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keyword search 5 free keyword research tools

keyword search 5 free keyword research tools

keyword search 5 free keyword research tools

Are you tired of Google Keyword Planners restrictions? Then you’re in the right place.
Remember the good ol’ days when GKP was awesome?
You could enter any ‘seed’ keyword and see tons of keyword suggestions, plus search volumes.
google keyword planner search volume old
Now, Google has restricted these numbers to general ranges. 🙁
google keyword planner search volume new
SIDENOTE.
 You can still see exact numbers, but only if you spend enough on AdWords campaigns for Google to deem you worthy of such data.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a useful tool. It suggests some good keywords, splits them into groups (which is useful), and is 100% free.
But if GKP is the only tool you’re using for keyword research, then you’re missing out.
Yeah, you can use a tool like Ahrefs Keywords Explorer which has tons of data, features, and filters. But what if you’re just starting out and can’t justify paying for any SEO tools whatsoever?
Here are some free keyword tools to help kickstart your SEO with zero investment:
  1. Google Trends
  2. Keyword Shitter
  3. AdWord & SEO Keyword Permutation Generator
  4. Answer the Public
  5. Google Correlate
  6. Keywords Everywhere
  7. Wordtracker Scout
  8. Google Search Console
  9. Suggestion Keyword Finder
  10. Google
Let’s delve deeper into each of these tools.

1. Google Trends

Let’s kick things off with another useful keyword tool from Google: Google Trends.
Google Trends visualizes how search trends change over time.
Enter a keyword, and you will see the relative popularity of that search query over the past 12 months.
To show how this can be useful, let’s check the Google Trends data for  “protein powder.”
protein powder google trends
It looks like the search popularity of this query is quite stable throughout the year.
But if we look closely, we can see that there is a gradual decline between August and December, with popularity spiking in January.
This is likely because many people are on a ‘health kick’ in January.
If we check Google Trends data for the past five years, we can see that this is, in fact, an annual spike.
protein powder annual spike google trends
(This is information that we couldn’t glean from Google Keyword Planner.)
So if you have a fitness blog, it may make sense to publish a piece of content about protein powder in early January.
But Google Trends has another cool trick up its sleeve: related queries.
Drop down to the bottom of the page and you’ll see a ‘related queries’ box:
related queries google trends
This show related queries with rising popularity.
SIDENOTE.
 Learn more about top and rising ‘related queries’ by clicking the question mark icon in the related queries box.
I’ve found this is particularly useful for quickly unveiling search queries I would otherwise never have thought of (e.g., “bone broth protein powder”… is that a thing!?)
Still, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Google Trends…
… so I recommend reading our full guide to using Google Trends for keyword research.

2. Keyword Sh!tter

It doesn’t take much of an imagination to guess what this tool does.
Enter a “seed” keyword (or many) and hit “Sh!t keywords!”
keyword shitter protein powder
It will then start doing its business, so to speak.
Be warned, though, this tool will generate a lot of keyword suggestions.
I left it going for ~30 minutes and had ~20K suggestions… and it was still going!
It works by mining Google Autocomplete.
NOT FAMILIAR WITH GOOGLE AUTOCOMPLETE?
Google Autocomplete = the results that show when you begin typing a search in Google.
google autosuggest
Because of this, it’s quite basic.
It doesn’t show search volumes or trends data, nor does it group keywords in any way (as Google Keyword Planner does).
But it does have one other notable feature: positive and negative filters.
The easiest way to explain how these work is to show an example.
So let’s add the word “buy” to the positive filter and run our “protein powder” search again.
keyword shitter protein powder buy filter
Now you can see that it only mines queries containing the word “buy.”
The negative filter does the opposite—it excludes queries containing the filtered words.
This can be useful for finding related queries with high purchase intent (e.g., “buy protein powder,” “protein powder store,” etc.)
DO YOU WANT EVEN MORE GOOGLE AUTOCOMPLETE KEYWORD IDEAS?
Try the Search suggestions report in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.
Keywords Explorer > Search suggestions
search suggestions keywords explorer
Unlike KW Sh!tter, we also give you a bunch of metrics such as search volume, Keyword Difficulty (KD), and more. 🙂
SIDENOTE.
 This isn’t the only tool that mines Google Autocomplete. There’s also KeywordTool.io, but that restricts results to ~700 keywords. Infinite Suggest is another alternative. But, despite the name, it doesn’t seem to find anywhere near the number of keywords that Keyword Sh*tter finds. And there are tons of other Google Autocomplete miners, too. Google “google auto suggest tool” for more. There’s also this tool from SEOChat. It mines autocomplete suggestions from Google, Bing, Amazon, and YouTube.

