Before getting into the details of what search engine optimisation (SEO) tools are available, it’s worth reminding ourselves what we are looking for when we try to identify keywords:
- search terms that are likely to be used by lots of potential customers
- search terms where we stand a good chance of doing well in search engine rankings
Unfortunately, these two aims are often in conflict – the best keywords may well be the most competitive. So, useful SEO tools need to do more than just identify popular keywords. They also need to give us a sense of how competitive they are.
Fortunately, there are several SEO tools that do just that and more. Google’s own tools are a good starting point, as they capture data from most of the UK’s searches.
Keyword tools from Google
Begin with the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. Type in a few keywords of your own (for example, describing your business or products) and the tool comes up with related keyword ideas, along with search volumes (both globally and in the UK) and an indication of how competitive the keyword is.
Click on the magnifying glass near any individual idea, and you are taken to Google’s related tool, Google Insight for Search . This lets you see:
- how search volumes have varied over time – helping you identify any seasonal patterns or trends, for example
- how search volumes vary in different areas
- top related keywords
- which keywords are showing the strongest growth in search volumes
- comparisons for different keywords
Information on search trends is also available from Google Trends. This highlights related news events that may explain particular peaks in search volumes.
Other tools on the market
Other highly regarded keyword research tools include Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery, but you’ll need to register for a free trial. These tools can be particularly useful if you’re interested in looking further down the list of keywords to find some longer (and less competitive) keyword ideas.
Alternatively, you may find the best use of your time is thinking about what your business objectives are, who you want to attract to your site and what you can offer them. Explain this to an SEO specialist and they’ll be able to help identify the right keywords for your business website.
Above all, remember that it’s not just about finding keywords you can successfully optimise for – it’s about keywords that will deliver the customers you want.