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SEO Keyword Tools - Google's Best Free SEO Keyword Tools

Question: I've heard that Google has some great "keyword discovery" tools, but I can't find them all. Where are they? Are they hidden?
- Jamie, Des Moines, IA
November 22, 2009
- Answer -
By Jason McDonald, Ph.D.

Keywords are the Foundation of SEO

Keywords are the foundation of good search engine optimization (SEO). Why? Because Google, Yahoo, and Bing all live in a "pull" medium. Nothing happens until, and unless, your potential customer enters a search query. So that search query lives first in his or her head. Not in a TV ad. Not in a newspaper ad, not in a radio jingle. Unlike most media, search is a pull media: it relies on the user to generate the first step. Compare this with TV, where couch potato-like, we sit passively watching our favorite TV show until presto! on comes the latest ad for Burger King, McDonald's, or Wendy's and we "realize" that we are hungry. TV pushes ads at us. Search relies on us to "pull" the information out of the search engine.

That's why the most important first step in an effective SEO strategy is to determine your customer keywords. Build your keyword list from your customer's perspective, not your own. Most companies simply fly by the seat of their pants, but if you know where to look Google has some great free SEO tools you can use for keyword discovery.

Google's AdWords SEO Keyword Tool

The best free SEO tool out there is Google's own AdWords SEO Keyword Tool. You can use this tool as follows:
  1. Enter your keyword query (one or more keywords).
  2. Hit Enter.
  3. Click on Global Monthly Volume - that will sort in descending order, from most popular search down.

Google SEO Keyword ToolThis tool gives you search volume, which basically tells you how your customers really search rather than how you think they search. I also like to click the box Show / Hide Columns and select Show Estimated CPC - this shows the average cost per click your competitors are willing to pay. So this tool shows both search volume by your customers and bids by your competitors. Cool!

Wonder Wheel SEO Keyword Tool - Free

Google's Wonder Wheel and Related Search Tools

Where were you when you first saw the Google Wonder Wheel? Well, hopefully, right here. I was at a trade show and Leslie Cunningham - shout out to Leslie - showed me. Wow! What a cool tool, and who thought up the silly name? Wonder Wheel - perhaps an old Wonder Woman fan? Well, at any rate, the Wonder Wheel is a really fun keyword discovery tool. I think of it as Google's live thesaurus showing related searches in a visually dynamic way. Use this tool to identify your keyword universe - all potential SEO keywords. Then plug these back into the primary AdWords Keyword tool to measure search volume.

To find the Wonder Wheel -

      1. Do a search on Google for your target keyword.
      2. Click on Show Options at the top, just below the search box.
      3. Click on Wonder Wheel in the far left column.
      4. Presto! The Wonder Wheel appears!
      5. You can click on any WW search to go up or down, and discover new keywords. Again, this is based on real Google searches.

While you are there, don't miss the Related Searches information. It's in the left column as well, just above the Wonder Wheel. That gives you some great search ideas as well. Hey, and don't forget you can just type in "~" before any search term in the search box, and Google will search related terms.

Google Trends and Insights for Search

Google Trends and Insights for search are free tools for search engine optimization that focus on trends. They're pretty similar tools. For both what's cool is you can enter a search, such as "Cash for Clunkers" and see the peaks and valleys as people find out about a trend, begin to really search it, and then the search dies of. You can also leave the search form blank to see the most rapidly rising global searches, or enter your basic keyword and then look for "rising searches." These are also great keyword discovery tools, especially in trendy markets.

So Google does have some fun, wonderful free keyword discovery seo tools. They just aren't that well publicized, until now. Enjoy! Don't forget to sign up for my free Top Ten SEO Tools webinar (Top Right of this Page) - if you haven't already!

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