At the heart of every successful online marketing campaign lies good keyword research. Nine out of ten internet users turn to a search engine when they’re looking for a product or piece of information. Search engines use complex algorithms to sift through the enormous volume of webpages which are analysed and indexed by spiders. These are so-called because they crawl through webpage content so that search engines can match it to the keywords used in a search.
That’s why it’s so important to do keyword research, and do it right. But where to start? Well, there are plenty of tools out there that can help you out, and at no cost too! Here’s a list of some of our favourite free keyword research tools, and why we think they’re so great:
Okay, this isn’t really a standalone tool you’d use to identify keywords, but it is very useful when used in tandem with some of the other tools outlined in this article.
Keywords Everywhere demonstrates the search volume of a particular keyword or phrase, as well as the cost per click for that keyword.
To install Keywords Everywhere, search for it as a Chrome or Firefox plugin and follow the instructions. When the icon appears at the top right of your browser, click on it and head to settings, where you’ll need to provide an email address to receive an API key. Once you’ve popped this in, your keyword data will appear automatically when you carry out your research.
You might also want to tweak the settings so that the data you see is relevant to you. For example, you can set the country, metrics, currency and supported websites you want to see keyword volume data on in the menu below:
You can also set the highlight colour and volume, so you can only see results for keywords that pull in a certain number of monthly searches, like so:
Answer the Public
This guy might seem a little disgruntled when you first meet him, but he’s actually really helpful when it comes to keyword research. All you need to do is type in your keyword, and Answer the Public will come up with a list of queries, prepositions and phrases that people have typed into a search engine surrounding your keyword.
First of all, it will show you a nifty visualisation like this:
Which looks really cool! But if you want a simpler way to view the data, you can click the ‘data’ tab and you’ll get all the phrases in a handy list format, like so:
Now, I promised I’d explain that pink highlight. This is our mate Keywords Everywhere. What it does in this instance is tell you how many people search for each term per month, so you have an idea of how many people you could be targeting if you use these terms. If something has a 0/mo sitting next to it, you’re probably not going to want to include it, though the fact that it appears in Answer the Public means that someone has searched for that keyword at some point in time.
This tool is great for planning blog or article titles, as in many cases it gives you a ready-made heading, straight from the user’s fingertips. Knowing the exact terms your users are searching for is a step in the right direction if you want your content to get noticed in search results.
Google’s Keyword Planner is a valuable tool for both new and seasoned marketers, as it helps you understand how a keyword might perform, find new keywords, and choose competitive budgets and bids to use in your online campaigns. All you need is an AdWords account!
To search for new keywords for your campaign in Keyword Planner, you’ll need to click on ‘find new keywords and get search data’, which will lead you to this form:
In the first box, type in a couple of words or phrases that describe what your campaign is around. Then enter the URL of the page the keywords will appear on and choose a category relevant to your product or service. You don’t need to fill in all of these, but you will need to enter at least one of them to get results.
When you hit ‘get ideas’, you’ll see a whole list of related keywords, as well as the average number of monthly searches those terms get. You’ll also get the suggested bid based on cost per click that advertisers are paying for each keyword.
This is a great way to find long-tail keywords and assess how likely they are to generate traffic to your site based on search volume.
If you’re looking for search patterns that correspond with world trends, you could find Google Correlate really useful.
When you type in your keyword, Google Correlate brings up a list of search terms that correlate with your keyword, so you get an idea of what else people are searching for in connection with your product.
Even better, you can use the ‘shift series’ function to track user journey – for example, people searching for ‘cheap flights to Italy’ are starting to search for accommodation and car hire services two weeks later, or else are still looking to travel, perhaps to a different location:
You can compare both weekly and monthly time series, and you can also shift backwards so you can see what people were searching for before they looked into your keyword.
It’s worth noting that whilst this is a great tool for keyword research around products, it’s not so useful for ever-changing trends like celebrities, for example. Typing in “Katy Perry” will just bring up a heap of terms about Katy Perry, which doesn’t really help you out.
Like Keywords Everywhere, Google Trends isn’t strictly a keyword research tool in itself. But it does helps you compare the popularity of search terms and trends so that you can understand your audience’s opinion about the type of product or service you provide.
For example, in this instance we can see above how interest in beach holidays fluctuates over time, peaking in January as people start to plan for the summer after Christmas, and dipping over the festive period. Google Trends also shows you interest by region and provides a list of related topics and queries. All of this is useful for planning when to push certain products or create content around those products.
You can also use Google Trends to compare more than one search term and see how well they perform in contrast with one another:
In this comparison, it’s useful to see that interest in both beach holidays and ski holidays peaks at the start of January, as you might expect. Outside of this peak period, you can clearly see interest in one term rising as the other falls, and vice versa.
yet when interest is still high at other parts of the year, interest in ski holidays is comparatively lower at these points. Presumably if you work in the travel industry, this is no great shock. But it’s helpful to see how two contrasting search terms compare against each other, so that you know what kind of content your audience is going to be interested in, and when they’re going to be most interested in it.
This function is also useful for finding out when your competitors have been popular and why this might be, based on related search queries.