If you provide search engine optimization services for your clients, you’re bound to be familiar with the concept of keywords. Even those who haven’t had a lot of experience with SEO will have heard about how powerful these phrases can be when they’re typed into search fields.
When you’re looking to increase your web traffic and your Google rankings, you can’t afford to ignore the importance of keywords. While they might seem small or inconsequential, these terms tell search engines (and web users) what your site is all about.
As a result, it’s vital to choose your keywords wisely. Otherwise, you might end up missing out on a lot of leads and conversions.
To optimize a website or run a digital marketing campaign effectively, you can’t merely make an educated guess. In such a competitive landscape, you need greater insight into search volumes and keyword competitiveness. Without this information, you could end up wasting a lot of time and money targeting keywords that are wholly inappropriate for your budget or even your industry.
There are many ways to zero in on the best keywords for a given site or advertising campaign, but even SEO professionals need special tools to get the job done. Arguably, one of the most popular tools for this purpose is the Google Keyword Planner. But what you might not realize is that there are other alternatives available to you -- and that those alternatives might make your life (and your optimization) even easier.
What Is a Keyword Planner?
First, let’s briefly discuss what a keyword planner is. The Google Keyword Planner, which is a free tool available to those with Google Ads accounts, contains huge amounts of data pertaining to keywords. An SEO analyst or Google Ads expert can quickly type a keyword into the tool’s search field and learn more about how those keywords would potentially perform if they were part of a given campaign. The Google Keyword Planner can also provide information that can help to determine a campaign’s budget or specific bids (which can focus on clicks, impressions, conversions, or views).
Basically, you can use the Google Keyword Planner to decide on which new or additional keywords to choose for a campaign. Thanks to the data the Google AdWords keyword tool can generate, you can gain insight into predicted conversions and clicks (as well as other forecasts). The historical and estimated data offered by this Google keyword tool has made it a must-have for many.
But even though it may be the most well-known, the AdWords keyword planner isn’t the only option available. In fact, there are a number of other resources that may be easier to use and provide the same caliber of information. Before you can make a decision about the keyword research tool you want to use, however, it might help to understand a bit more about the process and why it’s even necessary.
Why Do You Need a Keyword Research Tool?
Conducting keyword research involves analyzing search terms that are typed into Google and other search engines. The insight you gain from keyword research can inform the decisions you make for online advertising campaigns and for on-site optimization. But if you’re relying on manual methods, you aren’t going to get very far.
That’s why keyword search tools are so beloved by digital marketing specialists. Keyword tools take a lot of the guesswork out of the equation. In a matter of seconds, tools like the Google Keyword Planner are able to scour the internet and find the search terms that will yield the best results for a given campaign. Although the AdWords keyword planner and other versions are not perfect (because nothing in SEO can be completely accurate or totally predictable!), they make conducting free keyword research far simpler and more precise.
Rather than make a wild guess or target the exact keywords your competitors are, you can rely on a keyword planner tool to conduct vital research and to estimate how well certain search terms might perform. Ultimately, using a keyword research tool will offer more reliable results and significantly more insight. In other words, using a free keyword tool is considered a must for most analysts and marketers. It simply makes sense.
Why Not Use the Google Keyword Planner?
It’s understandable that many professionals rely on the Google AdWords keyword tool (or as it’s now known, the Google Ads Keyword Planner). After all, Google is arguably the go-to for all things search. But that doesn’t mean that you should restrict yourself to using this Google keyword tool.
This keyword planner is powerful, but it’s evolved quite a bit since it first launched. Over time, the setup of the planner has changed and the options it’s offered to users have actually decreased. The results dashboard is also a lot busier in appearance, which can make the process more confusing. While it provides a ton of insight, it may not be the most user-friendly option -- especially for those who want just the basics.
It’s also important to mention that gaining access to the information that the free Google Keyword Planner has to offer may not be as straightforward as many people assume. You don’t have to pay to use this keyword search tool, which means you don’t actually have to spend money on Google Ads to reap the benefits. However, you do need to have a Google account -- and you’ll likely need to utilize a bit of a workaround tactic.
