Do a web search for ‘how to do keyword research for free’ and you will be inundated with results telling you the only tool you need is the Google Keyword Planner.
Now, it’s a great tool, but if you want to learn how to do keyword research for content marketing, you need to use a different process, as some of the results that the planner will give you may lead you up the wrong path!
Google Keyword Planner – Is It Really The Best Free Tool For Keyword Research – I Don’t Think So…
Let me explain
The Keyword Planner tool was built to help Google Advertisers, to select the best keywords they could use when building their Adwords marketing campaigns.
Most people who advertise on Adwords, are usually selling a product or a service, so the keywords they are targeting are money keywords which will give them a return on investment once a product or service is sold.
If you are blogging, or writing ‘how to’ articles, the keywords that you would be targeting are unlikely to be money keywords.
For example, if you have a blog about Golf, you may write an article about how to hit a 300 yard drive.
Now if you were to set up an Adwords campaign for your Golf blog, you would likely drive your ad visitors directly to a page where they could buy a new club, a new trolley, accessories and equipment.
So this is why Adwords can give false competition results to content marketers, as the keyword ‘How To Hit A Drive 300 yards’ may show ‘low competition’ in the Google Keyword Tool, but it may be very competitive in the organic search results, as many other bloggers and webmasters are writing about it.
So lets analyse this further and look at an example.
The main focus of this article is keyword research, so I head over to the Google Planner keyword tool and type in my seed keyword.
Here are the results
I have sorted the results, from lowest competition to highest, the keyword at the top is ‘Google Analytics’, which is a word Google considers to be closely related to my main keyword.
It is telling me that it has 1 million searches per month, and the competition is low!
Now finding a keyword with a million searches low competition is an internet marketers dream, but before you run off and start writing that Pulitzer prize article on Google Analytics, we need to delve deeper.
Head over to the Google search engine, and enter ‘Google Analytics’ into the search bar
Here are the results
So the first two results, are Google themselves – the .com and the .co.uk versions.
Next we have Wikipedia
Then we have a Google Plus page from Moz.com – one of the highest authority SEO sites – these are followed by another SEO giant – Yoast.
Then comes Google again, and finally Forbes, a major Business and Financial magazine website.
So no matter how much or little knowledge you have of SEO, you will see that the keyword ‘Google Analytics’ certainly would not be a term you could easily rank for, yet the keyword planner was giving us a result of low competition!
So does that mean that the Google Keyword Planner, is not useful?
Its a great tool…
…and its a tool that we be using a little further down in this tutorial.
It is just not always the best tool for the job, especially of you are writing informative content, when you are targeting long tail keywords.
However, if you are writing about a product or service that you are promoting, or advertising on Adwords then it is one of the best keyword tools, and the first tool you would go to, however it should still only be used as PART of your overall keyword research analysis and strategy.
So what we aim to do here is give you a simple guide on how to do keyword research for free, using alternative tools, all of which, are totally free of charge.
So first thing we are going to do is get together a long list of keywords, based on our subject or niche.
We are going to take our main seed keyword (This would be the subject of your website of blog) and head over to a free online, keyword research tool at
Enter our term into the box, and click ‘analyse’
You will be prompted to create a free account here to see the results in full.
Here are our results
You can see that our seed keyword has generated 440 keywords
This is a great start, but we are not finished yet – we need to generate as many different keyword ideas, to allow us the best opportunity of ranking well.
Introducing Google Suggest
Have you noticed when you type a search term into Google, a list of other search terms appears below the search box – these are related long tail keywords, terms that people are regularly typing into google.
These are golden keyword opportunities for you, that you are going to be adding to your initial list.
But don’t worry, you are not going to have to do this manually
There is an absolutely awesome, and totally free keyword tool, that collates all of the information from Google Suggest searches, and puts them all together in alphabetical order for you.
Check it out
Again, type in your keyword, and click ‘suggest’
After its finished doing it’s thing, you will have a another list of keywords, similar to those below.
You can expand the list even further by clicking to word itself, which will give you even more related search terms.
When you have finished expanding the results, you are now ready to export them
– To do this, go back to the search box and choose ‘select all keywords’
– You will now see on the right hand side of the page, a list of all selected words
– Select the ‘Get’ button, and download to your computer.
You now have two lists, copy both of these into a single spreadsheet
To expand your list even further, and to find some real gems of keywords, here’s a great tip from Brian Dean over at Backlinko.
Go to Amazon and navigate to the Books Section
Look for a book on featured around your niche.
Amazon allow you to have a ‘Look Inside’ which shows you the contents of the book
Scroll through the contents, and it is here that you will find some additional key-phrases, that you will be able to add to your list.
You can now start to analyse your results.
What you are initially looking for are keyword phrases that you think you can write an article around.
You will be targeting one main keyword, with several secondary keywords, so you need to go through the list and find between 10 and 15 search terms that you will be able to research further, and also be able include within your article, whether it be included in the content, or even a whole paragraph or section based around the phrase.
Now at this stage you do not know if the strength of the keywords you have selected, or how hard they are to rank, so we will be analyzing each one of your chosen words.
