SEO keyword research tools: what's your secret weapon?

I wanted to follow up on one of @Morgan’s post from late last year about keyword research.

Obviously one of the cornerstones of SEO is keyword research. It’s essentially the blueprint that guides the strategy we choose for our websites. However, as we know its a complex and constantly changing field, so how do we keep up?

The tool I typically turn to for the vast majority of the SEO work I do is Ahrefs - despite the cost of the paid plan that I have, it’s fundamentally a swiss-army knife for keywords, backlinks, competitor strategies, keyword rankings, etc.

I know SEMRush is a close alternative, but it’s not quite my tempo for variety of reasons.

One of the reasons is I found that predicted volumes for keywords are overestimated, giving me a false sense of what to expect in my research. Ahrefs will often underestimate the volume, but I find that gives me a more grounded expectation.

Google Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest are some free alternatives, but I don’t have much experience with Ubersuggest.

Opening this up for the forum, what’s your go-to option? What makes them stand out to you?

I am amazed on the fact that there are sites that can show which keywords are better than others.

I am truly a newbie to all of this! :grinning

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Thanks for chiming in, @pstaley!

It’s pretty incredible, hey? Obviously search engines want people to use their service, but even Google Keyword planner is a remarkably valuable tool that they let people use for free.

Honestly, my “favourite” keyword research tool is Google Search Console

Here’s why:

All you need is enough authority to rank in the “top 100” in order to start getting “true impression data” and so instead of letting keywords dictate my content, I decide what kind of content I truly want for my consumers, I can write it, post it and then once it’s top 100, I can then determine which keywords have high volume and adjust content appropriately.

I also love that I can parse by region as well.

Doing it this way not only gives you feedback on the keywords you “were” going for, but helps you discover many keywords you didn’t know existed.

Here is a great example:

As you’ll see in the screenshot (sorted by impressions) there are several keywords that are ranking top five (but not #1) and then nowhere near the first page.

Those not on the first page are actually not real estate specific (they are too generic, we don’t want them) so that is by design.

But for those that are the first page, they ARE highly relevant to our business “real estate” and since we’re already within striking distance (recognizing we’ll likely only get clicks if we’re #1 these days) it might be worth going after these keywords with some intention.

Next, I do a search to see what page is ranking and it’s this one: Meta Descriptions For Real Estate | Optimize Your Meta Tags

What do I notice (anywhere we can improve?)

First - it’s not been updated since 2017 (needs a more recent update tag)

And when I look at some of the main elements (page title, H1 tag etc) they don’t include “SEO” in them when in fact the 2 top keywords are “real estate SEO descriptions”, “SEO description for real estate” and “seo description for real estate agent

So next I’ll go update that page (since I’m here)

But I’ll also put this on Wes’s Radar to build out some support for that page - meaning he needs to create some keyword-specific (high value) forum posts that link back to those pages using the various anchor texts (high value is key, anchor text matters) and potentially a “related” (but not cannibalizing) blog post on descriptions.

For example, we could tie in our latest hot topic “AI” and do a blog post on best practices using AI to create meta descriptions.

Ok @WesMartin I’m updating that blog post - the rest is up to you :slight_smile:

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Thanks for sharing all of this, @Morgan.

I really like that distinction you made about intentionally choosing topics you’d like your consumers to read and tweaking the content when you need to. I’ve had a lot of experiences writing content in the reverse way (keyword-driven), and I find that content is oftentimes much slower and less enjoyable to write.

In terms of next steps, all of that makes sense, I’m on it. :slight_smile: