The Best Keyword Research Tools For Blogging & Content Marketing

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Are you a blogger or content marketer looking to make keyword research or content production easier and quicker? Well you’re in the right place, because I too used to struggle figuring out which keyword tool was the best at performing different types of research during my keyword analysis phase. In this article, I’ll go over which keyword tools are the best for different tasks and why, and by the end of this article, you’ll be able to decide which keyword tools are right for you. Some are free and some are paid, and I added my affiliate link to the ones I’m a member of… But the majority of them have free account options as well.

My Top 3 Go To Keyword Research Tools (some free some paid)

Here’s a brief overview on why I like these tools in particular and how you can use them to benefit your own blog/content.

1) SEM Rush

semrush-logoSEM Rush is my favorite competitive research keyword tool, but I also use it kind of like Google Search Console (used to be called the Google Webmaster Tools) to spot areas of content performance that could easily be improved. Sometimes there are blog posts or pages on your site that rank for a ton of unintended long tail keyword phrases, and it’s very common for variations of those you may have never thought of, to come up after the fact. By using the Google Search Console and SEM Rush to analyze your own domain, you can easily find new keywords outside of your original research, that your content is performing well for.

You can either take this information and beef up an existing post or page on your blog, or create new content and strength in a certain area of your site with creative interlinking. A good example of this would be, let’s say you run a baking blog, and started talking about a popular Kitchen Aid mixer attachment, and it started to get more traction than you ever expected (this is fairly common). The original post where this mixer attachment was mentioned, discussed a popular baking recipe that you’ve perfected, but your readers needed to know details about the right tools for the job. They constantly asked questions about the appliances and kitchen utensils you used, which added long tail content to the page as time went on. When you check your SEM Rush dashboard, and see these new long tails popping up that you’re getting traffic for, you might be surprised by some of the popular search strings people use to find your content. (things you probably haven’t written a post on intentionally)

Once you spot this, you can then decide to go back and give that post with more in-depth information covering that sub topic (Easily ad an update section with the mixer attachments, utensils, etc…), or you may choose to do a separate “best of post” on the best Kitchen Aid mixer attachments you use. Either way this is a win win, and can improve your blog’s performance, and your overall income by using this tool in this manner. To take it a step further, you can then take that specific url of that blog post, and run it through SEM Rush to check the list of related keywords. 9 times out of 10, there are related questions that you’re not answering that can easily be added to your content to make it more thorough. Watch your keyword density here, and proceed by naturally working in new sections to beef up your already good performing pages.

The way you check your entire site like this, is to simply go to the homepage of SEM Rush, enter your domain name hit enter, and then click on “entire menu” in the sidebar. Select pages, and that will bring up the organic research menu with your most popular and high traffic pages. Next to the page itself you’ll see 2 columns, 1 for traffic percentage, and the other with a total number of keywords for that page. You should see hundreds, if not thousands of keywords associated with a particular page, which is normally way more long tails than you would have ever targeted with your original piece of content. If you click on the number associated with the amount of keywords for that page, it will bring up a list of your most popular organic search positions, and the long tail keywords associated with those.

semrush-250In the positions column you can easily spot many areas where you rank on page 2 and 3 of Google for multiple sets of unintended long tail keywords. As I mentioned earlier you have two options here… You can either add content snippets or new sections to the existing post or page, or you can take this information and craft an entirely new piece of content that targets these directly. Either way, by extending your content marketing performance knowledge in this manner, it’s much easier to grow your blog traffic than doing it blind without these tools.

Be sure to be mindful of keyword intent when utilizing this data however, because you don’t want to be creating a bunch of chatter informational content… And by chatter information I mean talk about the latest greatest Netflix show, what book you read while sitting on the toilet, etc… That will not lead to more quality traffic with buyers intent or commercialized intentions, which is what most of you are looking for.


2) Term Explorer

logo_secondary_large Term Explorer is by far my favorite blog keyword research tool. The sheer amount of volume of keywords that you can research in one go, is simply unmatched by any other keyword tool on the market. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even fire up the Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool anymore, because it is too cumbersome to use when Term Explorer is easily 8 to 10 times faster. Not to mention the manner in which it returns the data… built in sorting, with negative and positive combinations built right in prior to export!

If you want to get a fast overview of a niche, you can easily enter one or two see keywords into Term Explorer and within a minute or two (literally 60 to 120 seconds) you will have over 1,000 keywords at your disposal to check CPC, search volume, and competition. There’s no other tool on the market hat will give you the 60,000 foot overview of an industry as fast as Term Explorer does.

