A couple of weeks ago, we focused on selecting the right keyword. If you couldn't tell from the fishing metaphor, summer is on our mind here at Inbound Edge, but it’s not the only thing we do. We have houses, yards, or apartments that need upkeep. Tools assist us in getting the job done; they make it easier. You could cut your lawn with scissors, but it wouldn't be as simple or efficient as using a lawn mower.
The same goes for keywords. The following keyword research tools make the selection process much more efficient and effective, leaving more time for fun stuff:
Google Adwords –Their Keyword Tool is great for novices and veterans. It helps beginners learn how many different variations there are and is a resource for the vet. It's free and run by the top search engine, so the data is going to be spot on. You can get data on multiple keywords at once, see search volume and competition, and are given related keyword suggestions. This saves time and is extremely valuable when comparing keywords. One drawback with Google's keyword tool is that you don’t get the live support you get with the paid subscription tools.
The free version of SEMRush is similar to Google in that it gives you the two main factors to finding the right keyword. The competition data is a numerical value which is a plus over Google's “low, medium, or high” ratings. They provide the top organic search results, and info about who is bidding on the keyword. This lets you see your competition without opening another window and searching yourself. You can only search for one keyword at a time, but this is offset by more data on that keyword.
Some disadvantages with the trial are that you can only use the tool ten times in a day, and you only see ten related keywords. If you sign up for the Pro version, for $69.95 a month, you can search 3,000 times a day and get 10,000 results per query.
Wordtracker(affiliate link-we like them) is another major player in the keyword world. Their free keyword tool can only be used a few times before you have to register. The free tool also does not provide as much data as the previous two; you cannot see competition data. Another drawback is that you can only search for one keyword at a time.
The full version (free trial or $69.00 a month) is great. It has an intuitive user interface and there is customer support. You can search for multiple keywords at once and get all of the important metrics (competition and volume). The keyword tool also has a section on PPC (Pay Per Click), so you can put a value on keywords. If you are only doing basic keyword research for blog posts or a new page on your site, you may not need to subscribe to this tool (Google and the free trials might suffice). However, if you are building larger keyword lists and exploring PPC, Wordtracker can be invaluable. I encourage you to try the free trial.
WordStream is the last tool we’ll talk about today. Their free keyword tool has some limitations. It can only be used ten times before having to register or sign up for a free trial, and it only gives you a WordStream estimate of the search volume (live volume is preferable). There is not as much to go off of as the other free tools.
With that said, I do like that you are given similar keywords. If you do sign up for the trial (for their PPC suite), or pay for the keyword tool ($329 a year), you get competition and search data to help you pick the right keyword. I recommend WordStream's PPC Suite over just their keyword tool. If you don't have time to master Adwords, WordStream differentiates itself from the competition by simplifying a PPC campaign and providing guidance on your PPC efforts.
If I had to a pick a paid tool for keyword research it would be SEMRush or Wordtracker. SEMRush has more data, but Wordtracker is better for managing keyword lists. Try all of the tools and let us know what you think! Let us know what keyword tools you use or any best practices you follow in your keyword research!