Update: With some contributions from Bruce Majoribanks and some other people, there are now over 70 tools and ideas on this list.
I started doing SEO around 2005 or so and back then, it was pretty easy. Yahoo site explorer was an awesome backlink tool and provided a ton of backlink data. Google keyword tool was the top keyword research tool because it provided data straight from Google.
Things have definitely changed a lot since then. Yahoo site explorer is long gone and now Google has made moves to hide keyword data. Many keywords are no longer showing in Google Analytics and many people have complained that Google keyword planner shows very little if any long tail keyword data.
I don’t think that Google will ever conceal all keyword data. They will most likely always display high volume keywords so that Adwords advertisers will be able to target them. After all, Google generates most of its revenue from ads.
So the good news is that we still have access to high traffic money keywords. However, long tail keyword data is still important for a few reasons including the following:
1. It gives you an idea of what people are interested in and provides good content ideas.
2. Seeing patterns in keyword phrases and being able to target them can help SEO’s get even more search engine traffic
3. Long tail keywords bring in 70% or more of search engine traffic to websites, even for sites that are ranking for their main competitive keywords
Although Google Keyword Planner is still useful, SEO’s now have to turn to other sources to get more ideas for keywords. Here are a few ideas on where to get keywords ideas outside of Google’s Keyword Planner and Analytics:
Other Search Engines
Online Keyword Tools
Keyword Suggestion Tools
Other Desktop Keyword Tools
Competitive Analysis Tools
Browser Ad-ons and Plugins
Other Search Tools
Google Keyword Planner was made for Adwords users, but is the most popular Google tool for keyword research. However, here are some more Google tools that can be helpful.
1. Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is currently the most accurate way to see what keywords people are using to land on your website. The data is only available for 90 days, so be sure to back it up every few months or so.
Since Google defaults to encrypted search now, Analytics does not show much of the data. With Google Webmaster Tools, however, you can view these encrypted searches.
2. YouTube Keyword Tool
YouTube keyword tool will show what video watchers are searching for. Although it may give you less keywords than Google Keyword Planner, it may give you a few more new ideas.
3. Google Correlate
With Google Correlate, you can find keywords that exhibit similar trend patterns to the phrase you type in. A good way to find possible related search terms, although sometimes the terms shown are not related.
Running your own Adwords campaigns can be beneficial for finding keywords for your organic SEO campaigns. Adwords provides better data than just running Analytics alone.
1. Bing Keyword tool
I know that Bing and Yahoo search are used significantly less than Google, but Bing keyword tool can still provide a few ideas for keywords and it is free to use. Yahoo and Bing do still get significant search volume (25-29% of search volume according to Comscore in 2013) and it does provide real data from organic search so it is worth looking at.
Despite Google’s dominance, Bing and Yahoo (which uses Bing search for its results) still get significant traffic. Enough so that it can provide real and useful keyword data, particularly for terms that have enough volume to be worth targeting.
Considering that Bing still has millions of users, if a keyword doesn’t get enough data to show up in Bing’s data, is it even worth targeting? To use the Bing Keyword tool, sign up for a Bing Webmaster Tools account.
2. Bing Ads Intelligence (BAI)
Bing Ads Intelligence is an Excel plugin that allows you to do keyword research using Microsoft Excel. It uses Bing’s keyword data and can be downloaded here (http://advertise.bingads.microsoft.com/en-us/b/bing-ads-intelligence). Requires Excel 2007 or higher and an active Bing ads account.
BAI was intended as a tool to help people that want to advertise on Bing’s network, but it is also a good keyword research tool for SEO’s. I like that this tool uses Excel, since Excel is something that pretty much everyone knows how to use. Some useful information includes monthly traffic, demographics data, and other useful information.
3. Nerdy Data
Nerdy Data is a new search engine that launched late in 2013. The keyword search feature allows you to compare search volumes visually.
1. SEM Rush
SEM Rush is a competitor research tool that provides your competitors keywords and where they are ranking. The free version of the tool provides just a few keywords, but the paid version provides a lot more. Simply enter your competitor’s website (or your own) to see a list of keywords they are ranking for.
2. Grep Words
Cost: Plans starting at $15 / month
Grepwords has a keyword query builder that allows you to exclude terms, specify starting words, filter by CPC cost, filter by search volumes, and other useful features so you can quickly find the keywords you want. Not only does it give you access to a lot of keywords, but it also allows you to use filters to narrow it down to what you want to see:
Cost: $49/month and up
SerpIQ is more than just a keyword research tool. It was designed to me more of an all in one SEO tool and can find competitors by keywords and analyze their keyword usage.
4. Advanced Web Ranking
Advanced Web Ranking is a tool that has been around for awhile and integrates with Majestic SEO’s API.
The Wordtracker keyword tool is free but requires you to create an account. You can start with one keyword and then drill deeper to get more keywords.
6. Merge Words
Merge Words are simple tools that creates combinations out of words or phrases that you enter into the boxes. This can be a convenient tool if you have some words in mind to start with.
7. SEO Book Keyword List Generator
The SEO Book Keyword List Generator creates combinations from words and phrases, similar to Merge Words.
8. Internet Marketing Ninjas Keyword Combination Tool
This tool combines keywords that you select and shows you all permutations. Another tool that is similar to Merge Words.
9. Moz Keyword Tool
The Moz Keyword Difficulty tool is part of the Moz Pro Membership package starting at $99 / month.
10. Wordstream Keyword Tool
Wordstream has a few keyword tools that allow you to access their database of over a trillion keywords. You are allowed a limited number of free searches to try out the tool.
11. Keyword Eye
Keyword Eye allows you to analyze on site content, monitor competitors, and simplifies keyword research. One cool feature is that it shows the keywords visually, similar to tag clouds.
12. Keyword Discovery by Trellian
This tool by Trellian is yet another keyword research tool that has accumulated its own database of keywords through the years.
13. Majestic SEO Keyword Checker
Majestic SEO has its own keyword checker that they say has never relied on Google’s data. This tool will show you how many times the keyword phrase appeared in their own index.
Wordpot is a keyword tool that maintains its own keyword database. The data is compiled from various search engines. The database has not been updated since 2011 though but can be a good tool to use for evergreen keywords.
15. Long Tail Pro / Platinum
Long Tail Pro uses Moz’s data and is a competitor to Market Samurai. It is another popular tool for keyword research.
16. Web CEO
Web CEO is another paid keyword tool. They didn’t specify where they get their keyword data from.
Positionly is an all in one SEO suite that is designed for the non-technical website user and includes a keyword research tool.
18. Term Explorer
Term Explorer can give you up to a thousand keywords with exact match search volumes and also shows you if exact match domains are available for purchase. The paid version will allow you to do more than 5 searches a day and get more than 1,000 keywords per search. You can also download results as csv or pdf.
An SEO suite with a keyword research tool set launched in February 2014. The updated Colibri tool can crawl your website for keyword ideas and also compare you to your competitors.
A paid tool that may not be working any more. Paypal certificate is expired.
Cost: $19 / month and up. Free trial version limited to 30 searches.
Jaaxy has been around since around 2011 and according to the Jaaxy blog, it gets its search volume by analyzing data from all search engines and using their algorithm to determine volume numbers that are closer to the actual volumes. It also has some competitive analysis features and a brainstorming tool to come upwith new ideas.
22. SE Cockpit
Cost: $97/month and up.
SE Cockpit by Swiss Made Marketing generates tons of phrases in a short amount of time from just one keyword entry. Data is gathered from Google related searches, Adwords, and Google Suggestions. Other data provided includes estimated Adsense earnings, competitor Adwords data and traffic volume estimates.
23. Seed Keywords
Seed Keywords is a unique tool that allows you to leverage friends or your own audience to come up with keyword ideas. Simply come up with a question or query, send the URL to your list, and watch your keyword list grow as they add keywords to the list. A great way to brainstorm with a group of people and come up with phrases that people will naturally search for.
When people start typing something into a search engine, it suggest possible phrases that they might be looking for. The tools in this list leverage the power of keyword suggestions.
You can also go to Ubersuggest and use their free tool to save some time, although Google keyword suggestion is a good tool for digging a little deeper and finding more keywords.
2. Google Keyword Suggestion
When you are typing in the Google search box, it suggests keywords for you. Even when Google Keyword Tool was still providing a lot of data, I was still using Google keyword suggestions to generate content ideas because it provided way more keywords than the keyword tool.
I usually start with a base keyword and just start typing. Then follow up with each letter in the alphabet. You get the idea…
3. Keyword Snatcher
Keyword Snatcher scrapes keyword suggestions from multiple sources including Google, Yahoo, Bing, Amazon and eBay. It’s like Ubersuggest on steroids.
What makes it better than Ubersuggest is that it goes deeper by trying out other combinations. This tool has a one time cost for lifetime access, but can provide tons of keywords.
4. HQ Suggest
A desktop tool that attempts to provide keyword data by 3 main methods:
1) Keyword suggestions from 9 search engines including Amazon, Answer, Ask, Bing, Ebay, Google, Wild, Yahoo and YouTube.
Keyword and product searches are available. Adds 1-2 letters of the alphabet after each keyword phrase and 1-2 letters before the phrase and scrapes the keywords into a file.
2) “Question related searches” designed to take advantage of Google’s Hummingbird update.
3) “How to” searches – Comes up with lots of how to topics that you can use to create content.
5. SEO Chat Keyword tool
If you are looking for a free alternative to the keyword suggestion tool scrapers out there, then try out SEO Chat’s Keyword tool. It gets keyword suggestions from Google, Bing, Amazon (good for commercial searches) and/or YouTube (entertainment searches).
Amazon keyword suggestion tool. Although this tool was designed to come up with niche ideas for Kindle books, it can also be used for commercial keyword research for some niches.
This tool uses keyword suggestions from several places, including Wikipedia, the major search engines, and Answers.com.
This tool allows you to search for a keyword and provides a few keyword ideas. Click on each new idea to expand the branch to reveal even more ideas.
9. Keyword Tool Dominator
This tool uses auto suggest from Google, eBay, Bing, Amazon and Google Products. You can then download the results.
1. SEO Gadget for Excel
SEOGadget for Excel is a tool that connects to Majestic SEO, Moz, aHrefs, Grepwords, and SEMRush API’s and sends the data to Excel.
2. Market Samurai
Market Samurai was an old favorite desktop tool for many SEO’s when it came to keyword research. The new version of Market Samurai uses exact match search with Keyword Planner so it might not be an alternative but rather a tool that makes using Keyword Planner more convenient.
3. Traffic Travis
Traffic Travis is a free desktop SEO tool from Affilorama with a premium version that cost $97. It’s an older tool that gets data from Google, Yahoo and Bing.
4. Good Keywords
Good Keywords is a desktop software that finds keywords. The home page says that it uses Google Keyword Tool though, so not sure if it’s up to date.
5. Scrapebox Keyword Scraper
Scrapebox has a keyword scraper that scrapes keywords from various sources, including keyword suggestions from Amazon, eBay, Google, Bing, Yahoo and more.
6. Scrapebox Webpage Meta Scraper
Scrapebox has a built in feature to scrape title tags, meta descriptions and meta keywords from a list of website URL’s. You can easily grab keywords from your competitors with this tool. Take this data and run it through the Scrapebox Keyword Scraper for even more ideas.
7. Keyword Bee
Keyword Bee is a free tool that you can download. It can crawl website URL’s and suggest new keywords. Check out their 2 minute video on their site.
8. Places Scout
If you are doing local SEO, then check out Places Scout. It has a keyword generator that does keyword suggestions from the 3 major search engines, can import adwords data, and can even suggest exact match domain names with your keywords in it. This tool is targeted to finding keywords for local, so check it out if you are doing local SEO.
A good way to find evergreen keyword ideas is to look at old sites and old Google Analytics data.
1. Other Blogs and Websites
Another idea is to go to other blogs and websites in your niche and see what they are writing about, especially if you know that they do SEO on their sites. I usually find a few ideas that I overlooked through traditional keyword research when I look through other websites.
Old Made for Adsense (MFA) sites are particularly good sources and I have scoured these sites for ideas for my own sites, especially ones that were created before 2011. These were sites that were specifically made to get Adsense revenue by targeting keywords.
Older MFA sites had the keywords blatantly displayed in the navigation links and as page titles. Sometimes you will have to look further than the first couple of pages in Google to find these sites as many are no longer ranking well in Google. You can also use Bing instead to pull up these sites more easily in searches.
2. Old Analytics Data
If you have older websites that have been around for awhile, take a look at older Analytics data before when Google started to conceal data with encrypted search. This can be a good way to find keywords related to evergreen topics.
You can also use Google Trends to see if searches for those keyword phrases are declining, increasing, or remaining steady.
Some competitive analysis tools can be used to obtain keyword intel from your competition.
1. Keyword Spy
Keyword Spy is a tool that you can use to do keyword research or to see a competitor’s free and paid keywords. The free version will only show limited data and paid plans start at about $90 per month.
2. Spy Fu
Spu Fu is another competitive research tool that shows keyword ideas as well as competitor keywords. The free version is limited – upgrading to a paid version will reveal more data.
Another competitive analysis tool that can also be used for keyword research.
4. Screaming Frog SEO Spider
The Screaming Frog SEO spider can crawl websites and see what keywords are being used in the title tag and meta fields. Although this tool was meant to identify technical issues on your own site, it can also be used for competitive keyword research.
1. Wordtracker Scout
Cost: $27/month with free trial
Wordtracker Scout is a Google Chrome plugin that shows on page keywords in a visual cloud. It also accesses Wordtracker’s large keyword database to display other keyword insights.
