Startups begin with an idea, but lack deep financial resources.
They are, therefore, reluctant to spend money on something as basic as keyword research.
Bootstrapped owners use the free Google’s Keyword Planner, check around with their potential customers for keywords, and write down any keyword that they brainstorm.
All of that is fine but startups must know that they need to research into four major types of keywords:
- Primary and secondary keywords
- Key phrases (long-tail keywords)
- Correlated keywords (or LSI [Latent Semantic Indexing] keywords)
I’m going to reveal 100% free (no fremiums, no free trials, no BS tools) keyword tools that will help your startup achieve keyword liftoff.
Regardless of your niche, audience, focus, and goals, these keyword research tools will give you the advantage that you need to take your SEO to the next level.
I’ve organized this list of free resources into those four areas I mentioned above.
Primary and Secondary Keywords
You probably already know this tool and, so I’ll summarize it briefly.
Keyword planner allows you to enter in the name of your product or service, your landing page, product category, and any targeting or customization preferences.
Fill in the fields, select your category and targets, enter your competitor’s URL as “Your Landing Page,” and hit the “Get Ideas” button.
In my case, Google Keyword Planner returned 800 searched-for keywords.
Download yours as a CSV file and title it as “01 Keywords” or something else with a number because there will be other files to download/create.
This is the best starting place for keyword research, as it will provide you with the most comprehensive and targeted list of words.
But it’s just the start.
Google Trends not only allows you to compare the popularity of one keyword over another, it also tells you which keywords are rising in popularity in your markets, thereby allowing you to exploit the top keywords in your niche.
Check out this image. I compared the keywords “sewing machines” and “sewing machines USA” and discovered that almost no users search for “sewing machines USA,” maybe because it sounds unnatural or is too broad of a geographical area.
I scrolled down, and look what I found — my main markets existed within the USA, providing outstanding geotargeting data!
No other free keyword research goes into such detail.
That’s not all: scrolling further down revealed the top and rising keywords related to sewing machines!
Google Trends is an indispensable, but often overlooked, keyword research tool. You must use it!
Here’s how you use Google to research long-tail keywords:
Search for your keywords on Google and scroll down to the bottom of the page to view related searches.
Save the keyphrases:
That’s it. These keywords are algorithmically generated as a result of other popular and productive searches, so they deserve consideration in your keyword planning phase.
Make a list of words that you can add before or after your keywords.
For example, many people use voice search these days and, therefore, they may be asking a question.
Where do I buy a sewing machine?
Your keyword research may take into consideration these longtail queries that start with a question word: When, what, which, why, how, does, can, etc.
Type a question-related search into Google. Now add an asterisk (*), a Google wildcard operator, on the end of the query. This acts as a blank (as in “fill in the blanks”) and Google populates it based on the most searched for word.
For example: “How * sewing machines,” “How sewing machines *,” “Which Sewing machine *,” etc.
The following image contains 4 screenshots that show how Google suggests long-tail keywords:
How you use this feature depends on your product and service, of course.
There are thousands of niches out there and every niche has its own peculiarities and pain points. You should intelligently use the Google Suggest feature to hunt down the top searched and relevant long-tail keywords.
Keyword Tool exploits the Google Suggest API to discover long-tail keywords.
It goes deep down and researches many permutations and combinations, ending up with a solid list of very useful long-term keywords.
The tool is free, but charges a monthly fee if you want to go deeper down or get volume information.
If you’re in cash-is-tight startup mode, I recommend you work with the free version until you start making money.
Correlated Keywords or LSI Keywords or Contextual Keywords
In 2013, Google introduced Hummingbird (an algorithmic change), which placed a higher emphasis on the surrounding context of a search query.
The idea was to deliver a relevant, quality result, and not just pages containing the keyword repeated all over the content.
Google started searching and ranking content based on synonyms and correlated/contextual words.
It is extremely important today to ensure that your content contains strategically placed contextual keywords and synonyms.
Here are the contextual keywords discovery tools:
Wikipedia is an amazing source of contextual keywords. Just search for your keyword/s and read the page. You will come across a goldmine of LSI keywords.
For “sewing machine” I discovered at least 10 contextual keywords in the text above the fold. As a bonus, Wikipedia contained a diagram that specified sewing machine parts (more contextual keywords!).
I’m sure you will discover a wealth of information in your niche.
Industry terms and jargon
Search for terms, slang, technical terms and jargon that are bandied about in your niche. There will be quite a few sites giving out this information.
Make a list and save it.
Google Correlate doesn’t work well when you enter a keyphrase. But when you enter a single keyword, it throws up LSI keywords that are pure dynamite.
Check this image out. The vast difference between the results for “sewing” and “sewing machines” is just too much to ignore:
You may not think of WordNet as an SEO tool, but it definitely has potential.
WordNet is developed by Princeton University, is 100% free, and helps you research semantics and lexical relations.
Check it out, and give it a try for keyword potential:
BONUS: Rip your Competitors’ Keywords
Download Xenu Link Sleuth, a plain Jane broken link checker. Install it, open it, click file and enter your competitor’s URL in the “Check URL” field.
Xenu will download all their pages including titles and descriptions. Read through the titles and descriptions to learn how your top competitors are using keywords and then strategize a path forward.
I don’t know if you’ve been counting, but there are 10+ free keyword research tools and resources listed above.
A word of caution is in order. After researching, you will develop lists containing primary and secondary keywords, long-tail keywords, LSI keywords, and synonyms.
And you’ll be getting ready to use them in your content and on page SEO.
But how many keywords will you actually use?
Remember, if you stuff your content with keywords, you’re going to lose ranking in Google, not gain.
So here’s what you should do:
- Write naturally and weave in your researched keywords as and where necessary. Usually, this happens automatically as you’re creating helpful content.
- Your long-tail keywords will mostly contain your primary or secondary keywords. Take that into account.
- Pepper in a synonym or a couple of relevant contextual keywords here and there, but don’t overdo it.
That’s it. You have the tools and all you have to do is research and deploy keywords in your content!
It’s time your startup got noticed.
What is your go-to free keyword research tool?