Uprankers » Keyword Research http://uprankers.com Tools and strategies to dominate search results Mon, 16 Jan 2012 16:53:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.1 Combine Market Samurai with Scrapebox to find more keywords /combine-market-samurai-with-scrapebox-to-find-more-keywords/ /combine-market-samurai-with-scrapebox-to-find-more-keywords/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2011 21:11:39 +0000 Marcin /?p=673

Market Samurai is still the go-to tool for most of us when it comes to keyword research. While based on a freely accessible source for its data (the Google Keyword Tool), it boasts a powerful set of features like its own network of proxy servers, good filtering capabilities and extensive analysis functions.

However, I’ve recently decided to run a quick experiment to find out if there was a quick and simple way to add way more targeted keywords than what Market Samura finds (800 if you’re logged in to you Adwords account).

Obviously, you can simply dig deeper in Market Samurai directly, taking the keywords it finds and using them as seed keywords for deeper searches. But I opted for another approach, with my trusted Scrapebox tool. Are you interested in my approach and results?

Market Samurai and Scrapebox = double power

For one of my newer sites, I wanted to research “wireless routers“. This is a niche with plenty of good keywords, so Market Samurai easily generated the maximum allowed by Google Keyword Tool, i.e. 800.

You can see the results below.

 

Market Samurai generates 800 keywords

In the second step, I fired up Scrapebox and launched keyword scrapers.

Scrapebox scraper sourcesIn the Select Keyword Scraper Sources, all options are active. “Wireless router” is my seed keyword.

In the first run, Scrapebox returned 73 keywords. While not impressive, it is just a beginning, as we are now about to do a second pass. I will copy all found keywords from the right column as seed keywords to my left column, and let Scrapebox do its job once again.

It will take a while, but generally, just a few minutes. Scrapebox is simply so much faster to work with than Market Samurai, it is quite refreshing. In my case, after removing duplicates, I was left with 939 new keywords. What’s important, they were all targeted, no garbage.

Scrapebox results

Yet, we still have to find out how many duplicates there are between MS and SB. Well, that is an easy part – when you paste more keywords to Market Samurai, it automatically deletes duplicates. So, let’s paste our SB results:

Whoa, 1652 keywords, meaning we have approximately twice as many keywords as with Market Samurai only. All targeted, many nice buying keywords, many long-tail phrases.

After importing keywords from Scrapebox

The greatest advantage of this approach, in my mind? Everyone is using GKT as their source of data, so everyone is competing for the same keywords. When you add less popular sources, you may discover many keywords which are low-hanging fruit, with noticeable traffic, but almost no competition.

If you have more tricks to find good keywords, please share them in the comments.

To your success!

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Market Samurai keyword analysis explained /market-samurai-keyword-analysis-explained/ /market-samurai-keyword-analysis-explained/#comments Fri, 18 Mar 2011 17:54:09 +0000 Marcin /?p=211

Market Samurai, the favorite tool of many fellow online marketers, has a very powerful keyword research and analysis module. What’s better, this particular module remains active even if you do not purchase a full version after your trial expires. Yes, you can get the most powerful keyword tool for free.

However, for newbies it may be a little daunting with the sheer amount of information and details it provides, using somewhat cryptic abbreviations like PBR, SEOTC and such. My goal today is to explain them all to you, and make some suggestions on how to make the best use of these values to filter the best keywords out of long lists.

Below, you will find every factor from the keyword analysis explained in plain words. You can scroll down to the bottom to find some recommended presets.

 

Keyword factors analysed by Market Samurai

All factors (and columns in the keywords table) are split into four logical groups:

  • Organic
  • Adwords
  • Competition
  • Commerciality

Let’s deal with them one by one.

Organic

Organic column

The organic column groups metrics related to search volume

These columns deal mainly with search volume and seasonality.

Total searches

This one is possibly the easiest one to understand, although there are some caveats.

This column shows the total number of searches, as reported by the Google Keyword Tool, over a period which you can set in a drop-down menu called Period. By default, Market Samurai reports daily numbers, but you can easily change it to monthly if you want to follow someone’s recommendations for keyword research.

However, to make things a little bit more complicated, numbers of searches are different depending on what Match Type you choose from a drop-down list. There are three options.

