Keyword Research

After determining your keyword themes, the next step is to strategically develop your keyword lists and define keyword groupings. Keyword research tools help PPC managers identify in-demand keywords as well as other factors such as CPC costs and overall competition levels.

It’s important to understand the role of keyword research tools; they are most effective when used to explore keyword themes and variations. These tools generally pull from a vast universe of keywords and return results according to your input or seed query. With that said, your keyword research results will only be as effective as your ability to identify opportunities within your market – the tools themselves do not substitute for market intelligence.

AdWords Keyword Planner

It’s no surprise that the most popular keyword research tool is the AdWords keyword planner. Google currently commands over 75% of search traffic and most advertisers have focused their effort on ranking effectively on the AdWords platform. Google offers free access to this tool that allows advertisers to identify new keyword opportunities.

Key Metrics Available in Google Keyword Planner

Keyword – lists your keyword and any applicable variations.
CPC – the average cost per click as estimated by Google.
Competition – a relative scale, offering advertisers insight into how popular a term is among other advertisers.
Search Volume – estimates on search traffic for the specified keyword.

While the AdWords keyword planner offers advertisers a great resource to perform keyword research, a number of other factors should be considered. Also, due to its proximity and affiliation with Google, this tool is considered by many to be the research default. Due to this, advertisers that rely solely on the AdWords tool for sourcing keywords and keyword data may be susceptible to falling into the “group think” trap. Ultimately, this could lead to poor keyword selections and inflated CPCs as the market over-values certain keywords simply due to their presence in the AdWords keyword planner results listings. For this reason, it is important to explore other keyword sources.

Third Party Keyword Research Tools

Fortunately for advertisers, AdWords’ keyword planner is not the only keyword sourcing tool on the market. Lesser used keyword sources offer another advantage: while the crowds focus on the same set of keywords offered by the Google tool, you may be able to find hidden gems in some less-used keyword research tools.

Other Popular Keyword Research Tools To Consider

Wordtracker – a longtime industry favorite, WT’s data is said to be less commercially driven as it is an independent keyword research tool as opposed to Google’s AdWords tool.
Keyword Discovery – another veteran in the keyword research space.
Wordstream – offers a free premium keyword research tool, and also specializes in keyword grouping.
Hitwise – a keyword analysis/trending tool that’s partnered with ISPs and search engines — and also able to tap into the search habits of 25 million users.

Each tool generally sources its keyword list in one of two ways:

  1. Via a Google keyword API, applying different filters not currently available on the AdWords keyword planner
  2. From various outside sources, including search panels and other language technologies

Alternative Keyword Research Tools

In addition to traditional keyword research tools, other tools that offer a fresh perspective on keyword research and user activity should also be considered when developing a keyword list. The following are a few examples:

Google Trends – offers fresh trending data on the most popular keywords for a given period of time.
SEMrush – allows users to identify larger associated keyword sets based on a few keyword inputs.
Keyword Difficulty (Moz) – competitive keyword analysis metrics show you where a competitor is
UberSuggest – offers suggestions tied to popular terms searched by Google’s users.