In today’s digital world, you can’t make an impact — or remain relevant — if your audience can’t find you. As Google continues to raise the bar for digital marketers and webmasters attempting to uncover the best search terms to attract traffic to their websites, their ability to find the right keywords to draw audiences to their websites has become key to maintaining a pipeline.
Google has made this job all the more difficult by denying access to organic search terms — a change the search engine giant reportedly made to protect individuals’ privacy. Whatever the reason, the result has been a reduction of as much as 90 percent of keyword data available for research. Much of that data is now being represented as “not provided.” Instead of having the luxury of seeing every keyword that drove traffic to their websites, organizations looking to optimize their digital content must now get creative to determine what keywords will work for their online strategies.
Simply stuffing content full of keywords is not a productive optimization strategy either.
Search engines, in general, have become a lot smarter. By processing large numbers of queries over time, their algorithms have gotten better at determining searcher intent behind keywords, in particular,whya user is searching. They can then present the most appropriate results, not just offer up “exact-match” search results that may or may not be satisfactory.
Given the rising necessity of proper keywords to achieving greater search engine visibility and the growing number of hurdles to figuring out what keywords will work best to help achieve online marketing goals, any digital marketer worth their salt must be familiar with the tools of the trade. Fortunately, some of the most indispensable tools happen to be free. Let’s take a look at the six best free tools to help you identify the most appropriate keywords for optimizing your content:
Google Auto-Populate: This is the best place to start your keyword research because it reveals what searchers are thinking when they start typing their query. Auto-Populate works by anticipating what searchers are looking for when they start typing and filling in long-tail search terms for them, which searchers often use instead of finishing their own typing. This not only provides clues to popular long-tail search terms but reveals the kind of content that already exists around your topic of interest. Who better to give you suggestions about keyword opportunities than Google?
Google Related Searches: This is another tool that should be at the top of your list when starting your keyword research. Similar to Auto-Populate, this function provides “related searches” at the bottom of most search engine results pages (SERPs). It too reveals popular search terms that Google has already identified and can help you expand your research parameters through word associations.
Google Ads Keyword Planner: This is a good place to start focusing your search for a new keyword. Typing in a prospective keyword will yield data on the average monthly searches for that term, the competition, and a suggested bid price for it, as well as alternative suggested keywords and phrases. You don’t need to be considering a paid campaign to use this function — it’s helpful by showing you alternative keywords you might want to consider and the average monthly searches for the keywords you’re interested in.
Google Search Console: This is the tool for hardcore webmasters and SEO professionals. It reveals the top queries being searched as well as the top web pages returned through search. Search Console will show you both the top queries and the content that has driven the most traffic to your site over the same time period.
Google Trends: Once you’ve established interest in a particular search term, this tool will help you choose the optimal variation of it. You can also use it to compare and analyze the popularity of several variations of your search term over time and even view a forecast for certain terms.
Google Analytics: Just because a large chunk of organic search data is now labeled as “not provided” doesn’t mean Google Analytics can’t be helpful. There is a section under “Acquisition” that contains your Search Console data if you have linked up both platforms. If you look under “Search Console – Queries” you’ll find information similar to what’s in Search Console.
Although it’s become harder to determine what keywords and search terms will work best for your website and other online content, it’s still vital that you do so. It’s also important to remember that all the best keywords in the world won’t help if your content is not useful, valuable and shareable. If the right content is there, visitors will come, and the right keywords will help them find it.