Okay, so I think we can all agree that getting search traffic is a good thing, but how do you know what you should try to rank for?
Well, it all starts with keyword research – what are people searching for, how much search volume is there, how competitive are the keywords, and most importantly what can you rank for?
Some keywords will be prime candidates for search engine optimisation (SEO), wheras others will be more difficult and may lend themselves to and pay-per-click advertising (PPC) via Google ads – even if just for the search term.
People searching with specific intent are the holy grail of traffic, so how do you find the keywords you’re going to go after?
Well there are a few really good free keyword research tools out there (some with paid upgrades) – some are very complex, while others are perfect for small businesses. Here are the top free keyword research tools for your PPC and SEO strategies.
This is one of the many keyword tools that offer a free or paid version, so you can easily upgrade in the future. Just enter your target phrase or keyword to get the top 100 ideas from the database. For each, you will see the search volume, the keyword difficulty, and related questions. You’ll also see how recently the result was updated.
This tool is incredibly useful for finding long-tailed keywords and less competitive options. You can also easily export data.
While it won’t give you much data on keyword use, you can use AnswerThePublic for ideas of long-tailed keywords. You enter a search term, and the website shows you the questions people ask about the topic. For these questions, you will see results that indicate who, what, where, why, and when. Just keep in mind that the free version limits the number of free searches per day, so you will want to plan your use of this tool.
It should come as no surprise that Google offers its own keyword tool. You will need to sign up for Google Ads, but this tool is free to use for your PPC research, even if you decide not to buy any Google Ads and there aren’t any limits.
The Keyword Ideas feature lets you find keyword ideas by entering a term. You see changes over time, competition, bid ranges, ad impression share, and monthly search volumes. You can also conduct more in-depth research on forecasting and search volume.
Jaaxy makes it easy to optimise affiliate marketing and perform general keyword research. For the keyword feature, just enter a topic or URL to see suggested keywords. Each will show you information like the traffic to page-one results and monthly search volume.
As mentioned, the bonus is that you can also use Jaaxy for affiliate programs to supplement your business’s income. Entering a keyword into this feature will show you affiliate programs you may want to join. You’ll see the Alexa rank and listed commission for each program and its products.
This free tool looks at Reddit to find keywords. This is a very specific use case, but it can be helpful as a supplement to other keyword tools. You just choose a subreddit that has at least 10,000 subscribers and choose the timeframe. The tool will extract as many as 500 keywords, giving you search volumes for each.
This is another keyword tool for generating long-tail keywords or quickly gathering a long list of possibilities. The tool relies on Google autocomplete results and lets you easily export your list. That said, it does not give you data on competitiveness or search volume for keywords. That information requires upgrading to the paid version.
This is a useful extension for Chrome and Firefox that adds useful information into the sidebar of Google search results for you including metrics indicating the ranking difficulty, related keywords, “people also search for”, and long-tail keyword suggestions that can all be copied or exported to csv.
It will also give you information on each link in the search results including domain authority, backlinks, estimated search traffic and keywords that domain is ranking for, so you have a good idea of what it is going o take to rank for a search query.
You can purchase credits for more detailed information.
Moz Keyword Explorer is one of the big names in keyword research, and it offers a free version of this tool. You can view monthly volume, organic click-through rate, organic difficulty, and priority scores. You will also get many keyword suggestions that include relevancy and monthly search volume.
The search results also include free SERP analysis with ten pages that rank for the keyword. For each, you will see the URL, page title, domain authority, page authority, and the number of backlinks. The only downside is that you can only do 10 searches a month with the free version.
This is yet another long-tail keyword tool. It helps you generate long-tailed keywords or potential blog topics. You enter a topic and get the common questions that people ask about the keyword in question. You can also see the source link for questions and see the answers. There are unlimited searches for the free version, but you’ll only see 50 results for each query.
No discussion of keyword tools is complete without mentioning Semrush. This is one of the brand’s free tools, and there are also premium options available. With this keyword tool, you can access over 20 billion keywords from more than 120 geographical databases. For each term, you will see the monthly search volume, the competitive density, and the keyword difficulty.
As a bonus, this tool also lets you sort and organize keywords. You can use smart filters, export lists easily, and sort the keywords into subgroups. Just keep in mind that with a free version, you are limited to ten searches total on any Semrush free tool.
Ubersuggest is another keyword research tool available in free or paid versions. It will show you paid difficulty, SEO difficulty, cost-per-click, and search volume for each keyword you enter. It also tells you how many backlinks you would need to get a page-one ranking on Google.
This tool will also give you ideas for both keywords and page content, including relevant blog titles. Those suggestions include the number of clicks and shares for similar blogs. You can also easily export most data. Just remember that the free version is limited to three searches each day and a single website.
You can use any combination of the above keyword tools to help you decide which keyword queries to use in your SEO and PPC strategies. Whatever you choose, it is important that you’re choosing keywords that you have he chance to rank for, and a plan for how to use them.
After Google’s “Helpful Content Update”, a proper SEO and content marketing plan is important to getting results with your target keywords.