3. AdWord & SEO Keyword Permutation Generator

This tool combines lists of keywords into every possible permutation.
Here, the tool took my three lists of keywords and combined them into a list of permutations:
keyword permutations
This is useful should you want to add transactional or informational modifiers (e.g., “best,” “cheapest,” “buy,” etc.) to a list of topics.
It’s also useful for local SEO purposes.
For example, let’s say you run a plumbing company and offer your services in different counties.
Here’s how you could use such a tool:
plumbing company in permutations
SIDENOTE.
 The third list of keywords is optional. You can generate permutations from only two lists, as I did above.
NEED A LIST OF CITIES OR COUNTIES?
Try Wikipedia.
I searched for “counties in Florida” and found this list.
counties in florida
Then I used Scraper (free plugin for Chrome) to scrape the entire list.
scraper counties in florida
Note. Read my web scraping guide to learn how to scrape information like this.
There’s not much else to say about this tool.
It’s quite simple functionality‐wise, so it doesn’t give you much data (e.g., search volumes, trends, CPC, etc.)
But that’s not what the tool is for—it exists to save time.
SIDENOTE.
 Need to combine more than three lists of keywords? Try KeywordIn.com
DOING LOCAL SEO?
This tool generates keyword permutations from your business type and location.
Here’s how to use it:
  1. Enter your business category (e.g., plumber)
  2. Select from a list of related individual services
  3. Hit “Generate keywords”
final smb keywords
There you have it—a list of niche and location‐relevant keyword permutations. 🙂

4. Answer the Public

Answer the Public finds questionsprepositionscomparisonsalphabeticals, and related searches.
Confused? Let’s tackle each of those one by one.
We’ll start by entering a “seed” keyword—let’s stick with “protein powder.”
(Yes, I used a GIF to show how damn cool the site looks.)
First thing you’ll see after entering a “seed” keyword is questions.
These are search queries containing whowhatwhywherehow, which, when, are, and is.
E.g., “what protein powder tastes best?”
By default, you’ll see a visualization, but you can switch to a regular ol’ list if you prefer (which I do).
Next up, we have propositions—i.e., forcanisnearwithoutwith, and to.
These are search queries that fit the [seed] [preposition] [______] format.
E.g., “protein powder without carbs,” or “protein powder for weight gain.”
We then have comparisons—i.e., versusvsandlikeor.
Once again, the format is [seed] [comparison] [______].
E.g., “protein powder versus meat,” or “protein powder or chicken breast.”
And finally we have alphabeticals and related.
Alphabeticals are Google Autocomplete suggestions.
answer the public alphabeticals

And related, well, who knows?
From my experience, the number of suggestions in the related category is almost always ~20. I have no clue how from where it derives those keywords. But it does kick back a few gems from time to time.
But where does ATP get their data from, anyway?
As far as we’re aware, that would be Google Keyword Planner and Google Autosuggest.
DO YOU WANT MORE ‘QUESTION’ TYPE SUGGESTIONS?
Answer the Public gives a total of 195 question‐based queries for the phrase “cat.”
SIDENOTE.
 Question‐based queries are those with words like “how,” “what,” “where,” “how,” etc.
Let’s see how Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer compares.
Keywords Explorer > All > include only the same question type queries as ATP
questions report keywords explorer cat
That’s ~548,000 keywords. 2,800x more than ATP!
I’ll admit it; we’re flexing our big data muscles here.
For most people, ATP has more than enough keyword suggestions.
But when your site grows bigger, there’s always Keywords Explorer. 🙂
SIDENOTE.
 All data is exportable to CSV. No need to register or log in.

5. Google Correlate

Yep—another tool from Google.
According to Google, “Correlate finds search patterns which correspond with real‐world trends.” I.e., trend correlations.
SIDENOTE.
 Google Correlate is part of Google Trends. But I felt it deserved a standalone mention. Reason being, the way it finds keyword ideas is different to Google Trends.
Let’s dive straight in by searching for—yep, you guessed it—“protein powder.”
google correlate protein powder
Google kicks back ten search queries with trends that correlate with “protein powder.”
SIDENOTE.
 Hit “show more” for even more keywords.
You’ll notice that not all these queries contain the “seed” phrase.
That’s because this is correlation data. In other words, they’re keywords where the search trend correlates with that of your seed keyword.
ninja blender protein powder correlation
For that reason, this tool can uncover some seriously unrelated keywords.
unrelated mobile homes for sale
Google says “mobile homes for sale” correlates with “protein powder.”
But every now and again, it will kick back a gem that you never thought of.
A good example of this is “ninja blender.”
I would never have thought of this on my own, but thinking about it, I can see why these two might correlate. Ninja blender is a brand of blender, and people use blenders to make protein shakes. (Duh!)
So it could be the case that people are searching for “ninja blender protein recipes.”
HUNCH = CONFIRMED
I decided to check “ninja blender protein recipes” in Ahrefs Keywords Explorer.
It has an estimated search volume of 20 searches per month.
keywords explorer 3 ninja blender protein recipes
Not too high, but the keyword difficulty (KD) score is low, so it would likely be easy to rank for.
If we check the SERP overview, it’s also clear that this particular keyword has the potential to drive more traffic from long‐tail keywords.
ninja blender protein shakes serp overview
We can tell because the current top‐ranking page ranks for 207 keywords. It also receives an estimate 162 visitors from organic search each month.

Final Thoughts

Don’t get me wrong, you can find some good keywords with free keyword tools.
But doing‐so can be very time‐consuming. And time = money.
The reality is that time spent mining Google Autocomplete for individual queries is wasted time. The same is true of merging data from many free keyword tools together in spreadsheets. You should aim to use that time for more important stuff, like creating content or link building.
What’s more, paid keyword tools—like Ahrefs Keywords Explorer—run on HUGEamounts of data. That makes them much more efficient at finding low‐competition keywords. You know, the type that may actually be worth targeting.
Bottomline: free keyword tools are good, but not as good as paid tools. (Surprising, right?)
Let me know in the comments if you know of any other cool free keyword tools—I will consider adding them to the list

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