Some people say that you shouldn’t use free keyword research tools. I have a different opinion though. I explain in today’s podcast why this view isn’t in alignment with most business owners’ budgets and I give you my favorite FREE keyword research tools.
Content marketing without keyword research is like shooting around in a dark room. You may occasionally hit something, but it probably won’t be what you’re aiming for.
You can start using these tools today to create a more targeted and informed content marketing strategy for your business.
Here’s the podcast episode:
Or if you’d rather watch the video:
One of the things I consistently see online is the question of whether or not businesses should use free or paid SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools. You might hear that you shouldn’t use free SEO keyword research tools. This is typically because they’re not as accurate as the paid tools. If your cash flow is such that you can afford to pay for a tool like SEMrush, which can run pretty high if your budget is very tight, you should get it.
But if your budget is too tight, what are your alternatives?
Free Keyword Research Tools Aren’t That Bad
I think that free tools are a completely legitimate option for businesses with small budgets because they’ll at least point you in the right direction.
If your budget isn’t open enough for a paid tool, are you just not going to use anything? If you’re being told not to use free tools, and you can’t afford the paid tools, then do you just not use anything? The free tools might be a dim light in the room, versus just walking around in complete darkness.
Paid vs. Free
There are some differences between paid and free tools.
A big one is that most free tools don’t offer very comprehensive competitor research.
Despite the fact that you might have a small blog, you still definitely want to take a look at your competitors. However, because you’re not necessarily generating a lot of organic search engine traffic anyway, your primary goal should be to create content that your audience wants to read. Your audience is made up of people who are already interested in your product and buy from you. Your blog gives you a means to educate or entertain them, which is your primary purpose.
If you’ve listened to the podcast episode about search engine content writing, you’ll be able to take a look at anyone who pops up at the top of Google search results. They’re essentially your competitors for that keyword. Therefore, you need to evaluate how they’ve done things.
There are things that the tools might not catch, like what their writing style is and whether it’s inspirational or not. You do want to have a unique voice, but you may be able to adopt something from their style that you can turn into something new. So there are things that you wouldn’t necessarily get from a tool anyway.
Free Keyword Research Tools
What sort of tools are we talking about? I’m not going to get too technical, but I am going to give you some names and a short description, so you can decide for yourself.
One of the first ones I suggest is a tool that Neil Patel created, and it’s called Ubersuggest. It’s a great, free keyword tool. It even has some competition analysis.
It gives you the top websites for a particular keyword, and you can take a look at them. It also tells you the number of backlinks (links that point back to your website from somewhere else). Backlinks greatly improve your search engine optimization. This is also why I recommend guest posting.
Overall, his suite of tools loads very slow. At least for me.
Next up, Keywords Everywhere is another awesome tool. It’s a Chrome extension, although it may also be available on the other browsers.
When you search on Google, it shows you the monthly keyword volume, the cost per click, and the competition. The monthly volume could be 100 searches per month, 1000/month, or 2400/month. The competition is normally from 0.0 to 1. So if you see a result with 0.9, that’s a really hard keyword to rank for. On the other hand, if you see a 0.2, that’s not so bad.
You’d want to find a keyword that’s relevant to your blog, but that has low competition and high search volume.
Let’s say you have an eCommerce store. If you see that 2000 people a month are searching for your niche service/product, that could be high volume for you. Focus on getting the top searches.
I think that it’s really awesome that Keywords Everywhere integrates it into your Google searches. By doing that, it makes it really easy for you to go through and look for ideas.
AnswerThePublic is another great tool for ideas. Enter in your keyword, and they give you different matching questions. There’s also an old guy at the top, and he’s always pretty funny to look at.
Do not underestimate the value of Google search itself and its autofill function. If you scroll down to the bottom of a Google search page, then it also gives you “people also searched for.” That could give you some ideas about things to include in your blog posts.
Google Keywords Planner
Google Keywords Planner, which you can get from ad manager, is another thing to consider.
I advise integrating the Google Analytics and Google Search Console tools.
If you use the analytics platform, it will bring in the search console data, and then you won’t have to go to as many places.
It’ll also tell you the keywords that you’re already ranking for. So even if you’re ranking low, at least you’re ranking. You can look at keywords that you can use to boost your ranking.
So how hard would it be for you to rank higher for a certain keyword? Maybe you’re 60, and you want to get to the top 10. At that point, you don’t have to look at your competition and see how you can improve.
I think you can kind of see how it’s not a bad idea to use the free keyword tools, especially in the beginning when your budget is still small.