Whether you are doing SEM or SEO, you probably know that you aren’t going anywhere without keywords. In fact, you can’t do much on the Internet at all without them. However, good keyword tools can sometimes be very expensive. But don’t worry! Today, I will teach you how to do free keyword research without any tools.
What? You can actually do keyword research without tools?
Well, yes! And it’s easier than you think!
Just a little disclaimer before we move on. I am obviously not saying that tools are unnecessary or useless. On the contrary, some of them are really good and are definitely worth the investment!
However, if you are like me and can’t afford awesome tools like KWFinder or Semrush, there is no need to worry. You can still perform a great research for your articles or campaigns without paying a single cent. Now, let’s see how!
1. Google suggestions
The Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is an absolute golden mine when it comes to free keyword research. It gives you something that many tools doesn’t: the actual searches of users on Google.
Yes, looking up the keyword volume is great. However, when you look up the volume of a keyword, you only see the keyword itself. Usually, accompanied by a few short-tail and long-tail versions in the list.
However, Google actually shows you the exact phrase that users type in the search engine bar. This is great because you can actually see the most popular queries within their context. As a result, you have a much better understanding of what and how your audience searches on Google.
Even without looking up the volume, you already know which are the most popular searches on Google for a specific topic. Which, consequently, can give you some great long-tail keyword ideas that you might want to work on.
Of course, you can always double-check the keyword volume with a free tool such as Google´s keyword planner.
This will help you decide if the specific volume is enough for your Digital Marketing goals.
2. Google Ads
Advertisers spend millions of dollars on Search Engine Marketing to show up on top of Google’s first page for the best keywords. And of course, it’s not only the money – behind the scenes, there are hours and hours of research that go into the process.
For you, this is a great and completely free opportunity to catch popular keywords without a tool.
Let´s say that you are blogging about fashion and you want to write an article about how, or where, women can shop for cheap. Just type a couple of possible keywords that come to your mind, and see what ads appear.
Here is an ad that I got when typing search terms such as “buy cheap dresses”:
You already have your first keyword recommendations: “cheap clothing for women” and “women’s clothing at cheap rate”. Let’s see a second ad:
From this one, you get keyword such as “cheap clothing” and “women’s fashion at great prices”.
Looking at ads related to your topic can be a great way to get some keyword ideas. These companies already did their research beforehand, so you can be sure that their ads aren’t full of random keywords!
3. LSI Keywords
Google uses Latent Semantic Indexing as a mathematical technique to detect the way words are grouped together in predictable patterns.
In other words, LSI keywords are the ones that are semantically related to your main keyword. They help the search engine understand context within a search query.
Let’s say that I go to Google and type in “chicken soup”. In the section Searches related to chicken soup, the search engine returns me the following LSI keywords:
It is highly recommended that you use LSI keywords within your page to provide more context onthe topic that you are writing about. This will help you rank higher for your main keyword as Google has a better understanding of your content.
Additionally, LSI keywords can make Google show your content for other search variations that are not necessarily your main keyword.
For example, my “chicken soup” search term returned a result for “homemade chicken broth”:
Because this page used LSI keywords within their content, the result showed up for “chicken soup” despite it not being the main keyword!
For example, if you are writing an article on how to buy a car, these searches can be a great add-on to your content both for users and for Google.
4. Free keyword research via Landing pages
You can use any organic result from Google’s first page to research for keywords directly from the landing page.
We already mentioned that ads can be a great way to do free keyword research, but non-paid results are sometimes even better. Why?
Competition is very hard for organic positioning, which means that the ones that show up on the first page did their job really well to end up there.
For example, this is the first result that I got when I typed “search engine marketing“. It is an article from Search Engine Land:
This is the result that showed up in the first position, on the first page of Google, for a highly competitive keyword. Beating over 900 million (!) results!
As you can see, there are multiple important keywords that appear in the article. Of course, all related to SEM – which is a great indicator that these are keywords that should appear in your blog post as well.
You can use this free keyword research method following these 3 simple steps:
- Start with a more generic keyword. For example, if you want to write about personal finance, just go to Google and type “personal finance”.
- Open the first 3-5 results that show up – preferably in separate tabs so you can compare them in a quicker way;
- Read the articles and write down the keywords that are similar to your generic term. You can later use them in your blog posts!
And of course, don´t forget to check the “People also search for” boxes for additional keyword ideas!
5. People Also Ask box
The People Also Ask box acts a lot like featured snippets – selected search results that Google considers to provide the quickest and most straightforward answer to a search term.
In other words, both are designed with the purpose of answering a question right away, without having to take the user to a blog post. They act like “teasers” and “trailers” for a movie:
In case the user finds a satisfying answer and wants more information, he can click on the featured blog post or page for more details.
The People Also Ask box looks quite similar to the one we mentioned in the previous point.
However, there is one important difference: the “People also search for” option takes you to a completely different search:
However, the People also ask box can be much more interesting from an SEO strategy perspective.
