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) 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.
3) Google: This is pretty straight forward but it’s the main reason I like it. I search for my main seed keyword in Google, and use the keywords that Google itself highlights in bold on the search results, plus the “Searches related to” section at the bottom to get keyword variations or LSI. That’s basically what Google is telling you that topic is about. No need for a thousands other tools. I use these to optimize the on page of my target pages as well.
To answer your final question, yes but not really. You can definitely use AdWord keyword planner tool to get solid organic search volume estimates. However, don’t just stop there. Leverage other tools to find longer tail variations you can map against various stages of the buyer journey. I like to use SEMrush, Keyword Tool.io and Google autosuggest.
To get started with the Free Keyword Tool, just enter a keyword or search term into the relevant field. If you want to conduct competitive intelligence research into your competitors' keyword data, you can also enter the URL of a specific webpage to view keyword data for that page. You can also enter your industry and country to see even more accurate results; it's not unusual for the cost-per-click and other metrics to differ widely from one country to another, even for advertisers bidding on the same keywords in the same industry. 
This tool allows you to type in your keyword phrase or keyword in the field that is provided and it will generate a long list of suggested keywords.  It has three button level and you can perform a deeper search by clicking on button level 2. You will get a list of keywords or keyword phrases that are related to the original list provided in level one. If you want to continue further, you can click on level three and then click the link at the bottom to download the data. The tool can assist you to discover those keywords that your competitors could be ignoring and use those opportunities to create fresh targeted content.
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.

I’ve found google trends to be an interesting way to see if a keyword (and by extension a niche) is growing or shrinking, and whether it’s seasonal or not. I can’t think of any other tool out there that can reliably tell you this information, so that’s really useful. Also, if you’re building a site, especially an authority site, getting onto something that’s trending upwards is a fantastic idea.
Click the Download Free Trial button above and get a 14-day, fully-functional trial of CrossOver. After you've downloaded CrossOver check out our YouTube tutorial video to the left, or visit the CrossOver Mac walkthrough for specific steps. Once you have CrossOver installed and running you can come back to this page and click the Step 2 button, or follow the manual installation guide, to begin installing your Windows application.

You can filter your results by 24 business verticals, including Apparel, Arts & Entertainment, Autos & Vehicles, Beauty & Fitness, Books & Literature, Business & Industrial, Computers & Electronics, Finance & Banking, Food & Drink, Toys & Games, Health, Hobbies & Leisure, Home & Garden, Internet & Telecom, Jobs & Education, Law & Government, News Media & Publications, Family & Community, Occasions & Gifts, Pets & Animals, Real Estate, Retail & General Merchandise, Sports & Fitness, and Travel & Tourism.

In addition, you can dig into the paid side of search and find out what keywords your competitors are bidding on, and then leverage those keywords for your own organic benefit if you're not already doing so. Search Metrics does this as well, but I've found SEMRush to provide a greater range of keywords and they save more historical keyword data than Search Metrics.
This makes Google Suggest a relevant source for keyword research, it contains a large amount of organic keywords very closely related to a full or partial keyword and can be used to find additional most searched appending keywords that make the whole keyword less competitive. Google Suggest can be researched through the Google Search website or through a compatible browser for a small amount of keywords but also in large scale using free scraper tools.
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.
A service like BrightEdge comes with the biggest costs associated, but its SaaS solution for SEO covers many areas inside of a single ecosystem, including the ability to explore keyword data. This may be a benefit for agencies that wish to reduce redundancies across vendors, but eventually, it is likely that the need for a second tool will present itself as talent and effort levels increase inside of your SEO department.
This might be the easiest way to make Long Tail Pro pay for itself. I’m pretty sure that the affiliate program is open to anybody (even if you don’t currently own the product). Simply get signed up and then promote it any way you see fit (within the Terms of Service, of course). If you couldn’t tell, I’ve been doing this for quite awhile via this blog and I’ve earned a healthy sum of money over the years as a result.
One possible problem is that although the Keyword Planner has some cool new features (including integration of the Google Traffic Estimator, which will be retired too), as of this writing, the indispensable Exact Match and Phrase Match features are nowhere to be found! Whole books will become useless without these, so I hope Google will eventually port them to the Keyword Planner. Nor do you see the “Include specific content” option, which is a life-saver for the adult industry, which spends the most on Google PPC.
You can also filter by query, which is useful when looking at branded queries, or when looking at specific words. For example, only show keywords that include the term "SEO". The graph also allows you to spot trends in across the available metrics and compare week-on-week or month-on-month. This can help you to drill down and monitor progression over time, allowing you to answer questions like "have my branded keywords received more clicks in the last month compared to the previous month?", "has the CTR improved?", "did average positions in Google improve?".
Once you've entered a keyword, you'll be presented with a range of data: Google Search Volume, Competition, CPC, and Opportunity Score. This data provides advertisers with at-a-glance data that they can use as the basis for their next campaign. No other free keyword tool provides as much free keyword data as WordStream's new and improved Free Keyword Tool. Try it today and see how much easier keyword research can be with WordStream.

The “Starter” tier, with 1000 keyword lookups every 24 hours should be enough for anyone starting out in blogging – or even people who are quite established. It’s pleasing to see a product where they don’t seem to trick you into having to pay for a more expensive version. On the more negative side, I did feel that you’re nudged towards doing annual payment, with the monthly option kept slightly “hidden.”
I was paid approximately 2/3 of the funds upfront and will receive about 1/3 over the next 2 years.  It's now been almost 7 months since we closed the deal, and I've received the first couple of seller financing payments for that final 1/3 on time and am very confident that will continue for the next year and a half until I'm fully paid that final portion.
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