SEO Keyword Research – 3 Tools We Like

So your content marketing strategy is starting to take shape and you’re finally putting pen to paper and creating some content. You’re plan is to create enough relevant SEO-rich content to grow your organic rankings and become a thought leader in your niche. One of the major factors of success will be whether people are actually searching for the content you’ve created. SEO keyword research can answer this question and even help guide your SEO strategy. Keyword research will let you know exactly what and how people are searching for specific topics in search engines. You’ll be able to know with full confidence whether a piece is worth creating at all and what verbiage might be important to use in the content when you execute it.

Why Should I Do SEO Keyword Research?

If you’ve already started thinking about the topics that you’ll be writing about, then you know that planning headlines and themes can be guesswork. When you start the process with SEO keyword research, you’ll go in armed with a sense of which searches occur with the greatest volume in search engines and exactly how they are worded. Keyword research can also uncover whether a specific keyword is too competitive or has low competition but a great volume of searches. You may decide to word something a bit differently or abandon your topic altogether.

At AgencyPPC we mainly use 3 methods for our keyword research. Each have some pros and cons and we may utilize one or another for different purposes (which we’ll discuss). With all keyword research, the information must be taken with a grain of salt. The only true test of whether your content was effective (for organic traffic generation), is whether it ranks in SERPs and whether it’s receiving some traffic. That being said, keyword research is very effective if you consider the data as relative instead of exact.

1. SEMRush – Best for National Keyword Research

Free With Limits | Starting at $69.95/Mo for Pro

Keyword Research Using SEMRush
SEMRush is one of our favorite tools for SEO keyword research and PPC keyword research. The data is very complete and provides great insight into the best ways to word something verbatim, as well as similar keyword phrases. SEMRush provides Keyword Search Volume (avg. monthly searches), Keyword Difficulty, Est. Average CPC, and Competitiveness. One of the drawbacks of SEMRush, is that the data available is only segmented by Country. There is no great way to get insight on local keyword search volume.

2. Google AdWords Keyword Planner – For PPC & Local SEO

Completely Free

Keyword Planner SEO & PPC Keyword Research
Google AdWords Keyword Planner brings you data right from the horses mouth. Google themselves provide this tool for anyone who has an AdWords account (which is free). Keyword planner stands out for PPC research and extremely granular Geo-specific keyword metrics. It provides a great bar graph of that keyword’s (or group of keyword’s) seasonality throughout the year, as well as, Avg. Monthly Searches, Suggested AdWords Bid, as well as your own Average Organic Position (if you have AdWords and Google Search Console linked together).

Where Google’s Keyword Planner really stands out is its ability to group together relevant themes of keywords for the purpose of creating ad groups in Google AdWords. For SEO, you can leverage these themes to target a few choice keywords in the piece of content you are writing.

3. Moz.com – Great for Simplicity & Suggestions

Starting at $99/Mo

Moz.com Keyword Explorer
Moz.com is known for making SEO about as simple as it can be. Last year, they launched Keyword Explorer, a nice keyword research tool that is good for deeper keyword research on small sets of keywords (limited to 300/month on their $100 plan). Keyword Explorer provides Volume, Difficulty, Opportunity, Potential, Keyword Suggestions, Keyword Mentions, and SERP Analysis. It goes pretty deep on a specific keyword and sets it up nicely in one place. This tool in particular provides national data, but Moz does have some solutions to better understand local keyword performance as well.

Putting It All Together

The actual approach to keyword research is best left for another post, but the idea is to focus on keywords that have the best mix of relevance, high search volumes, and low competition. A beginner’s mistake to avoid is to only go for the highest search volume keywords that you’ll have a tough time ranking for. You have to consider that getting a 1st or 2nd position in a search result for a keyword with 300 average monthly searches, would have significantly more impact than being on page 3 for a keyword that gets 1,500 monthly searches.

Other Approaches To Discover Great Keywords

The SEO Consultants at SeoNerdy also created this great post on 7 Untapped Keyword Sources that we feel outlines a few other nice approaches to discover keywords and start off your SEO keyword research. Properly executed keyword research using the tools we’ve outlined, in addition to Google Insights and Google Autocomplete all bring different views, trends, and metrics to your keyword game. Putting it all together can help your SEO strategy by ensuring that the content you focus on is relevant to searchers and that your piece can get ranked.