The main reason why is because it is still semantically related to your main search. In other words, the algorithm shows you amplified and enriched results to what you are already looking for to try and guess your search intention.
Additionally, it doesn’t take you to a completely different search. On the contrary, you still remain at your initial search position.
I personally like to use the People Also Ask box not only for keyword ideas, but for entire keyword titles or sub-headings.
In fact, the questions that pop up in this box are also perfect to use as sub-sections for your blog post. They typically represent all the possible questions that a user could be asking when typing a generic keyword:
And these are not random questions that Google simply made up to play a guessing game with the user. They are actually the most popular questions that people ask regarding a certain topic. Which means that they will have a lot of search volume!
For this reason, using one of these questions to write a blog title around, or taking them all into a single, long post, will almost always ensure you high volume. Without looking at any paid or free keyword research tool!
6. Free Keyword Research via Amazon
Amazon is another great source for getting keyword ideas for your page. Although it’s technically an online marketplace, it also acts as a search engine to some extent.
You see, people use Amazon to purchase products, but they usually don’t go directly to the product. They use the search bar to refine their query:
If your blog is focused on products or product reviews, Amazon is a great way to get keyword ideas. The Amazon suggests feature works the same way as Google does. Yes, you guessed it – it suggests you the most popular products that people are looking for.
Which is almost always a guarantee that these keywords will have a high volume.
If you are not familiar with Quora, it is a website where people ask questions and get answers on basically any topic that might occur to you.
It is also an awesome source for high-quality keyword ideas and blog post titles.
But it is also an amazing tool for writing helpful content. The reason why is because on Quora, you can see the main preoccupations of actual users on a certain topic.
You can even follow their conversations and the answers they got from other users to gather more information about a specific question. And last but not least, the questions that people ask can you give you some good niche blog topic ideas:
You can get an idea about the popularity of a question by looking at the number of people who follow the conversation:
This can give you an approximate estimation of the possible traffic that you might get to your website with this question.
To research keywords on a certain topic, just go to the search bar in the upper right corner. Then, type down the generic term that you are interested in, and let the ideas flow from all the results!
8. Reddit (and other forums)
Reddit defines itself as the “network of communities based on people’s interests”.
In another words, it is a huge forum where people can ask and look for information about literally everything. It is also a great source for getting keyword ideas, and works in a very similar way to Quora:
Forums in general are a really good way to find out:
- What people are interested in learning about;
- What is their main preoccupation when it comes to a certain topic or a industry;
- How many other people are looking for the same thing;
- And following conversations to see how the topic unfolds.
Even if it’s not Reddit, just do the exercise to look for specific forums in your niche that can take you for a deep dive into users’ search intentions. This way, you will ensure that your content is actually helpful for your audience!
Which, in the long run, is always better than using random keywords just because they are high in search volume.
9. Free Keyword Research via YouTube
In a way, YouTube is quite similar to Google, with the main difference being that it focuses on video content format instead of mainly text.
However, just as with Google, people who make content for YouTube should also make a lot of optimization. They want their video content to be easily understood by Google, and also easily found by their target audience upon searching for a specific topic.
Compared to Google, YouTube videos are significantly more difficult to optimize for Youtube´s search engine. The reason why is because there are not as many places to fit your keywords.
If you can place your keywords in headlines, text, images, meta descriptions, and more in a blog post, basically all you have for YouTube optimization is the video title, description, and a few tags.
This means that users who produce video content on YouTube make a lot of research to find the right keywords.
And for you, this means that their videos can give you great keyword ideas for your blog post:
YouTube is also a good way to see how different keywords position against each other.
Of course, contrary to Google search, not everything on YouTube is about keywords. Personal branding, popularity, and even video thumbnail play a huge role in how well a channel positions their video. But it can still give you an overall idea of what you can expect with a certain keyword.
10. Social Media Groups
Another excellent way to perform free keyword research without any tools is by joining social media groups.
Channels such as LinkedIn and Facebook allow you to join industry or niche-specific groups where a lot of interesting conversations happen.
For example, I am a member of various groups on LinkedIn dedicated to Digital Marketing:
These groups allow you to either start a conversation, or join one. It´s like you have a private feed in which you can see very specific publications on your topic by multiple members.
LinkedIn and Facebook groups are a great way to see what people are talking about, and extract keyword ideas from it.
I hope you enjoyed learning about the ways that I do free keyword research without any tools!
Many people are worried that they don´t have the latest and most expensive tools to research for keyword ideas. However, although they can be an awesome way to improve your SEO, they are not the only one.
I personally use these methods to select specific keyword/s for my blog posts, and then sometimes look up their search volume on Keyword Planner. I take a long time to write my articles, so I like to get an idea on whether the search volume is really worth my time for writing an article.
But of course, you can skip this step! Especially if you are a new site that is just starting and you are focusing on long-tail keywords (which are usually associated with low volume).
Thank you for taking the time to read my article, and I will see you in the next one!