If you choose Broad, the reported search counts will almost always be the highest. In this mode, Google Keyword Tool will add up the search volume of any other keyword phrases which happen to include your keyword, in any order. Let’s say that your phrase is “blue widgets”. In broad match, the reported search volume will include “blue widgets”, but also “blue widgets Florida” or “widgets blue Sacramento”. I hope you get the point.

Broad match is a good way to get a feeling for the overall market size.

If you chose Phrase, reported volume will be lower. Even though the search counts can still include phrases with some additional words, your phrase must appear exactly as it is, in the exact word order. In other words, search volume for “blue widgets” may include also “blue widgets Florida”, but not “widgets blue Sacramento”.

If you choose Exact, reported volume will be even lower. This time, the search counts show only the volume for your exact keyword or phrase. If your phrase is “blue widgets”, the search count in the exact mode will include only this very phrase.

If you’re researching some micro niches and looking for exact match domains, I suggest that you should always work in the exact mode.

SEO Traffic (SEOT)

SEOT is the volume of traffic you may expect if you rank no. 1 for a given keyword. It is just an useful approximation – a lot depends on CTR for your result which is affected by the snippet that Google shows in its results.

SEOT is calculated as Total Searches (discussed above) * 42%. This 42% is an average number based on a large pool of data according to which TOP 1 results usually get about 42% of all clicks.

Phrase-to-Broad (PBR)

This metric often is confusing to first-time users of Market Samurai – it was for me, I must admit. However, it makes perfect sense after you understand it.

If you don’t want to get into details, keep just this in mind: very low PBR value means that the words in your phrase may be in the wrong order, and the reported search volume is very likely wrong. By low, I mean PBR below 15%.

This metric uses two numbers – search volume in the phrase match mode and in the broad match mode. It divides the first one by the the second one, and the result is multiplied by 100%.

For example, if a phrase has 100 searches in phrase mode and 200 in broad mode, PBR would be 50%.

If you’re working with long lists of keywords, PBR is very useful to weed out keywords which make little sense but still get reported with (false) high search counts by Google Keyword Tool.

Trends

Little explaining is required here. The Trends column shows a nice little chart with demand for a keyword over the last 12 months. Some keywords have stable traffic throughout the year, and some have very high seasonal spikes.

The Trends column helps you adjust your strategy accordingly – plan for a peak season or choose keywords for stable traffic throughout the year.

Adwords

Adwords metrics

Even if you don't do Adwords, you will find the CPC metric very useful to decide whether your niche is profitable.

Columns from this section tell you some important information about the potential profitability of keywords.

Adwords Traffic (AWT)

AWT tells you the number of clicks that no. 1 ranked advertiser could expect from that particular keyword. As I’m not into AdWords, I don’t use this metric at all in my regular keyword research, but it is simple enough to understand.

Adwords Traffic (AWCTR)

AWCTR is the average number of people who click on an ad of no. 1 ranked advertiser, out of all ad impressions for that keyword.

I must admit, before writing this guide I’ve never used this metric in my research. But it’s dawned on me that it actually might be useful. Keywords which naturally attract higher CTR could be winners for niche sites monetized with AdSense when compared with keywords with low CTR. I should test my theory in the near future.

Adwords CPC (AWCPC)

Now, this is the column that everybody is paying attention to and getting excited. There is a reason for that – AWCPC tells you how much a no. 1 ranked advertiser is paying for that particular keyword to be on place no. 1.

As AdSense earnings are closely correlated to what advertisers are paying, you would expect that the higher number here, the better. But it is more complicated than that, unfortunately. To make a sound decision, you can’t rely on AWCPC alone.

First, keep in mind that it is the CPC for a no. 1 ranked advertiser. Advertisers in lower positions may be paying much less than that.

You should also remember that advertisers paying big bucks are usually smart people and they often advertise only next to organic results, not in the content network (read: their high-paying ads will not be displayed on your site). It is also possible to set bids for the content network separately, so while paying a lot to rank highly in the search results, they could be paying pennies for the content network.

So, the best strategy usually is not to go for the highest paying keywords, but for keywords with a decent amount of traffic, reasonable AWCPC rate and strong competition among advertisers (i.e. there are many advertisters). This is your best chance to actually get high-paying ads on your site.

Competition

Competition research

With these metrics, you can discard keywords where competition is too strong. But use the SEO Competition module for a more in-depth analysis.

Some of the most important metrics are grouped here. If your human and financial resources are limited, you will most likely want to find such keywords which offer a good chance to rank, while still generating very good return on the investment.

SEO Comp (SEOC)

SEOC reports the total number of pages globally which include a particular phrase in the specific word order, i.e. this is equivalent to searching in google with quotes around your query (like “blue widgets”).

Some people criticize this approach, saying that regular users usually don’t use quotes around their queries. While true, it is a completely irrelevant comment. Your competition in any case is just the TOP 10 websites, whether there are 100,000 competing pages or 10,000,000. What we want to find out here is how many pages have been specifically optimized for a particular keyword or phrase.

SEOC is best used in combination with SEOTC, explained below.

Title Comp (SEOTC)

SEOTC returns the number of pages which have all of the words from your phrase in their title (i.e. between the <title></title> tags). However, the words can be in any order. For example, if our phrase is “marketing services”, then a website with the following title “Our services: social marketing” would get reported as well.

SEOC and SEOTC are used to calculate a ratio (SEOTCR), explained below, which indicates how optimized your competitors are for a given keyword.

URL Comp (SEOUC)

SEOUC is similar to SEOTC, but I don’t use this metric a lot. This returns the number of pages which have a particular phrase, in the same word order, in their URL. People who want to optimize their website for a given phrase will often make sure that it is included in the URL, as Google takes it into account. WordPress makes it pretty easy with its built-in permalinks settings.

Title/Comp (SEOTCR)

This a metric which I use a lot. It divides SEOTC by SEOC and multiplies the result by 100%. It tells you the proportion of pages with optimized titles to all pages which include your particular phrase.

As a general rule of thumb, the lower the SEOTCR, the weaker your competition is. This is not a way to make a final decision, but you can use SEOTCR to quickly identify potential targets. I usually set a maximum threshold for SEOTCR to 50.

It’s quite common in many niches to find SEOTCR values way above 100%. This usually indicates that such phrases are highly competitive and ranking for them  may require serious SEO knowledge and resources.

Adwords Comp (AWC)

In the past, Market Samurai used to report the actual number of advertisers bidding for a keyword, but it no longer does which is a pity.

Instead, in now provides a more general indicator of Adwords Competition called AWC. It’s expressed as a percentage, so you have no chance of knowing whether for example 90% means 5 or 20 advertisers.

However, if you are sure in general that there is a lot of advertisers in your niche (use SpyFu for that), you can sort your results by AWC to find keywords on which most of those advertisers concentrate.

Please see my comments for Adwords CPC above – generally, if your goal is to monetize with AdSense, you want to enter niches with strong competition among advertisers. High CPC but with low competition is very unlikely to ensure a good pay-out.

Commerciality

commercial intention researach

These metrics help you eliminate keywords used by people with no intention to buy anything.

You’ve found keywords with good traffic and weak or moderate competition. Are you done and ready to build a website?

Not so fast. Why waste your time if there’s no money in your niche? There must be money changing hands to make your project worth pursuing, unless making money is not your goal.

Columns from the Commerciality columns provide some good indication of the commercial value of your niche.

OCI

OCI is an experimental indicator of the commercial intent of a user who types in a particular query. The higher the percentage, the more likely that someone is looking to buy something, and the lower,  the more likely that someone is just looking for information.

OCI values are provided by the Microsoft adCenter Labs. Please keep in mind that this technology is highly experimental and not totally fool-proof, but it works surprisingly well in many cases. You can use it to narrow your list only to such keywords which are most likely to generate income.

Adwords Value (AWV)

It is simply a result of multiplying Adwords Traffic value (AWT) by Adwords CPC (AWCPC). I don’t use this metric in my research, but it could be useful for AdWords advertisers to estimate their budgets.

