Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is a vital tool in ensuring the content you spend so long constructing is seen by the users you want to reach.

The question is: how do you know which keywords to use in your content?

A bit of background on keywords

Keywords are specific words you want to include in your articles to ensure readers can easily find your content when searching with Google, Bing or any of the other search engines. Most users will only search with one or two words, so ensuring you are targeting those words in your content is vital to it being found.

Google especially has enhanced its algorithms around how searches are conducted to penalise sites that load content with random keywords to try to rank higher. So it's essential that you not only use the right terms, but that they are used in a natural way in your articles.

How to decide what keywords to use

Knowing what keywords to use can be just as challenging as writing great content that naturally uses those keywords.

Luckily, a multitude of tools, both free and paid, have been developed to make this process much easier. Let's have a look at some of the best options.

Free SEO Tools

Google Keyword Planner
Google offers the popular Keyword Planner tool. Falling under the Google AdWords program, this tool helps to discover keywords and ad group ideas, as well as provide tools to predict how different keywords will perform. While it is a part of the AdWords program, signing up is free, and you can use the tool without using the main Google Adwords program.

SEO Toolbar
The SEO Toolbar is an extension for both the Chrome and Firefox browsers that pulls in marketing data to help you get an overall view on competitors' websites, and provide insight into the keywords they are using to gain traffic. Knowing thy enemy, so to speak, is one of the best ways to understand where your targeted readers are, and what they are searching for.

Side-by-Side SEO Comparison Tool
If you're struggling to think of the right keywords to use, often inspecting your competitors' sites is a great start. The Side-by-Side SEO Tool is fantastic for that, letting you compare up to five different sites against each other to discover the most common terms used.

The Comparison Tool will give you an overview of links, metadata that is used by the site, most common keywords found, and even give an overview on how a site is structured.

Content Strategy Generator Tool
If you have a Google account, the Content Strategy Generator Tool is a Google Docs-based tool that not only studies keywords for your particular topic, but also brings in topics that are trending on social media, suggests headlines for articles to write, and suggests social accounts to follow.

Paid SEO Tools

Long Tail Pro ($25-$37 per month)
Long tail pro has been around since 2011 and has led the keyword search market with entrepreneurs for a long time. Long Tail Pro includes features such as competitor analysis, keyword research, pay-per-click analysis (advertising analysis), and with recent updates it now does that quicker than ever. With some added bonuses such as domain availability checks and site rank checking it has become the go to tool for keyword research.

With a budget friendly price point compared to other monthly subscription tools, it continues to lead the way as a pure keyword research tool.

Market Samurai ($149 one time purchase)
The long time competitor to Long Tail Pro has been Market Samurai and for good reason, their feature set is almost identical. Market Samurai focuses on keyword research as well as SEO competition and brings in data from all the major search engines. You can also import your own set of keywords if you already know what you want to research, and provides excellent filtering capabilities to weed out those suggested keywords that are not relevant to your business.

Market Samurai also provides tools such as domain checks, content research and monetisation value of content, and with it being one of the few paid SEO tools with a one off, rather than monthly cost, it is an excellent tool to refine your content.

SEMrush ($79.95 – $149.94 per month)
The SEMrush tool's focus is all about competitor analysis. If you are struggling for content ideas, or just need hints on the keywords to target, looking at content from competitors and writing something that provides even more to your readers can be a great strategy. The tool will also endeavour to automatically provide you with who your main competitors are based on your provided keywords.

While competitor analysis is the target, SEMrush also looks into things like site audits, insight into advertising and organic search campaigns and summarises it all into a fantastic looking dashboard for easy processing.

Authority Labs ($99.00 – $450.00 per month)
A pricey option certainly, but Authority Labs provides excellent insight into keywords with an intuitive interface. Authority Labs helps to keep track of your keywords performance just by entering your domain name. Results can be shared with your team or clients, and will look at search results either globally, or from your local city or postcode that is produced into a very easy report.

Great content needs great readers

Whatever your tool of choice, thinking of what your readers will be searching for when looking for content is essential to ensuring your great content is seen by as many readers as possible. Using any of these tools will help you understand what your readers are looking for, and what your competition is writing about.

Designers Guide

Get the Designers Survival Guide

Proven formulas to raise your rates and get what you are worth.

Only Want Dream Clients?

Stop working with toxic clients with our guide on finding dream clients.