The Best Keyword Research Tools


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Whether you like it or not, keyword research is at the core of pay-per-click marketing and SEO practices. If you aren’t bidding or using the right keywords, short- or long-tail, then you could be selling yourself short on your potential success.

And wouldn’t you rather reel in a big whale shark instead of a few sardines? (You can obviously tell I don’t know my fish very well.)

See, doing good keyword research is like being a seasoned fisherman, casting his net at the right place, at the right time. So whether you’re looking to patch up the holes in your current keyword selection net, or expand the size of it, consider this article a potential algal bloom of profits.

By now you should know that the Google AdWords Keyword Tool is no longer available – Google has folded the tool into Keyword Planner, a combination of the old keyword tool and the Traffic Estimator. Now, you need an AdWords account to get keyword suggestions from Google. But Google is far from the only keyword game in town.

In this article, we’ll look at my eight favorite keyword research tools, plus some fancy tricks you can use to get a wooden peg leg up on your competition. Some are free, and some are not (but well worth the money).

Keyword Research Tools

So without further ado, let’s take you from being like this guy…

Keyword Tools

To this guy.

1. FreshKey ($20 Software)

FreshKey is my #1 go-to keyword research tool that allows me to see beyond the regular Google Instant suggestions and predictions that appear when I start typing things in on Google.

Not only does it give you new keyword ideas, variations, and synonyms, it also sorts the keywords depending on popularity.


Instead of just getting four new keywords from the Google suggestions drop-down, you can now potentially get an unlimited amount of keywords if you keep adding small letter variations like a, b, c, d, etc. to the end of your keyword root.

Keyword Tools

Best Keyword Tool

FreshKey will even give you ideas of which negative keywords to add before you actually have to pay for them the old-fashioned way by going through your search query report.

You can also use it to get Amazon search box suggestion terms.

You can also export the keyword results as a spreadsheet or copy them directly to your clipboard.

BOOM! You can stop reading the rest of this article now. (JK)

2) Soovle (Free)

If you have multiple channels you wish to do keyword research for and want to sound like an idiot explaining the pronunciation of this tool to your watercooler buddies, then Soovle is a perfect fit.

Soovle allows you to explore the most typed in keywords on multiple search engines based on the keyword root you give it. It even includes Amazon and eBay.

Not only is it a great keyword research tool to use, but it’s also a great brainstormer as you can slowly start typing in your ideas and allow it to auto-generate its own ideas.

I would’ve never thought to call a bounce house an inflatable castle, but now I do :)


3)  Ubersuggest (Free)

Meet the keyword research tool on steroids, Ubersuggest.

Ubersuggest takes any keyword you give it and immediately gives you an almost unlimited list of alphabetized and numerical keyword variations of your original keyword.

You can even take it further by adding “bounce house ab, ac, ad” to uncover more keywords that you could potentially bid on or use for SEO purposes.


4) Search Term/Query Reports (Free-Ish)

Now even though you won’t be expanding your keyword net by using search query report mining, you’ll at least be improving your AdWords or Bing Ads account by patching up holes.

One common thing I notice in PPC accounts is the lack of attention and detail in which the account owner or previous agency allows one or a couple of keywords to be the “catch all” for everything. A common example would be to have the keyword +bounce +house or “bounce house” and leave it at that.

The only problem is that you can’t possibly laser-target every ad to the search query, and your landing page will definitely not be as targeted as it could be either. Not even dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) would help, because who wants to click on an ad with the headline of just “Bounce House”? Let’s just say it gets tricky, and you’re a little lazy if that’s all you do.

The search term/query report is a PPC report that shows you what search terms have actually triggered your ads based on the current keywords you’re bidding on. So it won’t expand your reach since your ads are already showing for those terms, but it will help you improve your quality scores and granularity within your account.

Here’s how to access the search term report in Google AdWords:

AdWords Search Queries

Here’s how to access the search query report in Bing Ads:

Bing Keywords

5)  Google Keyword Planner (Free)

Duuuhhh…! Of course this is on the list.

The Google Keyword Planner is sometimes regarded as the alpha and omega of keyword research tools. You must have an AdWords account to access it, and that doesn’t mean you have to pay anything to use it, it’s still free.

The Google Keyword Planner will show you some pretty neat stats like average monthly searches, competition level (high, medium, or low), the average cost per click, and more.

It doesn’t give you exact keyword suggestions like FreshKey or Ubersuggest, but it actually takes it a step further and suggests more synonyms and variations than many other tools available.

Is it accurate? Sort of. I always tell people to take the suggested keyword stats with a grain of salt.

Here’s how to find it. Log in in to your AdWords account and go to the Tools and Analysis tab:

AdWords Keywords

Here are some of the keyword results:

Keyword Planner

6)  WordStream’s Keyword Tool (Free)

Ahhh yes… Of course I could never forget WordStream’s very own keyword tool for both SEO and PPC keyword research.

The WordStream keyword tool allows you to target certain niches (groups of related keywords), gives you further suggestions, and also allows you to group them based off of a common theme for easy ad group launches.

WordStream Keyword Tool

This keyword research tool gives you 30 searches for free, after that you’ll have to sign up for their PPC Advisor to use it additionally.

Hidden bonus? You get a free 7-day trial on top of the 30 free searches you already did!

7) Competitor Source Code (Free)

This might not be the best and most fruitful keyword research tool but it allows you to see what meta keywords your competitors could be using to try to rank organically.

Since I use Google Chrome as my browser, it’s super simple to right-click on a site and select “View Page Source.”

View Meta Keywords

After that, all you have to do is locate the keywords and read what they’ve got. That’s it!

Two caveats for this method:

  • Your competitors might not be using the best keywords
  • Your competitors might not have meta keywords enabled (since Google doesn’t include meta keyword data in its search algorithm anymore)

8. YouTube Keyword Tool (Free)

This one’s for the film nerds! If you’re a brilliant marketer (which you are, you’re reading WordStream after all), then you know that YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world, potentially driving hundreds if not thousands of visitors from your videos, to your site.

Smart people know the value of YouTube and are already using it for their content marketing strategies, so it would make sense to optimize your video headlines and descriptions to get the highest possible rankings.

To do so, go to and use it just like you would the other tools I’ve mentioned.

YouTube Keywords

Be Careful Using AdWords for Keyword Research


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Article thanks to The Moz Blog

February 14th, 2012 – Posted by to Keyword Research

For the past decade, most of us in the field of search have relied on Google’s AdWords data (either in the public tool, the API or the tools inside AdWords accounts). It’s the best source we’ve got, but many marketers may not realize that sadly, the numbers and queries may not always match up to what’s actually happening on Google’s search engine. I’ll illustrate with an example.

An SEOmoz blog post ranks in the top 2-3 results for many keywords around the phrase “blog traffic.” Here’s a screenshot of some of those rankings:

Google Search for "Improve Blog Traffic"

I went into our Google Analytics account and pulled the related keywords along with how much traffic they’ve sent in the past 30 days:

Moz Google Analytics Data

Then I went to Google’s AdWords Tool and searched for “blog traffic” to compare the suggestions:

AdWords Search for "Blog Traffic"

Here I got confused, because many of the terms that we receive traffic for are NOT shown above in the list… Is Google hiding them? Do they not know about them?

To be sure, I typed them into Google’s AdWords Tool manually, performing [exact match] searches only:

AdWords Tool Data

Holy cow… There they are. So, AdWords does have volume for these, and will display it, but only if you enter them exactly (or rather, “more exactly” – you can find them if you do sets of imprecise, but closer queries, too). I made the chart below to illustrate which terms were available from the broad reserach:

Comparison of Keywords Suggested vs. Those with Volume

As you can see, there’s ~50% of the terms not shown in the suggestion list, which is fairly substantive and could lead to some serious missed targeting opportunities.

THE IMPORTANT LESSON: Running discovery-focused searches in AdWords may not show you all the valuable/high-volume keyword phrases connected to a word/phrase.

There are a few ways to address this challenge:

  1. If you have the budget, my top recommendation is to buy a few, very broad keywords in AdWords, send them to a relevant landing page on your site, but realize you probably will lose money on the campaign. The goal isn’t conversions, but rather to learn by watching the keyword terms/phrases for which you get impressions. This is also great conversion-testing if you have the budget to invest, but even a week or two of data can be highly valuable for future keyword targeting.
  2. When searching in AdWords, start broad, and then enter narrower queries and note the new phrases that come up. Make sure to use exact match, and be diligent in testing variations. Google only lies through omission.
  3. The relative numbers of searches aren’t perfect (as you can see above), but they are relatively decent. In fact, I’d say they’ve improved in what they show vs. the actuals you’ll see compared to prior years. However,
  4. Use your own analytics as a guide to find new terms/phrases you might be imperfectly targeting. And if you see keyword variations that have a unique or different intent, it might even pay to create a more targeted page for that query, and you often need less work to rank, since Google uses the “indented results” system to drop a second URL from the same domain directly underneath the first one on a given page.

