In order to know which keywords to target, it's essential to not only understand the demand for a given term or phrase, but also the work required to achieve high rankings. If big brands take the top 10 results and you're just starting out on the web, the uphill battle for rankings can take years of effort. This is why it's essential to understand keyword difficulty.

Taking this site as an example, “home working” is a pretty important keyword. I’d love it if I could be at the top of Google for that phrase. However, despite pouring heart, soul and a great many man-hours into creating a useful resource for home workers, I’m not yet anywhere near the first page of Google’s search results. (I’m actually languishing depressingly on the 11th page of results at the time of writing!)

Google's AdWords Keyword Planner tool is another common starting point for SEO keyword research. It not only suggests keywords and provides estimated search volume, but also predicts the cost of running paid campaigns for these terms. To determine volume for a particular keyword, be sure to set the Match Type to [Exact] and look under Local Monthly Searches. Remember that these represent total searches. Depending on your ranking and click-through rate, the actual number of visitors you achieve for these keywords will usually be much lower.
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:

"I rarely get excited about SEO and SEM tools...But, when it comes to keyword research it is virtually impossible to produce a quality worksheet without software. When I have to perform the same task for my customers, the process is even more daunting and time consuming...there is now a better way to manage huge keyword lists and this tool is called WordStream."
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The cost is only a one time payment…no monthly fees, which is fantastic if you’re on a budget, and you get lifetime updates and some truly excellent training videos as well as some very useful built-in tools. I’ve also tried other paid keyword tools such as Market Samurai, Wordtracker, Jaaxy, and others, and let me tell you this….none of them come close to Keyword Researcher Pro for value and ease of use.

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.
They’ll show you information like how many external links the site has, the number of Facebook and Google+ shares, estimated visits per month, and its page authority. All of this is valuable intel that can give you insight into where your page could potentially rank against them, without needing to do more research with a separate tool or on another page.
The primary difference is that Long Tail Pro is a big time saver over MS. With Long Tail Pro you are able to enter in multiple seed keywords at once (rather than just 1 with MS). So, instead of entering in 1 seed keyword, waiting five minutes, then going back and entering in one more; you can enter 5 seed keywords (for example), hit generate and then see all the keyword ideas at once!
Long tail keywords can find people who are later in the buying cycle, and more ready to buy. For example, somebody searching for “tents” is probably early in the buying cycle, just starting to research what they want. Whereas somebody who searches for “North Face Kaiju 4 person tent” already knows what they want, and is more likely to be ready to buy.

Analyzing the current top 10 search results in Google is the most important part of keyword research. This is where you determine whether or not you can produce a webpage that can beat any or all of those results. The process is known as first page analysis – and it is by far the hardest process to understand and really figure out (especially when you first start out). Don’t worry though – Long Tail Pro has detailed and in-depth instructional videos available that show you exactly how to do this.
If you are somewhat new to this whole ‘make money online’ thing – then surely the cost of Long Tail Pro is a major factor for why you haven’t purchased it yet. Believe me – I know! When I first started out – I refused to pay for anything at all. I did everything the free way. I tried doing all of my keyword research with the free tool that Google provides – and my keyword research efforts were terrible! You know how I know? Because my sites weren’t getting any traffic and I wasn’t making any money.

If only it were that easy – right? I’ll be the first to admit – it’s not always that easy. I’ve created lots and lots of these types of sites over the past few years – and only a handful of them worked out. It can be a very hit or miss thing. But I do have one site in particular that I would like to highlight for you. It happens to be the very first niche website that I ever created! Why highlight this specific site? Because my very first attempt at a niche site happens to still earn more than enough money each month to pay for the expenses associated with Long Tail Pro! Check out the screenshot below from my Adsense account which shows stats for just this one site for exactly one year previous from the day that I am writing this post.
In a nutshell, Long Tail Pro helps you quickly find keywords in bulk based on a seed keyword that you input.  In addition to returning hundreds of related keywords, the tool also shows search volume (monthly search volume), advertiser bid, number of words, rank value, and my favorite Keyword Competitiveness (helps you judge the competition and keyword difficulty).
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