Keywords, as the name implies, are words that are of more importance is the price of written content. They can be in textbooks, academic articles, novels, and also online blog posts. In content marketing, keywords are the main pillars of content and the actual content is written around them. They are also playing a crucial role in SEO and the way the content is presented to search engines.
One of the first steps toward writing content is keyword research. It is closely related to the topics of the content and is chosen carefully before moving to the writing phase. Content writers use various tools and online services to conduct this research. The end product is a list with some keywords that will be used by content writers to write a blog post and optimize it for search engines.
In this article, we are going to learn more about the best keyword research tools available for free and is actually being used by professional content writers every day.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is a kind of online research that content writers conduct to discover certain words that can be good opportunities for driving traffic to the content (e.g. blog posts). The deeper the keyword research, the better the content rank on search engines. Using appropriate keywords with decent search volume is one of Google’s ranking factors for content marketing.
When you conduct keyword research, some statistics are provided by different tools that help you choose the right keyword for the content: a) Search Volume and b) Competiton (or keyword difficulty).
A keyword that has decent search volume but also medium to low completion. when a keyword has a higher search volume, the competition for it is also hard, maybe even fierce. It is also harder to rank higher and requires a lot of effort before seeing any result.
Why is Keyword Research Important?
Keyword research before writing content plays an important role in content SEO or search engine optimization. Choosing the right keyword or even key phrases will rank the content higher, and more importantly, drive the right audience to the website.
Keyword research isn’t only for writing blog posts. Content writers also use keyword research prior to writing product descriptions, product listings, instructional manuals, and even media descriptions (Instagram post description or YouTube video description).
In addition, keyword research helps content managers choose the right topic & niche and jot down blog post ideas before even thinking about writing one. You can look at keyword research as a cornerstone for content marketing. Keyword research alone can be a good freelancer skill too and can help you find some gigs online.
Best Keyword Research Tools
To start writing content or devising some topics and niches for your next blog post, you can many available keyword research tools on the internet. Most of these tools are completely free to use although some of them have limited results until you purchase a subscription to unlock all of the service’s potential.
The following keyword research tools are offering the best services that can help you gain more insight into choosing the right keyword and optimize your content SEO.
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1. Google Suggestions
You can technically do keyword research without any tools. You just rely on the data that Google provides across the search results page. This is also what I do most of the time, especially when I don’t know what tools to begin with.
The first set of keyword data that Google provides is the autocomplete feature. When you start typing a quarry, immediately after the third or fourth character, Google begins auto-completion and suggestion process write under the search box.
This helps you find some keywords related to what you have in mind and also provides long-tail keywords (keyphrases) that could be useful in the content. It also indicates what keywords are more frequent. The higher a keyword is placed in the dropdown menu, the more its search volume is.
The next feature from the Google search results page is the “People also ask” section, which is placed right after the first few results.
It also helps you what other queries people searched after searching for the current query giving your more insight into what could be a potential keyword (or even heading & topic) for the content.
And last from the search results page is the “Related searches” section which is placed at the bottom of each page.
Like the previous one, it’s a good source for finding long-tail keywords and potential topics for the next blog posts.
Results directly on the search results page are limited but helpful to get things started. After all, all keyword research tools get their data from Google in the first place. It is the source of all search queries, so sometimes, it’s a good free tool for keyword research.
2. Google Trends
Another service Google provided is called Google Trends. It is a valuable tool that offers a lot of statistics and insight for keyword research.
First, Google Trends allows you to search for keywords’ search volume in certain countries or worldwide, time periods (2005-present), categories, and across Google search engines (Images, shopping, YouTube, etc.).
Second, this tool is perfect for comparing up to 5 keywords.
Third, it is a perfect tool to see what regions/countries/cities searched certain keywords more than others.
Fourth, it provides a lot of related queries for each keyword you check plus their recent increase in search volume.
And last, Google Trends is the best free tool available to identify keyword seasonality and long-term prospect. In the example below, you can see that the search volume for “Jacket” increases during colder months.
Keyword seasonality is important for many businesses that put their budget into content marketing and expect constant traffic to visit their website & content. It also helps eCommerce stores to identify when certain products can have more sales potential.
3. Google Keywords Planner
The last service offered by Google is actually a part of Google AdWords service for running advertisement campaigns. It is called Google Keywords Planner and it provides data that not only helps you do extensive keyword research but also helps you optimize your AdWords campaigns and drive paid traffic to your website.
Keyword Planner provides data like average search volume, three-month change, year-over-year comparison, and competition. There is also a section in the data that suggested keyword ideas that you can use in your content.
You can optimize the result by language, region, and period, which helps you target the right audience from the regions.
One particular set of data Keyword Planner provides is dedicated to running Ad Campaigns. It is the bid for the keyword in the ad campaign which helps you outbid your competitors and publish your ads higher on the search results page. But this set of data is not required for keyword research and content writing.
Ubersuggest is a complete site tracker service and SEO auditing tool created by the marketing genius Neil Patel. It is one of the best keyword research tools available plus other services that might come in handy when working on content or website SEO.
By searching for your main keyword, you can create a list of keywords and key phrases that can be used in the content. Ubersuggest provides data like search volume, competition, CPC (cost per click), and paid difficulty, although the latter two are for paid advertisement.
