Whether you’re a seasoned SEO Consultant, independent consultant, SEO agency, or a total beginner in the space, it’s important to understand that the goal of keyword research is to generate a large number of highly relevant terms for your business. Put simply, these are all the possible Google search terms that someone could use to ultimately find your business.

To get the best results, it is important to optimize your website and backlinks to cater for the most relevant keywords - and that doesn’t mean just the obvious ones. It is good practice to look for niche keywords where competition is low and demand is high. This makes it easier to achieve higher rankings in search engines, which generally is a surefire way to increase traffic to your site.

What are keywords?

Keywords are a word or phrase that describes your content. In terms of blogs and SEO, you can think of keywords as the key between what people are looking for — their search queries — and what you offer.

Organizing keywords

Short tail vs long tail keywords

Source: BigCommerce.

There are three types of keywords:

  1. Short tail, also known as Head. These usually consist of one or two words, for example, “red automobile”. These words are broad and generic, and often vague keywords.
  2. Medium tail, also known as the Body. These keywords usually consist of three or four words; for example, “racing red automobile”. They are more specific and descriptive.
  3. Long tail. Long tail keywords usually consist of four or more words; for example, “german racing red automobile”. These are detailed and very specific, which means that search volume for these keywords is generally lower than short or medium tail keywords. The term “long tail” comes from the so-called “search demand curve”.

Organization by intent

Source: CoSchedule.

It's best to conduct some product research to better understand the different intentions of your target audience. You can then go ahead and organize keywords by intent:

  • Navigational (Go): A browsing search query is often called a “go” query because it is used when people want to find a specific website or page.
  • Informational (Know): An informative search query is about researching people's issues and looking for answers. Therefore, it is also called 'know' query.
  • Transactional (Do): Use transactional search queries when users are ready to make purchase decisions or for lead generation. These queries are called “do” because the action is coming.

Organization by content type

Depending on your site, different keywords can become different forms of content:

  • Frequently Asked Questions Page
  • Blog articles
  • In-depth articles (perhaps available for download in pdf)
  • Live Glossary
  • Product Reviews
  • Various types of content of cornerstone
  • LSI (related searches) and synonyms

About LSI keywords
This represents potential semantic indexes. They are words that are usually found in a single topic and are semantically related to each other. They have to tell the search engine what their content is, because the same keywords can have multiple meanings.  

Understanding Keyword Difficulty

When conducting keyword research, keyword difficulty scores are an important metric to account for. The keyword difficulty of a keyword helps indicate the general difficulty of ranking on page 1 of Google for that particular keyword, all kinds of factors such as competition for that keyword to the number of backlinks that your competing domains have can have an impact on this score. Generally, the more backlinks you're able to attain for a web page, the easier it is to rank for your target keywords with that web page. It's important to note, however, that building backlinks is an intensive task that requires it's own research and strategy - though you could always consider outsourcing to a dedicated link building agency to handle it for you.

Best Keyword Research Tools

1. Google Ads Keyword Planner

Google offers a suite of free tools that are helpful for conducting basic keyword analysis. All results are based on data from Google’s ads engine.

Google recently released an update to Google Keyword Planner which now requires you to set up a proper campaign in order to retrieve high-quality data.

Key features:

  • Displays search volume estimates for keywords.
  • Generates new keyword suggestions by combining keyword lists.
  • Creates new keyword variations based on the primary keyword.


  • Hides long tail keyword data because the tool was created for Google Ads, not for SEO purposes.
  • The keywords generated by the device may not produce good results because the tool is targeted at advertisers rather than SEO.
  • Google started limiting output options for advertisers (or accounts) with low or zero monthly spending.

2. Bing Ads Keyword Planner

Bing’s Ads Keyword Planner provides ad group suggestions and displays monthly average trends, relative competition, and suggested bids.

Key features:

  • Displays search volume data and trends.
  • Generates estimates of performance and costs.
  • Multiply keyword lists to new keywords.


