Why would you pay for a keyword research tool when you can get keywords for free? It’s a reasonable question, when you can easily get free keywords from Google. Many professional SEOs would argue the case for using only Google’s free AdWords tool in their work. I strongly disagree. Sure, you might save a few dollars, but far too often using free products comes at a cost – in time, effort and missed opportunities. So, here are five reasons why it’s worth paying for a decent keyword research tool.
1. SEO requires specialist knowledge.
It’s true that keyword research is not difficult. It’s easy … once you know what you’re doing.
Yet, by definition, when you’re looking for keyword ideas you don’t fully understand your market. You’re researching and learning. So, it’s great to have some help and guidance on hand.
Anyone who’s new to SEO, or is researching a market for the first time, is likely to have questions about the keywords they find and how best to use them. We all do.
Yet, free tools don’t provide any support or guidance. Use Google’s AdWords tool for your keyword research and you’ll be hunting around in Google’s forums looking for help that usually doesn’t exist.
On the other hand, most paid tools offer some level of support. Which can be incredibly useful and save you hours of time.
(Declaration: I’m Wordtracker’s CEO, so I know Wordtracker’s Keywords tool well. I’ll use that tool in my examples, but of course, there’s other software available).
Wordtracker subscribers can ask whatever questions they like as part of their subscription. So, if you’re unsure of your keyword strategy, we’ll help. We run monthly webinars and have reams of help material in our SEO Academy (just search for “Wordtracker Academy”). It’s our job to make sure you find the keywords that make your business successful.
2. SEO software can save you hours and hours and hours of time
It’s true that free keyword research does not require any sophisticated software. Google’s AdWords tool is perfectly serviceable and will, occasionally, generate profitable keyword ideas.
Yet, free software just doesn’t get the job done quickly enough.
Keyword research can take many hours using Google’s AdWords tool. And, as the saying goes, time is money – so let’s use it wisely.
Let’s look at an example of a typical user. Let’s say your SEO software costs about $1 per day (Wordtracker costs $1.23 per day, less than a cup of coffee). And let’s say that the software saves you an hour per day. An hour that you’d waste by using free tools.
Hopefully, you’re in a business where your time is worth more than $1 per hour! And, even if your business is not yet established, I’m sure you’re hoping to earn more than that in the near future.
Either way, if you’re a professional online marketer, you should be working productively, and a premium service can be a fantastic investment. In fact, time-saving SEO software could be one of the best investments your business makes.
3. Google’s data is often misleading (part 1)
There are lots of sources of keyword data. None of them are perfect, not even the great Google. Here’s why:
Keyword research is a detective story. A hunt for clues. You’re looking for signs that you’ve found a keyword niche that’s going to attract traffic and sales.
All keyword data contains errors and inconsistencies. All keyword data contains some spam terms. Comparing different keyword data sources helps you spot those errors and spam in the data. So you shouldn’t be reliant on just one data source.
Wordtracker has a proprietary keyword database (we have partnerships with some of the metacrawler search engines), so you can choose to investigate both Google keyword data and Wordtracker data. It’s worth looking at both.
The Wordtracker data is important because it gives users access to the long tail of keywords. These are the longer keyword phrases that Google doesn’t show you.
As a result, when you target long-tail keywords you’ll usually encounter much less competition than when you target the more popular head terms that Google provides.
For instance, Wordtracker gives you up to 2,000 long-tail keywords per search – Google provides just a few hundred for each search.
Invest in good software and you’ll be two steps ahead of anyone who’s only using a free tool.
4. Google’s data is often misleading (part 2)
Google’s keyword data is for people working on PPC campaigns.
That’s because Google wants to make it easy to spend money on its AdWords product.
Google isn’t interested in helping you get to the top of its organic search results (which is where you’ll get the free traffic you want).
So, for instance, Google’s figures show how much competition there is for any of its keywords. But these are ADVERTISING figures, provided for people bidding on those keywords. They’re not much use for SEO.
A good keyword tool will show how much competition there is to get on to the first page of the organic listings. That’s a real measure of the SEO competition.
You could look up the result manually using a search on Google. You’d look at the sites that are already doing well, and work out what you’d need to do to beat them. But, it would take many hours to do that for all the keywords you’re targeting. And by the time you’ve finished the work, the results are likely to have changed
Caption: A good keyword tool will show how much competition you face in the organic listings
Why would you choose to waste your time like that? Invest in decent keyword research software instead.
1. SEO tools offer much more than keyword research
If you’re serious about SEO, you’ll want to do more than keyword research. Any professional SEO software will help you with other SEO tasks.
So, for instance, Wordtracker will help you:
- monitor your on-page SEO (are you targeting keywords properly?)
- check for SEO problems on your site
- monitor your site’s position in Google’s results
- and much more.
So, the cost of your subscription should save you time in all your SEO work, not just keyword research.
I hate to see people wasting their time doing tedious research manually that could be automated easily and cost-effectively. It’s a waste of time and talent.
So, do yourself a favor – invest in the right tools for the job!