If you’ve researched how to build a profitable blog, you’ve more than likely come across the subject of keyword research.
However, the people who explain the strategies around it are most often using paid tools in their guides.
And there’s a reason for that:
Still, not everyone can afford these premium tools when they’re starting out.
If you’re one of them, this post is for you.
Here, I’ll cover how to do free keyword research for your blog.
Yes, you heard that correctly — it’s all completely free.
Sure, it’s less convenient and more time-consuming than with the paid options.
But make no mistake about it:
If you do it right, you can expect a lot more traffic to your site in the near future.
Let’s get into it.
How To Use Google Keyword Planner
If you’re going to do free keyword research, you should get to know Google’s Keyword Planner.
Gaining Access — Setting Up Your Adwords Account
First things first:
Create a Google Adwords account (unless you already have one).
You’ll need this in order to access the keyword tool.
To create an Adwords account, Google will ask for your billing details, as well as an ad campaign.
Don’t worry, though — you don’t have to pay.
Just do this:
When signing up, create a dummy ad campaign for $1 a day.
Then, immediately after getting access to your Adwords account, cancel the campaign (see the following video).
Once your account is up, you can start using the Keyword Planner:
1. Log in to your Adwords account.
2. Click the wrench in the top right menu
3. Select the Keyword Planner
4. Now you’ll see a screen with two options — “Find new keywords” and “Get metrics and forecasts for your keywords”.
The first option is the one you’ll use the most to, well, find new keywords!
The second option can be used if you already have a list of keywords you want to analyze.
For now, we’ll just use the first one.
Find New Keywords
In the search bar for “Find new keywords”, you’re asked to input either words, phrases or a URL related to your business.
Whatever you choose to type here, the software will spit out a long list of related keywords.
You can enter the web address of a competitor’s site, or maybe a sentence from one of your blog posts.
Usually, though, I just enter one or more singular keywords.
Let’s try “backyard mini golf”:
Type the keyword into the search bar and click “Get Started” or hit the enter key.
Target Your Audience
Before we check the list of keywords, there’s one small feature you should be aware of.
If you look at the top, you’ll see “Locations”, “Language” and “Search networks”.
By default, these will be set to United States, English and Google.
If your blog is targeting English-speaking countries, that’s fine — just leave it be.
However, if your audience is mostly based in France, for example, you should change these settings.
Ok, let’s now look at the keyword results:
Analyzing The Results
The Google Keyword Planner is meant to help advertisers find profitable search terms to bid on.
That’s why you’ll see weird metrics such as “CPC” (cost per click), “competition” and “top of page bid”.
But we don’t really care about those numbers…
When doing keyword research for our blogs, all we care about are the stats “vol” (volume) and “average monthly searches”.
A quick note:
These metrics should not be seen as the be-all, end-all when choosing your keywords.
Instead, look at the numbers like rough estimates — they give you a general idea about the level of interest behind keywords.
Ok, with that said, let’s move on:
1. Click on the average monthly searches column, so that the keywords with the least searches are at the top of your list.
2. Now, simply go through the generated list, word by word.
You’ll mainly want to look for keywords in the ranges of 10-100, 100-1k and a few between 1k-10k.
Why and how you should target low-volume keywords is explained in our free guide, “How To Build A Money-Making Blog”.
3. Try to find between 10-20 good ones — use one of them for your blog post title and scatter the rest throughout the content (details on how to do this can also be found in our guide).
That’s it — now you know how to do free keyword research for your blog with the Keyword Planner!
Scoping Out Competition & Finding Long-Tail Keywords
Now that you understand the basics, it’s time to dive into the more advanced stuff.
Of course, you can keep using only the Planner if you want — you can definitely get content ranking that way.
However, it can be kind of slow, and checking just the average search volume alone still leaves out some valuable details.
The most important one?
You see, even if you find a keyword with low search volume, it’s not a done-deal that you’re going to rank for it.
Conversely, some high-volume ones may actually be easier than you think.
The only way to be 100% sure is to check the strength of your competitors.
Using The MozBar For Competition Analysis
The Moz toolbar is a must-have extension when it comes to checking keyword competition.
In the image below, you’ll see the search results for “backyard golf course”, which gets about 500+ searches a month according to Google.
Even with the free version of the MozBar, we can get the info we need about the level of competition.
“PA”, next to the green bar, stands for page authority (learn more about it here).
“DA”, next to the blue bar, stands for domain authority (learn more about it here).
Generally speaking, the lower these scores are for a page, the easier it will be to outrank it in the search results.
As you can see in the screenshot, the combined authority for the first two pages is quite strong (medium-level page authority with a high domain authority).
These would be very hard to outrank if your blog is new.
On the other hand, the third result (tourgreens.com) will be possible to outdo with some good on-page and off-page SEO.
See how quickly you can determine the level of competition for a keyword?
It’s really useful.
If you want more info about your competitors, such as a full, detailed backlink analysis, you can choose to pay for the premium version of the tool.
However, the free version is more than enough for beginner-level keyword research.
Digging Through Google To Find Hidden Gems
Struggling to find those juicy, long-tail keywords in the Google Planner?
The following method was my go-to strategy until I started using Long Tail Pro.
It’s more intuitive and free-flowing than reading through the long lists that the Planner gives you.