I have run the same process here and from my list of 711 I have chosen 16 potential keyword phrases. These are
- keyword research in seo
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So now we need to analyse each and every one of these keywords, to see how competitive they are, and whether they have the potential for us to rank on the first page of Google
The criteria we are looking for is
- How many other websites are trying to rank for the exact keyword
- How strong is the competition that is currently ranking for the keyword
- Is there anybody actually searching for what I want to write about
Luckily there are some great software developers, who create products and tools and allow us to use them for free.
One such tool, from Learn to Rank allows us to find out the information we need
You have to sign up for a free membership, but you will not be asked to pay – its a free keyword competition analysis tool!
Once you have subscribed, and have the tool open start entering your keywords one at a time
IMPORTANT – Ensure you enter the keywords in quotations as this gives you the exact match result
for example “how to do effective keyword research”
I enter the phrase, and wait for the analysis tool to go out and gather the information, and these are the results
So heres a breakdown of what the results have given me, in the top section of the page.
- Search Results. This is the amount of websites that are competiing for exact match keyword
- Average Links – This is the avarage amount of backlinks pointing to the pages of the top ten Google search results
- Average PR – This is the average Page Rank of the actual PAGE that the top 10 websites in Google search results
- Average Moz Rank – Average Moz Rank of the top 10 websites, competing for the chosen keyword
- Competition Score . This is a calculated score of the combined metrics of the top 10 search results in google – the lower the better
- Difficulty – This is guide to how difficult it would be to rank for your keyword. These are graded as
- Very Easy
- Very Difficult
The main content area of the results page, gives you a breakdown of the Top 10 search results in Google, and the individual metrics of each website.
Go through each of the keywords that you have in your list – you are looking for a ‘Difficulty Score’ of either Easy or Very Easy which will enable you to rank your web page on the first page, in the shortest possible time.
In fact, with great content, a maybe a couple of internal links and some social shares, you could have your page in the first page results within a couple of weeks.
It Doesn’t Get Easier Than This!
Here is one of the results of another of my chosen keywords. ‘What Is Keyword Analysis’ This looks good, and possibly something that I can target.
Once you have run each of your keywords through the tool, you should have 1 main keyword, plus 3 or 4 phrases that you can target and include in your article,.
You can also include some of the other long tail keywords from your list within your content, as these are great LSI keywords, which will strengthen the SEO value of your article.
So with our keywords found, and competition analysed we just need to make sure that people are actually searching for our keywords, and to choose the best keyword for which to target.
To do this you can head back over to the Google Planner Tool
Type in each of the keywords, that you are looking to target, and look at the search results.
It is likely that you will see that the search results are quite low – this is because if there are high search volumes, many webmasters, have aleady optimized for these terms, which would have given you a high difficulty score, on the competition tool.
Don’t let that worry you too much, as the results you are seeing, are not necessarily the results you will achieve.
Let me explain, by showing you one of the keywords from my earlier results ‘What is Keyword Analysis’
The difficulty score, result returned ‘very easy’ so looks like something I can potentially target
I head over to the Google Keyword Planner and enter the term here
You can see here, that there is only an average of 10 search terms monthly – on the face of it, this appears to be a low number, but lets look at the bigger picture.
10 searches monthly, equals 120 searches annually, but dont forget – this is just Googles result – there are other search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo which will add to these numbers.
Now look at the phrase carefully – can you see another keyword there?
Yes, ‘Keyword Analysis’ this phrase will also be in the page title, and description of my webpage, so will also be a targeted keyword.
As you can see this keyword has 560 searches monthly – a lot better than 10!
Now unfortunately this keyword is difficult to rank for, but looking forward, it may be something, that I can compete for in the long term.
Whats more, I can now look at other terms, with the exact match keyword such as Keyword Analysis for SEO, or Keyword Analysis Tools which I can include in my article, phrases that also include this keyword, and all have an opportunity of ranking.
So you can see that having a low search term is not always a bad thing, and not something you should disregard, but I would also add that if you should take your time, and research deeper trying to find a low competition keyword, with better search volumes than I am showing here in this example.
But its always worth keeping in mind that having lots of webpages with low traffic, is a lot better than a series of pages with no traffic at all!
So that’s you how to do keyword research for free.
Sure, it’s a time consuming process, and its also the reason why many internet marketers are looking the best keyword tool, to make their working day more productive.
If you are writing a lot of content, and finding that by using the above keyword research process, is taking too much of your valuable time, then it may be time to look for keyword tool that automates the whole process.
Personally I used many paid for keyword tools over the years, but I have now settled on three different tools, to give me the results I need,
I use SEMRush, Market Samurai, (Mainly for in depth competition analysis) and my current favorite, the Jaaxy keyword research tool.
All tools serve different purposes in my business, but for speed, and searching for long tail keywords for seo, nothing touches Jaaxy.
I just enter my seed keyword, press go, and everything is done for me – I can have a valuable keyword in seconds.
If you would like try it here yourself – you can have 30 searches totally free of charge – have fun!!
If you can offer any additional tips or free keyword tools that you are aware of, please leave a comment below