“How can I perform keyword research for free?”
This is a question I get asked A LOT by new people looking to learn SEO.
They want to know how to find the most profitable keywords, for the least amount of time and money invested.
But answering this question is hard.
While there are effective keyword tools you can use for free…
The majority of them aren’t as helpful as you might think.
So today I am going to show you the best way to use free keyword tools to do your research…
…so when your SEO keyword search queries are typed into a search engine you will be ahead of the competition.
What Will I Learn?
3x Ways To Do Keyword Research Quickly And For Free
Did you know that it’s possible to come up with seed keyword ideas without using a paid or free research tool?
All you need is a few little tricks up your sleeve to generate keyword suggestions easily…
#1: Brainstorm Your Keywords
The first stage of this doesn’t involve keyword research tools and is completely offline.
Grab yourself a pen and a piece of paper and write down the primary short-head keyword that is at the core of the content you want to create.
This could be things like:
- Vegan protein
- Portable microphone
- Drinks flasks
- Picture frames
Then using that keyword as the centre of the paper, begin to brainstorm keyword lists with question words and niches that relate to that.
You want to be using ideas of what someone might search (search trends) for when they use this term.
For example Vegan Protein might break down into:
- Vegan protein powders
- Vegan protein sources
- Where to buy vegan protein powder
- Healthy vegan supplements
You can then run them through the next keyword tool.
#2: Get Suggestions From Soovle
Soovle is a keyword tool that can be used to compare related searches from lots of different search engines search results.
It’s a huge search engine database of the “search suggestions” and search trends you see with Google search autocomplete suggestions.
Take some of the new keywords from your brainstorm and enter them into Soovle’s main search bar. This will bring up a lot of keyword list suggestions from each relevant search engine:
Aim to collect keywords from all of the search engines and not just a Google search.
This can be helpful if your content creation has different goals.
For example, Amazon keywords will have more buying intent than Google search ones. So keep search intent in mind.
This could translate to your blog post.
You can download the keyword opportunities into a CSV file by clicking the download button in the corner-
Take the new keywords from here you think are relevant and move on to the next free keyword tool.
#3: Get Suggestions From Forums
BoardReader is a free keyword tool that scours forums for recents blog posts about your topic.
If you enter in seed keywords into the search box it will bring up multiple threads and the latest discussions from the public:
On the surface, this may look like it’s just picked out the seed keyword you’ve typed in.
But if you use your intuition to look for what people said before or after the seed keyword, you can find a lot of long tail keywords with different types of intent.
- Vegan protein samples
- Cheap vegan protein powders
- Best vegan protein powders
There is the odd keyword research tool that means you can find a great free keyword.
But there is one powerhouse of a free keyword tool you can get a lot of benefit from.
What is it? Well…
The Top Free Keyword Research Tools
It makes it possible to develop a keyword search content marketing strategy in minutes, rather than days – without spending any money.
You can use it to-
- Develop an intelligent keyword strategy in any business type
- Automatically finds the right target keywords with low competition and high search volumes
- Analyse featured snippets
- Calculate keyword intent
The “Other” Best Keyword Research Free Tools
You can also use Google Keyword Planner, which is second best keyword research tool on the market that doesn’t cost a penny.
And although it doesn’t tell you how difficult it will be to rank in the search results for a keyword search term, you can’t argue with data sources coming directly from the search engine itself.
It’s great for gathering quick ideas-
You should take a look at my full Google Keyword Planner tutorial to learn how to use it properly.
I’ll also show you how to get the exact search volume for any list of keywords rather than the estimates above.
The Google Ads Keyword Planner is a great tool for ad campaigns much like their Google Search Console.
The 3x Major Problems With Free Tools…
Now before we get all doom and gloom…
I am going to show you how to use keyword premium tools FOR FREE.
But before I show you how to use the best keyword tools for free.
I wanted to talk to you about a few of the limitations of keyword data research tools that are offered for free, like Google’s Keyword Planner.
