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Identify Powerful Keywords at No Cost

Keyword research software and services promise tremendous results, but they'll cost you.  Is keyword research worth the cost and effort?  This article will show you a few ways to research keywords with no cash outlay, so you can see the power for yourself.

You've heard of keyword research, and you've heard that it is crucial to getting a higher search engine rank for your Web site, but you're not so sure it's worth the cost.  Some services charge you hundreds of dollars a year, and there is no guarantee that you'll get that money back in increased traffic on your Web site.

So how can you be sure?  Is there a way to test whether keyword research even does any good as part of your internet marketing strategy without first laying out your hard-earned money?

Yes, there is!

But before you get too excited about this, remember that you get what you pay for.  I'm not saying that these no-cost keyword research tools and techniques enable you to ignore the paid services.  I'm saying that you should use the no-cost techniques to prove to yourself that keyword research is indeed valuable.  Once you see the value, you can decide for yourself whether it's worth paying for.

Just keep the limitations of the free tools in mind.  You wouldn't make a pinwheel and decide there's no future in wind power because a pinwheel can't power your toaster.  Use the free keyword research tools to see that there is value in well-researched keywords, and then decide whether a faster, more comprehensive, easier research tool would provide enough additional value that it's worth paying for.

Now, where can you do keyword research without paying for it, and how?  Two main places:

  1. Many of the best professional keyword research tools offer a free version with limited functionality.
  2. The major search engines offer some free keyword research tools in their advertising services.

First, let's talk about free versions of professional keyword research tools.  Why would they give it away for free when they obviously want you to pay for their full product?  They're betting that once you see the power and value of the free version, you'll want the full power of the paid version.

(Incidentally, that's pretty much the point of this article, because I believe it, too:  Once you see what a little bit of keyword research done the hard way can do for you, you'll want a lot of keyword research, and you'll want to do it the fast, easy way.)

So go to the Web sites of the major keyword research vendors - Wordtracker, The Dowser, and others that you can find on Google - and you'll almost certainly find a "free trial" version.  Use it to find keywords that you can use right away, and use them!

These free versions are limited in a few different ways.  Common limitations are:

  • They return only a limited number of matching keywords rather than the full set.
  • They do not provide the full analysis and automated drill-down capabilities of the professional version.

Returning only the top so-many results might not seem like a real limitation.  You're not interested in the bottom results, are you?  Well, yes, sometimes you are.  The less-used keywords can be valuable to you in at least three ways:

  1. Even though a keyword is not used very often in searches, it might be one of those keywords with very low competition, offering you a great opportunity to succeed.
  2. Keywords not used often might be the "long tail" keywords used only by people who are ready to buy, and these are also highly valuable.
  3. Keywords at the bottom of the list might be the very ones that would stimulate new ideas for you, feeding the brainstorming aspect of keyword research.

The other main limitation - lack of automated analysis and drill-down - might also seem like something you can live without, but be careful.  Yes, you can perform the analysis manually, but it will take considerable time to calculate the ratio of use to results for each of dozens of keywords.  Yes, you can simply re-enter one of the keywords on the list to begin a new search, but that also costs you time.  These burdens of time, which might seem small, add up to a lot of time.  Even if you have more time than cash, the real cost of this time is that it takes away the immediacy of keyword research that fuels brainstorming.  It gets to be so tedious that the ideas just can't flow.

But if you keep these limitations in mind, and make proper allowance for them, you will begin to see that keyword research really is valuable in generating ideas for the right words and phrases you need to use.

Now, what about the keyword research offered by the advertising services of the search engines?  Services like Google's AdWords want you to pay them to display your site on a list of ads each time a user searches for a particular keyword.  In order to encourage you to bid on these keywords, they show you what keywords people are searching for the most often.

So, look for those keywords, even if you have no intention of paying for the advertising!  Of course, you will not get the benefit of having your site listed among the paid results, but your site will still appear fairly high in the natural list if you are making good use of those keywords.

Search on Google for "Google AdWords: Keyword Tool" and you'll see the tool.  Go ahead and enter a few keywords to see what results you get, but you don't have to enter a bid on those results.

Tools like this are also severely limited, even more so than the free versions of professional keyword research tools.  Often, they don't even give you numerical results, but just a bar graph representation of how often each keyword is used in searches.

Whichever approach you use - and I strongly suggest you use both - take the results and use them.  Use these keywords in your domain name(s), if you don't have one already.  Enter these keywords in your Web pages, in the title, description, and body.  Use them in the promotional articles and press releases you produce for your site.  Then you will see the real value in improved search engine placement and more visitors to your Web site.

And then maybe you will decide that it's worth paying for a professional keyword research tool to get even better results even more quickly.

Source: Free Articles from


Charles J. Bonner is the founder and principal project manager of  Find out more about promoting your Web site, especially using Article Marketing, at

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