Google has set up the page to make it seem as if you need to run some ads in order to access the tool. In many cases, Google will take you to an “advertising goals page,” where you’re asked to enter a specific answer. You can bypass this screen by selecting the option that indicates you’re experienced with Google Ads, but this isn’t an obvious choice. Neither is the link that will take you directly to the tool or that will allow you to create an account without developing a campaign.
Whether you want to start an ad campaign or not, figuring out how to navigate the Google Keyword Planner can be incredibly complex and overwhelming. It’s easy to make mistakes and feel totally lost. While many people will swear by this keyword tool, it’s not the only option you have at your disposal -- nor is it the easiest one to navigate.
As a result, even experienced analysts and marketers will ditch the free Google keyword tool for other options. Keyword Planner alternatives are fairly common, though some are more effective than others. Many utilize data compiled from other trusted sources, such as SEMRush, while others have developed their own keyword search technology to provide the solutions marketing specialists are looking for. Be sure to conduct thorough research into viable keyword planner alternatives and check from where these providers obtain their data. That way, you’ll gain even greater insight into your free keyword research process and ensure you aren’t missing out.
How Do I Use This Free Keyword Tool?
Most keyword research tools essentially work the same way: simply enter the primary keyword into the search field of the tool. With this search term in mind, our free keyword tool will find related terms with high search volumes that you can then use to build your ads campaign.
You’ll usually need to enter your email address so that the information can be sent to you for your records. Of course, if you’re already working with the company that offers a keyword research tool (or if you have an interest in hiring them for your other SEO or paid search needs), this can also help you get the ball rolling on improving your overall strategy. That said, using this service is not dependent upon signing up for services. Our keyword search tool is provided free of charge to anyone who wants to use it. We’ve also made sure that it’s incredibly user-friendly without sacrificing accuracy -- something many alternatives lack.
What Can This Google Keyword Planner Alternative Help Me With?
With help from our free SEO keyword tool, you’ll be able to gain insight into search term competition and search result numbers, keyword trends, search volume, cost per click, and more. We’ll send you the data so that you can download or export it into a format that works for you and your clients. You can even search for longtail keywords (which are becoming more popular now, thanks to voice search) and find related terms that can take your campaigns to new heights.
Armed with the information from our Google Keyword Planner alternative, you’ll be set up for success. You’ll soon be able to zero in on new opportunities, make necessary adjustments for existing campaigns, create better-optimized content, improve site navigation and traffic, find relevant long-tail search terms, get better results with your PPC campaigns, hone in on keyword trends, and learn more about your competition.
If you want to amp up your SEO, it really all starts with the keyword research. Fortunately, we’ve made that a whole lot simpler (and a lot less intimidating) with our newest free SEO keyword tool.
Does Keyword Research Still Matter?
In a word: yes. Although SEO has changed a lot in recent years, there are certain aspects that remain relatively constant.
One of those aspects is the importance of keywords within a given strategy. Trends may come and go, but search engines (and web users) will always want to know what your website is all about and whether it’ll solve their problems. You can’t expect anyone to know a thing about your business unless you tell them outright.
Therefore, including keywords in high-quality content, tags, meta descriptions, and other areas of web development is an essential part of the optimization process. Moreover, conducting keyword research provides you with highly valuable information about your audience. Without conducting free keyword research, how do you know whether you’re targeting the right terms at all?
The simple answer is… you won’t know. You can’t expect to reach your target demographic if you have absolutely no idea what they’re searching for online. It’s not enough to include the terms that you think make sense with your business or your industry. The reality is that those terms might not align with the web searches being conducted on a daily basis. If you fail to target the right keywords, you’ll jeopardize your ability to increase traffic, to rank, and to have your ads appear before the right people. Keyword research can reveal user intent, which allows you to understand potential web visitors and customers in a more complete way. In that sense, it’s a priceless component of your SEO strategy development.
Can I Perform Keyword Research On My Own?
