How To Do Keyword Research For Free In 5 Easy Steps
During 2017 Google updated its algorithm a few times and there has been a big debate about all the changes that are happening in SEO and how that will affect digital marketing. But there is one thing that hasn’t been affected by those changes and its importance hasn’t diminished at all. That is keyword research.
Keyword research is one of the most important parts of any successful SEO campaign. Keywords are also the core of every content marketing strategy and they can help you effectively approach your target market. So, without the proper keyword research process, you could actually jeopardize your whole marketing campaign.
The real question though is how to find profitable keywords that get a lot of traffic and can rank high in the SERPs at no cost. And not only for free but also without having to spend days doing research trying to figure out if you chose the right ones.
The methods mentioned below will help you do just that and also provide you with a ton of new ideas about what to write in your next article.
Free Methods To Carry Out Keyword Research
Before i share those techniques with you i would like to say that keyword research can not be the same for every niche. It will always depend on a number of factors like your competition, the quality of your content, your objectives, the resources you use and of course the authority of your website.
In one of my previous blog posts, i wrote about what keywords are for and how you can use them inside your content. But in this post, i will not talk about that. I will focus on how to find keywords for free no matter what your niche is.
If you do a research online you will see there are plenty of free tools and methods that can help you with your keyword strategy. Here are some of my favorite ones that have worked for me very well in the past and they can work for you as well. Especially if you are a beginner and you don’t want or don’t have the money to invest in a keyword tool these techniques can help you a lot. And even if you are using a paid keyword research tool i strongly advise you to also use these free keyword research methods. The combination of both paid and free keyword tools will be of great benefit for your SEO campaign.
Google Search Console
Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, Search Console is probably the best way to research for new keywords that are relevant to your niche. But that’s not the only great thing about the kind of data Google Search Console will provide to you. It also shows you the keywords your website is getting found for.
And not just for your website in general. But for every single blog post and page, you have published and is of course indexed by Google you get a list of the keywords it is ranking for. That list is pure gold. It shows the average position of every keyword you rank for and the number of clicks and impressions each keyword brings you. Those keywords are actually what people are searching for in Google regarding that particular post of yours.
Here is the process about how to effectively use Google’s Search Console data and how to pick keywords from it.
- First of all, you need to have existing content that is already ranking and is showing up in Google Search Console. So your website must be a few weeks old. I suggest waiting a couple of months so it can collect a sufficient amount of data.
- Go to “Search Traffic” and then “Search Analytics”. After that go to “Pages” and choose posts that are ranking on average on page 2-3 or at the last 4 positions on page 1 of the SERPs. After you have selected your post click “Queries”.
- Look for keywords with a high amount of impressions but with low rankings.
- Create a list with this kind of keywords for every one of your posts. If you are using a keyword tool (free or a paid one) you can check the keywords monthly searches, traffic, and keyword difficulty. If you don’t just type those keywords in Google and look at the websites that are already ranking on the first page. Pro Tip: When you type a keyword in Google the results they show you are usually a few million or hundreds of thousands. But that’s not your actual competition. If you go to the last page of the Google pages you will see that the number of results found will change. That number is more accurate about the pages you are competing against for that exact search term. Anything below 100 competition pages is very good. For example, the keyword shown in the screenshot below is a very competitive one.
- Write a new article around that specific keyword.
- Create an internal link from your new post to the older one you used in the Search Console to pick that keyword.
Knowing what keywords you are already ranking for is a great way to start your keyword research. Reviewing and analyzing what queries are attracting the most traffic can help you come up with some great keyword ideas.
Google’s Related Searches
If you want to find out some popular keywords about a specific topic or your niche, in general, you should definitely take into consideration the related searches.
Just type your keywords into Google and then scroll all the way down at the bottom of the page. There you will see 8 key phrases under the title “Searches related to [your keyword]”. These keywords are not randomly generated by Google for the search term you just used. They are actually the most popular search terms for that topic. These are the keywords people type in Google to search for information. So, Related searches are a great source of long-tail keywords. You can type each one of these keywords in Google to find more relevant and specific keywords. Create a list of them and check them with your keyword tool or use the pro tip i mentioned earlier.
