Keyword research is without a doubt, the single most important factor of any SEO campaign. Picking a good keyword phrase can mean the difference between generating hundreds of interested extra visitors per month and a wasted effort.
The first question on everyone’s mind is, just how do we know what a good keyword phrase is? That’s where the various keyword tools on the market come into play. The purpose of this short article is not to advertise the various keyword tools available, but to explain their purpose and functions and to give you some ideas and resources to enable you to determine the best keyword research tool for your needs.
What do Keyword Research Tools do?
Sounds like a rather silly question – they do keyword research! But let’s look more specifically into what information the tools generate:
- They build hundreds of keyword ideas around one source keyword
- They generate "long tail keywords" that are easier to get ranked for
- They show you the competition levels of each keyword phrase
- They show you monthly search volumes for each keyword phrase
- Some even tell you in pure English whether it’s a good choice or not
In short, they come up with more keyword suggestions you or I could ever think of, and give some kind of indication to how easy it will be to get ranked high in the search engines for those keywords and keyword phrases.
Note - all the keyword tools I have used require you to have a Google AdWords account (free), and uses that account to interface into the Google network to pull keyword information. The difference between the tools is what information is pulled and how it is presented to you.
Criteria for Choosing the Best Keyword Research Tool
Determining the best keyword research tool can differ person to person. For example, some people like things simple, some prefer more advanced options and granularity at the cost of a steeper learning curve. Here are several considerations I thought about when choosing a keyword tool:
- Cost – this is very dependent on the individual. There are hundreds of keyword tools to choose from and can cost from $0 to thousands per year! Generally speaking, the more mainstream keyword research tools are somewhere between $75 and $150.
- Ease of use – YouTube is your friend here! There are some very good video walkthroughs on all the major tools. Most vendors also offer a free trial period where you can test the tool out yourself before committing to a purchase.
- Effectiveness – both cost and ease of use are irrelevant if the tool does not work. Use Google to search for reviews on the various keyword tools you like the look of, find some step-by-step real world examples of the keyword tool in use.
When starting out in the SEO world, I used the free Google keyword suggestion tool. Indeed this tool is often better than some of the premium tools out there, and the information is pulled directly from Google (no middle man so to speak), so you can assume the information is as reliable as you can get.
I had relative success with the Google Keyword Tool, but the one downside to the Google tool is it still leaves a lot of guesswork. It wasn’t until I started using a premium keyword research tool that I started getting my articles on the front page of Google.