SEO Value (SEOV)

While I don’t use Adwords Value, I do use SEO Value a lot. It is simply SEOT (traffic if your rank no. 1 in Google) multiplied by Adwords CPC. In other words, it tells you how much it would cost to bring the amount of traffic you can get for free by ranking no. 1 if you had to pay for it.

SEO Value is great to estimate the monetization potential of any phrase. If a phrase generates tons of traffic, then even with a lower CPC value, it will still bring in a lot more money than a highly-paid phrase with very few searches per month.

I usually sort by SEOV in the last step of my research, after all my other filters have been set and I have what I believe to be a good set of keywords I can compete for.

Recommended settings

Find niche keywords with Market Samurai

Use these settings to find good keywords with potential and little competition (click to see a full image).

While this subjects deserves a separate tutorial which I am going to write, here’s a quick overview of the settings which I use when I’m researching keywords for my autoblogs. Autoblogs, by their nature, need niches which are not extremely competitive, but can still be nicely monetized.

If you want to find keywords which will not be too difficult to rank for, please use the settings as shown below.

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12 hot keyword research tools and services /12-hot-keyword-research-tools-services/ /12-hot-keyword-research-tools-services/#comments Fri, 11 Mar 2011 12:00:43 +0000 Marcin /?p=69

Whether you love it or hate it, good keyword research is one of the first and most important steps in overall optimization to ensure your success online. You need refined keyword lists whether you manage SEO  and content for your sites or your clients’ sites, and you need even larger keyword lists for PPC campaigns, such as AdWords (your success may be hidden in the thousands of long-tail keywords) and link-building campaigns.

The list below presents you with various options for keyword research. Many of the tools are completely or partially free, but there are also some powerful paid services.

Some sources will provide you only with keywords, with no further statistics – they will mainly help you during brainstorming and mapping out your niche.

Other tools provide detailed (sometimes very detailed) information about individual keywords and phrases – search counts, competition, number of advertisers, prices per click, trends (some keywords are very seasonal), allowing you to target your niche precisely.

Recommended keyword research tools – summary

If you’re on a zero budget:

  1. Google Keyword Tool + other tools provided by Google
  2. WordStream – its free tools are excellent

If you can spend money on keyword research:

  1. Google Keyword Tool (always use it to verify results from other tools – whether you’re on budget or not)
  2. SpyFu (especially if you’re doing PPC) or alternatively SEMRush
  3. Keyword Country (a true Swiss army’s knife with many excellent features beyond keyword research)

Below, you will find my detailed explanation of strengths and weaknesses of each tool. If you’re looking for a perfect tool-set, I guess it’s worth reading.

1. Google Keyword Tool (free)

Google Keyword Tool for keyword research

Google Keyword Tool - a no. 1 source of keyword data for many users.

This is a tool no. 1 for many site owners, and for a good reason. First of all, it’s free. You cannot beat that. Secondly, data comes from the best source possible – Google itself. At least in theory, it should make it more reliable than any other source.

Without an account, you can get up to 100 related keywords and phrases for any root keyword. Results can be generated either in a strict mode, where your root keyword is always included in any derivative keyword phrase, or GKT can generate additional keywords it deems related.

Google reports global and local search counts and shows strength of AdWords competition.

You can easily export all or some results and filter them by adding negative or positive keywords. You can also compare search counts for broad match, phrase match and exact match.

If you have a Google AdWords account, the tool becomes even more usable, as you can generate up to 800 keywords in one run, an eightfold increase over the default option for non-Adwords users.

However, not all is rosy.

GKT will quite often miss important keywords, even though it apparently knows about them. I’ve confirmed it many times, using a simple experiment. I get a root keyword and run it through GKT and some competing keyword services. I almost always find high volume keywords which other services report, while Google does not mention them. And yet, when I input them directly into GTK, it does indeed shows respective search counts for those keywords.

GKT also sometimes reports phrases in awkward word order. It will for example show “car maintanance cheap” and a respectable search volume, whether in reality the search count is valid for “cheap car maintenance”. It is especially important if you’re looking for keywords to register exact match domains.

All in all, GKT is a very important tool in our arsenal.

2. WordStream (free and paid plans)

WordStream

WordStream's free niche finder is a very powerful and useful tool, especially at the best possible price.

I have mixed feelings about this service.

