Mastering Keyword Research with Free Tools: A Comprehensive Guide

In the world of digital marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO), keyword research is fundamental. It helps in understanding what your audience is searching for, allowing you to tailor your content to meet their needs. While there are many paid tools that offer in-depth insights, you can still conduct effective keyword research using free resources. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of keyword research using free tools available online.

1. Understanding Keyword Research

Keyword research is the process of finding and analysing terms that people enter into search engines with the aim of using that data for a specific purpose, often for search engine optimisation (SEO) or for marketing in general. It involves understanding the popularity, competition, and relevance of keywords to ensure they align with your content goals and audience needs.

2. Why is Keyword Research Important?

  • Improves Search Rankings: By targeting relevant keywords, you can optimise your content to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • Drives Traffic: Keywords that align with user intent attract more visitors to your site.
  • Enhances Content Relevance: Understanding what your audience is searching for allows you to create content that meets their needs.
  • Competitive Advantage: Identifying keywords with lower competition can help you outrank competitors.
  • Guides Content Strategy: Keyword research helps in planning and structuring your content to cover all relevant topics comprehensively.

3. Free Tools for Keyword Research

a. Google Keyword Planner

Originally designed for AdWords, Google Keyword Planner is also an excellent tool for organic keyword research. It provides search volume data, competition, and keyword suggestions.

How to Use Google Keyword Planner:

  1. Go to Google Keyword Planner through Google Ads (you need a Google Ads account, but you don’t have to run any ads).
  2. Select “Discover new keywords”.
  3. Enter a keyword or phrase related to your content.
  4. Review the list of suggested keywords along with their average monthly searches and competition levels.
  5. Use the “Filter” and “Sort” functions to narrow down keywords based on search volume, competition, or relevance.


  • Direct data from Google.
  • Useful for finding high-volume keywords.


  • Requires a Google Ads account.
  • Focuses more on paid search data.

b. Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest, developed by Neil Patel, is a powerful tool for keyword research and SEO. It provides keyword suggestions, search volume, competition data, and even content ideas.

How to Use Ubersuggest:

  1. Go to Ubersuggest and enter a keyword or domain.
  2. Review the keyword overview for search volume, SEO difficulty, and paid difficulty.
  3. Scroll down to see keyword ideas and related keywords.
  4. Use the “Keyword Ideas” tab to explore suggestions, related keywords, questions, and comparisons.


  • Comprehensive data including search volume, competition, and keyword ideas.
  • User-friendly interface.


  • Limited to a few searches per day without a paid plan.

c. AnswerThePublic

AnswerThePublic visualises search questions and suggested autocomplete searches in an intuitive and visual way. It’s particularly useful for understanding the questions your audience is asking.

How to Use AnswerThePublic:

  1. Go to AnswerThePublic and enter a keyword.
  2. Browse the visualised search queries categorised by questions, prepositions, comparisons, and alphabetically.
  3. Download the data as a CSV file for further analysis.


  • Great for finding question-based and long-tail keywords.
  • Visual and easy to understand.


  • Limited searches without a paid subscription.
  • Visual data can be overwhelming.

d. Google Trends

Google Trends allows you to explore the popularity of search queries over time. It’s excellent for identifying trending topics and seasonal keyword variations.

How to Use Google Trends:

  1. Visit Google Trends and enter a keyword.
  2. Analyze the interest over time and the interest by region.
  3. Explore related queries and topics for additional keyword ideas.
  4. Compare multiple keywords to see their relative popularity.


  • Real-time data on trending keywords.
  • Helps identify seasonal trends and regional interest.


  • Limited to relative search volume.
  • Not as detailed for specific keyword data.

e. Keyword Surfer

Keyword Surfer is a free Chrome extension that provides keyword data directly in the search results page. It’s convenient for on-the-go keyword analysis.

How to Use Keyword Surfer:

  1. Install the Keyword Surfer extension from the Chrome Web Store.
  2. Conduct a Google search with your target keyword.
  3. Review the search volume, related keywords, and on-page data displayed in the sidebar.