Basically, it involves surfing through Google and going deeper and deeper into the search results.
Here’s how to get started:
1. Install the free browser extension, Keywords Everywhere.
This will pull the data from the Planner and display it next to all keywords in different search engines— Amazon, Google, Youtube etc.
Very convenient, since it gives you an immediate overview of the numbers without having to copy-paste the words into the Planner manually.
2. Type your main keyword into Google — let’s go with “backyard golf course”.
3. Now, scroll down and check out the “Searches related to” section.
These are some related terms that people who are interested in “backyard golf course” are also searching for.
With Keywords Everywhere, you can easily view the estimated search volume for each of them:
Look at that — “backyard golf course supplies”, “how to make a homemade golf course” — these are great content ideas!
Be sure to save the best ones you find to a notepad.
(It still boggles my mind how many people ignore this section when doing keyword research.)
4. Go deeper — click on one of the related searches.
Let’s go with “backyard golf course supplies”.
5. Now, scroll down to the related searches once again:
More interesting search terms to choose from — “backyard putting green flags”, “golf course flags for sale”…
These may be low-volume, but they’re sure high in buyer intent.
(Buyer intent keywords are basically what people are searching for when they’re thinking about making a purchase.
This makes the traffic behind these keywords “warmer” than the ones aimed at general information.)
See how useful this method is?
Personally, I’ve found many hidden gems for my blog content by doing this over and over again.
Try it out — it’s very effective and completely free.
Tools & Tricks To Speed Up The Process
Do you still find the whole process a bit tedious?
Don’t worry— I have even more tools and tricks to share with you.
By using these, you can find whole batches of potential keywords, fast and easy!
Here are 3 ways to do just that — all free, of course.
LSI Keyword Generators
LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing.
LSI keywords are basically keywords that are closely related to, or synonyms of, your main keyword.
Google have said it themselves:
Your content usually ranks better in search results if it contains a good number of relevant keywords.
Of course, you could find these by manually going through the Keyword Planner.
However, there are some neat little tools you can use instead, which greatly speeds up the process.
This is very simple to use.
Let’s stick with our previous theme and go with “mini golf”.
Check the reCAPTCHA, hit generate and…
A long list of LSI keywords has now been created for us.
One thing I’ve noticed about the LSI graph tool, is that it tends to include a lot of keywords with buyer intent.
These are especially useful for ecommerce or review posts.
Anyways, it’s a very handy tool for quick “hit and run” keyword research.
Now, let’s look at the second option.
With this one, you get the option to enter up to 10 keywords.
You can also apply two types of filters:
2. LSI keywords, long-tail keywords, or both.
For the sake of consistency, let’s type in mini golf again.
I include all countries and choose to search for both LSI and long tail keywords.
I then click “Generate Keywords”:
As you can see, this looks more like the Google Planner than LSIgraph — you can filter by monthly volume, CPC and competition.
However, the results are still a bit more condensed and convenient to go through than with the Planner.
Which Of These Tools Should You Use?
I recommend going with LSIgraph if you want to quickly generate a list of relevant keywords to include in your content.
If you’re looking for new post titles to rank, you’ll want to look through the details.
In that case, go with LSIkeywords.
Youtube Keyword Hack
This next method involves spying on high-ranking Youtube videos and “stealing” their keywords.
Here’s how you do it:
1. On Youtube, search for a main keyword in your niche.
Let’s try “golf swings for beginners”.
2. Click on one of the videos on the first page of the search results.
The “Beginner Golf Basics” video is just a year old with over 1 million views — let’s check that one.
3. Right click on the empty space of the video page and select “show source code”.
This will take you to a page full of code:
4. Press Ctrl and F on your keyboard to bring up the word search box.
5. Type in “keywords”.
6. Look for the highlighted text on the page.
See the orange highlight, like in the image below?
The words that follow:
“Golf lesson, putting, chipping, pitching” etc.
All of these are the keywords that the uploader has added to their video.
Repeat this process for a handful of different videos.
In the end, you’ll get a long list of potential keywords you can use for your blog content.
When you start typing something into Google, like “why do…”, you’ll see a drop-down list of suggested searches.
“Why do dogs howl”
“Why do we yawn”
“Why do we have nails”
And so on.
Well, if you type in keywords related to your blog’s niche, you can actually find a lot of great questions that people are typing into Google.
Questions that your blog could provide the answers to.
The problem is, checking the auto-suggest manually for every potential keyword can take a lot of time.
This is where Answerthepublic.com comes to the rescue.
The way it works is very simple:
1. Type in a keyword relevant to your targeted audience.
2. Click the “Get Questions” button.
3. The software will then use the Bing and Google auto-suggest databases to show you a ton of questions people are asking — questions that are relevant to your keyword.
As a bonus, they’ll also show you a bunch of prepositions and comparison keywords as well.
4. Click the “Visualization” and “Data” tabs to switch between the mind map graphic and the plain list.
As you can probably tell, this tool is an absolute goldmine for Q & A type posts (a.k.a response posts).
Use it well.
Seek & Ye Shall Find
There you go — now you know how to do free keyword research for your blog!
Sure, these free methods are not as convenient as the paid ones.
Still, if used properly, they will get your online business up and running, without making a single dent in your budget.
Now, get out there and start searching!
Your next golden keyword is right around the corner.