On the one hand, the free tools it offers are very useful. There is a a niche finder where you enter a general keyword and the tool finds several relevant subniches. After you click on any subniche, you will get a long list of keywords related to each subniche. Frankly, a quite fantastic way to quickly test any large niche for available subniches suitable for a mini-authority site or an autoblog.

There is also a keyword grouper – similar in a way to niche finder, but here you can paste your own list of keywords from any source, up to 10,000 per one run, and the tool will automatically discover any logical subniches in your list and organize your keywords accordingly – a great organizational aid.

And now the best part – with the free keyword tool you can generate up to 10,000 keywords per each seed keyword, and have the list emailed to you. This is pretty incredible, compared to the 100 limit for free version of WordTracker or the Google Keyword Tool (without an AdWords accounts).

I got so excited about WordStream that I’ve signed up for a trial of their paid plan. And here’s where I was left disappointed. At first, it looks really professional – there’s even a setup wizard which offers you to integrate WordStream directly with your analytics to immediately generate some keyword ideas, there is a Firefox plugin optimized for several CMS platforms, etc. However, I skipped through all those steps initially, to get to the research engine itself. And here’s the problem – the entire application is written in Flash, and it’s terribly slow to use (mind you, I’m on a Core i7 laptop with 8GB RAM). In fact, it was so unbearably slow that I had no desire to use it any more.

All in all, the free tools are very exciting. As for the paid service, it may be interesting, but I need a tool which can work as quickly as I do. This is not the case with WordStream.

Paid plans for WordStream SEO start from $49 per month, up to $399 per month, depending on keyword limits. There are also special plans for PPC users which are more expensive.

3. Keyword Country (free and paid plan)

Keyword Country

Keyword Country is excellent for keyword research, but it is also a SEO powerhouse with many uses.

Keyword Country is mostly a paid service with a rather limited free keyword tool. If you’re looking for a free keyword, you should rather consider Google Keyword Tool or WordStream as more powerful options.

However, when it comes to paid offers, Keyword Country strikes me as one of the most attractive and versatile options around.

Unlike the other services listed here, you actually have to download a desktop application to access the Keyword Country database. However, as I discovered to my surprise, Keyword Country has actually evolved into a multi-functional powerhouse and as such, merits a separate review. It consists of several modules, and keyword research is only one of them, although a very good one.  I like it for a number of reasons – it can combine keywords from different sources (its own database, Google, Yahoo etc.) in one list, it has a very nice keyword grouping mechanism, it can also discover related and LSI keywords or misspellings.

However, Keyword Country is much more than that. It has modules to analyze SEO competition, to submit articles, to submit websites to directories, find blogs and forums to comment on, discover Twitter “celebrities” in your niche and many more. I will provide a full overview and a review in a few days in a separate article.

However, in my opinion, at $49 per month or $99 per three months, it is a steal.

4. Spyfu (free and paid plan)

SpyFu

SpyFu is one of the most powerful tools around, both for SEO and SEM. I've been a paying customer for months.

SpyFu is another long-standing player among paid services with some limited free functionality. Without a subscription, its best use is to verify whether there are advertisers for your selected keyword, and what the average CPC rates are. It is a useful litmus test to quickly eliminate niches without any money changing hands.

However, with a subscription, SpyFu is a very powerful tool that I’ve used for some months now. A full review is pending, but let me just walk you through some of the highlights.

First of all, it allows for many ingenious uses which many other keyword services would charge thousands of dollars for. For example, I can download thousands of keywords (close to one hundred thousands in many cases) driving traffic to any domain I choose, including some of largest web properties. This in itself presents a fantastic opportunity for any niche researchers. Take any popular website, download its keywords and drill down until you find a slice for yourself. With search volume and CPC prices for any keyword in the list, you’ve got a goldmine of data.

Another fantastic way to build keyword lists is by spying on keywords that top competitors in a niche are bidding on. Take any root keyword, find top competitors and download their lists of keywords in a few clicks. This way, I can create targeted lists of thousands of keywords in a few minutes.

Even better, Spyfu tracks advertising activity over time for each keyword. You can immediately spot winners (keywords where advertisers remain active month after month) and losers (where advertisers stop their campaigns after a while).

