Are you looking to do keyword research (for free) but don’t know where to start?
This guide will teach you how, without spending a dime.
- Chapter 1: Keyword Research Basics
- Chapter 2: Find Keyword Ideas
- Chapter 3: Analyze Keywords
- Chapter 4: Choose a Keyword
Chapter 1: Keyword Research Basics
This chapter will explain what keyword research is and why it’s important to learn it to grow your blog’s organic traffic.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of understanding the words or phrases used by people to find products, services, and content in search engines such as Google, Bing, or YouTube.
Why is Keyword Research Important?
It is the only way you can find out what people are looking for in search engines. With this practice, you will create content around keywords and be found in the search results.
Through keyword research, you will be able to clarify concepts such as:
- The difficulty of ranking certain keywords
- The traffic you will receive if you rank for these keywords
- The content to be created to rank specific keywords
Understanding all these points will help you get more visitors, more traffic, and more customers to your website.
Chapter 2: Find Keyword Ideas
Simply put, you need to think about topics that your potential customers might be interested in.
Then, you can use keyword research tools to broaden these ideas and find related keywords.
Here’s a strategy you can follow in coming up with winning keywords for your business:
Discover Seed Keywords
Seed keywords are the basis of keyword research. Basically, they bring you back to your niche, helping you find your customers and getting to know your competitors.
You will need seed keywords to use any keyword research tool (which then creates many ideas and keywords).
For example, if you own a digital marketing agency, your seed keywords could be:
- Web traffic
- Content marketing
- Social media
- Email Marketing
It shouldn’t take long to find them. Think about your business and the related topics.
Once you’ve found some ideas, you can move on to the next step.
Find Related Keywords
You can start to continue looking for your keywords, checking which ones are related.
Specifically, you can use these ways to look for related keywords:
You can enter one of your seed keywords in Google and check the results:
Now, you can scroll down the SERP and look for the 8 keywords suggestion Google is giving.
These are the related searches:
These related terms are keywords that are really popular among Google users concerning your first seed keyword.
Now, if you want to dig deeper, you can click on one of them (for example, “SEO keywords”) to find even more suggestions:
You can repeat this process, or come back to your seed keyword and check what Google is suggesting you:
You can use Google’s “autosuggest” function to keep looking for related keywords and dig deeper as many times as you wish.
Wikipedia is handy for keyword research.
After all, it is the largest encyclopedia you can find online, where each contributor is an expert in his field.
Here’s what you can do to find related keywords.
Enter a seed keyword into the Wikipedia search bar, for example, “tea,” and you will get the page with the broad article:
Then, scroll down and look for the “contents” page (you will find all the sub-topics):
And some of these sub-topics are precious related keywords that you can use for your content creation.
If you want to find more related terms, you can click on a sub-topic (such as “tea bag,” for example):
In the main article of “tea bag,” you can check again for the “contents” section to find even more related keywords:
You can repeat this process for each of your seed keywords.
Reddit is a popular online community. Its tagline is:
The Front Page of the Internet
You don’t want to miss the opportunity to research your keywords here!
Let’s say you have a website about cats. So, enter the seed keyword into the search bar and look for the related subreddit:
Now, you can scan the most popular posts (or the one with the most comments) to find new keyword ideas:
Finally, you can add “cat scratching post” to your list of related keywords.
Forums are another great way to find ideas for your terms.
To search for forums on Google, type:
“keyword” + “forum”
Once you find a popular forum, browse among categories and topics to look for interesting related keywords:
Use Keyword Research Tools
As mentioned before, the keyword research tools need the seed keyword to work.
You have to enter a keyword to extract a large number of related ideas and keywords.
Here are some of the most used free keyword research tools:
Now, let’s see them in detail.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is the most popular tool. It is free, and you can use it even if you are not an advertiser.
Let’s see what happens if we enter a seed keyword example:
Here are a few interesting related keywords:
- green tea
- yerba mate
- afternoon tea
- oolong tea
- tapioca pearls
- ginger tea
- coco bubble tea
As you can see, Google Keyword Planner shows you relevant keywords, including those that don’t contain your seed keywords.
For example, “samovar” is a metal container traditionally used to serve tea. You probably wouldn’t know if you weren’t a tea connoisseur living in Russia or the Middle East.
