22 Free Keyword Tools for PPC and SEO

It happens to the best of us, one day you’re plugging along and you realize, you need to expand your keyword list, you need more niches, you need to spend more or you need to make more. So what do you do? Try any one of these free keyword tools or create your own methods to build out those additional keyword and ad group ideas.

  • Google AdWords- Opportunities tab- Click it. AdWords makes suggestions for keywords based on the “opportunities” it sees. Simply click and add to the appropriate ad groups. Yahoo and MSN have keyword suggestion tools in the user interface as well, but we all know which one is the best to use.
  • Google Keyword Tool– enter a keyword or URL of a landing page and let Google suggest to you what it thinks. The tool within the AdWords interface is easiest to use.
  • Google Search Based Keyword Tool- Build a keyword list on actual search queries by combing through Google’s collection of searches around the keywords you enter.
  • Google Trends- See what’s hot and what’s not. Use this tool to predict traffic increases, rising terms and like terms based on seasonality and popularity including news, geographic and language information. MSN has a similar tool called Keyword Forecast that also provides gender and age information- but with a much smaller keyword database to draw info from.
  • Google’s Wonder Wheel- branch off onto tangents and discover additional niches or keywords to add.
  • Google Analytics- Go to Traffic Sources and view all keywords and see what’s converting that you’re not already bidding on. Or, reverse the number of visits to be least to most and see what keywords are hanging around the bottom of the stack. There could be some inspiration in there.
  • Webmaster Tools- Google, Yahoo and Bing all have Webmaster tools sets where you can login and see what people are coming to the site organically for (or not coming organically for) and pull out some negative keywords along with some potential keyword niches.
  • Google Insights for Search– this may not bring up a lot of ideas since it’s based on the original keyword you typed in, but it will tell you what related searches are rising…and those could be worth adding!
  • SEMrush– Check out what the competition is bidding on and beat, steal and top them at it. A paid service will show you the complete report, but the first few results are free!
  • Search Suggest- Start typing in a keyword (slowly!) and let the search engine start suggesting searches for you. This is a great way to find negative keywords more than anything else, but a completed search may also show you suggested “related searches” in the sidebars or footer.
  • Wordstream Keyword Niche Finder, Grouper and Keyword Tool

    The Niche Finder will take the keyword you entered and make suggestions for niches to try. So a “down pillows” search brings up niches like: feather, goose, alternative, wash and clean.
    The Grouper doesn’t actually suggest keywords, but will take a group of keywords that you paste in (perhaps a bunch you gleaned from one of the many other tools) and suggest how those keywords should be broken up into different groups for account structure purposes.
    The Keyword Tool makes keyword suggestions based on the keyword you input, very similar to Google’s keyword tools, simply another way of doing it organized by search frequency.

  • Wordtracker Keyword Questions Tool– Users sometimes think search engines are crystal balls in which they should enter the questions. Find out what questions they’ve asked around your current keyword list.
  • WordTracker has a free keyword suggestion tool that you can take for a spin. Granted their paid service is far more robust, but who can argue with free?
  • MSN AdCenter Labs

    Search Funnels– Follow users as they continue to search and follow them through the conversion funnel. For example- someone searches for “Dell” and afterwards is likely to search for: bestbuy, gateway, ebay, hp and dell.com. It’s not the most robust tool, the more popular the category/industry, the more likely you’ll see useful insight.

    Keyword Group Detection
    – enter a keyword and let MSN show you other keywords that it considers to be similar to the one you entered. So “cheap airfare” pulls up a long list that includes “discount airfare, cheap tickets, plane tickets, airfare, cheap airlines.”
    Keyword Mutation– enter a keyword and check out all the different ways people misspell, mutilate or mutate keywords in their searches. It also picks up and presents alternate spellings.

  • Run a search query report- A great place to find both negatives and longer tail terms, especially if you’re using any broad matches. Don’t go bigger than one campaign at a time though, keep it simple. Google & MSN have this as a reporting feature- Yahoo, you’ll have to ask a rep.
  • Use a thesaurus or dictionary- they’re full of words. Lots of words.
  • Use negatives to make positives- or just add to your negative keyword list with these 200+ negative keywords to consider!

Last year I did a post on Keyword Resource Tools that Aren’t Keyword Tools which is overshadowed by this post with the exception of using Ask.com as a keyword generation tool. If you want to learn more, you’ll have to check it out!
What keyword tools do you use?

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  1. Agree SEMrush is good, but backlinkwatch also works great, the only problem it has, is that it often fails to work after more then 50.000 inguiries a day.

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