Key takeaways:
  • Keyword research is an important step for creating engaging content
  • Keyword research tools can make the process more simple and effective
  • It’s important to learn about the different tools and to choose the best one for your situation

Keyword research is a fundamental part of any blogger’s process, whether you create content for yourself, a business or even a school. Keyword research allows you to identify the search terms users are inputting the most so you can determine where your ranking opportunities lie.

However, although incredibly helpful, keyword research can also be difficult to dig into. There are tons of different keyword research tools and platforms available, and it can be confusing to figure out which ones are the right ones. What should you be looking for? Which metrics are worth paying attention to? It can quickly and easily become an unmanageable blur.

Assuming you’re all over the basics of SEO (if you’re not, we have a helpful guide you can read first), we’ve rounded up three important tools every content marketer should be using when planning their keywords if they want engaging blogs or web design.

Google Ads keyword planner


The mecca of all keyword research tools, Keyword Planner is essential when you’re ideating and writing a new blog post or optimizing your website content. We’ve gone over this tool a bit in the past, but consider this your in-depth look at how you can transform your content using Keyword Planner.

Keyword Planner has two functions, one is measuring the strength of your keywords, and the other being finding new, relevant keywords based on an initial search. We’ll give you a rundown on both aspects and how they apply to your content marketing strategy.

Finding new keywords

Finding new keywords is one of the main purposes of a keyword research tool. Brainstorming can only generate so much, and often, we can’t identify long-tail keywords that are relevant to your content without a little help — and these can be incredibly beneficial, especially for niche marketers.

Here’s a quick guide to generating new keywords with the Keyword Planner tool. Start off by navigating to it within your Google Ads account, then select ‘find new keywords’. Input key phrases or terms, or alternatively, use a URL or URL group from your website.

Once you’ve chosen your starting keywords, click ‘get started’ and observe the results. You should see both a horizontal graph and a list of keywords running vertically down the page. The graph shows you mobile vs. total searches for all the resultant keywords over the last 12 months, whereas the list includes your new keywords and a few pieces of crucial info about them (more on this in the next part!). If you’re just looking to come up with new ideas, then take note of the words and phrases that have been generated and add the ones that ‘speak to you’ to your list!

Measuring keyword strength

Although the above strategy helps you come up with new keywords, it doesn’t tell you the viability of any content you may create around it. That’s where measuring your keyword’s strength comes in. One way to do this is to analyze the data generated from finding new keywords.

Take another look at the list data on the page. The two fields you’ll want to focus on here are ‘avg. monthly searches’ and ‘competition’. Average monthly searches refers to approximately how many unique searches are made for that keyword every month. This value will tell you whether your keyword generates enough interest to be worth pursuing, or in turn, perhaps generates too much interest. Competition, on the other hand, refers to your site’s chances of ranking well for that keyword. ‘Low’ denotes a good chance, ‘medium’ is pretty hit-or-miss, and ‘high’ means you’ll really have to fight for rank.

Although it’s best to try a whole bunch of keyword selection strategies, as a rule of thumb, you want to target phrases that check a few boxes. Firstly, they should be optimally relevant — even if a totally left-of-center keyword pops up, that doesn’t mean your readership will respond to it. Never sacrifice genuine engagement just to rank on Google.

You should also ensure that the overall search volume (avg. monthly searches) and the viability of the keyword are in line. Even if Google thinks the keyword ‘school’ has low competition, the chances of you ranking for it are still pretty tough at an average of 60,000 searches per month. Aim for something mid-level with ‘medium’ competition and a few hundred to a few thousand searches per month. Never dip under a search volume of 300 if ranking is a key factor for you. This doesn’t mean you can’t still create content around the topic, though — ranking just shouldn’t be your intention.

If you want to test out the potential of a keyword without having generated new options first, simply select ‘get search volume and forecasts’ on the initial screen in Keyword Planner, then analyze the data as detailed above.


With the behemoth that is Keyword Planner under your belt, you’re ready to take on the world of SEO! However, there are still a few keyword research tools we recommend you check out to round out every post you write. One of these is AnswerthePublic is an intuitive, nifty little site that aggregates data from search engines and spits it back out at you, helping to generate new long-tail keyword ideas. Although Keyword Planner is great for coming up with new topics for your writing, it’s not great at providing long-tail suggestions you can use to answer niche questions.

To use AnswerthePublic, type a short (preferably one-word) keyword into the field, which is supervised by a pondering, somewhat cranky-looking man. Weird, but we love it. When the resulting page has loaded, you’ll notice the data automatically appears in a circular visualization with new, long-tail keywords fanning around the outside. Although this looks great, we recommend switching over to an easier-to-process view by clicking ‘data.’

AnswerthePublic will generate questions, prepositions and comparisons, all of which include your keyword. Although some of these can be location-specific, the majority will be broad search terms that you can tailor content around. For example, say you notice the phrase ‘when do school holidays start?’ That’s a great opening to create a blog post around. It includes information that’s specific to your area as well as links out to other sites for different states and regions.

Although AnswerthePublic isn’t a must-use every time you perform keyword research, it’s a great little tool for identifying unique phrases and seeing exactly what people are searching for around your topic. This will help you with building the content of your blogs, linking to other pages and sites, and ultimately boost your online performance.

SEMRush, MOZ, or Ahrefs

Finally, if you’re really serious about your keyword research, it may be worth investing in a paid subscription for a tool like SEMRush, Ahrefs, or our personal favourite MOZ. Both of these are beloved by content marketers, as they provide a whole host of other options not available from free tools.

A key drawcard for both programs is the ability to see where you rank for a certain topic, without having to manually search it for yourself. They also track your wins and losses, giving you regularly updated information on the positions you’ve jumped or fallen over time. For instance, say you were ranking number 2 for the keyword ‘private school Miami’. All of a sudden, you notice less traffic coming to your site, so you hop onto SEMRush or MOZ and find that you’ve fallen three positions. Maybe someone’s updated the content on the relevant landing page, or new posts have been created by competitors to target this keyword. This then gives you the insight needed to work your way back up to the number two spot — or even higher, if you’re feeling lucky!

Of course, this isn’t all a program like MOZ can do. These sites also give you more functionality when it comes to keyword research, help you keep tabs on competitor performance and way more. If levelling up your content marketing strategy is a primary goal, then these are the keyword research tools to invest in.

In a nutshell

If you’re serious about improving your online reputation, keyword research is a must. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing blogs or content for a new page on your website; by researching the most relevant keywords you’re giving your school the best chance of being noticed online. And finding the right keywords all comes down to the tools you use. So take the time to get comfortable with Google Ads keyword planner, or invest in a program like SEMrush, and you’ll be off to the races in no time.

If you’re just launching your website and want to give it the best chance at success, check out our guide for showing your website on Google, and get noticed from day one.

Published May 21 2010