Important Note. It is essential to underline that Google Keyword Planner indicates “competition” as a metric unrelated to the SEO factor but directly related to how much advertisers are willing to pay to show ads in search results.
GKP allows you to enter more than one seed keyword in the search bar (just put a comma after each term):
You can add as many seed keywords as you want. Try to be descriptive.
Think about your business or your niche and which terms better describe your industry.
You can run the search based on these parameters:
- Search networks (only Google, or also its search partners)
- Date range
And you may want to add the following filters to narrow down your results:
Through Google Trends, you can check the popularity of a specific keyword over a period of time.
If we insert the term “Christmas tree,” we can visualize how in recent years, its popularity increases every December:
Obviously, because of Christmas.
How does this relate to keyword research?
First, you can schedule the publication of your content, depending on the season.
If, for example, you sell Christmas-related items, you will want to create and post content like: “The 10 Best Christmas Gifts This Year”.
Let’s take into consideration another term, “iPad”:
If we analyze the interest of the keyword “iPad,” we see how every November, there is a spike. It’s because, until 2018, November was the release date of the new model (then moved to March and May in the following years).
If you have a tech blog, you will want to publish or repurpose content related to this topic on the dates of greatest interest.
This free Chrome extension could become your favorite!
Keyword Surfer allows you to view estimated global and monthly search volumes for each of your queries entered into Google.
It also gives several related keyword ideas:
So, next time you will search for something in Google, you’ll get some related terms for content creation.
Questiondb.io is a free-to-use service that lets you find the questions people ask about a keyword.
It takes information from a database of millions of questions extracted from Reddit.
The free version allows you to get up to 50 results.
It’s useful not just for finding related, long-tail keywords but also for creating your next piece of content based on a specific question you have found in these suggestions.
Answer The Public
AnserThePublic.com is a great source of ideas.
Based on a single keyword, it will give you:
- Related terms
Let’s see an example, with the seed keyword “tea”:
This first graph contains questions, like:
- When is tea day celebrated?
- What tea is good for headaches?
- Can tea keep you awake?
- Are tea leaves good for the garden?
- How is tea grown?
- Which tea bags are plastic-free?
- Where tea comes from?
- Why is tea better than coffee?
See? There are plenty of questions generated that you can use to create your next piece of content or niche website.
With the prepositions section, you can find long-tail keywords ideas, like:
- Tea without milk
- Tea with Alice
- Tea is good for health
- Tea for weight loss
The comparisons section contains suggestions like:
- Tea and biscuits
- Tea vs. coffee
- Tea like chamomile
- Tea or coffee, which is better?
Then, there’s the alphabeticals section, which shows Google autocomplete suggestions:
There are many suggestions, sorted in alphabetical order.
Finally, the last section gives you related keywords.
All the data is available to export in CVS.
Chapter 3: Analyze Keywords
Now that you’ve found many keywords, it’s time to analyze and find out if they are competitive and if you can rank in the search results with your content.
But how to do this?
To analyze keywords, first of all, we need to distinguish them into three categories:
These terms have high volumes of research and competition.
Think of terms like “loans” or “shoes.” User intent could be anything that involves these subjects, like researching an online loan provider, a list of loan types, a loan calculator or buying tennis shoes, researching running shoe reviews, finding an idea for elegant shoes.
These keywords are 2-3 term phrases with good search volume (consider at least 3000 searches each month) and are more specific than head keywords.
As an example, think of “online loan,” “personal loan,” or “type of loans.” Or again, “shoes for men,” “running shoes,” “tennis shoes.”
With these words, you will have less competition than the main keywords.
These keywords are phrases with more than four terms.
Think of “personal loans for bad credit” and “instant loan without documents” as examples. Or “best running shoes for men” and “cheap elegant women shoes.”
These keywords usually have low search volume (200/300 searches each month). So they are not very competitive. These are the terms you want to target to start on your brand new website and gain rankings in search engines.
Evaluate Keyword Competition Level with Google
If you want a quick way to check how much competition a keyword has, type the query into Google.
Then, analyze the first page results:
If you only see authoritative websites (like Forbes), you probably want to find another keyword to rank.
On the other side, if there are only small sites or blogs on the first page, chances are you can aim for the first results.