Each of these problems could make or break your SEO campaign.
So it’s important that we talk about them because this is precisely why I developed my own keyword tool research sheets.
Problem #1: It Takes A Lot Of Time
While you can use a keyword tool like Google Keyword Planner to do your keyword research…
…it takes an awful lot of time to do.
You have to jump through multiple hoops to get ideas and exact search volumes.
Google is very specific with the keyword results it brings back AND severely limits that number. That means you have to spend a lot of time doing repeat searches to a good list of keywords for long tails.
For example you might need to do 5 searches to find a golden long tail-
- Womens Shoes
- Best Womens Shoes
- The Best Womens Shoes
- The Best Womens Shoes For Winter
Not only that:
But you also get intelligent keyword difficulty data-
And a full overview of the current top 10 including important metrics-
All of that not only makes keyword research a quick process, but you also pull down more intelligent data to make your decisions.
You just can’t get that kind of action with a free tool, but you can get it with a free trial of a premium tool…
Reason #2: People Search In Weird Ways
People don’t search in logical ways.
Their search terms are weirdly phrased, often almost illegible sentences.
A keyword tool like Google’s Keyword Planner really limit the number of results it returns which makes it really hard to drill down and find golden nuggets 5-10 word long tail phrases.
Whereas with proper keyword suggestion tools, you just spend 5 seconds to apply a filter and voila-
We have found the keyword phrase “Womens wide width shoes for problem feet”
With 1,800 monthly search volume and next to zero competition.
Go to Google Keyword Planner and try to find that keyword.
Reason #3: You Can’t Research To Depth
In the example above there was also “Extra wide women’s shoes for swollen feet”
That is searched 1,300 times per month with zero competition.
But Ahrefs also tell us this falls under a parent topic of “diabetic slippers for swollen feet”.
Clicking on it reveals another 129x new keywords-
And also tells us that parent topic gets searched 8,400 per month with zero competition.
In just 1 click we have found 3x keywords with a total search volume of 11,500 with absolutely zero competition.
And the list of keyword opportunities is literally bottomless…
You can’t do that with a free keyword tool like Google Keyword Planner (but you can do it with my free keyword spreadsheet).
Don’t treat what you’ve just read as a rant.
The bottom line is… there is some merit to a free research tool but you really are limiting yourself.
Take advantage of some of my tricks and intelligent keyword planner to use premium keyword tools for free….
Using Premium Keyword Tools For Free
Premium tools can supercharge your keyword research.
If you’re planning on practising SEO for the long term, they’re a worthwhile investment!
But in the short term:
Did you know you can use most of these premium tools for free?
Here Is How To Do It…
Most of the best premium SEO tools come with free trials or freemium models
So why not take advantage of these before you lay down any money?
And if you are smart about it you can-
- Prepare the list of pages you need new keywords for
- Sign up for any of the free trials below
- Complete all of your keyword research
Without spending a penny!
How To Get SEMRush Free
Just for being a reader of my website you can get 14 days unlimited access for free.
It’s one of the most powerful SEO suites on the market (full SEMRush review).
Once you’re signed up, you’ll have access to all its tools and features.
That means you can begin to get some serious keyword data researched.
Inside the tool head to this section of the tool:
Keyword Analytics > Overview
On this page you’ll be able to enter your target keyword into the search bar:
Hit “search” and you’ll be taken to a page of search results.
There will be lots of statistics on this page but you should focus on two keyword suggestions sections.
- The phrase match keyword tool
- The related keywords tool.
Under the Phrase Match Keywords section…
You’ll find all of the keyword results that contain the phrase you searched.
When you click the “view full report” button you’ll find lots of information, including the search volume of the keyword and the value of that keyword to an advertiser:
There won’t be variations on your keyword but it’ll expand to show the long-tail keyword suggestions.
Under the Related Keywords section you’ll find keywords that contain elements of the keyword you entered, or are close relatives of it.
