Keyword Research & Suggested Keyword Research Tools

Keyword research Notes from Keyword Research & Copywriting SMX East 2011 – Christine Churchill, President KeyRelevance Follow her at @keyrelevance Keywords

Keywords are important because people still type in phrases and terms to find things online.

Everyone wants to be #1 on Google, and it takes a lot of know how, keywords, links, social, etc. You can increase conversions by speaking the customer’s language. By using the keywords they are using you are speaking like your customers, so they feel like you get them. Also, try to find overlooked or new keywords and take advantage of longer tail phrases.

Below you will find notes from SMX East’s Keyword Presentation, it will cover where marketers get their keywords, how the cycle of finding your keywords works, important tools and how to use these for ideas on content creation and copywriting.

Where marketers Get Keywords:

  • Site log files for converting keywords – Google Analytics
  • Google Analytics for frequent words
  • Internal site search
  • Competitor sites
  • Competitive intelligence tools
  • Exploring long search phrases
  • Social semantic mining

Cycle of keyword research

  1. Brainstorming and discovery
  2. Keyword expansion
  3. Keyword evaluation

Brainstorm and Discovery phase:

  • Brainstorming – no judging words at this stage. Goal is to cast your net widely and generate broad list.
  • Keyword lists from within company
  • Review company website and print collateral
  • Press releases
  • Often too much insider jargon
  • May or may not be customer’s lingo
  • Customers’ words are disconnected from marketing department, change keywords and traffic rises, if you are using the words your audience is using.

Other good places to look at what language your target audience is using:

  • Conduct customer interviews
  • Customer surveys and focus groups
  • Talk to support of sales personnel who talk directly to customers
  • Search twitter and blogs and social media
  • Review discussion forums, user generated talk
  • Online magazines or print
  • Company and product reviews
  • Online thesaurus


  • Review their website and collateral for keywords
  • Look at words they are buying in PPC
  • What terms are they targeting in SEO?
  • Can give you competitive insights and ideas on overlooked terms


  • Captures “exact phrase” that searcher entered
  • Provide rich source of keyword data, but only show what’s currently working
  • Could reveal “untapped” keyword gems

Site search box

  • Reveals keywords and expressions that visitors are actually using/wanting
  • Gives insight into relative popularity
  • Can follow visitors path and see if site converts
  • Make sure you collect all info
  • Can tie your site search into your analytics to see what people are searching for
  • Can get inside mind of consumer when they are coming to your website

Why Use Tools for Keyword Research?

  • Save $ / time
  • Provide insight outside of your site
  • Identifies keyword opportunities you might miss
  • Offers popularity #s you can’t get from your own analytics
  • Moves you beyond keyword assumptions
  • Allows you to compare phrases

Free Tools:

  • Google keyword tool
  • Webmaster tools
  • Insights
  • Trends
  • Content targeting
  • Adcenter labs tools
  • Microsofrt ascenter add in for excel

Paid Tools:

  • Wordtracker
  • Trellian
  • Hitwise
  • Wordstream
  • Nichbot
  • Comscore
  • spyFU

Why pay? It’s usually a suite and you get a lot more then just a list of keywords. Looking at Different Tools: Google Keyword Tool

  • Free and easy
  • Provides keyword volume data from Google
  • Finds synonyms
  • Can export to excel
  • You can log in to your Google account for more keywords and options including local trends
  • If you log in you are going to get more keyword choices, more columns, more options
  • Select “exact match” or “phrase match” when doing SEO research, broad makes large jumps in lateral thinking, comes up with some terms that aren’t as great
  • Advanced options, allows you to choose country, language, mobile research (just added back in Dec) you will get diff numbers for laptops vs mobile devices
  • Recently added column is Google Search Network – added as option but have to be logged in to see it, it’s goole and it’s partner sites, not just Google, so pulls in more data, #’s tend to be higher
  • Can use words, phrase, url (competitor, page, etc)

Google Trends

  •  Monitors trends
  • Allows you to compare popular phrases – ex. Myspace and Facebook, you could use plural and reg form of a keyword and see what’s more popular
  • Also can plug in website and look at stats
  • Also visited and also searched for sections tell you that searchers that went to this website, also went to these other sites
  • Hot trends – good for helping you come up with blog posts, articles, find what’s hot that day

Google Insights

  • Trends on steroids
  • Allows you to see and monitor trends, but allows you to see keywords related to the one you are looking at
  • Last few years lots of changes in keywords because economy affects what people are saying and searching for
  • Key relevance – can find that in states terms are more popular than in another – can be better to check out for regional or local search stuff
  • Rising searches – very valuable for up and coming phrases, break out means there has been like a 500% increase, so great terms to use, since new and growing – a lot of them aren’t quite as competitive
  • Monitors seasonality – this is good for mapping out key phrases for over the month, so great for blog posts, articles etc.

