How to do keyword research on Google for free

Feb 27, 2024 | Marketing, SEO

When it comes to keyword research for SEO, there are many great tools available that make the process easier, faster, and more accurate. However, most of these tools require a monthly subscription that may be out of budget for anyone just getting started with SEO. They can also be quite complex, which is great for advanced users, but overwhelming for many beginners.

If you’re new to SEO, you may be wondering: is it possible to do keyword research on Google for free?

The answer is yes!

Although you won’t get the same depth of information as you would using a paid tool, doing free keyword research on Google is a great starting point that’ll help you get more familiar with SEO. With the help of the methods I’m sharing in this post, you’ll be able to find many relevant keywords that you can implement on your site to improve your Google rankings and organic traffic. All without spending a dime.

3 ways to do keyword research on Google

Here are three effective ways to find keywords for your website using free, readily available resources provided by Google.

1. Use Google Keyword Planner

Did you know that Google has a dedicated tool for helping you find keywords? The aptly named Google Keyword Planner is a great tool for beginner and advanced SEO marketers alike. I personally like to use Keyword Planner to do preliminary keyword research before jumping into a more advanced tool to gather more information. Sometimes I’ll skip the advanced tool altogether.

Google Keyword Planner

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown on how to use Keyword Planner:

  1. Create a Google Ads account. Unfortunately, this is required in order to use the Keyword Planner; however, you do not have to purchase any ad campaigns in order to use the free keyword tool.
  2. Open the Keyword Planner. Once you’re logged in, find the “Tools” menu item and click on “Keyword Planner.” Then click on the box that says “Discover new keywords.”
  3. Enter words and phrases relevant to your site in the search box. Make sure the “Start with keywords” tab is selected. Use commas to separate keywords. Don’t stress about entering the “right” words and phrases here. These are intended to help Google find related keywords that you might be able to rank for.
  4. Filter your search results. In the results table, you’ll see keywords you provided at the top and Google’s keyword ideas underneath. The most important data to pay attention to here are the average monthly searches and competition for each keyword. If you’d like, you can click on the “Avg. monthly searches” tab to rank the search results from highest to lowest search volume. You may also filter the results by “Low” competition only in order to eliminate keywords that are likely too competitive.
  5. Create a list of keywords that are relevant to your target audience. I recommend creating a simple spreadsheet to copy/paste your selected keywords into.

A few notes on using Google Keyword Planner:

  • Keep in mind that this tool is intended for Google Ads users, not for organic SEO. Therefore, some information provided will not be relevant.
  • Aim for keywords that have a minimum of 1,000 monthly searches.
  • Don’t be tempted by keywords that are easy to rank for but won’t support your business goals. For instance, avoid keywords with the word “free” if your aim is to attract customers for a paid service or product.

All-in-all, Google Keyword Planner is valuable, free tool that provides a great starting point for finding keywords that have enough search volume to be worth optimizing on your site.

2. Use Google Trends

Google Trends is a free tool that can help you capitalize on trending searches using real-time data. This tool is especially helpful for doing geographic keyword research to optimize local SEO.

Keyword research on Google Trends

Here’s a 5-step process for doing keyword research on Google Trends:

  1. Enter a keyword relevant to your site and hit “Explore.” You can start broad or use a keyword that you found previously using Google Keyword Planner or other tools.
  2. Filter your results. Make sure to select the country most relevant to your business, or choose worldwide. Change the timeframe to “Past 12 months” to see how your keyword trend changes over time, if at all. This filter is helpful for finding seasonal keywords to optimize when search volume is highest.
  3. View related queries for trending keyword ideas. Scroll down to find this section and take note of any keywords that could be relevant for your site. For example, when I search for “web design,” the top trending related query is “web design trends 2024,” so I published a blog post on this topic.
  4. For additional keyword inspiration, view related topics. This section can help spark some ideas if you’re drawing a blank.
  5. Repeat the above steps for as many keywords as you’d like.

In sum, Google Trends is a fantastic resource for finding trending topics to capitalize on to make sure your content stays relevant. The above steps are only the beginning; for more information on using Google Trends, check out this helpful article.

Related post: The 4 types of SEO you need to know in order to rank

3. Look at related search terms

The third way to do free keyword research on Google is so easy that it almost feels like cheating. No special tool is required for this method, except for the good old Google search bar.

Example of Google search keywords for SEO research

Here’s how it works:

  1. Navigate to Google.com.
  2. Start typing a keyword relevant to your website into the search bar.
  3. Before you hit enter, take a look at the dropdown. These are some of the most popular search terms related to your keyword. In other words, these are actual keywords that you could add to your list. See image above for an example.
  4. Hit enter for your original search term, or click on one of the dropdown items that interests you.
  5. Scroll down the search results until you find the “Related searches” section. These are more specific keywords that people are actually typing into Google.
  6. Repeat this process a few times to find more keywords. Then, consider using a dedicated keyword research tool such as Google Keyword Planner to gather more data about the keywords.

That’s it! It’s really that easy to do keyword research on Google.

The caveat to this method, however, is that it doesn’t provide you with any data about how many monthly searches the keywords are getting and how competitive they are. But for anyone overwhelmed by keyword research, this process is a great starting point that can get you more comfortable with SEO.

Related post: 6 common SEO myths and misconceptions to ignore

How to optimize your keywords

Once you have your list of keywords for your website, your next step is to start implementing them on your site. This process involves adding keywords to your page content, page title, permalink, image alt text, meta tags, and more. You’ll want to assign one to two unique keywords to each page of your website, including blog posts.

If you found this post helpful and are eager to learn more about finding and optimizing keywords for SEO, I’d love to invite you to enroll in my course, the SEO Essentials Kit. In this beginner-friendly course, I’m breaking down a simple, proven SEO strategy that will help you grow your website traffic steadily over time.

You’ll be able to complete the course in just one weekend, but the results you’ll get from implementing SEO will serve your business for years to come. Click here to learn more about the course.

How to do keyword research on Google for free
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