Also, don’t forget to use Google’s “Search Suggest”. Every time you type a query into the search field Google will automatically suggest to you some popular searches. Let’s see for example what Google suggests for “affiliate marketing”.
But instead of short and generic queries like “affiliate marketing,” you should search for long-tail keywords if you want to take full advantage Google’s Autosuggest.
Here is how to do it:
A little trick that many people don’t know about is that if you add an asterisk at the end or at the beginning of your query Google will fill in the blanks using the most searched terms.
But most people don’t search don’t just search a topic in general but they will use a long-tail query in the form of a question. For example, they will use words like how, why, when, can, do, what etc, in the beginning of their search term. Especially today where more and more people are using voice search to search for information. They will do it by asking a question like “How to ….”, or “Where can i buy ….”. With mobile internet usage increasing this is a trend that is here to stay.
So, you should definitely take that into consideration in order to find long-tail keywords using Google suggest. This technique is also called the “Alphabet Soup”. After you type your search term in Google you can add one letter at a time and Google will show you the most popular results that start with that letter. In our example where i used the search term “affiliate marketing” you can see below the top searched long tail keywords Google suggested.
This technique can provide you with some great long-tail keywords and also ideas about what to write next if you ever get stuck. Make a list of popular and relevant keywords using the “Alphabet Soup” technique. You can use them as a starting point to further continue your research for more targeted keywords. They don’t necessarily have to be the main keyword of your new articles. Or even included in the title of your post. They could just be your secondary keywords. They can be included in your posts in the form of a sub-title for example.
Note: The results generated by Google’s Suggest depend on a number of factors. One of the factors is obviously the query volume but they also depend on the geographical location of the user. So, the results will be different from country to country.
No matter the niche your website or your blog is about there will always be some forums or social groups where your target audience likes to hang out. Most people will join a forum in an effort to promote their blog, build their brand name, engage with their audience, attract more leads, etc. All this is fine but forums can also be a great source of valuable keywords.
The best way to find forums related to your niche is to simply type into the Google’s search field “keywords”+” forums”, “your niche”+” forums” or something like that.
Once you identify the forums you are interested in simply sign up. Most forums are usually free to join and the only requirement is an email. After you have joined the first thing you should do is to take a look at all the different threads and discussions inside the forum. Identify the most popular topics people are talking about at the moment. For example what kind of problems are they facing, what kind of information the members are looking for that can’t find online, what are the most popular questions, etc. There are hundreds of long-tail keywords and phrases you can pick from a forum. And since the users in those forums are interested in the topics your online business covers those keywords will not only be relevant but they will also accurately target your audience needs.
Wait, it gets better
One of the best places to do keyword research is Quora. Although it’s not exactly a forum or a keyword tool Quora is an opportunity too good to pass up.
In case, you are not familiar with the platform it simply is a question-and-answer (Q&A) site where its member can answer other people’s questions and post their own questions. It is, of course, free to join and use. You don’t have to answer or ask any questions if you don’t want to. Although that could help you to better understand your audience needs and attract traffic back to your website. But we will not discuss about right now. We will focus on how to use it for keyword research.
Once you join you will have to choose the topics you are interested in. There are many topics available for you to choose from inside Quora. From blogging and SEO to healthy eating and fashion. You will definitely find a topic relevant to your niche here. Of course, you can always add more topics later on.
After that just type, a subject related to your niche and Quora will show you the most popular questions. Take a closer look at the questions with the highest amount of views. The most popular questions in Quora usually contain great keywords. You will also notice that certain keywords come up a lot more compared to others. What that means is that these are the things people are really interested in your niche. They are probably the same terms people used to search in Google.
Also, read the most popular answers and see if there are any follow up questions. That’s a great way to find more keyword ideas. Create a list of all these keywords and soon you will have a lot of awesome ideas for your future blog posts.
Forums can be a goldmine of highly profitable keywords that otherwise you may had never thought on your own. If a thread is coming up over and over again in a forum it is probably a keyword that people type into Google. People use forums on a daily basis and use hundreds of search terms to ask for more information. You just need to sort them out first and then you will discover many long-tail phrases that could help you rank higher in the SERPs.
