10 FREE tools to use when planning your keyword research

Keyword Research is an important building block for any successful SEO strategy to understand where and what keywords and phrases you should be targeting to drive traffic to your clients website. As explained in a previous post on creating a 3 step guide to keyword research, below I have listed 10 free tools that can be used to help you create a list of relevant keywords for which your business needs to target, after all, it’s essential to know what users are searching for so you don’t waste time targeting keywords that generate little traffic.

Listed below are tools and tactics I use to assist me to in creating a keyword research plan. I used a number of these tools when creating my personal cycling blog which covered my 14 day cycle across the UK when completing LEJOG cycle route

1. Competitor Websites

Analyse competitor websites that operate in your sector by viewing their homepage and specific categories they are promoting through their homepage. What specific keyword and phrases have an emphasis? What pages of their website have internal text links with specific keywords used? Many websites still look to influence the search engines by embedding footers on their website, since the Penguin update by Google, having keyword rich footers on websites can now have a negative impact on your results pages.

As well as on page, viewing the source code of a website, and looking the meta tags (keywords, description). Also check out websites that have introduced Schema tags to assist with the mark-up of their pages and to influence search engine rankings – this also can provide a wealth of keyword rich content and to understand in more detail the type of keywords you should also consider.

2. Google Trends

If you operate in an industry with seasonal event content (e.g. news, weather, lifestyle or sporting sectors), Google Trends offers you a wealth of information on seasonal peaks of search terms and keywords. The screenshot below provides an example for seasonal searches for “pollen”:

The Google Trends chart lists traffic peaks and different journals, regions, cities and languages interested in this content.


3. Google Insights

Provides a breakdown on the most common/popular search terms for a specific keyword e.g Flu – Insights allows you to set your report by filter e.g. Web/Image Search, Worldwide or specific country, time period and category. This is a useful tool to gather “real-time” data on keywords search for through the search engine

4. Website Analytics

Check out your Analytics tool that provides information on users interacting with the website such as types of searches performed through search engines to find your content. Run reports based on keyword phrases and terms from search engines.


5. On site search

Run a report through internal analytics on your on site search results from the internal search box. For e-tailers and content based websites, this can provide a wealth of opportunities on what users may have found difficult to find or navigate to through the website and search for instead.



6. Social Media

With the rise in social networks, consumers are influenced and led by the type of content they encounter through the various social platforms, this should provide you with a good insight into the type of key terms being used. Social Mention, technoratiYoutube and Google Blog search are all free to use social network tools that can provide you with a good idea of planning for keyword research


7. Adwords

The best way to start any keyword research campaign and to get an understanding of search volume for a set of keywords or phrases is to enter your keywords into Google adwords. Even though the numbers are not exact, it does give you a feel for the demand of search term on how many searches there are on a monthly basis.


8. Open Site Explorer

Developed by SEOMOz, Open Site Explorer provides a useful breakdown on websites links, specifically more for link building opportunities but does provide some valuable research for keyword research planning.

To get full access to the tool you do have to pay a monthly fee but restricted access to the tool can be accessed for free. Simply enter your competitor website and this will provide you with a list of external links from other websites. By running a report on “link anchor text” this should flag up what specific search terms the competitor website is looking to rank for.


9. Seo Book – http://tools.seobook.com/

A directory for all things SEO, SEO Book provides a wealth of information and free to use tools to assist with keyword research. You are required to sign up but you can access free tools for your research.


10. Speak to your staff 

They surround you every day and you’re interacting with them so speak with your team and other departments. Conduct a survey with the various departments whether PR, Buying, Merchandising, Communications as well as your own marketing department on the types of keyword and phrases they associate with your company


Feel free to add your own comments to this list and any other SEO tools you use









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