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Identifying relevant key phrases for your marketplace is a crucial starting point for your SEO and PPC marketing.

Here's a selection of some of the best free keyword research tools out there...


Wordtracker is one of the most popular keyword analysis tools being used today. It offers a subscription model, as well as this free keyword tool.

It displays the number of searches for the keyword entered, as well as related terms, so this can be useful when trying to think of the terms you want to target.

On the negative side, it only samples data from a couple of meta-search engines, while you cannot target information from a specific country.

Google Keyword Tool

This free keyword tool displays keyword data from the last 12 months and, as with Wordtracker, displays some useful related search terms to help you brainstorm.

It can also tailor results to the UK, and obviously has the largest search userbase, so the results should be relevant.

The drawback is the vagueness of the results. Instead of giving actual search volumes, you only get rough estimates.

Keyword Discovery

This keyword tool normally charges $49.95 a month, but there is a free trial version available for use.

It has some useful features, such as the ability to see the search trends for your chosen keywords over a 12 month period, receive results from a particular country,  and search for common misspellings connected with your chosen keywords.

You do need to subscribe for access to all of these features, though the free version is still useful.

Google Traffic Estimator  

The traffic estimator lets you see traffic for a search term without having to actually add the term to an account or campaign. This toll displays clicks per day, average CPC, cost per day and average estimated position.

It can also be customised to show just results from one or more countries, though it doesn't give you an estimate of search volumes, and can be less reliable for low volume keywords.

Google Suggest

Google Suggest is a useful tool for brainstorming keywords related to the areas you are looking to target, but it doesn't give information on search volumes related to these keywords.

To get an idea of popularity, you could use Google Trends, which will help give you an idea of a keyphrase's popularity over time.

As the UK search market is so dominated by Google, it is important to be cautious when using keyword tools that gather their data from other search engines, as these may give a skewed picture of keyword popularity.

Related research:
Paid Search Marketing (PPC) - Best Practice Guide
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - Best Practice Guide 2007

Related stories:
Which are your best keywords? (you’ll never guess)
Keyword research – an essential market research tool 

Graham Charlton

Published 4 June, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (9)

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Chris Byrne

Chris Byrne, CEO at Sensorpro.net


Microsoft adlabs have a number of interesting keyword tools that use data mining statistical techniques including demographic prediction and keyword seasonality forecasting



over 8 years ago


K Singh, Director at Kronik Media

Google Keyword tool is probably the most widely used. We have not used others but regularly use Google keyword tool during the search engine marketing campaign that we run for our websites as well as our clients. The information we get form Google keyword tool is priceless and allows us to target our search engine campaigns more effectively.

over 8 years ago


Matt Banes

Don't forget to mention using Google Analytics too! The ability to monitor your website's traffic by keyword, key phrase and the visitors time spent on your website helps when comparing this data with the results found while using the tools presented in your article.


Matt Banes

over 8 years ago



I regularly use Google keyword tool and wordtracker to find popular keywords. but google keyword gives just a graphical representation of popularity it becomes little difficult in selection of keywords, otherwise it is one the best tools.

over 8 years ago


Peter Renton

This may seem a particularily stupid question and its probably completely unethical / maybe even illegal but is there any software that captures the email addresses of people viewing our site ?

over 8 years ago


Pascal Fintoni

Thank you for the reminder Graham. I am however surprised that the list has not moved on, these are the same tools I used a few years back. Is there anything new out there?

over 8 years ago

Dave Chaffey

Dave Chaffey, Digital Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Author and Speaker at SmartInsights.com

I haven't seen any new tools of note Pascal. Anyone else?

Matt makes a good point about using analytics data. I'm working on a keyphrase analysis project at the moment and am finding it really useful to look at the output from the Google Keyword Tool, Web analytics and AdWords data side by side. This way you can find additional words and qualifiers to add to both your SEO and PPC efforts.

With the Google Keyword Tool people don't seem to use the "Website content" feature as much - i think that's really powerful, particularly if you run against competitor sites also to give a full-range of potential keywords.

I have a tutorial here:

And a list of keyword tools:

Dave Chaffey

over 8 years ago

Dave Chaffey

Dave Chaffey, Digital Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Author and Speaker at SmartInsights.com

Just reading the SEO Roundtable Briefing

It mentions this tool which analyses top-ranking keywords (not so good for sub-folders on large sites)

Worth a look for competitor analysis

SEO Digger (www.seodigger.com)

over 8 years ago



I love it when people come together and share thoughts.
Great blog, keep it up!

about 4 years ago

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