Now I’d love to hear from you – what are your experiences around keyword research in AdWords? Are you seeing the same thing we are? You can share your thoughts in the comments and/or use the poll below (from a new service called Quipol that has some fun twists):

BTW – Given that 30%+ of our referrals from Google searches are keyword (not provided), I’d venture to guess that all of the numbers from our analytics are underreporting by about that same percent. Keep that in mind when comparing the data from AdWords vs. our analytics above.

Google Webmaster Guidelines Update Calls “Low Quality Guest Blog Posts” Spam


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This article was shared from Search Engine Land

Low quality guest blogging is considered little or no original content by Google.

Low quality guest blogging is considered little or no original content by Google.

Google has updated their webmaster guidelines, specifically in the little or no original contentguideline, to add “low-quality guest blog posts” as an example of “scraped content.”

Brian Ussery first spotted this change, noting how Google has been fighting the use of guest blogging and posting around link building. Specifically when Google’s head of search spam said guest blogging is done for SEO purposes.

Since then, Google has penalized several guest blog networks and continues to set their targets on low-quality guest blogging that aims at manipulating their search results.

Here is a screen shot of the guidelines page before the change:


Here is a screen shot of the guidelines page after the change:


Google lawsuit highlights why every business needs to manage its online presence


Great article and a must read for any business whether or you are online or not.

Originally posted on Naked Security:

Google Places logoLong before the internet was born, the secret to running a successful business was, according to my business tutor, primarily about location, location, location.

She was right of course – if you opened a shop in the middle of nowhere then you had little chance of grabbing any passing trade and your entrepreneurial career would have been extremely short-lived.

With the advent of the internet however, location has become far less of a concern for many types of business as many swap brick and mortar premises for virtual stores.

The growth of e-commerce has been a boon for large corporations looking to expand into new markets and reduce costs, as well as sole traders who are now able to run their own businesses from home and with minimal outlay.

But trading online, or merely having an online presence, is not a bed of roses and it does present its own…

View original 561 more words

Twitter Tips


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I run across these random tips for various social media channels quite a bit. So I decided to start a post dedicated to them.

Twitter Tip 101: Use hashtags & links together. Tweets with hashtags+ links outperforms Tweets with just one or another.

Screenshot 2014-07-01 08.22.50

What does Google say about keywords, should they drive your blog or should content?


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Form over fashion, chicken or the egg, and keywords before content are just some of the intellectual debates that have raged as humankind attempts to come to grips with the big questions that plague our times. While the relative merits of comfort over appearance are well known, the chicken versus egg chronological lineage is still up for debate when people bend their thoughts to more esoteric contemplations. What is not up for debate is the importance of quality content over keywords when it comes to writing engaging online copy that will appear high in search engine results. Indeed, the old days of stuffing a 500-word article with 122 examples of the exact same keyword are long gone thanks to changes made by Google to their search algorithms, which punish the practice of keyword stuffing and rewards content that it perceives to be relevant and helpful to the end user.

Rise of the Machines…

In the “Wild West” of early internet interaction, it was discovered that the search engine rankings could be “gamed” into recognizing, and singling out, websites that practiced the art of keyword stuffing. Simply stated, keyword stuffing is the practice of writing online copy to be read by a machine rather than copy designed to be consumed by a human user.

This old formula was predicated on the notion that search engines scan the internet looking for certain keyword density in response to search inquires. When the engines located articles displaying such keyword density, they posted the results in search rankings for the end-user to consume. Unfortunately, this practice dictates that copy be written for machines rather than humans, and the results rarely offered compelling or helpful information.

Recognition that People Are Using the Machines…

Search engine giant Google sought to change this reality by tweaking their search algorithms in early 2012. Known as a Panda Update, the changes affected nearly 12% of all search inquiries, and the results have transformed the way people write copy on the internet. Under Google’s new protocols, the sure fired methods that drove search rankings in the past, no longer guarantee the lofty heights that they once achieved. In much the same way that you cannot discount the movements of an elephant when you are sleeping together in a twin-sized bed, the shear size of Google has assured that their changes are felt throughout the online search world.

Google based their changes on observations of social media. The propensity to share valuable information on such platforms as FaceBook, Pinterest, and Twitter drove the recognition that the yardstick for high search ratings is quality content rather than the ham-fisted tactic of keyword stuffing.

The Nuts and Bolts of a Panda Attack…

If your site is negatively impacted by a Panda update, you will know almost immediately, and it will manifest itself in the form of dramatic drop in traffic. It is possible to bounce back from a panda hit, but it takes some diligent work and a little time. Google recommends reviewing your site for substandard material as that is the new yardstick in determining high search rankings. Further, it should be noted that quick fixes would not provide a solution:

  • Panda is not about back links and anchor texts.
  • Tidying up a messy back link profile will not help.
  • Reconsideration requests won’t help.
  • Recovery will be re-measured once Google rolls out another update.

Webmasters can expect a Panda roll out every four to six weeks on average, and continuously upgrade their sites in the interim to achieve better results. Specifically, they should keep an eye out for content that would draw Panda’s ire:

  • Remove material that would probably not be shared by readers.
  • Get rid of duplicate material on your site. This might apply to content that has been pilfered from elsewhere on the web, or it could mean pages have been duplicated across your site.
  • Scour the site for thin material with an eye towards replacing pages that only have a sentence or two with quality engaging content.

Improved Literary Frontier…

These new rubrics have resulted in a marked improvement of the quality of online copy. While the use of keywords has not been removed, their use is within the framework of a natural, in-depth discussion of the topic that leads to their use in a naturalistic way. As such, copywriters and SEO professionals are scrambling to develop superior copy that represents an improved literary frontier for those looking for quality online information and content.


Written by Danny BenDebba

CEO of and


In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtrl//ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,[1] by posting inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

Have you ever fed a troll? Well, I have, but I’m not going to ever do it again! I’ve let trolls almost ruin entire days, and even weekends. Not anymore!

A troll loves to get fed. They thrive on getting under people’s skin and making them angry. They ignore facts, and will not stop. You can never get the last word in with a troll. Nor can you ever win a debate and convince them that their stance is incorrect. So, why even bother? Exactly! Don’t feed the trolls and they will go elsewhere. There is nothing worse for a troll than being starved….aka ignored!

Then, if they become overly obnoxious and rude, you can always block them! Most social sites have the ability to block people from being able to interact with you or see your posts in the future. Since becoming a publisher, I have become quite familiar with how to block someone on LinkedIn. For those that may not know how to do it:

  1. Go to the profile of the person you’d like to block.
  • Note: After you block someone, you will disappear from the Who’s Viewed Your Profile section of the person you blocked.
  1. Move your cursor over the down arrow next to the button in the top section of the member’s profile and select Block or report from the list.
  2. Check the box next to Block.
  3. Click Continue.
  4. On the next screen, click Agree to confirm.

Additionally, you can report abuse to LinkedIn by emailing:

Many people tell me they are afraid to post due to trolls and their negative comments. So, they choose to not even post. Don’t let trolls prevent you from posting on social media. Stop feeding them. Starve them!

Don’t feed them your time.

Don’t feed them your energy.

Don’t feed them your emotional well being.

They get NOTHING!!!

Join me in taking a stand against trolls and online bullying by ignoring their behavior, and taking away the satisfaction they get from making people angry! Got any good stories about starving trolls and putting them in their place? Share them in the comment section!

Insight into the state of Social Media Marketing 2014


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There are three times during the year that I step back and spend some time evaluating my social media marketing efforts. One is right at the beginning of the year. I always have high hopes to do this in the first few weeks of January but as the saying goes, the best laid plans… The next is May which is roughly a third of the way into the year and once more in September.

When May came around this year I decided to document some of the steps I take to evaluate my social media marketing health so to speak. These will change from year to year as the tools of the industry change so plan on doing a little pre-evaluation research each year to make sure you are keeping up with trends and the ever changing landscape of social media.

I will be using results shared via the 6th annual social media marketing industry report. You can download the entire report from the link at the end of this post. Here are the gauges that I used this May to evaluate the state of my social media:

Visual Storytelling:

No surprise here. This point of view has been on the rise steadily since the beginning of social media and continues to be a cornerstone of content marketing. With the introduction of platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and even Google+ it has gained popularity in leaps and bounds. What has become more prevalent however is the use of both audio and video in the visual arena. While social media has always recognized and rewarded rich content it is now critical. It is by far the main advantage that social media has over marketing channels.


Facebook advertising is a must:

Gone are the days of unlimited organic reach on Facebook. It was a great ride while it lasted but if you want to be effective or even noticed on Facebook you will have to pay. When Facebook first introduced “paid” advertising it was a extremely cost effective way to really get the jump on your competition. As marketers and businesses began to see the advantage of Facebook advertising and increased their budgets according, Facebook took notice and like any good free market company they used it to their advantage. I personally have no problem with the paid advertising model that Facebook is using and that others are sure to follow. It helped to weed out the players from the dabblers. Accordingly Facebook advertising has become more sophisticated, targeted and effective. If you have not spent time learning the new tools that Facebook has added to their advertising tool box you should do so, it is well worth it.