  • Direct integration with Google search.
  • Provides immediate data without leaving the search page.


  • Limited to basic keyword data.
  • Only available on Chrome.

4. Step-by-Step Guide to Keyword Research

Step 1: Define Your Goals

Before diving into keyword research, it’s crucial to define your content goals. Are you looking to increase traffic, target a specific audience, or boost sales? Understanding your objectives will guide your keyword strategy.

Step 2: Brainstorm Seed Keywords

Seed keywords are the foundation of your keyword research. Start by brainstorming terms related to your business, products, or services. Think about what your audience might search for.

Step 3: Use Free Tools to Expand Your List

Utilise the free tools mentioned above to expand your list of keywords. Enter your seed keywords into tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, and AnswerThePublic to find related keywords and variations.

Step 4: Analyze Search Volume and Competition

For each keyword, analyse the search volume and competition. Aim for a balance between high search volume and manageable competition. Tools like Ubersuggest and Google Keyword Planner provide insights into these metrics.

Step 5: Identify Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific phrases that tend to have lower search volume but higher conversion rates. Use AnswerThePublic and Ubersuggest to find these valuable keywords.

Step 6: Consider User Intent

Understanding the intent behind a keyword is crucial. Determine whether the user is looking for information, a product, or a solution. Align your content with the user’s intent to meet their needs effectively.

Step 7: Analyse Competitor Keywords

Look at the keywords your competitors are ranking for. Tools like Ubersuggest allow you to analyse a competitor’s domain and see their top-performing keywords. This can provide insights into potential opportunities.

Step 8: Validate with Google Trends

Use Google Trends to validate the popularity and seasonality of your chosen keywords. This ensures that you are targeting keywords that are currently relevant and trending.

Step 9: Organise and Prioritise Keywords

Organise your keywords into categories based on relevance and intent. Prioritise them based on search volume, competition, and alignment with your goals. This will help you structure your content effectively.

Step 10: Monitor and Update Your Keywords

Keyword research is not a one-time task. Regularly monitor your keyword performance and update your list based on new trends and changes in search behaviour. Use tools like Google Trends and Ubersuggest to stay updated.

5. Advanced Tips for Keyword Research

a. Focus on Semantic Keywords

Semantic keywords are terms that are contextually related to your main keyword. They help search engines understand the content better. Use tools like Ubersuggest and Keyword Surfer to find semantic keywords and include them naturally in your content.

b. Leverage Local Keywords

If you are targeting a local audience, include location-based keywords in your research. Tools like Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner can help you identify popular local search terms.

c. Utilize Social Media Insights

Social media platforms can provide valuable keyword insights. Use Twitter’s trending topics, YouTube’s search suggestions, and Facebook’s search bar to find popular terms and hashtags in your niche.

d. Experiment with Different Keyword Types

Don’t limit yourself to a single type of keyword. Explore various types such as short-tail, long-tail, question-based, and branded keywords. This diversification can help you reach a broader audience.

e. Analyze Content Gaps

Identify content gaps by analysing your competitors and your own content. Look for keywords or topics that are underrepresented and create content to fill those gaps.

6. Conclusion

Effective keyword research is the cornerstone of a successful SEO strategy. By leveraging free tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, AnswerThePublic, Google Trends, and Keyword Surfer, you can gain valuable insights into what your audience is searching for and how to tailor your content to meet their needs.

Remember, keyword research is an ongoing process. Regularly update your keyword list, stay informed about trends, and adapt your strategy to remain competitive in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

With the right approach and tools, you can master keyword research and drive more traffic to your website without breaking the bank. Start exploring these free tools today and unlock the full potential of your content!


  1. Google Keyword Planner
  2. Ubersuggest
  3. AnswerThePublic
  4. Google Trends
  5. Keyword Surfer

By utilising these tools and following these steps, you can effectively conduct keyword research and enhance your SEO efforts. Happy researching!


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