Bing represents only 20% of the search engine market in the United States and provides data that may not be as useful or reliable, at least for websites optimized for Google Ads engines. Also, like Google Ads Keyword Planner, the tool provides data to help advertisers and not publishers.

3. SpyFu

SpyFu is an incredible tool that allows you to spy on the keywords your competitors are using. It uses historical data to provide you with keyword suggestions for both SEO and AdWords.

The best thing about the tool is that it allows you to discover valuable, untapped keywords and find out virtually everything you'd need to know to rank for them.

4. MozBar: Free Google Chrome extension

Add it to any google search phrase and you will see the browser data linked for each search listing.

  • DA is the domain authority, which marks the credibility of the entire domain.
  • PA is the credibility of a particular page.

5. Wordtracker Scout

Click on the extension on any web page and you will get the most relevant keywords from the copy. It's like a keyword density inspector, but better.

Displays data as a word cloud that you can use to optimize recommendations based on relevance and number of words. You can also choose to view data from different countries.

6. Answer The Public

Answer The Public is a free keyword planner tool that also extends the autocomplete results you see in Google Keyword Planner.

The premise is simple, you enter your keyword and ask the “Seeker” for content ideas. You also choose your preferred language:

The idea of content is divided into different categories:

  • Questions – what, where, why, which, how.
  • Prepositions – with, to, for, like.
  • Comparisons – like, and, or, vs.
  • Alphabetical – a, b, c, etc.

7. Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest is basically a free, minified version Google Keyword Planner. It allows you to monitor the backlinks of competitors and see their rankings. If you do SEO on a budget, it can help you get the job done.  

8. Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere is an amazing free tool that allows you to access search volume, competition and average CPC. It also shows statistics on the relevant keywords and provides you with useful “people also search” keyword suggestions.

9. AhRefs

AhRefs is a crowd favorite; not only for keyword research, but also for link building, rank tracking, proposing content ideas, etc. It has all the bells and whistles and is easily one of the most comprehensive SEO tool on the market.

10. SemRush

SemRush is another great keyword tool. It's more affordable than AhRefs and is better suited to SEO novices. Apart from SEO functionality, it also has good PPC and social media functions.

11. Keyword Tool By CognitiveSEO

Another very solid keywords research tool, with its own massive database and infrastructure. It's made for marketers to conduct the research, analyze rankings and figure out how to optimize the content.

Unlike many tools out there, CognitiveSEO has quite intuitive interface, and is also accessible in terms of pricing.

12. Google / Google Suggest

Google Suggest is often used as a real-time function when a user enters a search phrase in a browser or Google website.

This makes Google Suggest a relevant source of keyword research. You can find a large number of organic keywords that are very closely related to the live searched keyword. This is an “automatic suggestion” feature that generates an almost unlimited number of keyword ideas.

For beginners, pay attention to the box “People ask too” that shows some searches. You can generate an almost infinite list of questions asked by people.

There are many factors at work when it comes to SEO, but one thing is certain: if you want to rank in 2019, then you need to align your content to search intent. Google is your best friend when it comes to understanding search intent. Just look at the search results and analyze them.  What are people looking for?

13. CanIRank

CanIRank is an artificial intelligence-powered SEO software that focuses on bringing you actionable opportunities specific to your business. Unlike other SEO tools, CanIRank was built to provide you with a roadmap to complete your SEO initiatives and not just provide data. With multiple plan options including a freemium version, CanIRank is an affordable tool that caters to businesses of all sizes. CanIRank has a team of SEO experts behind them as well, so if you love their tool, but don’t have time to implement the tactics - it’s easy to delegate to their agency.

Wrapping Up

There truly is no limit to the number of great keyword research tools on the internet. Ultimately, choosing the right one for yourself comes down to finalising your keyword organization and workflow, understanding your specific needs and finding the right solution for your budget.