Spyfu is $79 per month.

5. SEMRush (free and paid plan)

SEMRush

SEMRush, in direct competition with SpyFu, is a strong contender in the SEO and SEM space. Highly recommended.

SEMRush seems to be one of the most popular option today among both SEOs and SEMs. After using the service for a while, I understand why - it combines a well balanced set of features, good keyword database and a reasonable pricing strategy.

People behind SEMRush are responsible for one of the most popular SEO extensions for FireFox - SeoQuake - used by thousands of internet marketers, including yours truly. This fact only reinforces their qualifications to run a keyword research service.

Without a paid subscription, SEMRush is of limited use – you can get no more than 10 results per query, and the number of queries is limited to 10 per day. If you’re looking for keyword research without spending any money, there are much better options.

With a subscription, it’s a different matter. SEMRush can be used to run a typical keyword research (enter seed keyword, get a list of related keywords), but also to spy on competitors and their rankings, both organic and PPC. You can enter any domain and discover its keywords – both paid and organic. Or you can enter your own domain and discover the top competitors – other domains with the most keyword overlap with you own website. SEMRush provides search volume data, strength of AdWords competition and CPC rates, so it can be used for virtually any type of research.

The Pro subscription is offered at $49.95 per month, so it’s less expensive than Spyfu. However, there is a limit of 10,000 keywords per query, whether SpyFu allows its users to generate reports with even a multiple of that limit. For this reason, I stick to SpyFu, but SEMRush is definitely a strong contender.

6. Wordtracker (free and paid plan)

Wordtracker free

Free service from Wordtracker remains useful for marketers on a budget, but should not be the only source of keyword suggestions.

A grand-daddy of all keyword research tools. Primarily a paid service, but it offers a limited free keyword research tool which may be useful to compare results from other sources.

A few years ago, Wordtracker used to be only option for any serious marketers – I still remember logging to Wordtracker religiously every day to perform my keyword research. Wordtracker was a true pioneer with such metrics as KEI and various ways to slice keywords. However, its development has stalled compared to some competitors.

You can use the free version to get up to 100 keywords, but you still have to sign up for a free account. Otherwise, you will only be allowed to perform a single query to the database.

While it remains somewhat useful, I find that the results contain some garbage more often than I would like. I mainly use it to add some high-volume keywords which Google Keyword Tool might have missed for any reason.

I’ve recently tried the paid version again, but I was flat-out disappointed and would not recommend paying for Wordtracker at the moment. First of all, the functionality is really limited. Yes, you can generate more keywords, but it is still only 1000 per one run. Compared to even of some of the free competitors – nothing to brag about. There is also the related keywords functionality – nice, but nothing unique. Plus some simple project management to allow you to save projects in lists – and that would be it. No tracking of advertisers, no PPC rates, no tracking of organic results.

At $69 per month, you can definitely get more for your money from other services.

7. Google WonderWheel (free)

Google wonder wheel

Google Wonder Wheel can really help to map out categories and subcategories

To access Google Wonder Wheel, just make a regular query to Google as for any other search, and then click “Wonder wheel” on the left toolbar.

It will instantly generate a diagram with your original query in the center and related searches around it. It will a hub and spoke type of structure. You can link on any of the new keywords to add a new hub and even more spokes.

I find this visual tool to be very useful while mapping out the general idea for my site, its categories and subcategories. It is an easy way to discover concepts which Google considers related to your primary niche. As it is an accepted knowledge that well-themed sites rank better, the Wonder Wheel may help you design an excellent silo-like structure.

8. Google Insights (free)

Google Insights for search

Google Insights - a very versatile and powerful tool to spot trends

A surprisingly powerful and versatile tool which may have many different applications. I like to use it to spot break-through trends which can be monetized before competition becomes really strong, but it is useful in many other scenarios as well.

Part of its power comes from how granular you can get. Do you want to see rising searches in the “Celebrities” category from the last 7 days, and only from users in Colorado? You get it, no problem.

The part that I usually pay most attention to, is the “rising searches” section. It is where you can spot the real golden nuggets.

I also use it a lot to discover what images people are looking for, as I generally believe that it is a lot easier to rank in the Google Images search than in regular search, and it can bring serious traffic.