Google Trends is not only an effective way to check the popularity of a certain keyword but also allows you to compare keywords. And not only that but it can show you if a keyword’s popularity is rising and interest over a certain period. So, it can be extremely useful for keyword research and also for niche research.
Take a look at the image below. I compared the search terms “smartphones” and “smart watches”. We can see that “smartphones” is a lot more popular term compared to “smart watches”. But we can also see its popularity has dropped the last year.
Knowing what search terms are trending right now in your market provides you with an excellent opportunity to approach your audience in a more effective way and increase your sales. For example, let’s assume your website is about health foods. Matcha is a popular variation of green tea and potentially a very lucrative product for you to sell online.
Let’s see what Google Trends say about Matcha:
We can see that in 2017 it gained back its popularity. But that’s not the only information Google Trends will provide you. If you scroll down you will see at which countries it’s most popular. That kind of information is extremely useful if you are using paid advertisement. You can also click in each country for more specific information. Knowing at what part of the world to aim at with your PPC campaigns or your social media ads can have a big difference on their outcome.
Scrolling further down you will find the top and rising queries related to your keyword in this case about Matcha. The keywords mentioned here are the most commonly searched and also the ones with the biggest increase in search frequency.
There is no other free keyword research tool that offers so detailed and specialized information. With Google Trends you can easily identify your main markets and check the popularity of any keyword. You can find out the major topics and all the newest trends in your niche. It should definitely be a part of your keyword research process.
Answer The Public
Answer The Public is the combination of a keyword and a content idea’s generator tool. It’s a great tool to use since it can generate hundreds of long-tail keywords. And of course, it’s absolutely free to use.
The best way to improve your rankings is to write content that answers the questions your readers have. One of the best techniques to do that is to use keywords that match the search terms people use to look for information in the search engines. Answer The Public can help you do exactly that. It generates a number of suggestions for your keyword using question words like “where”, ‘how’, ‘why’, ‘which’ etc.
It will also provide you with a list of long-tail keywords using prepositions such as ‘with’, ‘like’, “for”, ‘with’ etc. Those keyword ideas are excellent suggestions because these are the search terms people often use in the search engines when they look for answers.
And at the end, there are a number of new suggestions based on the most commonly used keywords in the search engines but this time they are categorized in alphabetical order.
Answer The Public can help you pick many high volume keywords no matter what your niche is. It is easy to use and it’s pretty similar to Übersuggest. Another great free keyword research tool that i strongly recommend for you to use.
Also, if you ever run out of ideas and don’t know what to write next just type a few keywords in Answer The Public and it will suggest to you a number of content ideas in seconds. You can also download the results as a list for future use. Finally, a really cool thing with this tool is that it offers a list of 12 countries for you to choose from. You are not restricted to the results generated only from US or UK. If your website is not in English you can still use Answer The Public for your keyword research.
What About Google Keyword Planner?
Google’s Keyword Planner is probably the most popular free keyword tool. Although it can provide you with a lot of useful information, in my opinion, you shouldn’t entirely rely on it for your keyword research. Unfortunately, many bloggers and marketers do and often the results are not very good.
Let me explain
First of all, if you want to use Google Keyword Planner you must create a Google Adwords account. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to run an active campaign to use the GKP but you can’t have access to it if you don’t fully set up an Adwords account. But that’s not the reason why i believe you shouldn’t entirely depend on GKP to search for your keywords. By saying that i don’t mean you shouldn’t use it at all. It’s okay to use it but if you want to do in-depth keyword research and analysis my advice is to try a combination of different methods.
The reason for that is because GKP is not very good at providing you with keyword ideas that are not directly associated with the initial keyword you used. That’s far from ideal. It can be really difficult to rank for these keywords because everybody is targeting them. Basically, it will only provide you with keywords that are closely related to your keyword. So, the quality of the keywords you will get depends on the information you entered in the first place.
It is much better if a keyword tool shows you many different variations of your initial keyword. That way you can discover a lot more keyword ideas that your competition may not know about. Also, GKP is primarily designed to help you with your ad campaigns. So, a few of its features actually won’t be of any use to you.
