No startup can build an effective SEO strategy without a strong keyword research foundation.
Here are the five best keyword research tools I recommend for startups to begin a well-rounded keyword foundation for SEO.
1. Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is the best place to begin keyword research.
It’s designed for advertising, but you can use it to research organic keywords by customizing your results for one of your competitors.
Enter your product or service, your competitor’s landing page and product category. Customize your search for certain kinds of keywords.
Google Keyword Planner
With Keyword Planner, you can:
- Search for new keyword and ad group ideas
- Get search volume for a list of keywords or group them into ad groups
- Get traffic forecasts for a list of keywords
- Multiply keyword lists to get new keyword ideas
You should pay attention to keyword ideas and ad group ideas, as both can help with SEO. Ad group ideas contain a set of related keywords that might not show up in general keyword ideas.
Pay attention to average monthly searches, competition, and other available metrics to determine relevant keywords to target.
If you plan on doing SEO and PPC together, Keyword Planner can help you determine which keywords are better to target organically or with advertising.
You can also use Keyword Planner’s suggestions as a base to build long tail keywords with the help of some of the other tools below.
KWFinder is a long tail keyword research tool with a great interface. It shows you trend, search volume, CPC, and level of difficulty in results.
But if you click on an individual keyword, a second pane pops up showing its difficulty level (from one to a hundred) and the current Google search results:
This shows you what domains are targeting the keyword, the page’s backlinks, social shares, and traffic. These extra dimensions of the keyword can be relevant, especially when integrating SEO with content marketing.
KWFinder also helps you dig into local keyword research – you can target your search results by city, state or country.
3. Moz’s Keyword Explorer
Keyword Explorer is a new tool by Moz that adds some extra dimensions to keyword research. In addition to Volume and Difficulty, Keyword Explorer offers:
- Opportunity: Relative CTR of the organic results on a SERP
- Importance: How critical the keyword is to your campaign
- Potential: A combination of all keyword metrics to help you prioritize
Moz Keyword Explorer
The tool draws on Keyword Planner, Google Suggest, and Related Searches. If you’ve already developed a list of keywords with a different tool, you can easily upload them to Keyword Explorer to get more insights and start prioritizing.
Keyword Planner also offers deeper understanding of why certain pages rank in SERPs based on link and social data as well. This can help you in planning your SEO strategy beyond keyword research.
4. Keyword Tool
Anyone using Google’s Keyword Planner for keyword research should also use Keyword Tool. Since Keyword Planner is designed for advertisers, it won’t always show lucrative long-tail keywords that Keyword Tool manages to capture.
This tool is free for the first 750+ keyword suggestions; sign up for the pro version to see data such as search volume, CPC on AdWords, and competition. It also allows you to export your results to CSV.
Another cool feature of Keyword Tool is that it also helps you find long tail keywords for YouTube, Bing, Amazon, and the App Store.
You can use these databases to tap into even more relevant search terms that your search engine competitors might not be aware of.
When it comes to keyword research, SEMrush is a one-stop shop with an impressive list of features.
SEO and PPC research
Search for keywords that perform well on both Google and Bing. Gather in-depth information, including CPC, volume, trend, number of results and ad copies.
Find related keywords and phrase matches
Use the Full Search Report to find relevant alternative search queries for latent semantic indexing or alternative targeting.
SEMrush also analyzes the common keywords found on the top 100 domains for a search term on Google and Bing. These related keywords come with synonyms and other suggested variations.
Research long tail keywords
Take advantage of their bank of low-volume keywords if you’re looking for less competition. SEMrush collects all keywords that have a search volume of at least ten queries per year.
Use regional databases for international SEO
SEMrush helps you adapt keywords to different international regions by offering 28 regional keyword databases. And if your website’s multilingual, the tool also has keyword research capabilities in 16 languages.
You can find the keywords your competitors are ranking for and estimate the value of these keywords based on several web performance indicators.
SEMrush also helps you dig into your competitor’s landing pages to brainstorm your own content optimization.
Use their Competitive Positioning Map and Organic Competitors Report to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your direct competitors’ SEO strategies.
Know any other great SEO tools for startups? Please comment below.