Ok ok, so how would I use this?…

Before I enter in a new niche, or craft a piece of content targeting a particular topic, one of the first things I do is fire up Term Explorer to easily see popular subtopics I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. That’s not to say that you can’t write really good content without any keyword tools at all, but when it only takes a minute or two to run, the benefits of having the added market insights, far outweigh not using the tool! You can easily see the search volume of hundreds, if not thousands of related keywords within the Term Explorer dashboard from a simple run. This is useful when planning out your blog categories, and even groups of related posts to establish relevance on a particular topic. You’ll find the by using this tool, it’s easier to write longer more informative content, because you’ve already seen the sub-topics readers are most interested in. If you couple this with the technique I talk about at the end of this post, you’ll have a deadly combination on your hands for endless content ideas that are actually useful to the end user.


3) Keyword Tool.io

keyword-tool-io-logoKeyword Tool.io is my favorite Google search suggest and Bing related search keyword tool to extract alternative long tail related keywords. But there’s also another built-in feature that I use every day that most people don’t recommend highly enough… And that is the key word questions tab!

One easy way you can make your content much better and make your blog posts more useful, is to find the most commonly asked questions that are relevant to your topic at hand. KeywordTool.io reveals these in less than 30 seconds, and all for free. If you’re not working these into your content, you’re simply leaving money on the table, and probably not covering your subject in as much detail as you should. For one thing, these are the actual queries that users are asking when they’re looking things up on a search engine in the first place, and two, you create a lot more value within your content if you provide direct answers to specific questions people are having trouble with. (Pro Tip: if you structure your content correctly, and use TOC+, Google will love you for including these keyword questions 😉 )

For instance let’s take the example of knitting…  (open KeywordTool.io in another tab and do this as you read about it) I entered “knitting” into the search box, and selected the questions tab and immediately brought back 172 questions on knitting. Now I’m not a knitting expert, even though my grandmother used to be into sewing when I was a kid, but immediately there are tons and tons of travel questions about being able to take knitting kits and needles on airplanes. I’m not a nitter and I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I can tell you if I had a knitting blog I would damn sure create The Ultimate Knitting Travel Guide because clearly thousands if not millions of people are having trouble with this. You could easily monetize with travel offers from the airlines that allowed more flexibility with sewing gear, and even recommend suitcases and travel items to make the process easier.

So with one simple search using this free tool, we spotted a blog post idea to address a common problem that that I’d argue wouldn’t have been on the top of the mind of most knitting blog owners.


The Best Free Keyword Tools

Keyword Density Checker

SEOBook

SEOBook Keyword Density Checker – After I write extra long pieces of content I will commonly check the keyword density after the fact, just to make sure I’m not over optimized in any one particular area on accident.(albeit sometimes intentionally… Ya gotta keep testing right?)

A lot of the times if you’re writing review posts or best of product posts, and have a common product name between multiple brands that’s the same, it can easily drive your keyword density up over 5% in a blog post if you refer to it often. It’s a good idea to go back and insert synonyms in certain areas for better readability and to avoid any future penalties from over optimized content. The free SEO book keyword density tool is easy enough to use, and can quickly analyze any of your live urls.


Ninja Check

Ninja Density Checker – Every not and then, SEo Book’s tool will throw a server side error. When it’s down, I use this tool as a backup.


Competitive Research – Which Tools & How To Use Them

SEMRush

Are there other popular blogs in your niche, and you want to see what’s performing well for them? Simply enter their blog URL into SEM Rush and either go to “pages” in the sidebar menu, or “top organic keywords.” This will quickly give you a brief overview subtopics and particular content that is performing well. Don’t be like every other dirt-bag blogger and copy people’s articles though. It doesn’t take any creativity whatsoever to rip off other people’s content ideas, and you’re ultimately hurting yourself in the end since you never flex your writing muscle. The way you should use this tool is to discover new untapped areas that your blog audience might be interested in, but you haven’t thought yet to cover. It’s your job to come up with a unique way to put your own spin on these areas.


Term Explorer

Term Explorer has a URL analyzer that’s useful for analyzing multiple sites in a given niche, but I tend to use it a different way to get bulk search volume on long tail keywords exported from SEm Rush or a Google suggest scraper.

Without having access to any other paid tools, an easy way to do this is to fire up Keyword Shitter and add 5 to 10 seed keywords and let it run until you have around a thousand results. Copy and paste this into a new Term Explorer project, and do a bulk shallow scan and it’ll quickly return keyword data for a ton of long tails that would have been typically been excluded from a traditional report.