Google’s Keyword Planner can be a very useful tool but it’s not enough on its own. It’s especially good if you already have a keyword in mind and want to check its commercial value. Generally speaking, SEMrush is considered to be the best keyword tool for many online marketers. Actually, it offers a variety of tools and features. So, it’s not just a keyword tool. Of course, SEMrush it’s not free to use. The Pro membership (the cheapest one) will cost you $99.95 per month. That can be a lot of money for someone who just started an online business.
In that case, i would suggest Jaaxy to you. You can sign-up and try it for free. Only an email is required. Their Pro version costs only $19 per month. In my opinion, Jaaxy is a great keyword tool and you won’t get a better one for that amount of money anywhere else.
I know this has been a pretty long post but i wanted to offer you a comprehensive guide about how to do keyword research for free. The tools and methods mentioned here can help you develop your lists of long-tail and LSI keywords.
They will be the basis of your on-page SEO strategy. The keywords you use in your content can also help attract targeted traffic that converts a lot better compared to general traffic. You have to remember though that using too many keywords (keyword stuffing) in you content will negatively affect your Google rankings.
Just write naturally, use long-tail keywords to attract readers that are already interested in your niche and also key-phrases that are strongly related to your primary keyword. These are called LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords and Googles knows that a number of them will appear naturally in your content. Actually, they are looking for them in order to identify how relevant and useful that particular post will be to people.
Now you know what the best free keyword methods are. You also know how to use them and create your keyword lists.
Go ahead and keep writing helpful and valuable content as often as you can. Because all that matters, in the end, is the quality of your blog posts.
Are there any other free keyword tools you enjoy using? Please share your opinion with us and leave a comment below.
If you want to start your own online business or learn more about online marketing you can check below my #1 Recommendation
My friend who has been working online for 2 years now told me to work with Google Keyword Planner as it is the best one so far.
He has tried out other tools and found this one to be great. On my side I have tried Jaaxy and I loved it. Now I am confused.
What would you advise me to stick to?
I am not saying don’t use Google Keyword Planner. But in my opinion you shouldn’t completely depend on GKP for your keyword research. The reason i say that is because GKP won’t provide you with different variations of your keyword that aren’t directly related to it. In my opinion, that is important. It’s better if you are shown different variations of your keyword that are not only directly associated with your main keyword.
Also, i believe GKP show results that are more suitable for creating ad campaigns.
Anyway, that’s my opinion. Use the one that you are more comfortable with or use both of them.
Thank you so much for this article! I had no idea about the google trends function. For my keyword research I try to find the best bang for my time if that makes sense. If there is a keyword that is slightly better to write about than another I am thinking, I am willing to compare them. Now I can! Thank you again
I’m glad I was able to help you.
Thank you for your comment.
Excellent post. I use Google Trends quite a bit for both my blog posts and for my YouTube videos. It’s always good to know if a keyword is getting more or less popular.
I like how you explained why not to rely on Google’s Keyword Planner. I used to do that a lot and my website wasn’t doing anywhere near as well back in those days.
Thank you for your comment.
Wow! There’s a ton of information here!
I have used some of these methods, but some are pretty new to me. Google Trends is one that I have heard of but have not really tried.
I have tried Jaaxy and really do like it. I love the way it gives keyword suggestions and you get an instant visual indications (red, yellow or green) as to the quality of each suggestion. I recommend it too.
Thanks again for the info!
Yes Jaaxy is a very nice keyword tool. And for that price i doubt there is another keyword tool that offers so much.
Thank you for your comment.
Really very informative. Thanks for sharing
Thank you for this informative and interesting post, I am going to use it to improve the SEO of our site. Many thanks
Thanks for sharing these Google tools for SEO! I love how you clearly explained each tool and its purpose
Thank you Mia for your comment. I am glad i helped.
I’ve been receiving email notifications that my friends are joining Quora and that I should join too, but neglecting because, I wasn’t interested. To me, it will be just a waste of time. But after reading this article of yours, especially that section explaining what is it and how can we use that site for getting traffic, then I think I am now ready to dig more about Quora. Thanks for the explanation!
Yes, Quora can be a very useful tool. I am glad i made you see things from a different perspective.
Thank you for your comment.
I’m just at the beginning of all of this so thanks for the really super post and information! I’ve saved your post so that the next time I start writing, I’ll try some of your tools and methods. Thanks very much.
I am glad i could help.
Thank you for your comment.