This Firefox add-on allows you to see what keywords are used frequently on a web page.
HitTail is an Analytics software that is designed to show long tail searches that users have used to find your site in real time. Another great feature of HitTail is that it also suggests keyword topics that you should write about based on what keywords are currently bringing you traffic.
2. Raven Tools – Keyword Opportunities Tool
Raven Tools is a popular paid SEO suite that has its own keyword manager.
3. Search Metrics Suite
Cost: Free version and paid versions starting at $69/month
Search Metrics Suite is an SEO and analytics tool that includes keyword research tools and search volume data. Includes competitor keywords as well as related keyword suggestions.
4. Compete Pro
Cost: Starting at $199/month, Free trial available
Compete collects its own data from about 2 million Internet users (roughly 1% of the US population) and uses statistical analysis to estimate activity on the top 1 million websites on the web. With Compete Pro, you can see what keywords your competitors are targeting as well as projected keyword volumes.
1. Latent Semantic Analysis Tool
This tool finds the relationship between keywords from data from millions of documents. I won’t pretend to even begin to understand what all the fields in this tool do, but play around with the searches and you will find some keywords.
2. LSI Keywords
LSI keywords finds keywords that are related in context to other keywords found in a group of documents. This convenient tool pulls up several keyword combinations.
3. Yahoo Answers and Forums
A good place to look for natural keyword phrases that people are using is Yahoo answers and similar sites. Forums are another place where you can look for these patterns.
An online thesaurus can be used to find related synonyms that you haven’t thought of, which can be used to form new keyword phrases and combinations.
Looking up keywords in the dictionary can also reveal related keyword phrases and concepts.
BoostSuite has a keyword analysis tool, but not a keyword iteration tool, so it doesn’t suggest alternatives to keywords you’ve entered. After you add your keywords to BoostSuite, it will analyze them and rank them based on opportunity (low competition & med-high monthly search volume) and number of conversions from organic search visitors for each. It will then help you assign these high-opportunity keywords to your new and existing content to optimize it.
Here are a few other ideas for generating keywords.
1. Survey and Engage with Your Audience
Another overlooked opportunity for getting real keywords is to simply survey your audience. Ask them open ended questions and see how they reply. Look for patterns in the language used.
If you ask enough people, then you might start to see patterns in the words that they use. As Google continues moving towards better serving conversational search, this can be a good way to come up for keywords that might not show up in other tools.
2. Internal Site Search
Using internal site search can also be a good method of keyword analysis if your site has a lot of traffic, as this data is information that you can access. You can see what keywords and phrases that people are searching for on your site. This data can also be useful in coming up with new content ideas.
3. Analyze Traffic to URL’s
If you are creating a ton of content or have a large site, then analyzing traffic to website URL’s can be highly beneficial. Basically, you look at the URL’s that are getting the most search traffic and then take any keywords from those pages and plug them into your keyword tool of choice. From there, you can analyze keyword opportunities and make educated estimates on volume.
4. Use Filters
For advanced Analytics users, you can use filters to get back some keyword not provided data. EConsultancy wrote a good article about how to do this.
EConsultancy – How to Use Filters to Get Back Some Keyword Not Provided Data
The free version won’t show you much, but with a paid account at Hashtags.org, you can view data for hashtag searches on Twitter.
You can enter a hashtag to see related hash tags on Twitter. The free version only provides a few, but the $5/month paid version provides up to 50.
nTopic is a tool that suggest keywords for the articles that you write to increase relevancy. A study that they showcased on their site shows how adding relevant keywords can increase search traffic.
8. Brainstorming Sessions
A brainstorming session is a great way to come up with some good keyword ideas. Tools don’t always show you related keywords. To get even more ideas, get a team together and create a database of keyword ideas that all team members can contribute to.
9. Print sources
Industry magazines, newsletters and direct mail are another possible source for ideas. Look through these to find words and phrases that you might have missed.
10. Social monitoring and listening tools
Social monitoring tools like mention.net can provide some new ideas. Sometimes, for example, people will reword the default wording of your tweets and pins or add their own hash tags.
11. Conference presentations / Slideshare
Watching conference presentations or viewing Slideshare Powerpoints can be a good way to find more phrases to target.
12. News Feeds and Aggregators / Industry Bookmarking sites
Check out news feeds for your industry and also aggregators and bookmarking sites like Scoop.it. Headlines can be good inspiration and a source for keywords, especially if you see the same terms repeated in various articles.
What did you think?
Did I miss anything? Let me know what you think.