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One skill that all businesses are trying to master is getting their business website and related content to show up in search engines. With so much content on the web, it's more important than ever to do proper search engine optimization keyword research so search engines position business webpages and blog posts with other similar content.
Keyword research tools can help businesses on their path to higher-ranking content in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Search engines have three main functions in displaying content on search engine results pages (SERPs):
- crawling -- scouring the internet for content;
- indexing -- storing and organizing content found and then putting that content in line to be displayed in a search query; and
- ranking -- providing the content that is most relevant to the search query.
Keywords are words or phrases that describe the content on a webpage. Conducting keyword research helps brands identify the words and phrases that people use to search for goods, services and tips as well as how those phrases rank. This provides businesses with a better understanding of how and what people are searching for to better develop their content strategies.
This research should not be a one-time exercise, but instead something that businesses constantly monitor as part of their marketing efforts. A business's initial keyword research and content strategy for their website or blog is just the start of the journey. The business needs to continue monitoring and optimizing content on webpages to maintain high rankings in SERPs.
Here are five free SEO keyword research tools for businesses to explore:
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is one place to start keyword research and benchmark where a business' web content stands today. This free SEO keyword research tool analyzes the current keywords on a webpage, showing their average SERP position, impressions and clicks. This tool works best when combined with a Google Analytics account to get in-depth keyword data and find opportunity keywords -- phrases that rank in positions eight through 20 with a large number of impressions -- from the performance report. This report snapshot in time to show how Google ranks keywords in search queries. These opportunity keywords along with some on-page SEO improvements can give businesses a boost in some of their page rankings.
The best keywords for brands to rank for are often not very obvious. Keywords and phrases are often specific to business products, services or industries, but those may not be the terms that customers are using to conduct searches.
To find the best keywords or phrases for search ranking viability, organizations need to know all of the possible variations of those keywords and phrases. Rank Tracker is a free SEO keyword research tool that combines 23 keyword tools into one to give users a multitude of keyword ideas. This tool shows a keyword's traffic potential and how to rank the SEO competition for those keywords.
There is a paid version of this tool, but the free version of Rank Tracker will give you enough data to analyze keyword traffic potential.
This tool can help businesses discover the questions that people are asking around keywords and related keywords they are interested in researching. Also Asked enables organizations to gain an understanding of how people are asking questions in association with a keyword. It also helps to identify search phrases, plan content and get the right content in front of potential customers.
Moreover, this tool provides results for long-tail keywords -- phrases that build on shorter keywords and are more specific -- and shows the relationships between these topics and questions. An example of a long-tail phrase might be "science fiction book," building on the keyword "book."
Keyword Surfer is a free Google Chrome extension that analyzes Google search results directly on the SERP. The main goal for this extension is to assess the volume of queries for a given keyword in the Google database, which includes results from 19 countries. Within the SERP and search bar, users can see those "global" estimates, their country's results and the top 10 "similar" keywords in the search results.
From the Google Trends interface, businesses can see the popularity of a search term over time. It enables users to research individual words or compare keywords to see trend fluctuations, such as by season/holiday or annual releases of new technology. For example, if a business sells a lot of Mother's Day goods and the keyword they want to rank for is "Mother's Day gifts," Google Trends can show when those keyword volumes start increasing or decreasing.
This tool also shows the interest by region, breaks down time ranges and shows related topics and search queries.