A Primer on Keyword Research Tools

What Is a “Keyword Research Tool?”

Keyword research tools allow you to see what people are searching for on the web, guess what else they might search for, and then optimize for those keywords.

That’s a bit technical, so let’s break it down.

If you go to Google.com and do a search for blogging, you’ll be taken to a new page where it lists different web pages that talk about blogging. What you might not realize is your search was recorded. Search engines keep track of how many people search for different terms. It’s valuable information.

Keyword research tools like we’ve used in Keyword Research for Bloggers collect that information from several search engines to guess how many times people search for that keyword. It’s not completely accurate, as these tools don’t have the records from all search engines.

Generally though, they do make a pretty good guess. When they’re inaccurate, it’s also fairly consistent, meaning all of the terms you’re researching are off by a certain percentage. So, you might not be able to trust the individual counts, but you can compare terms with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

The best keyword research tools charge a small monthly fee for access. Why? Because they spend a considerable amount of money pulling together the best data and making it possible for you interpret it. If you’re planning on using keyword research as a part of your website strategy, then it’s easily worth the investment.

Which Keyword Research Tool Is Best?

Do a search for “keyword research tools” and you’ll come up with dozens of websites, software packages, and Internet marketing products. Each claims to be the best, featuring glowing reviews and pointing out their superiority over competing products.

But which keyword research tool is really the best?

It’s hard to tell. Unless you’re a keyword research expert, it’s hard to know which tool is the most accurate and useful. You’ll have to spend hours searching the web for reviews, and you’ll still come up with conflicting information about which keyword research tool is best.

I should know. I’ve spent 100 or more hours tinkering with different products, digging through forums for truthful reviews, and comparing everything to see which tools are worth buying. It’s been a nightmare, but I’ve come to two conclusions.

  1. Most keyword research tools are a scam, selling you data that you can find elsewhere for free
  2. All of the good tools (reviewed below) provide the same basic service with only a few differences

In other words, there isn’t a best product. Choosing between the top keyword research tools is like deciding whether you’ll go to Sam’s Club or Costco. For their price, they each give good value, and the advantages and disadvantages of each are relatively minor.

Are Keyword Research Tools Worth the Monthly Fee?

It depends.

If your blog is just a creative outlet, a place to express yourself on the web, then it doesn’t matter how many people read it. You’re probably not expecting to make thousands of dollars a month from it, either. So in this case, the keyword research tools we are using in this series are overkill. You don’t need them.

I’d suspect the majority of Copyblogger readers are in a different category, though. If you’re learning about copywriting and want to use your blog as a better sales tool, then you can look at keyword research tools from a business perspective. You can ask, “Are they worth the return on investment?”

Absolutely.

From a traffic perspective, targeting a post at the right keywords can bring you 10,000 visitors, where one that you write off the top of your head might bring you 100. How much is each visitor worth? Or each subscriber? If only 1% subscribe to your blog, that’s an extra 99 subscribers a month.

Then there’s revenue. If you are selling your own information product or promoting affiliate products, a correctly targeted post can bring you revenue for years. Some of the big information products give a $500 or more commission—enough to pay for an entire year of access to keyword research tools.

Besides, we’re not talking about a huge amount of money here. These tools range from between $35 and $70 a month. If your blog is really important to you, that’s a small price to pay for a better chance at success. Besides, you can always cancel. Decide it’s not worth it, and you’ve only lost one month’s fee.

Thanks for reading Keyword Research for Web Writers and Content Producers, and we hope you’ve enjoyed it.