You can also check related search queries, questions, prepositions, and comparisons for your main keywords. It also offers keyword searches of various languages that you can choose prior to running a query.
Ubersuggest is free with limitations, but if you signup for free, you’ll have a daily quota to use the full features of this tool. Alas, the quota is just 3 queries.
KeywordTool.io is a keyword research service that you can use to find more related keywords, questions, and prepositions to your main keyword. It is a handy tool for a quick keyword lookup and finding some ideas.
You can run your query across various search engines including Google, YouTube, Amazon, eBay, Twitter, Instagram, and even app stores, all in different languages.
If you purchase a KeywordTool.io subscription, then you can have access to other data like total search volume, monthly search volume, average trend, and other data for running paid advertisements. The free feature is limited to similar keywords and their variations.
Keyword.io is another service similar to KeywordTool.io. I think they are actually the same. Features are similar in every way. You can search for your main keyword across different search engines and generate a list of similar keywords. Then, you can hand-pick keywords from the list and export them as a text file or copy all of them to the clipboard.
This tool, specifically, is good for finding long-tail keywords and key phrases that are frequently used. Other than that, it’s similar to the previous keyword research tool.
One thing about Keyword.io is that never hover your mouse cursor over the website logo. You’ll be surprised if you do. It is almost terrifying!
7. Ahrefs Keyword Generator
Ahrefs is one of the most powerful content marketing and Site SEO audit services available out there. It offers a lot of tools to optimize the website, monitor website rank for keywords, monitor website traffic, and a lot more.
Ahrefs also offers a free tool called Keyword Generator which is a perfect service for conducting keyword research.
You can find similar keywords and questions by searching your main keyword on different search engines like Google, Bing, YouTube, and Amazon. Provided data are average monthly volume, keyword difficulty (competition), and the last update on the keyword stats.
The tool is free to use and generates a list of the top 100 similar results for your query. If you want more data and keywords, you can purchase a subscription.
8. Moz Keyword Explorer
Moz SEO is another powerful tool for site auditing, monitoring website rank, and content marketing. Its Keyword Explorer tool is one of the good options for keyword research.
It offers data like overall stat for the keyword in the selected region, keyword suggestions, and also search engine results page analysis.
Also. keyword suggestion generates a list of similar keywords based on your main keyword. Monthly search volume and keyword relevancy are also provided for each suggested keyword.
Relevancy refers to the similarity of the suggested keyword to the main keyword based on many factors like category, industry, etc.
One huge downside of Moz SEO is its free-use limitations. The monthly quota for keyword explorer queries is just 10 search queries and available data is limited to volume and relevancy only.
AnswerThePublic is one of the best tools when you have the main keyword but ran out of topic ideas. Just search for a keyword and let the site generate some great ideas for blog post topics as well as long-tail keywords.
This service will provide you with questions related to your keyword, keyword various based on prepositions, and comparison-based similar long-tail key phrases.
You can see the results in form of a visualization chart (like the example below) or in form of data sets sorted by prepositions, question words, and comparison markers.
The free version of this service is limited to 3 searches per day. If you want more quota or more data for results, consider purchasing a subscription because this tool is really priceless.
AlsoAksed is another keyword research service like AnswerThePublic that provides you with topic ideas, questions, and other long-tail key phrases of the main keywords.
The results are rendered in a tree chart that you can move and zoom in/out. This comes in handy when the chart yields a can’t be fit on the screen. You can also expand each branch to see more suggestions.
However, this service offers a very limited number of free searches that will be renewed every month. If you think this tool can help you find more blog post ideas, give it a try and purchase the premium subscription.
RiteTag is not an ordinary keyword research tool. This online service is perfect for social media marketing and helps you find relevant hashtags for your next tweets or Instagram post.
It also helps you identify social media trends by monitoring hashtags’ impressions.
RiteTag provides similar hashtags and corresponding hashtags for what you’ve searched for. Tweets, retweets, and impression stats are also available. The numbers you see are per hour.
You can also get more information about every single hashtag and RiteTag tells you whether it is a current trend on Twitter or not.
Based on you main hashtag that you’ve searched for, RiteTag also provides a list of relevant hashtags that are good (only) on Instagram.
This service, as said before, is a valuable tool for social media marketing and hashtag keyword research. It helps you plan your next social media posts and drive the right traffic by employing effective hashtags.
It is free to use and also has a Chrome Extension for adding automatic hashtags to images you’re about to publish on Twitter. If you purchase the premium version, more statistics and data will be provided.
To wrap up this post, let me summarize what this article was about and what we learned here. First, we understood what keyword research is and why it is important for content writing and SEO. Then, we started talking about the best free keyword research tools available online. Eleven tools were introduced:
- Google Suggestions
- Google Trends
- Google Keyword Planner
- Ubbersugger by Neil Patel
- Ahrefs Keyword Generator
- Moz Keyword Explorer
Some of these tools are purely for keyword research purposes, a few are complete site SEO audit tools, and one is specific for social media marketing and hashtag research.
We talked about each of these tools briefly and pointed out the features that make them special and a candidate for this list. Screenshots and pictures are also provided so you can get a gist of what you are going to use and see on each service, and that’s about it.