Suggested FREE sources of keyword research

The foundation for successful SEO (search engine optimisation) is undoubtedly keywords. Research into relevant, specific and distinctive keywords for your site is vital, and then using them as the basis for metatags and unique content.

There is no short cut to keyword research, but there are some great tools to help you to focus on niches and / or countries. This article will list some of the free sources of keywords that I use which I believe can also help you.

Keyword research sources

The first source is the Google Keywords tool. Try and avoid single keywords, explore strings of 2-3 words as a minimum. “Broad” match results include searches for any search term with your keywords included in any order; “Phrase” match results include searches with your keywords in the order in which you typed them; and “Exact” returns the results of just your keywords in searches.

I tend to focus on “Phrase” match results, but be mindful of other search terms which could be included that are not relevant to your site or niche. An example is where you search for “naturist beaches”; the phrase match results will include other search terms like “suitable for families”, which is clearly not relevant for dating.

My second source of keywords is found at the foot of most Google search pages, which returns a list of extended keywords based on your search. For example, a search for “naturist beaches” in Google returned these results at the foot of the page:

Searches related to naturist beaches:
naturist holidays, bare Britain, naturist beaches reviews, naturalism beaches, naturist fact file, naturist nuff, naturism in England, world beach list.

All of these keywords (notice they are at least two words long) are worth saving and researching in the Google keyword tool. If you click on each of the suggestions, you get a Google search results page related to the term as well. At the foot of that page will be keyword searches related to that keyword term, and so on.

The third source of free keywords is available if you use a WordPress blog to supplement your marketing and SEO efforts. You can read my article on Optimising WordPress blog posts here. There is a free WordPress “plugin” (basically a software programme that will enhance your WordPress site) called Wassup Stats, which as well as tracking visitors and their origin in real time, captures both individual detailed keyword search terms and the most popular.

The plugin will also report your blog post’s page ranking for each search term and which search engine returned your post. The detailed keyword listing is worth browsing for trends and seeing the actual long tail keyword searches that people use; the most popular searches will indicate whether your target keywords for your blog are actually working and being returned in searches the most often, and as you intended.

The fourth source is Google Analytics (GA). There will be more a more detailed series of articles on GA in the coming months, as there is much more to this tool than an insight into keywords. You can get a free GA account by signing up here – you don’t need a Google Adwords PPC (Pay Per Click) account to access GA.

The fifth source of free keywords in Google Webmaster tools. Submitting your site’s sitemap to Google is a key action to get your site recognised and indexed by Google. The benefits of doing this, as well as (some of) your site’s pages being indexed by Google, are that you get some performance reporting, albeit mostly of a more technical nature, but there is a section on traffic with keywords listed.

My sixth source of traffic is from Blogger, if you are using Google’s blog platform as part of your marketing activity. On the left hand side of the admin panel, there is a “Stats” heading – click on this and select “Traffic Sources”. You will see listed the keywords that have returned your blog’s posts in Google search results, which you can view by “Now”, “Day”, “Week”, “Month” or “Total”.

My seventh and final suggested free source of keywords in Keyword Spy. There is an option of paying for access to all the features of the service, but there is enough available for free to get you started. This is the Keyword Spy home page, which allows you to choose a domain or keywords, as two options of four, and then to select a country, which for country specific domains is very useful:

This is an example of the returns for “naturist beaches” in “Australia”:

The key to this tool is to use it across all the tabs available and explore all dimensions of your keyword combination by misspell, PPC competition and organic competition, taking the top returns for organic competitors and analysing these specific URLs for their best keywords.

In Summary

• Keyword research is fundamental to SEO and can make or break your rankings.
• There are some great free sources of keyword research tools which can help to identify and target keywords by niche and country.
• For your chosen keyword “set”, use all the available options to research and analyse them to gather intelligence on your chosen niche and territory.

Don’t short cut this step, it is too important – and good luck!