Search Engine Optimization

In Depth Guide To Effective Keyword Research (2018) – Free Tools Only

Effective Keyword Research 2017 – Free Tools Only

A lot of guides out there, suggesting these expensive tools and those time-consuming strategies.

Suggesting you spend 6 months reading about keyword research than spend 6 more doing one.

Guides that get you so overwhelmed with the task, that you decide you just can’t do it on your own and you need to hire someone to do it for you.

Well, this is not one of those.

This is a simple step by step process I’ve used to do keyword research when pressed with time and resources.

All you need to do is follow these 6 simple steps

  • Generate Keyword Ideas
  • Use tools to generate keyword suggestions
  • Collect Data Metrics and create a prioritizing table
  • Filter down your lists
  • Create Keyword Groups
  • Determine Keyword Targeting

and when you are done you will have reasonable keyword targets to attack.

I will not give you choices between tools nor use paid tools for the purposes of this tutorial to make things even simpler.

I call it the rookie friendly guide to keyword research.

Ok, let’s dive into it

1.Generate Keyword Ideas


A lot of guides instruct people to start their research with a keyword research tool, like the Google Keyword Planner (GKP).

This is not how you’d like to start.

And here is why;

The Google Keyword Planner is giving closely related keywords and does not offer a broad specter of suggestions.

This is true for other keyword generation tools as well.

This is not what you are after. You need a board specter of terms which you can later filter down. You are not looking for a list of synonyms as this is the best way to miss out on a lot of solid targets.

Don’t get me wrong.
I love and use many keyword tools but starting your research with one is not what I recommend.

The point here is you need to generate your own ideas. I usually start this by brainstorming.

Doing it in a group will help.

Don’t be scared include in synonyms, similar keywords, different words with similar meaning, phrase long and short,  just play with it.

This will be your initial “keyword pool”
The best way to do this is open an Excel spreadsheet and just start throwing in words to build your initial list.

Now, this goes both ways. Make sure you keep it clean.

You want to make sure you don’t just put in “any” keyword that comes to mind that has absolutely no relevance to your business.

The more “bad” keywords in your initial keyword pool the more work you’ll need to clean it up.

2. Use tools to generate keyword suggestions

Now that you have your initial list you need to build on it.

Another mistake people often make is the fact that they only use a single source.

The more diverse your initial list is the bigger the chances you will find keyword targets you’ll be able to rank for.

I suggest you use as many sources as you can.


Now, this is where the GKP comes into play

But there’s a catch

The tool is focused around commercial terms only.

What do I mean by “commercial terms”?

First, let’s look at the three basic types of search queries when intention behind them is in question.

Navigational – when on the lookout for a specific brand or a website

Commercial – searches performed with an intention to buy something

Informational – when a search is done with the intention to answer questions, discover or learn something

Sure enough, Google knows that advertisers want to buy keywords that people are actually going to convert on.

Because of this Google hides a lot of informational queries (“informational” keywords that might be a reasonable target for you) that are less likely to convert clicks into sales.

This may not be what you are looking for, and even if it is you should not base your decision on a single source of inspiration.

In order to use the KGP you need to have an AdWords account created so head over to and make that happen and you are ready.

Here’s an example:

Let’s assume you are looking at creating some content regarding “Train Travel in the USA”

  • Open KGP
  • Set Your Geo Target (not really necessary when generating suggestion)
  • Punch in one of the keywords you have come up with in the brainstorming phase
  • Go through Google’s suggestions and pick your winners

Where to next?

As I mentioned one source is not enough.

Another FREE tool you can use is

The Free version is limited. You will be able to generate ideas but will not be able to get any further data there.

No worries you will not need to.

Head over to Keyword Tool IO and start punching in keywords. I would recommend you go with more generic terms so that you get more diverse suggestions here as well.


Next, Google Suggest.

Google Suggest is the name of Google’s auto-complete function. If you enter a word in Google’s search bar you are automatically shown associated terms in a drop-down menu.


These suggestions are generated based on the most frequently searched terms.

Again a great way to increase your list.


You can leverage Google Related as well.