9. Keyword Spy (free and paid plan)

Keyword Spy

Keyword Spy offers powerful features and may be very useful to affiliate marketers, but is quite expensive.

Keyword Spy is yet another paid service with a free version. Luckily for us, the free version turn out to be pretty useful. Without registering for an account, we can generate related keywords (may not include our root keyword, but are somehow related), similar keywords (they include the root keyword), but also find the number of advertisers, cost per click and discover the top PPC and organic competitors for the keywords and phrases.

What I like is that the results are generally of decent quality – trash seems to be filtered out quite effectively and the actual results can be useful “as they are” most of the time.

I find the “Related” keywords tab especially useful when working in a niche that I’m not too familiar with. It allows me to get a feeling for what might be related concepts that I would not have thought about otherwise.

I also appreciate the data on the number of advertisers and profitable campaigns. It is a quick test of whether there is money to be made in a niche or not, although I would not rely solely on this statistic to make a decision.

I’ve never used the paid plan of Keyword Spy, although it does seem to offer a number of interesting features. Obviously, it lifts most of the limitations of the free version in terms of number of results returned, but also adds a number of new tools. One that really draws my attention, and that I may eventually try, is tracking affiliate ads. Keyword Spy claims that it can detect ads with affiliate codes from many of the most popular networks. Finding affiliate ads which have been running for months would be a great indicator of profitable niches.

Plans start from $89 per month (withouth access to the affiliate tracking module)  to $139 per month.

10. Keyword Discovery (free and paid plan)

Keyword Discovery

Not very useful results, outdated interface and high price tag - not a winner in my book.

I’ve never had a full Keyword Discovery account, so I cannot make a complete judgement of their quality, but I’ve not been impressed by the free keyword tool and the free trial account they are offering.

First of all, the interface looks as if it had not been updated in ages. I know it’s not the most important part, but still, I remember Keyword Discovery looking exactly the same some 5 years ago. Almost every other keyword tool has significantly evolved and improved visually over the years, just not Keyword Discovery. Forget any fancy ajax, smooth navigation etc.  Even their description at the free keyword tool is striking: “For many years the Overture Keyword Suggestion was the only free, publicly available keyword research tool. Now, due to its recent outages we are pleased to offer an alternative.” Come on, it’s been some years now since the Overture shut-down.

Even worse, the results it returns are, frankly speaking, garbage, and could lead to some very poor decisions. For example, with “marketing” as the seed keyword, the third most-searched keyword, according to Keyword Discovery, is “facilities building maintenance manager marketing”. Right, sure. I guess exact-match domains might still be available for that, fancy one?

To make things even worse, the paid plans are seriously expensive. Standard subscription at $69.95 is far too limited in terms of number of projects and other quotas, while the next level, the Professional plan, would set you back $199.95. As you can guess, I cannot recommend Keyword Discovery at the moment.

11. Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask related searches and suggestions

google autocomplete

Google Autocomplete may be useful in combination with a scraper, such as Rank Tracker.

Every leading search engine has some features to make searching easier for its end-users. These features usually include autocomplete suggestions or some related searches which appear after you perform a query.

With a proper tool, it is possible to scrape these suggestions to build a nice list of keywords and phrases. While it is not a way to get other details about such keywords (like volume, advertisers, etc.), it remains a good source of fresh, relevant keywords because such suggestions are based on what people are statistically looking for.

For scraping these sources, I would recommend a free version of Rank Tracker, a truly excellent piece of software. While its primary purpose is to check ranking of pages in the search engines, it is also equipped with a powerful scraper which can generate lists of keywords from every search engine listed above, plus some additional ones, like Yandex.

12. Wordze (paid with a free trial)

Wordze

I have no personal experience with this service, so I can neither recommend it nor criticize it.

I have no personal experience with this service, so I cannot either recommend it or criticize it. It boasts a decent set of features on its sales page, and the price is about right, but there is no free service to test the quality of keywords it returns.

There is however a free 30-day trial, so I may try it in the future. Still, you have to provide your PayPal or credit card details to access it, so not anyone may be willing to take Wordze for a ride.

Wordze is $38.98 per month.

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