Just think, in the vast, complicated process of SEO, it all starts with just a few words typed into a small search box. But the words we use to search are more than just queries; they are critical strings of information in the battle against the giants of search engine results. David versus Goliath comes to mind—a five-word phrase battling the force of a mighty search engine like Google or Bing.
But as we all know, little David did beat the enormous Goliath, and beyond his devout faith, he also had a very well-placed strike from his trusty sling-shot. This is somewhat comparable to having an effective keyword strategy that appropriately hits your target audience.
Biblical references aside, some people would argue there’s no such thing as a scientific SEO strategy these days, but effective keyword research and strategic targeting goes a long way in this battle. To help us in our online fight, here are some free (who doesn’t like free?) tools that can help us craft a better strategy:
#1 - Homework Before Dinner: Research First
Perhaps everyone who is familiar with doing keyword research already knows about Google’s Adwords Keywords Planner and their trusty Trends feature, both available at no charge for users, but here are a couple lesser known favorites for doing our keyword homework:
Microsoft Bing Ads Intelligence - Download this tool and it links directly with Microsoft’s popular Excel spreadsheet program to perform expansions based on your current keywords and helps to eliminate duplicate entries.
Wordstream - Offers several free keyword research tools including a niche-finder, grouper and negative-keyword tool.
#2 - YouTube’s Planner Goes MIA
Many marketers were happy using a Keyword Planner found on YouTube, but in the beginning of September 2014, the tool simply vanished. Parent company Google replaced it with Display Planner available through Adwords accessible only for those with an account.
Needless to say, some crafty keyword researchers are simply using the autocomplete feature in YouTube’s search bar for some quick terms that are automatically ranked. For example, if you begin typing the word “keyword,” these results will display (at the time of publishing):
research tutorial 2014
driven framework in qtp
ranking os x
for website optimization google
...and many more. If you continue typing its plural form, “keywords” into the search bar, a different set of results will appear. Try it yourself. This will work on any search bar - Bing, Google, Topsy and Yahoo, just to name a few - just enable the autocorrect feature.
#3 - One More for the Road
Ubersuggest is another search bar related delivery service, but it takes the results one step further. After you enter your term into the box and confirm you aren’t an autobot with recaptcha, your results are delivered according to rank, but underneath is a complete listing according to the other letters in the alphabet.
In other words, if you entered our favorite term, “keyword” the query would return terms similar to those listed above, but below are words associated with the letter “a” like, keyword analysis, analyzer, advertising, again in ranking order.
So in today’s competitive online world where everyone is trying to be seen, better keyword use can help us stand out from the rest of the Internet crowd. Take some advice from David: put the best rock (keyword) into your sling-shot (internet) and fire away!
Posted by Nick Rojas Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer at WriterZone who lives in Los Angeles and Chicago. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has contributed articles to Visual.ly, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas.