Jun 7, 2022

The Ultimate List of Free Keyword Research Tools

Written by Clodagh O’Brien

Keywords are an important part of your content marketing and SEO strategy. Using the right keywords that align to your website content to get it seen on search engines can drive leads, sales and ultimately revenue.

Despite this, new research found that only 30 percent of small companies in the U.S use SEO in their marketing. And many businesses may use keywords, but either do not use them effectively or use the wrong keywords for their audience.

This is why keyword research is crucial. It will ensure that you use keywords that will attract your audience and increase the online visibility of your brand and content. This blog will reveal a comprehensive list of keyword research tools to help you pick profitable keywords.

Why is keyword research important?

A keyword is any word or phrase that people type into a search engine to find out more about a particular topic.

Keyword research is important as it can get your brand noticed by an audience that will have an interest in your product or service. It is the process of researching and selecting words, terms and phrases users will search for when looking for the types of products or services your business offers.

Conducting keyword research helps you choose the most relevant keywords for your target audience. This then helps search engines like Google understand your web pages and serve your website as a suggestion for users searching for these specific terms.

When done right, keyword research can help you to:

  • Get the right kind of visitors to your site: If you get the wrong type of visitor to your site, they are unlikely to click or become a sale. It may convert into leads, but it could be the wrong type of lead or one of low intent.
  • Identify keywords with high search volume with low volume terms: Keyword research helps to identify and keep phrases that have good search volume, and disregard keywords with poor volume.
  • Identify content gaps: This is more common than you might think. For example, when we design a website, it’s often a designer who leads the process, or maybe the CEO chose what content to include and where. But that’s not necessarily the content your users or potential customers are looking for so using keywords will help avoid a disconnect between your content and audience.
  • Direct content creation: If you understand what keywords people search for, you can tailor content to match that search need.
  • Target keywords within your reach: Make sure to target keywords that are not too competitive and realistic, based on your current SEO presence. Keyword research helps to differentiate between transactional keywords, which will be highly competitive to rank for, as well as less competitive informational keywords that may be useful for your business.

Watch our video if you want to find out more about how search engines work and the three pillars of SEO.

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Short-tail and long-tail keywords

Keywords come in two forms: short-tail and long-tail keywords. The main difference between the two is that while short-tail keywords have more individual traffic, approximately 70% of all search traffic comes collectively from long-tail keywords.

This is because searchers tend to be more detailed with their long-tail searches, as they are looking for specific results. For example, ‘digital marketing’ would be a short-tail keyword, while ‘what is digital marketing?’ is a long-tail keyword.

How to Conduct Keyword Research

Before moving to on-page optimization, you will need to conduct keyword research by following these crucial steps:

1.   Pick a topic to research: Focus on one topic or theme at a time and think about what the webpage you want this content to feature on to look like. Think about imagery, headlines, CTAs, etc.

2.   Brainstorm keywords: You should research keywords with similar meanings around a closely related topic. Make sure to focus on quantity over quality at this stage.

3.   Review keyword value and difficulty: Gather keyword data from SEO tools to help decide how valuable the keywords are, and whether you can rank for them.

4.   Prioritize keywords: Decide which keywords are the most important and prioritize the ones you want to focus on.

5.   Choose primary, secondary, and tertiary keywords: Choose one main keyword and a few variations of the main keyword. For example, a primary keyword could be ‘content marketing?’ while a secondary keyword would be ‘how to create and distribute great content

6.  Create cluster topics: Having more than one keyword can help you create content and topic clusters. See the example below on SEO from SEMRush.

What are the best keyword research tools?

Now that you know the steps to keyword research, let’s look at some of the free tools you can use.

  • Google Keyword Planner allows you to enter a keyword and will give you a list of suggestions related to that keyword as well as search volumes. If you’re a Google Advertiser, you will get specific search volumes. Otherwise, you will see broad ranges. You can also use filters to customize your search.

Tip: Google’s autosuggests are based on where your cursor is, so try moving it to the beginning, middle, and end of a phrase to get more suggestions. You may need to add a space or asterisk (or star) after your cursor to see the full list.

  • Keyword Surfer is a free extension for Chrome and allows you to view search volume within Google for a query and its autosuggestions.
  • Keywords Everywhere is another free Chrome plugin, which can be used with Google Keyword Planner and other search engine interfaces. The free version allows you to see Google ‘related keywords’ and ‘People Also Search For Keywords; provides an Insight report for YouTube search and tags and analysis of URLs. It makes up for the broad ranges and gives more specific search volumes.
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  • Keywords Everywhere is another free Chrome plugin, which can be used with Google Keyword Planner and other search engine interfaces. The free version allows you to see Google ‘related keywords’ and ‘People Also Search For Keywords; provides an Insight report for YouTube search and tags and analysis of URLs. It makes up for the broad ranges and gives more specific search volumes.
  • Competitor keyword analysis allows you to look at the keywords your competitors use. You can conduct this research using a premium (and paid) tool like SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz, or a lower-cost tool like Ubersuggest (more on that below) and SE Ranking. SEMrush is a popular competitor keyword analysis tool that can be used to enter a URL and it will provide you with a list of the website’s most valuable keywords.
    • Ubersuggest is a valuable keyword research tool that will provide you with data related to a keyword or phrase. It provides search volume, SEO difficulty, paid difficulty and CPC. It will also provide keyword ideas and content ideas along with demographics.    

As it becomes more and more important to get your content seen and outrank your competitors, SEO keyword research and strategy will help give you the edge. Get valuable insights from these free keyword research tools to see your move closer to that coveted #1 spot on Google. 

Keyword Research Checklist & Toolkit

Let’s say you’ve conducted your keyword research by completing the four recommended steps:

  1. Selected a topic
  2. Brainstormed
  3. Reviewed each keyword’s value and difficulty, and
  4. Prioritized the keywords

Now, how do you use this procedure, in practice, to improve SEO performance?

Download the SEO Keyword Toolkit

Turn your keyword research into actual content for your site - Download our SEO Toolkit. You can use it to go through pages already existing on your website, or to identify content gaps. Content gaps are pages that don’t exist but could be quite valuable to create.

Become a search expert: Optimize your campaigns with keywords

Increase your online visibility and drive revenue by understanding SEO content and optimization. With DMI’s Professional Diploma in Search Marketing, you will have in-depth knowledge of SEO. paid search, display advertising along with strategy and planning. Enroll today to become an in-demand search expert. 

Clodagh O’Brien
Clodagh O’Brien

Clodagh O'Brien is a content creator and strategist. Over the last 12 years, she has created and managed content for many SMEs and global brands. She's passionate about digital marketing and the impact of technology on culture and society. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.  

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