Keyword research is an essential part of building an SEO strategy, but if you’re a small business, you may not be able to pay for popular industry tools like SEMrush, or have the time to learn how to use them. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t do keyword research. Here’s a list of tools and techniques for finding keywords that will help you get seen on the web.
A note about keywords; most keywords are actually going to be phrases. In fact, most search queries on Google use between 3 and 4 words. These key phrases have a lower search volume in part because there are so many of them.
Answer the Public
Answer the Public is a free search listening tool. The free version won’t give you search volume information, but it will give you a wealth of information about searches related to your seed keyword. I use Answer the Public every single time I do keyword research.
Type a relevant keyword into Answer The Public, and it will give you questions, prepositions, comparisons, and alphabeticals related to your keywords. These are essentially keyword phrases that are actually used in search and are related to your seed keyword.
It also gives you the option to download a spreadsheet of these suggestions for your reference. This will help you build a keyword strategy and a list of keywords to track.
By paying for an individual account, you get access to search volume data and CPC data, plus up to 100 searches per day. If you’re going to be using the tool often, it’s a steal at $9.99 per month.
Who better to give you information on keywords than Google? There are a couple of ways to use Google products to perform keyword research. One, you can use the search engine itself. Just search for a seed keyword.
The search results will give you some insight. Check out the People Also Ask section on the results page. This will give you some information about what people are searching regarding your keyword.
Then scroll down and look thoughtfully at what’s ranking on the first page. A search for “SEO” brings up “ultimate guide” posts and “for beginners” posts.
Since the Google algorithm is designed to give the user the pages that they are most likely to need, it’s likely that a lot of searches are looking for SEO guides and SEO guides for beginners.
Beware, though. These keywords might be very popular, but they’re also probably very competitive and difficult to rank for. In this case, you might use other tools to look for relevant but more specific keywords.
Google Keyword Planner
You don’t have to use Google ads to take advantage of the Google Keyword Planner.
This tool is intended to let ad buying customers perform research and select keywords for their ad campaigns to target, but you don’t have to have an active campaign to use the planner.
Type in your seed keywords and the keyword planner will give you tons of related keywords, along with an estimated range of search volumes and CPC data.
Now, the planner is going to give you a dizzying number of keywords, but it gives you the opportunity to refine your results by attribute. So you can remove known brand keywords from the list, or refine it by color for example.
The keyword planner also lets you download reports of this data, which gives you the freedom to sort, filter, and trim the data until it’s useful for you.
Social media sites are great for spotting trends.
Sites like X and Instagram that use hashtags are especially rich in data. Just search for your seed keyword and see what posts come up. Search for hashtags, like #SEO, and you’re going to get not just a slew of posts about SEO, but also access to other hashtags that SEO folks may be using.
A search for SEO and a search for the hashtag #SEO are going to bring up different results. A search for SEO may bring up topics related to Seoul, Korea, while a search for the hashtag is more likely to give you relevant results.
Checking out recent posts in your particular industry or product niche is a great way to see what people are talking about.
Social sites that offer trending topic lists also give you a broad view of the current zeitgeist. Not all of these may be related to your product directly, but they can give you ideas on how to approach certain kinds of content to remain timely.
Google Trends is a wonderful tool for researching specific keywords in depth. You enter a keyword and it will provide you with a graph showing its popularity over time, a map showing which regions the keyword is most popular in, and a list of related keywords.
This is a great way to understand the behavior of users looking for your product or service, and it provides a wealth of information.
You can also go to Trending Searches to see what’s popular in search. These trending searches are arranged by day, and search changes a lot from day to day. This is the risk in chasing trends; by the time you know they’re trends, they’re often already about to decline in popularity.
These are all great tools and techniques to find and analyze SEO keywords to use when optimizing your own website. They cover a few different stages of the keyword research process, and in combination can give you a really good start on your keyword strategy. Just remember to use natural language keywords and keep user intent in mind, and you’ll be able to improve your website’s visibility in no time.