Really, it’s never been easier to DIY keyword research -- at least in the beginning stages. You’re no longer limited in how you perform keyword research and you don’t necessarily have to be an expert to do it. There are tons of free tools for keyword research available that can get you started and provide the data you need to create a killer campaign. You certainly don’t have to be a seasoned SEO professional to gain insight into your keyword selections if you use our keyword research alternative. Tools like ours can make the process much more accessible.
Keep in mind, however, that having the information doesn’t always mean the strategy can be executed optimally without help. Having this data can be extremely valuable in explaining concepts to clients or learning exactly why certain strategies aren’t performing the way you expected. But there are certain components of search engine optimization that are better left to the SEO savvy.
Of course, you can (and should!) conduct your own keyword research. That’s the whole reason we created this keyword search tool. You deserve to know more about search volume and predicted performance -- before you ever seek out help with your digital marketing strategy. We’ve made it easy for just about anyone to get the information they’re after. That way, you can feel totally confident and have well-informed conversations with your SEO team and ensure you’re getting the best possible guidance for your own site or for your clients.
Why Should I Conduct My Own Keyword Research?
We just mentioned that you should be able to conduct keyword research on your own -- which is the whole point of using our keyword planner tool. But some agency owners might be wondering why they have to conduct keyword research for their clients if they plan to outsource their SEO or PPC services.
Certainly, your digital marketing agency partner should be able to provide you with keyword research and budget comparisons for your campaigns. In many cases, that comes standard with a service plan. If your agency doesn’t provide this service, even for an extra charge, you might want to reconsider whether they’re going to end up producing the results you’re looking for.
That said, some SEO resellers prefer to conduct their own keyword research. If you have a client who wants to rank on very specific terms, it makes sense that you might personally supply the target keywords for a given campaign.
In addition, you’re probably going to know more about your client’s business and their industry than your SEO partner might. Although they might be able to supply some excellent topic keywords for context, they might not always have all of the information about what your client is looking for. Your SEO provider will base their keyword research on search volume, user behavior and trends, and competitor data. But they might lack the insight you’ve already gained during the course of your relationship with your client. In these cases, it might make sense to supplement your SEO agency’s keyword research with additional information from your client.
You’ll also want to use a Google AdWords keyword planner or another alternative when you’re providing SEO services yourself or when you want to optimize your own website. Even if you later decide to partner with an SEO agency, the information you obtain from a free Google keyword tool can act as a useful jumping-off point. On the flip side, using a keyword planner can be a good way to narrow down a list of keywords you already identified with other research methods.
These tools also provide an easy way to check on the success of already established campaigns. Since they provide insight into competitor data, you can see what progress has been made so far or what changes might have come up since the campaign was first launched. And if you’re thinking about starting a PPC campaign when you already have SEO (or vice versa), you can use this information to your advantage.
This isn’t to say you should be expected to conduct keyword research completely on your own. But a Google keywords search tool can provide a simple way to find the information you need at any stage of a campaign -- without needing to work with an agency first.
How Can a Keyword Planner Tool Help Me Outrank My Competition?
One of the most compelling reasons to use Google keyword tools and other software alternatives is that they can provide valuable competitor insights.
Keyword research is an essential part of competitive intelligence. When you use a keyword planner tool, you’ll be able to see how competitive a given keyword is. This can help you find out how many sites you’ll need to outrank in order to claim that coveted number one spot. Some keyword planners will also provide competitor domain information, which can allow you to see where your competitors are outranking your efforts on certain keywords.
Generally speaking, available Google keyword tools will help you narrow down which keywords to focus on based on marketplace competition. While you may not be able to gain access to everything a competitor is doing with their SEO by using a Google keyword searching tool, you can obtain some critical information about whether outranking a competitor on a given keyword is a likely possibility. If it isn’t, you can pivot your strategy to better capture user intent.
After all, it’s not always about being number one; you’ll want to make sure that the traffic you get to your site actually converts. The information you obtain from a keyword planner can help you make the right decisions and monitor your campaign’s keywords throughout the optimization process.
What Do I Do With Information Provided By Google Keyword Tools?
When you use keyword research platforms and Google keyword tools, you’ll be given a list of information pertaining to keyword competitiveness and search volume. But what do you do with that information after you get it?
For one thing, you can bring this list of keywords to your SEO or PPC agency to assess whether these keywords will be within your marketing budget. Your digital marketing partner can also provide you with additional guidance pertaining to that list of keywords, which can help you to eliminate redundancies to find versions of keywords that might better capture user intent. These keywords can then inspire your choices for web content optimizations, keyword usage in blog posts, backlinking strategies, and PPC ad groups.
Keep in mind that just because a keyword is displayed in keyword planner results, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to or should include it in your final selections. For example, if a keyword has a high search volume but it doesn’t really result in conversions, it may not be an appropriate choice. What’s more, you can always choose to delay using a certain keyword until later; it may be a good choice to wait on specific terms until a website starts seeing ranking improvements, as it’ll improve the site’s chances of ranking well for a more competitive keyword.
Where and How Should Keywords Be Used?
If you don’t personally know a lot about SEO or PPC -- or you won’t be handling campaign strategy and fulfillment yourself -- you should defer to your digital marketing partner for keyword usage. They’ll be in the best position to properly optimize a website and ensure that keywords are utilized according to SEO best practices.
Generally speaking, however, there are some specific ways that keywords can be used to improve SEO. URLs, title tags, headers (H1 tags), and meta descriptions are all optimal places for keywords. Image names and image alt tags are good places for keywords, as are anchor text to internal pages on a site. Of course, you’ll also want to use keywords throughout your website content -- though you should be careful not to engage in “keyword stuffing.” (There can be too much of a good thing!)
There are a number of ways keywords can be used. What’s more, they should be used to help search engines and human users understand context and relevancy. But keywords need to be used in natural ways, as a rule. Search engines are getting better at understanding when someone’s trying to game the system. When using keywords, your main intent should be to be helpful -- not to try to trick anyone into visiting your site.
How Has Keyword Research Changed?
Keyword research has certainly evolved over the years -- as has everything related to SEO and the internet at-large. It used to be that you could conduct keyword research through Google itself. Google used to provide a ton of information about keyword competitiveness and search volume, along with the percentage of your own website traffic that came from keywords you were targeting.
Almost a decade ago, Google actually restricted access to a lot of this data in an effort to make search functions more secure. And while the Google AdWords keyword planner functions still provide a certain amount of insight, it’s important to note that these numbers may not always be as exact as one might hope. This data doesn’t always tell the complete story in regards to user intent, either.
What’s more, Google has rolled out a number of algorithm updates that have changed the way that we target keywords. Exact match keywords are no longer the only way to rank; semantic keywords have become much more popular as search engines have become smarter. In other words, as Google has improved its ability to understand why web users search for certain queries, keyword research has become more complicated and has relied more heavily on understanding target customers.
Other technologies have also impacted the way people use search engines -- and therefore, how keyword research is conducted. With a growing dependency on voice search (thanks to Siri, Alexa, and devices that include similar digital assistants), users are searching differently. Instead of short, choppy keyword phrases, they’re more likely to search the internet with complete questions. As search queries have shifted to the way we naturally speak and ask for information, keyword research has shifted to include more long-tail keywords.
Google also likes to prioritize local results so that users can find solutions nearby. A big part of keyword research, particularly for businesses that rely on customers within their immediate area, includes local SEO concepts. Search terms that include “near me” or results in a certain city factor more heavily into optimization now, which means they also play a more substantial part in keyword research.
One thing you can count on: SEO will continue to evolve, as will your keyword research needs. But because technology is always changing, it’s not easy to stay on top of everything. When you have access to the right tools, you’ll be able to simplify the process of keyword research and subsequent search engine optimization.
Whether you’re struggling to get started or you want to narrow down a list of possibilities, our keyword planner tool can provide you with the data you need to develop more effective marketing campaigns. Try it out for yourself for free and discover what might be missing in your SEO.