Similar Web

Similar Web is fairly self-explanatory as you just enter in a competitor’s URL, and it will show you a list of their most popular traffic sources, paid and organic placements, and other various points data points with interest. If you’re watching an offer or a churn and burn site that keeps reinventing itself, you can usually see some traffic sources, redirects, etc… that are normally blank if they’re blocking certain crawlers.


SpyFu

SpyFu was great at taking a look at PPC or display add competitors, but I don’t typically use them for content marketing research. I don’t use this tool often, but figured I’d throw it in there since it might be useful for some.


Long Tail Keyword Research

Uber Suggest

Uber Suggest used to be my least favorite Google related keyword tool, because their interface was cumbersome to use compared to KeywordTool.io. However, they recently went through a redesign and the new interface is modeled after most popular keyword tools and is much improved. They’ve always made it really easy to enter in seed keywords, and get Google related to words in a flash, now it’s just easier to use and on par with the competition.

This is an underrated technique forgetting popular content marketing keywords as opposed to doing what every other blogger does which is extracting them from the Google Keyword tool. Very often the keywords with high search volume don’t necessarily have high commercial buyers and 10, but if you know which keyword modifiers to use and add them to your CD word on a Google related search comma go very often be ahead of the game by writing your content around those focal points instead.

Update – while linking up all these tools in this article, I saw a new development for Ubersuggest that caught my eye! This extension looks pretty badass, and I see they support Keyword Shitter as well. Going to have to try this out and report back!


Keyword Keg

In light of the recent update above, it looks like the makers of the keywords everywhere extension also have a beta tool that pulls from tons of sources. The thing I like most about Keyword Tool.io, is the fact that they have Bing related keywords and the Questions tab integrated. I’m always on the lookout for tools that make my job easier though, so this might be one to keep an eye on.


Keyword Tool.io

Keyword Tool.io is my favorite long-tail keyword tool because they have a popular questions tab integrated right into the interface. I’ve been preaching adding an FAQ section to your blog posts for a long time, as it increases the natural elements of your content, and offers higher value because you answer direct questions that your readers are searching for. I use this tool everyday, but not for search volume… For all those gushy long tails the search volume tools miss! 😉


KW Finder

Becoming a bit redundant as most of these related keyword scrapers are very similar in nature, but I like the variety that you get with KW Finder, as it often pull related keywords sorted with decent search volume and CPC automatically. Normally with most of these tools, they’ll be sorted by volume first, and I’d have to do a bit of filtering in order to see things in the middle of the list. With this tool, it’s very common something will catch my eye right away and save me time. The free accounts a bit limited however, but it’s a fairly affordable tool.


Keyword.io

This Google autocomplete long tail keyword tool performs much the same as the aforementioned keyword tools, with the exception that they had several additional product based tabs built right in to the scaper menu… including Alibaba, Fiver, Amazon and more. This is very useful if you’re doing specific product based research, because you will get commonly searched product titles from Amazon and eBay that you wouldn’t normally see as frequently in a Google related search. If you’re in eCommerce in any fashion, this is a great tool for you. If you’re doing any type of “best of reviews”, or creating content around a particular brand/model of a product, this can be really useful to discover comparisons you didn’t previously know about at first glance.


Keyword Shitter

Keyword Shitter is a bare-bones Google suggest scraper, but it has one very useful feature that makes excluding or including only the keywords with decent commercial intent much much easier… It has a positive and negative filter feature, so for example when you’re searching for long tails around a particular product, it’s very easy to exclude long tail keywords that contain the words free cheap, etc… I normally use this tool everyday as well.


Answer The Public

Answer The Public is probably one of the newer related keyword tools on the market, but I personally don’t care for the interface as much. If they would remove the keyword mind maps in a circle oriented graph style, it would speed up the process and be much more straightforward. I personally don’t care for the sorting of this, but some people love it.


My Favorite Paid Tools

SEMRush

My favorite individual page/url amalyzer tool is definitely SEM Rush simply because of the massive amount of versatility and research you can do with it. I can analyze my own domains, competitors domains, grab top organic and related keywords, and much much more. As a blogger and content marketer, this is really the only paid tool you need in your arsenal to be successful. (I’m not saying you have to sign up to ANY tool in order to be a successful blogger, you can do it without them… They just make it a lot easier and faster) Personally I like to use a wide variety of tools, that way I cast a wider net with different data points to compare to each other, but it’s not entirely necessary, especially if you just getting started. You can totally get by using the free tools mentioned above in this article, some of them might just limit you on how many searches you can do per day without signing up for a premium account.