Again, if you click the “view full report” tab…
You’ll be shown all of the individual keywords and their search volumes.
For a full tutorial of how to do keyword research and make many more improvements to your site, you should read my full SEMRush review.
How To Use Ahrefs For
Now I am going to cheat a bit here.
Ahrefs (my go-to link building tool) used to have a 100% free trial, but the tool is so good that people were abusing it.
But trust me when I tell you – it’s worth every dollar.
Ahrefs is one of my favourite tools and the amount of data they have is insane.
Their Keywords Explorer is the tool I used to drill down in the women’s shoes examples above.
Once you’re in the tool keyword research is simple.
Top Toolbar > Keywords Explorer
On the keyword explorer page you’ll be able to enter in the search box as many keywords as you want.
Whether that’s just the one seed keyword you want to know more about or a keyword list.
Hit search and you’ll be taken to the keyword results page.
Beneath all of the graphs and charts at the top of the page…
There is a section called Keyword Ideas.
Here you’ll find a huge database of data-driven keywords for you to work through:
Each of these keyword lists has a different set of data for thousands of related keywords.
Including the Newly Discovered section which are the freshest related keywords in your niche.
In other words – no one is ranking for them yet.
And they have a handy browser extension for a quick glance at your competitor keywords. (I use the Chrome extension)
How To Use Longtail Pro For Free
Longtail Pro is is a great tool for finding niche keywords.
Although it’s no way near as good as Ahrefs.
Once you’re in:
Generating a keyword list is easy with this keyword tool.
But if you are going to take out any keyword tool trial, Ahrefs is the best shout even if it does cost $7!
If you really don’t want to spend any money, then the reader exclusive SEMRush trial is for you.
Bonus: Stealing Your Competitor’s Keywords
There is one more keyword research strategy you can use to your advantage…
Stealing your competitor’s keywords.
They’re proven keywords that other people in your niche are targeting! They’ve already done the research to prove their effectiveness. And no one will know you stole them!
All you have to do is piggyback onto their hard work.
All you need is my free intelligent Google sheet which makes it a 5 minute process!
It will automatically find all of your competitors best keywords and then filter them so you can focus on the high search volume keywords that are the easiest to rank for.
It doesn’t get much easier than that so download my free sheet now.
Wrapping It Up
Researching new keywords for free is a tough topic to cover.
But for a successful content marketing plan with a tight marketing budget, it can be done…
The keyword research tool doesn’t give you the information you need to make intelligent search query decisions.
So if you are going to use this type of keyword tool…
I highly recommend that you use my keyword research template.
It’s built around my personal SEO keyword research process while solving a lot of the common problems you find with a free keyword tool.
It will save you a bunch of time, tells you how hard it is to rank, helps you find awesome SEO keywords that Google Keyword planner can’t find and it doesn’t have to cost you anything.
That makes it the top free keyword tool in my opinion!
What do you think? Let me know in the comments, leave your name and email address.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best free keyword research tool?
The best keyword research free tool is the intelligent Google sheets that I had developed. You can download them from my blog 100% free of charge and they will automatically find the right keywords with a low competition level and high search volumes.
What tools do you use for keyword research?
There are lots of excellent keyword tools to choose from like Ahrefs, SEMRush and Long Tail Pro. Truth be told, any of these tools will be suitable for you but personally I use my own intelligent Google sheets which you can download above free of charge.
Is Google keyword tool free?
Yes the Google Keyword Planner is free as part of Google Adwords. Just sign up and create a campaign to start using it. However it lacks critical features like difficulty scores nor does it present any information about how many backlinks you’ll need to compete so I don’t use it.
How do I find my competitors keywords for free?
You can either take advantage of the trials of SEMRush and Ahrefs or use Google’s Keyword Planner. With the Google Keyword Planner you just need to enter your competitors URL and Google will scan the page to look for possible keywords. This is different than SEMRush or Ahrefs which will return the actual keywords your competitors currently ranking for.