Again type in any keyword in the Google search bar, you’ll see searches related to your term in the “Related searches” section at the bottom of the page.


I have saved the best for last LSIGraph: LSI Keyword Generator Free tool again and one of the best resources for generating LSI keywords.

LSI Keyword Generator

I will let you know a bit more about LSI keyword further down this article so bear with me.

You should have more than enough keywords in your initial keyword pool now.

3.Collect Data Metrics and create a prioritizing table


Data is key here. You have to understand the numbers behind your keyword targets and make your decision based on your findings.


As I mentioned at the start of this post, for the sake of simplicity I will not give you alternatives between tools and I will not use any paid tools.


What you are looking at is:

  • Volume – Amount of monthly searches for the keywords
  • Competition – How difficult is to rank for the given keyword by analyzing websites that already rank for the keywords
  • Relevance – How relevant is this keyword to your business, business goals, ranking goals etc.


Go back to the GKP and plug your full list in there.

You have 2 options here. You can paste in your full list or you can upload a CSV file directly into GKP tool.

google keyword planner metrics acquisition

This should not take long. As soon as Google is finished fetching your data, download your file.Now that you have your CSV it’s time to tidy things up.

Now that you have your CSV it’s time to tidy things up.

4.Filter down your lists

The next move it to filter down the list and choose the best targets.

Here’s how to do it.

What you are looking for is high volume, low difficulty, strong click-through rate opportunity, and high relevance to your business

You already have volume.

Difficulty and CTR opportunity you will have to check manually.

First, you will need to install the MOZ bar (free chrome extension from MOZ).

Head over to the Chrome Store and type in MOZ Bar to download.
Log in and start going through your BEST targets one by one.

To go back to our example.


In the SERP you are looking at the Domain Authority for the ranking websites and the ability to generate clicks from lower page positions. As a rule of thumb, you can use, you are able to compete with websites that have a maximum of 10+ domain authority on your website.

I would not follow this blindly and I would definitely consider the progress I am making in terms of DA and a bunch of other stuff, but it is a good place to start.

This is how you decide if a keyword if a keyword is reasonable to target or not.

In our example, we can see that our keyword choice is fairly competitive and we might be better of looking into other potential targets we have identified.

5.Create Keyword Groups


Times have changed and so has SEO. It was a lot easier to rank for any given keyword before.

To be honest I haven’t been that long in the game to actually know that for a fact
I was not a part of that SEO generation that was able to rank for just about anything and I can tell you ranking for just any keyword is not going to be easy in 2018.

Keyword choices are to be made carefully, so this process can’t get simpler if you’d like to make the right choices.

One of the most import changes in the past few years in terms of On-page SEO signals and optimizing for the same is the fact that the rule 1 keyword = 1 page is no longer considered best practice.

In 2018 you need to address one searcher intent with one page and optimize for several keywords that serve that same searcher’s intent.

This works like a charm.

Two reasons why you need to create keyword groups and target more than one keyword per page.

One: The page will rank for more than one keyword either way so why not make an effort to rank as high as possible for as many keywords as possible.

Two: By doing this you increase chances of ranking well for both the primary and secondary targets.

Google is looking at related queries and phrases when identifying the context of a web page.

This means the more related keywords to your main keyword target you have on your page the better the chances are to rank well for your primary target.

These are also called LSI keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing).

I will not go further into this at the moment.

Now, if this is all confusing and you don’t know how to make it happen here’s a short guide that can help you optimize your page using LSI keywords.

Let’s get back to our example.

6. Determine Keyword Targeting

Almost there.

By now you should have a bunch of keyword target groups.
Each targeting a different searchers intent.

If you followed this guide up until this point, you now have a bunch of keyword target groups that you have a reasonable chance to rank for.

Once I am done I usually end up with one main keyword target supported by 2-5 secondary targets or so called LSI keywords

The last decision you need to make is to distinguish between keyword groups you need to create new content for, and keyword groups you can use to optimize already existing content/pages on your website for.

When finished all you need is to create a content calendar around your keywords and you’re set.

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