Term Explorer

Turn Explorer is by far the best keyboard to on the planet for both keyword research and competitive analysis in record-breaking time. There’s simply no other tool on the market that can return this much keyword data this quickly. This is my go to tool for blanket market research before entering into a new niche, and for bulk checking thousands of long tail keywords to see if there’s decent competition to indicate commercial intent on keywords with low or no volume.


Serpwoo

I’ve gotta add Serpwoo to the list. I often forget they came out with a BETA keyword tool not long ago, and by the time I get around to publishing this article it might be in it’s full form. I tested it out in the past, but haven’t used it enough to comment on specific strategies to use it with, however their SERP industry tracker is the best in the business. If you’re doing barnacle/parasite/profile seo, this tool is for you. (when checking out some of these SEO case studies, you can easily check Serpwoo and see right away if A) those people are full of shit, or B) they’re not truly using a proxy/incognito and their “case study” is bunk in regards to which third party properties have the most longevity. Of course you can always just check the SERPs manually yourself (they never lie… just kidding!), but to do this with any kind of scale is impossible. Without SerpWoo that is.

Sign up here and take SerpWoo for a FREE Trial test run


Most Popular Keyword Tools From Other Industry Experts

Long Tail Pro

Long tail Pro is probably one of most highly regarded keyword tools on the market by tons of bloggers and online marketers. I personally have gotten away from desktop applications, as I feel most SAAS apps are better maintained and much more reliable. But that’s not to say Long Tail Pro isn’t a good fit for you, as many successful bloggers and its website owners have said it’s the number one thing that contributed to their success as a beginner. (not knowing where to start, I’m assuming)

Click here to get Long Tail Pro for a $1 trial


Market Samurai

Market Samurai is probably the second most highly recommended keyword tool in the blogosphere, most notably for its keyword difficulty scoring. Many bloggers and content marketers consider this metric, which you can assess how hard it is to compete for a particular keyword with, the most important competitive advantage.

Click here to see how Market Samurai’s keyword difficulty scoring works


SEMRush

As mentioned before, SEMRush is one of the most highly regarded competitive research tools for doing quick analysis of both paid and organic traffic for a particular niche or website. The wide variety of data and the depth of information tiers available from a simple query, is hard to beat. Many notable bloggers also refer to SEMrush in many of their competitive research tutorials.

Click here to see the competitor analysis feature of SEM Rush


The Pitfalls Of The Adwords Keyword Planner Tool (and how it hampers your blog post content marketing)

Bloggers and content marketers that recommend writing articles simply based on the results of the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, are both leaving a lot of money on the table, and steering you in the wrong direction. The AdWords keyword tool is primarily a PPC tool to provide search volume estimates based on ad impressions on the content network or search, for a given query. What this is leaving out, and how it hampers your blog post content if you use this tool as your only source of keyword intelligence, is plenty of long tail keywords with high commercial intent. You know, the things people ACTUALLY search for! The way this translates into more content equals less money for you, is the lack of awareness surrounding informational queries compared to purchase decision queries. (i.e. – best headphones: with 90,500 searches/mo VS best headphones for running: with 4,400 searches/mo)

For instance if you write 30 articles on the latest Netflix series, and monetize those posts with DVD purchase link or a Netflix CPA offer, you might get a lot of traffic with high interest. But what is that interest surrounding? Its surrounding people who are waiting to get on the couch and burn through hours of their day getting lost in their favorite TV show.

Now compare that with writing 30 articles on the last 30 products that you’ve purchased, and reviewing them based on your real life experiences. Let’s say you monetize these with the Amazon affiliate program, and because you’re a low-volume affiliate you only get 5% commission. You also get a third of the traffic compared to the Netflix articles, but 90% of the people reading these articles are interested in purchasing or learning about the product or service you used. (or trying to solve a problem for themselves that may have already had… do you smell opportunity???)  Which do you think would be more profitable?

How does this correlate into creating content based on only utilizing the intel from the Google Keyword Tool? Even though you find short tail keywords with high search volume, this isn’t what the majority of people type in contrary to popular belief. Most searches are unique in nature, and consist of long variations with multiple keyword modifiers. For instance, if I wanted to buy a cordless drill, I’m not just going to type in cordless drill. I’m going to type in a particular brand if I know of a good one already. Or I’m going to look for the best brands or popular reviews, and I’m also going to add a keyword modifier to search naturally, because I want to save money and get something on the cheap or on sale. So common query for me might be, “DeWalt 18 volt cordless drill on sale.” I don’t know if you know much about the Google Keyword Tool, but it’s never going to return that keyword without some serious digging. However if you were to use one of the Google suggest scrapers I listed above, that particular long tail keyword with high commercial will pop right up, along with many others in less than a few minutes of sorting.

So how does this translate into more income for you and your blog? By writing content around what people actually want to buy, learn about, or are currently having problems with, you position yourself to create much more value/content based on need, rather than on impressions. Test this out for yourself by creating multiple articles utilizing different methods, and then compare the results.


How To Use These Keyword Tools To Get Blog Post Ideas And Plan Your Content

An easy way to use these tools in combination to get good blog post ideas, and plan out your content before you even write it, is to pick pick a topic and follow the steps below:

  1. First take your seed keyword from your chosen topic and enter it into Keyword Shitter
  2. Next export less than a thousand of these keywords into a bulk shallow scan at Term Explorer
  3. Sort these by search volume, competition, and CPC to see which have all three in common
  4. Pick the top 5 that are most frequent between all three sortings and you think would fit well as subtopics for your content
  5. Paste this 5 keyword and hear page template and make them flow as good subheadings
  6. Go to SEM Rush and enter in 3 competitors urls that are on the first page for your desired keyword
  7. Extract long tails from those urls, and form your subheads where it makes sense
  8. Head over to KeywordTool.io and grab a few popular questions surrounding your keyword/article/content, and make sure you’re answering these within the body of your article
  9. Once published, check your keyword density using SEO Book and make sure nothing is skyrocketed outside the norms. (safe is .5 – 1%, normal with zero link building and accounting for zero anchor text is 2%… ish. Remember to write for people first, then sprinkle in some optimization if need be.
  10. Once your content flow and optimization checks out, double check your title tags, url, and h1 tags… Vary them slightly, using a good combination of plural and singular keyword headings, and adjusting with alternate synonyms so they don’t all read the same. (i.e. – like a robot!)

Example H2- keyword: DeWalt 18 volt cordless drill on sale    h2 – The Top 3 DeWalt 18 volt cordless drills I found on sale At Amazon

Adding FAQ sections to your posts can be incredibly beneficial if your formatting correctly and using TOC+. Your Q&A’s will get bolded in the SERPs for increased CTR.


How To Sort Keywords Based On User Intent (and why it matters for you to have a successful blog)

The best way to intuitively sort keywords based on commercial intent, is to use your brain instead of a keyword tool. I’m kidding… well kind of 😉

The best way to intuitively sort keywords based on commercial intent, is to see which keyword modifiers commonly correlate to higher PPC competition and CPC rates. This will tell you when, where, and why competitors and big box stores are choosing to spend money. Typically this only occurs consistently for long periods of time in areas where profitability is common.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet of keyboard modifiers to keep in the top of your mind that most money key words contain:

  • review
  • comparison
  • best
  • top
  • buy
  • cheap
  • affordable
  • inexpensive
  • reliable

Conclusion: And The Best Keyword Research Tool Is…

To say one particular keyword tool is simply the best out of the bunch is a little bit shortsighted. The best keyword tool for you is going to be the one that you can use the easiest, is within your budget if it’s a paid tool, and works well for what you’re trying to accomplish.

If you’re simply trying to become a successful blogger, or content marketer, I highly recommend you check out SEM Rush, Term Explorer, and Keyword Shitter. These are my top 3 favorite keyword tools that I use almost day in and day out. For industry questions, KeywordTool.io is awesome. (Pro tip: also using the “Bing” scraper tab can return keywords you don’t always see in the Google tab)

Aside from that, a ton of other bloggers prefer Long Tail Pro and Market Samurai for the keyword difficulty analysis, and ability to easily generate less competitive keywords. I don’t personally use these, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a good fit for you.

If there are any new keyword tools you use and recommend that I should try, please let me know in the comments below.

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Join the conversation on Matt's case studies at CleverLeverage.com as he discovers and tests new ways to earn more income, learn alternative investment strategies to net >10%, maintain good health, and turn passions into online businesses.

3 Comments

    • Is this from Dan and the TE crew, or are you making a knock off of the name to garner brand searches?

      Suggestions: ditch the paging… I’m not gonna wade through pages and pages of keywords instead of scrolling. Fix the number sorting feature when stop/play is activated. These scripts seem to be popping up all over now, what makes yours different? (future dev??)

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