Analyze with Keyword Planner
Do you recall chapter three, where I was talking about Keyword Planner?
Well, now it’s time to analyze those keyword ideas the Google tool gave you:
To understand how to do it, I will bring you an explanation of each of the terms that appear in Keyword Planner.
Keyword Ideas: all the terms that Google considers related to the seed keyword you entered.
Avg Monthly Searches: the average amount of searches per month for each keyword. Note that it’s an interval, not a specific number.
If you want to find the exact search volume for a keyword via Keyword Planner, check this section.
(Remember to visit Google Trends and evaluate if the keywords are seasonal. The term “Christmas tree” will have many searches during the Christmas period and very few during the rest of the year).
Competition: leave this out if you are not an advertiser. This value indicates how difficult it is to get the top position for your keyword, according to the offer made.
Top of the page bid: the higher this value, the more profitable the keyword will be if you decide to monetize it through your content.
If you sort the results by “top of the page bid,” you can get some interesting keyword ideas, with low competition and a decent amount of searches:
- thai milk tea;
- thai iced tea;
- green tea frappuccino starbucks;
- panera green tea.
More Free Keyword Research with Keyword Planner
Another way to find more term ideas with Keyword Planner is using the “Start with a website” feature instead of the “Start with keywords” section:
What you need to do is look for a competitor page in your niche, then enter the URL and select the option “use only this page” to get results:
You can look for your competitor articles, blog posts, or news stories to find keyword ideas, outrank them, and write quality, optimized content!
Chapter 4: Choose a Keyword
To choose a keyword, let’s come back again to Keyword Planner.
To recap, you want to use the “Discover new keywords” feature:
As you know, first, you need to find the seed keyword.
Think of something that describes your business – a service, product, or content you need to create.
If, for example, you have an online store that sells sports nutrition supplements and you wanted to create a new blog post on the best protein powders, you would like to find keyword ideas to optimize your content for.
Let’s add the keyword “protein powder” and click on “Get Results”:
So, how can you choose the right keyword?
There can be various factors, especially if you use paid keywords tools.
But in this case, since you want to do free keyword research, consider these four factors:
GKP gives an interval, not a precise number. But you can have an idea of the average search volume. So, the bigger this value, the more traffic this keyword will generate.
How to Find the Exact Keyword Search Volume Data
Normally, you will only see a range of search volume in Google Keyword Planner. To see an exact value, you need to run an active AdWords campaign.
This trick will let you verify the exact search volume without actually starting an AdWords campaign.
Ready? Let’s start!
Once you have entered the seed keyword and searched for ideas, select one and click on “Add Keyword”:
Now, click on the “Forecast” tab on the left-side menu:
And here’s the exact search volume:
The interval range was 1k-10k, while the exact value is 7.7k.
You can also get some other interesting data, like the forecast for next year:
You can add as many filters as you wish:
- Average CPA
- Conversion value
- Average CPC
You can also get an idea of the devices used by the audience of that keyword:
Other than search volume, it’s good to evaluate the keyword’s difficulty.
If your website is new or does not have many backlinks, try creating content focusing on long-tail keywords optimization.
With time, you will earn authority. After that, you will be able to try to rank with competitive, short, high-volume keywords.
Organic click-through rate is another metric you can use to finalize the keyword selection.
By checking who ranks on the first page of the search results, you can see, at a glance, if you can produce content that ranks for the keyword:
If you see lots of things on top of results, like featured snippets and many ads, there are chances the keyword won’t get you lots of clicks, even if you rank at the top of the SERP.
This value is based on how much advertisers are willing to pay for this keyword. The more the competition and the offer proposed, the greater the possibility of converting traffic into customers.
If you find a keyword that looks promising but with a low volume of searches, you may still want to consider if it has a high CPC (cost per click).
It means advertisers will pay a lot to get their content displayed on SERP for that keyword.
I hope that you enjoyed this guide to do keyword research for free.
Did you find this article useful?
Have you discovered something new?
Would you like to recommend other strategies?
Did you find any mistakes in this post?
Please, let me have your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!
- Link Building: The Definitive Guide (2022)
- On-Page SEO: The Complete Guide (2022)
- Blogger Outreach: The Complete Guide