Top FREE Keyword Research Tools

by Brook Lenox on March 16, 2009

keywordsIf you are doing (SEO) Search Engine Optimization or PPC (Pay per Click) advertising, keyword research tools are a “key” to your success (pun intended).  These are my favorite free keyword tools.

Imagine I’m trying to come up with keywords for football tickets (I love to watch football & I do promote StubHub’s affiliate program).


I start the keyword research process with brainstorming. 

#1 Back of a Napkin

Hopefully this napkin is unused, but that’s why I use the back.   Scrap paper works just as well.  Spend 10 minutes just jotting all the words that come to mind for the list you’re creating.  Write down lots of ideas quickly. 

Here’s a short list I came up with:

  • NFL tickets
  • 49er football tickets
  • Superbowl tickets
  • Buy NFL tickets
  • Where to buy NFL football tickets

#2 Google’s External Keyword Tool

You type in a list of keywords into this tool and it generates more keywords as well as traffic and competitive estimates.  You can use this to create big keyword lists, but that’s not what I’m using it for today.  I want to type in the words that are on the back of my napkin and come up with some additional words.  With Google’s Keyword Tool  you don’t need to have a Google account.  I like that.

#3 Competitor’s Meta Tags

Competitor’s meta tags can be a great source for ideas.  In my case, I would just:

  • Find a competitor’s website by typing in “NFL tickets” into Google
  • I found Ticket Liquidator and went to their NFL tickets page
  • Click View and then select Source
  • For me this page opens in Notepad
  • I do a ctrl-f (for find) and enter “keyword”
  • Now I can see what they believe to be their top keywords: “Football Tickets, NFL tickets, etc”

That gives me a bunch more ideas

#4 Google Search

Another great way to find ideas is to type “NFL tickets” or any of your keywords into Google and see two things:

  • The results in the middle of the page
  • Google’s suggested links at the bottom of the page

Note: Google’s suggested list is there because people are searching for these keywords.

#5 Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a keyword cornucopia.  I went to Wikipedia and typed in “NFL football”.  Not much there, but that led me to “National Football League”. Tons of ideas on that page.

#6 Excel

Now I’ve got TONS of keywords, but they are on a back of a napkin! That’s where I go to excel.  It is a powerful tool.  I’m going to write a longer post soon on how to create keyword lists, for now we’ll focus on how excel is a powerful tool. 

Excel helps me:

  • Get organized – I can make categories on different tabs (broad keywords, team keywords, long tail keywords, etc)
  • Generate huge lists – I can use the concatenate feature to build giant lists of words (more on that later)
  • Save time – Use things like find & replace to make massive changes in seconds

#7 Keyword Typo Generator

Honestly this tool, may be a little out of date, because the search engines do such a good job of catching all the misspellings, but I still think it is useful. I enter a keyword like “vikings football tickets” and pick from these options: skip letter, double letters, reverse letters, skip spaces, and missed key.  These are all comon (get the missed letter here…just seeing if you’re awake)  typos that people make when searching for keywords.

I typed in “vikings football ticket” and I got 178 typos.

Take Action

If you’re want to start using these tools, you may want to read this 3 part series on “How to do Keyword Research“.

Here are the steps:

Post #1 – Organizing Keyword Groups
Post #2 – Creating a Small Group of Words & Testing
Post #3 – Expanding Keyword Lists

So there you have it.  I’m sure there are many, many other free keyword tools

Let me know which you use.

Photo credit, cambodia4kidsorg

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Ray March 18, 2009 at 11:40 pm

I think you must also add this as its the fresh one and quite handy in using

Brook Lenox March 20, 2009 at 7:47 am


That is a good tool (and free) for brainstorming new keywords lists.

visiblenet April 3, 2009 at 5:29 pm

This is a pretty good list of the free ones. We’ve been using the newer Search Based Keywords tool from Google. It’s got some very useful and innovative features that are easy to use, and runs fast. Check it out if you haven’t already.

Also, thought perhaps readers interested in this post and keyword tools might also like the keyword research and rank tool we developed for in-house use that is now offered for free on our website. It’s a dual keyword suggestion tool and ranking checker in one. We encourage feedback so let us know what you think.

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