2014-05-25-Paid-MediaGoogle+ learn it, use it, embrace it, it’s not going away:

I have been telling my clients for the last 3 years that although Google+ may not appear to be a significant player in the social media arena, you ignore it to your own detriment. The primary reason Google+ is important is due to the general understanding that Google+ presents unique opportunities for building your online identity and authority.

If you have not heard  of Google+ recently change in leadership, well you might be living under a rock but that aside this change has some questioning its future. Let’s be clear about one thing: All of the social networks should be considered “rented land.” So, be sure you are building an online presence on a site you own and control. When it comes to Google+, I’m confident of two things. The nature of Google+ will change just as the other networks will. However, there is no question Google+ will survive as a resource for growing your business. Why? Google is in the content business, and social provides valuable context that adds value to that content. This is why Google co-founder Sergey Brin took over the CEO role at Google in 2011 to focus specifically on social search.


Email Marketing is alive, thriving and the preferred tool for sales conversion:

If you think of social media in the same terms of the “circle of life” you begin to understand how email marketing plays a critical role in your content marketing circle of life. The majority of leading marketers name their email newsletter as their number one sales conversion tool. This is why everything else is designed to drive subscriptions to it. Podcasts are great for getting information out to the masses especially if they are free, but you will find statically that they very rarely convert. On the other hand email, good email does convert. Now it has to provide inherently great value for it to convert, after all subscribers want and deserve your very best. If you consistently honor that, conversion becomes a natural by-product of the ongoing conversation.

Podcasting the great differentiator:

Serious marketers are getting into podcasting so if you consider yourself a serious marketer read on. Podcasting is on the rise for a variety of reasons, with one of them being that its much easier for audio content to stand out because there is far less of it available than other formats. On a practical level, every person you interview for your podcast becomes a willing marketing partner, at least for that show. Podcasting is also a great way to meet other industry leaders as you effectively collaborate to help each other. Probably the best reason for creating audio content is that it tends to be more personal. Think of it as the future of talk radio. Your personality will naturally emerge as you communicate your message to your audience that is giving (nearly) their full attention as they commute, exercise, or just pass the time.

2014-05-25-Audio-PodcastingThat is my process in a nutshell, now as promised, here is where you can download the 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. Check it out, as there is a whole lot more to learn about the myriad questions that small business marketers share.




Blogging Tips From Power Bloggers


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Here’s the awful truth: nobody is reading your blog.


So, what are you going to do about it?

Yes, you. Promoting a blog takes work, and it’s work that only you can do. So make sure your content is on point. Create original images and use them intelligently. Build relationships and a loyal audience. Get personal. Leverage Twitter and other social media platforms to maximise visibility, engagement and sharing.

And most importantly: make it happen. This visual from Referral Candy features nine powerful blog promotion tactics from top marketing experts.


Raising Awareness with Instagram


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Instagram is ideal for building awareness but not merely brand awareness. People and organizations are using the network to increase awareness about social causes and issues.

Gan Chin Lin uses Instagram as a way to recover from and cope with an eating disorder. Lin’s work of cooking, baking and taking photos has turned into a passion; she calls herself an “advocate for a healthy, nourished lifestyle.”

Brand tip: don’t be afraid to address social issues. Think about the issues that matter to you and your audience. How can you use visual media to address those concerns and provide hope?

Maz McWilliams uses Instagram to document creative images of melons to increase awareness about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). People started asking him about the project, resulting in a collaborative movement.

Brand tip: empower your community. Ask them to participate in your cause by providing basic guidelines and a hashtag.

Jamie Oliver also focuses on food, but his goal is to promote both an event and a cause. His Food Revolution Day seeks to excite kids about healthy food, teach them how to cook and raise awareness about the need for better food education.

Brand tip: use Instagram to generate excitement and momentum for a short-term event while promoting long-term interest and support for the cause to which it ties.

Want to know more about cause marketing? Get your free “Boost Your Bottom Line With Social Good” guide now!

Jill Abramson the former executive editor of The New York Times has found Instagram useful on both a PR and a social issue level even if she isn’t directly responsible. When she was forced out of the Times, her daughter took to Instagram to show off her mother’s new hobby.

Brand tip: harness the narrative through visual media. Be careful; Macklemore’s public apology after his Grammy’s win was so flagrantly self-interested that he has received even more public ill will.

The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) uses Instagram to raise awareness about AIDS and to build excitement and support for its fundraisers and auctions.

Brand tip: give your audience a sneak peek into upcoming events with behind-the-scenes footage.


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