in Search Engine Optimization -

Free SEO Tools That I Love (and Actually Use): Keyword Research

I frequently read articles about SEO tools and the majority of them suck.

Usually, the author was trying to put together a comprehensive list, but isn’t representative of the tools that the author actually uses.

I do SEO all day, erry’day, and these are the free tools I actually use…

seo erryday

Note: This is part #1 of a multipart series.

Tools for Keyword Research

Google Keyword Planner

Okay, this one may seem obvious, but it’s the basis of pretty much all keyword research.

Most of the other tools will require that you extract search volume from Google Keyword Planner, even if you aren’t using it for keyword ideas.

keyword-research-resize

Google Trends

Another obvious one is Google Trends.

It will allow you quickly assess the future of the keywords you’re using and draw comparisons. You want that trend-line going up!

google-trends-resize

Another neat use-case for Google Trends is to understand difference in search trends between Web Search, Image Search, YouTube (as well as YouTube keyword research), News Search, and Shopping Search.

google-trends-power-user

Google Trends is also pretty useful for understanding any changes in search behavior. For example if the website that you’re doing SEO for just ran a giant television advertising campaign last month, you’re likely to see a spike.

KeywordTool.io

This tool is a bit of a replacement (or addition depending on how you use it) to the classic Ubersuggest, a stable of SEO keyword research tools. KeywordTool.io, like Ubersuggest, collects keywords from autosuggest:

google-autosuggest-resize

Ubersuggest will give you autocomple suggestions based on language and region for Web, Images, News, Shopping, Video, and Recipes from Google.

ubersuggest

KeywordTool.io similarly will allow you to select language, region, and video (YouTube tab), like Ubersuggest. It also will provide suggestions from Bing and from the Apple AppStore.

keywordtool-io

TagCrowd

Sometimes I need to make a word cloud to visualize keywords. My preference for this is TagCrowd. It’s simple, does what I need, and displays frequencies.

tagcrowd

Promediacorp’s free Google Suggest keyword research tool

Another Google autosuggestion tools I sometimes use is the tool created by agency, Promediacorp. I’m not sure how its methodology differs from Ubersuggest or KeywordTool.io, but I like the results it gives and I use it in addition.

In addition to its good results, it ranks suggestions by order of appearance, allows to export to CSV, and attempts to do a sentiment analysis on the queries.

promerdiacorp

Bing Ads Intelligence (Direct Tool Page)

Bing Ads Intelligence, like many keyword research tools, is meant to be used for Paid Search, but can be used for SEO.

It gives some pretty powerful keyword research power right within Excel, and if you’re like me, you’re in Excel A LOT.

bing-ads-intelligence-optimize

I’ve written an extensive guide for using Bing Ads Intelligence for Keyword Research. I recommend checking it out.

Note: I use functionality provided within Bing Ads Intelligence that allows you to multiply keywords together. This can also be done within the Google Keyword Planner or with Merge Words. If you don’t end up using Bing Ads Intelligence, use Merge Words.

Keyword Shitter

Keyword Shitter, despite its obscene name, is awesome.

This one you need to see to understand. Take a look:

keyword-shitter-optimize

Put in some seed keywords, and it will SPEW out a collection of related, long-tail keyphrases real fast.

AlchemyAPI

Okay, these keyword research tools are going to get a bit more advanced now, starting with AlchemyAPI.

AlchemyAPI, as the name implies is an awesome API that can be used for semantic SEO keyword research.

You can get a lot from just using their Demo page.

alchemyapi-optimize

BuiltVisible (formerly SEOGadget) even created this awesome Excel macro to use it with it.

alchemyapi-excel-macro

Knime

Knime is a modular data analytics, reporting, and workflow integration platform popular within the big data and machine learning communities. (my best foot forward when it comes to explaining this thing).

It’s open source software and sports drag and drop nodes and has integration with everything from the Twitter and Google APIs to Python and R.

Now, the applications of Knime are pretty much endless, but lately, I’ve been using it specifically for keyword research. Let me explain…

For a while now, I’ve been interested in using social media for keyword research.

