Keyword Research is not only important for Marketing, but it is essential for optimizing terms and phrases that would yield the best results in ranking organically, aka SEO. Researching Keywords will help give you a better understanding of the changing landscape of search and can help you anticipate search trends. Having this insight is particularly helpful for adapting your ad campaigns, as well as your on-page and off-page SEO strategies.

Before we jump into the tools, you should familiarize yourself with keyword match types. This will make using keyword research tools much easier to use and to understand.

Keyword Match Types

Broad Match
Relevant variations of your keywords and phrases. Keyword variations can include synonyms, singular and plural forms, relevant variants of your keywords, and phrases containing your keywords.

Exact Match
Pretty much as it suggests; The exact keyword(s) used. Furthermore, if the right words but are in the wrong order or includes extra words, this would not be a match.

Phrase Match
These are exact keyword phrases with potentially other words before or after that phrase. So if your phrase is “keyword research”, “how to perform keyword research”, and “keyword research tutorial” are both matches.

Let’s take a look at the tools

I will be primarily focused on using these tools for on-page optimization, which translates over to search marketing as well; however to a lesser extent than what will be discussed.

Google Adwords Traffic Estimator
This is a good tool to research how much traffic you can expect from search queries. Of course, this tool is based on how much traffic to expect for a given CPC bid, but it will give you an idea of how competitive queries in your search space are.

  1. Enter either a word or phrase in the text box.
  2. Enter a Max CPC bid for your estimates and, optionally, a daily budget.
  3. Click Estimate. Traffic estimates for your keywords will appear in the main browser pane.

Google Adwords Keyword Tool
The keyword tool is primarily for discovering and expanding your current set of keywords; however it can also be used to expand the vocabulary used in your copy to enhance user experience, contextual ads, and can even help improve call to actions or conversions.

  1. Enter either a word or phrase.
  2. Click Search. Results will appear in the main browser pane.
  3. Optionally, I like to use the Website option to help re-evaluate the keywords and phrases already being used on the page

Google Contextual Targeting
Very similar to the Keyword Tool above, but expands a bit further to include related keywords and phrases based on the content of other websites. (read: your competitors)

Google Insights for Search
Insights is a great tool that allows you to discover and analyze patterns and trends, both cyclic and regional. Very handy for identifying seasonal searches, as well as trends in search popularity.

Google Trends
Google Trends provides a historical global snapshot into what is active at a particular time. Useful for identifying trends (of course) and patterns, based on how the public searches.

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