a chart to describe the search engine market
Image via Wikipedia

Whether you’re running a PPC (pay per click) campaign or doing SEO (search engine optimization), having a keyword list that describes your product(s) or service(s) is an essential element for getting your website discovered on search engines. These tips will work the same whether their for blog posts or other content on your website.
For the purposes of this article a keyword will be referred to as a single word or string of words that a user will type into a search engine.

You know your business inside and out, but how do you know what keywords everyday people are using to find you online? This blog will outline several online tools that will aid you in building your keyword list.

1) Google AdWords Keyword Tool
This tool is not just for AdWords, it’s also useful for organic search engine optimization as it gives you related keyword searches that real people are actually using. You’ll also get a snapshot of how competitive the keyword is (in AdWords, but it’s also relevant for organic optimization). The number of global monthly searches for the keyword and local monthly searches are also displayed.

2) Word Tracker
The free version of Word Tracker will provide you with a limited list of keywords and the volume of searches for each keyword. It’s not as extensive as the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, but it’s worth a try since it does come up with different suggestions for related keywords.

3) Keyword Eye
Keyword Eye allows you to create a list of related keywords and view them in different visualizations. You can view keywords in a cloud map (as shown below); red denotes highly competitive keywords, yellow indicates moderate competition and green means low competition. You can also view keyword search volume share represented in a pie chart. Lastly you can view them in a grid that will tell you the search volume, competition, competition score, match type, country and language.

4) Google Analytics
To use Google Analytics you’ll have to install the embed code on your site. To make sure your analytics code is installed correctly try using our GPablo analytics code scanner.
Google Analytics won’t suggest keywords for you, but it does let you uncover the different keywords by which people discover your site. You can then gear additional content around some of the popular searches people are doing to find you.

5) Google Insights for Search
Although still in Beta, Google Insights for Search lets you see what people are searching for. With this tool “you can compare search volumes patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties.” You can also compare how your keywords do seasonally and geographically.

6) Thesaurus.com
This seems like a really obvious solution to finding alternate keywords for your site. For those of us who can’t fire off 10 synonyms for every word they know, a thesaurus is a great way to uncover other words that people may be using to search for your products or services.

In Conclusion
So there you have it, my top 5 free online tools for helping you build your keyword lists. On a side note, Google used to have a tool called the Wonder Wheel that looked like a tree with each keyword spawning a new set of branches and keywords. It would have definitely been a part of this list, but unfortunately Google shut down the Wonder Wheel earlier this year.

As useful as keyword tools are, it’s important to do some good old fashioned brainstorming. Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and thinking like them will go a long way in helping you uncover valuable keywords. Use these free SEO keyword tools to aid in your own brainstorming and critical thinking.