It’s my belief that the user wants to consume content that speaks there language, and there is no place better to mine natural language than social media.

At first I tried a premium tool called Tellagence Discover, which I would totally recommend if you have the budget for it, and Knime is too daunting. What it does is pull in something like 200,000 tweets around a specified keyword and maps out relationship of other terms being using around it.

That’s essentially what I was able to create with Knime, but it does more. You input an XML Sitemap for your website.

knime-sitemap-optimize1

Then you input the keyword you want to search on Twitter for, input the number of tweets to pull from Twitter, and select whether you want to examine only “popular tweets” or “recent tweets”.

knime-keyword

Then it pulls in the text contents from the body of the webpages extracted form the XML sitemap using the Readability API, calculates the frequency that they are mentioned, and pulls in search volume data from Grepwords (not free).

It does the same thing for the Tweets. It extract keywords, calculates frequency, and pulls in data from Grwepwords.

Keywords are then identified by source, either website or twitter, and everything is dumped into an Excel spreadsheet, all automatically.

The end result looks something like this:

knime-output-3

For reference, the Knime workflow looks like this:

knime-workflow-small

Click here to see a larger version of my Knime Twitter + Website keyword research workflow.

Facebook Ads

I am a proponent of doing persona-based keyword research (works especially well with my Knime workflow) and Facebook Ads are pretty useful as a free tool, for helping you create those personas.

So if I was trying to market a dog food company, I might want to explore a persona by gender.

Here are men in the US between the ages of 18 and 65, interested in Pets, and are classified as “People in households that are top grocery spenders” according to “Loyalty card and transaction-level household purchase data with multi-channel coverage across all product categories”.

facebook-ads-persona-dogfood-men

We can see that this would reach 1,720,000 people.

Now if we explore women with the same criteria…

facebook-ads-persona-dogfood-women

…we can see that it will reach 4,400,000 people.

So, we should probably consider making our persona character a woman.

Update: I just used SEOChat’s Keyword Suggest Tool for a client, which allows you to drill down into “more longtails” keyword including Amazon as a source. I also used a tool called Serpstat that allows you to filter by “only questions” for keywords.

There’s just one more…

…and it’s one of the best!

You’ll have to subscribe to my newletter to learn what it is.

 
Happy researching keywords!


These are the major (free) tools I use for keyword research. I’m sure there are more, but I don’t actually use them 🙂

I’ll be back with another post later to explore some free tools I use for content ideation, SEO audits, link building, data analysis, and more!

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13 Comments

  1. Hi Paul,
    This article is great. Congratulations. Almost all pieces you write are great by the way.

    50% of the tools you listed were absolutely unknown to me. The one called Knime looks very interesting, but absolutely complicated to master (steep learning curve I mean).

    Sorry Paul, but what is the extra one you mention at the bottom? I am already on your list, so how can I see that?

    Thanks Paul

    Davide

      • Hi Paul,

        I hope all is well. Great post, thank you for sharing.
        I am very interested in using KNIME with Google Trends data. Are you aware of any Google Trends node that I can use? I found this API on the internet, but I have no idea how to install it in KNIME. Any help on this will be very much appreciated.
        Best Regards,

        FJ Rod

  2. Thank you for the post Paul, You are absolutely right, there are lots of shitty free tools that doesnt work at all!! have you ever heard of a free tool for broken backlinks??, I found a few but none of them worked at all thank you, I am subscribing to your future posts right now!!

    Oscar

  3. Hey Paul, thanks for the mention at the end for our tool answerthepublic.com.

    We were trying to find ways to start discussions with non search people and clients with the question visualisations.

    We’re finding they are a great foundation to get people contributing thoughts and ideas for content/pr ideas.

    Would love to hear how you think we could improve it.

    Cheers
    Gary

  4. Thanks so much for this list Paul! I’ve learned of a couple recently that I’ve been using (Google trends and keyword planner)- I look forward to trying these out!