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Keyword Research Tools - Where to Start?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is something that we love to talk about, mainly because we have a huge appreciation for SEO practices and how they can really make or break a website. Through the sites that we run ourselves, like European Tenders or Intelligent Eye we have been through the trial and error process of finding out what proves effective and what seems to be a waste of time with SEO. 
 
The place that you should always start with SEO is finding out the best set of keywords to use throughout your SEO efforts. Picking out keywords might sounds very straightforward but it can be trickier that you think. First of all, you are not looking for the keywords that you think best represent your product or service. If that were the case this SEO game would instantly get a lot easier. What you are looking for are the keywords that people search for when they are looking for the product or service your provide. Again this might not sound that difficult, but people never behave quite how you would expect them to.  People put all manner of random things into Google when they are on the hunt for something, and it isn't always the things that you would expect. 
 
Once you have understood the distinction in what you are looking for, you then need to consider keyword competition. That means to assess how many other websites are out there vying for the traffic that comes from your chosen keywords. For the majority of sites, the best keywords tend to be those that have higher levels of traffic, but very low competition. How easy it is to find such words depends entirely on your industry sector and how saturated it is. 
 
What you really need to help you get started are some good keyword tools that can assist you in working out which terms might just propel your site to the big time. Here are a few that we think are top of the list:
 
Google Adwords
It's free to set up an account at Google Adwords, and with Google being the place to be as far as search engines are concerned, it makes sense to start here. Within Google Adwords, under the Opportunities Tab you will find Googles Keyword Tool. This gem of a creation lets you either enter keywords that you think might be effective for your site, or you can enter the URL of your site (or any other site for that matter). With this data, the keyword tool crawls through a whole load of Google data and then presents you with its keyword findings. 
 
What you will be able to see in the results are actual keywords searched for in Google, along with how many people globally and locally have searched for those keywords. If there are some keywords that you suggested that don't show up in the results, the chances are no one is searching for them, and therefore they are redundant for the time being. What you will get though, is around 800 chances to find your new keyword champions. Along with search volumes you are also given a competition level for each keyword which is on a scale from 0.0 to 1.0. If your keywords are coming back with a competition level of 1.0, that is really not ideal. That means that competition is high and that you are likely have to throw A LOT of time and / or money at that term in order to push your site anywhere near the first page of Google. 
 
As I said, you're ideally looking for terms that have a low level of competition but a high search volume. Generally you are going to be looking at something termed 'long tail keywords'. These are keywords which tend to be very niche and will only produce very focused searches on Google. While it's also unlikely that the search volumes will be massive on long tail keywords, you will be sure to attract a certain audience that are statistically more likely to want what you are offering, opposed to more general, short tail keywords that could bring high levels of incompatible traffic to your site. 
 
Word Tracker
Work Tracker (WT) is a focused keyword tool. Keywords are what they eat, sleep and breathe over at WT HQ so you can be sure that you are in safe hands. WT was established in 1997 to answer the fundamental question of "What are people searching for on the Web?". Since then, the businesses has boomed in their quest to help website owners around the world to understand search engines and more easily identify the keywords that will genuinely be used by search engine visitors.
 
Again, WT provides valuable information about what sort of competition levels each keyword faces with estimates about the number of sites also using that word. (Remember there is only space for 10 websites on the first page of Googles organic listings.) What is different about WT, in comparison to Google Adwords, is that WT brings in data from sources other than Google, therefore you get a broader view of the situation on the web. 
 
Keyword Discovery
Keyword Discovery is a site that has slowly been creeping up the rankings and now appears to be suitably well thought of by those who are playing the keyword game. On their website they helpfully point out that "Over 80% of all online transactions begin with a keyword search. To compete, you need to target all of the relevant keywords." Very true.
 
With features such as spelling mistake research, keyword density analysis and a domain researcher tool, Keyword Discovery offers a package of tools, on top of the standard practice of providing keyword search volumes and competitor analysis, that can help you get your search engine optimisation campaign off to a really great start. 
 
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Posted by Emma, Monday 27th September 2010

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