeatedly types thousands of queries into Google. Each time a partial phrase is entered, Google tries to predict what it thinks the whole phrase might be. We simply save this prediction. And, as it turns out, when you do this for every letter of the alphabet (A-Z), then you're left with hundreds of great Long Tail keyword phrases.
What are people looking for on your site? These terms are keywords in the vocabulary of your actual audience and should definitely be added to your keyword list. Do not forget to look at the keywords people filled in that didn’t get any results: this was stuff people were expecting but didn’t find. You can look into the results of your internal search in Google Analytics at Behavior → Site Search → Search Terms.
Because great content requires a deep understanding of the main idea (e.g., “ac repair houston”) and the supporting subtopics that require coverage (e.g., “central ac vs portable ac systems”) and the common issues that users seek answers for (e.g., “freon,” “refrigeration loops,” “coolant refills,” “troubleshooting”), the effectiveness of a keyword reporting tool is only as strong as the SEO pro using it.
6. Filter by KC and sort your list. Like some of the other filters you can input a minimum and maximum amount in the KC column and sort by that. Some people prefer to sort ascendingly to do their analysis from the easiest to the toughest keywords. For a new site try to find keywords with KC equal or under 20 or 30. Despite the super helpful KC score, you should further analyze your best looking keywords individually to be sure they are good to go. So click on them to check your top-10 competitor sites and pages.
Spencer, it seems like you got out at just the right time and made your money? Seeing as Google has basically stopped giving access to their free keyword tool. I own the FULL lifetime license $290+ I think is was. Now Longtail Pro is useless due to the restrictions that Google has put in place. Do you know what the future plans are for Longtail Pro to get around this issue that I’m sure everyone is facing? Or can you get some feedback from the new owners?
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).
Don’t get me wrong. There are lots of other tools that I love and use (and promote) that also make a big difference in everything I do online now. But Long Tail Pro is probably THE most important. Getting search engine traffic to websites 101 doesn’t get more basic than doing good and proper keyword research. And nothing makes keyword research faster and easier than Long Tail Pro. Allow me to explain…
Hi – I’ve read your post with great interest. Not only am I happy for you and your success, it does provide a glimmer of hope to those of us who do have “other” ideas. I, too, have had an idea for a very long time now, but I have no idea how to go about “making it a reality.” I am not a programmer either… though I do know some html… I also remember the old days of having even a web developer holding domains hostage, never mind the site’s entire code. And, yes, that is one of the major things that stops me from even discussing things with a developer. I simply don’t trust them…