Google Contextual targeting tool

  • Free tool
  • Builds themed keyword lists
  • Great for keyword expansion and lateral thinking
  • Provides ideas for organizing and structuring your keyword lists
  • Basically it’s textual wonder wheel – (wonder wheel cancelled in July, don’t know if it’s coming back)
  • If you were a wonder wheel fan it’s the tool for you

Keyword Discovery

  • Multiple databases
  • Global, historical global, international, news, shoping, eBay
  • Provides seasonal data and trends
  • Includes suite of tools – misspellings, keyword density tool (uses as a double check, to see where different phrases were used on the site)


  • Data pulled from meta search engines
  • Eliminates most skewing issues caused by bots
  • Differentiates between singular and plural
  • Offer free tool for trial
  • Questions tool so you can see what’s being asked – create blog posts or articles


  • Keyword tool, PPC management., Pay Per Click checker gives you feedback on your campaigns

Google Instant

  • Shows results as you type, great suggestions for phrases and titles for blog posts and content

  • Kind of like Google instant
  • Pulls keywords suggestions from several different sites and puts them in one place
  • Helpful to see if you missed things during brainstorm


  • Start typing in phrase and it will go through the alphabet, lists them all for you, keyword ideas etc.

Twitter Search

  • Trends – gives you pulse of what’s on web and what’s hot
  • Look through and do searches to find good blog post and content ideas
  • Great for knowing in real time what’s going on
  • Great for monitoring what others are saying about your products/services, which helps you find customer language


  • YouTube search suggests keywords, pulls from YT searches and titles
  • Your results will be different than Google, as people use different words and phrases to search video
  • Also look at promoted videos to see keywords suggested and used

Google Sets

  • Google will come up with a couple sets to help with your list, and comes up with longer lists

AdCenter Labs Tools

  • Search Funnels – gives insight into mind of the user, shows searches before and after a term you put it


  • Good for trending info, their trending is going to be different than Google, usually heavier on the entertainment side
  • Suggestion box is pretty good as well, some of their suggestions are actually embedded in the phrase rather than just at the beginning


  • Allows you to navigate by clouds
  • The larger, bold words are the most popular
  • good for brainstorming and broadening keyword buckets


  • They will show you related searches, but will also do related questions, invaluable for coming up with content ideas for what’s fresh new and on top of peoples minds

Microsofts’ ad intelligence

  • Excel plugin
  • Provides related keywords
  • Fast for building out lists
  • Extracts keywords for URL
  • Gives insights on seasonal “spiky” keywords
  • Shows geographic and demographic info on keywords

Keyword Expansion Phase:Target variations of your keywords

  • Comparison – best, compare, reviews
  • Price – cheap, discount
  • product descriptor – green, plus size, ;unique
  • intended use – gift for grandmother, baptism
  • product
  • location
  • action
  • season
  • abbreviations
  • brand/vendor/manufacturer

Keyword “buckets”

  • Group related keywords into lists of related terms
  • Do a series of keyword research projects on a site, not one (can do one search for every area of a website, that are more specific) do a different series of research for each site – break it into pieces
  • Develop a keyword matrix – url, main phrases,

Keyword permutationsTools for permutations – aaron wall, excel, concatenate tool

  • Relevancy to site (meaning choosing the kw that best describes what the site offers, traffic alone isn’t the goal, you want targeted traffic)
  • Keyword popularity (number of searches done in a period of time, popular phrases less relevant, more competitive, cars or homes ex, in most cases less popular phrases are better)
  • Users intent (research vs purchase, stage in buying process, kw indicate where consumer is in the buying process) you want to match your content to satisfy the user’s intent when using the keyword – for instance review in the beginning, fast or quick in terms they want to find buy button, those landing pages that you tie with those keywords are going to be very important (80% of all searches on the web are non commercial)
  • competition (who is raking for your keyword terms? Who has PPC ads? Search term parity – if you are trying to win something in SEO you have to do as much as the person that is currently ranking, how much are their bids, how optimized is the site, linkage info, anchor text etc., what keywords are optimized and where are they on page) Competitive tols – Hitwise, Comscore, SEOMOZ keyword tool difficulty, SEM Rush, performance – test keyword performance look at analytics

Content optimization:

  • Think phrase not just single keyword, use matrix,
  • Title tages best to optimize
  • Title appears in first line of listing on SERP
  • Spend extra time to create compelling titles that grab attention
  • Include keywords
  • Meta important bc snippit that gets ppl to click on your page, keywords and strong mrkting message – good description will get ppl to click on you even if you are lower on the page
  • h tags
  • Visible portion of page
  • Al attribute
  • Links and anchor text
  • File names
  • url

Images as content

  • Optimize images by using kw description in file name, alt ext, caption etc.
  • On page
  • Anchor text huge
  • Home page strongest, most targeted
  • Internal page SEO – look at slides
  • Talk about benefits not features – makes people more interested

3 Types of searchers:

  1. navigational – type in your website
  2. informational – enter questions
  3. transactional – buying ones/subscribing ones, download

*note: no tool is 100% accurate, but it’s a good ballpark estimate Using all in title helps to see who is optimized for that particular subset

How many terms should you target a page? It’s subjective and need to look at competitors, and look at linkage data and where you are ranking. Look at your Page Rank, and it depends on that as well, long tails better, and then each page should have laser focus on one term. But, usually two or three phases max.

Does it matter where keywords are in page content? Yes. You want it early, prominent bold, header tag, linked, title, bulleted, links, etc. Sends signal to search engines that’s what the page is about.

The above is a very thorough list of tools and ways of finding keywords. Of course this can all seem a bit overwhelming, so I would recommend finding the tools that work best for you and sticking to 2 – 3 different sources.  Also, within most of the tools talked about above there are tips on how to use those for coming up with blog titles and content ideas. If you are ever having a hard time coming up with content these are great quick fixes to get the juices flowing.

What tools do you currently use or would you recommend? Are there any methods you are currently using that you don’t see mentioned above?  Share them with us in the comments 🙂