Recently someone asked me, “what’s the best tool to find keywords for search engine optimization purposes?”
We discussed her needs, and it turned out she wanted something to tell her more than just suggested keywords. She also wanted to better monitor her website’s rankings for each keyword. And she wanted to find other high quality sites to link to.
In the end, I recommended 3 tools, all of them from SEOBook.com. I thought you might find this information valuable, too. Here are the tools I recommended and why:
- SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool  — This tool allows you to find suggestions for related keywords. Keywords are important for bidding on pay-per-click ads. But I also use them in writing search-engine-friendly copy on this site and in my articles. The hardest part, though, is thinking up good keywords. That’s where a tool like this comes in handy. It will suggest related keywords and show you how many estimated daily searches appear in Google, Yahoo and MSN for each suggestion. You’ll also find links to numerous vertical databases such as Topix.net and Del.icio.us, so you can see other resources referring to a given keyword. Free.
- SEO for Firefox  — This tool is an add-on that you install with the Firefox browser. Then whenever you perform a search in Google or Yahoo using Firefox, it overlays a variety of useful data right on the search results. Looking at a Google search result page you can click little links to view the number of Yahoo links, who the domain is registered to, and other valuable data right on the page. Sweet. And free.
- Rank Checker  — This is another add-on to the Firefox browser. With Rank Checker you can instantly track your ranking at the main three search engines (Google, Yahoo and MSN Live) for any given keyword. This helps you see how well your site ranks for the keywords you discover using the Keyword Suggestion Tool. You can also save your rankings in a file on your computer so that you can see if your rankings go up or down over time. Free.
There are lots of other tools, free and paid, available on the Web. But these 3 are so comprehensive that they give me most of the search intelligence I need, aside from traffic analytics which I also use (Google Analytics, Statcounter and Sitemeter). Many other tools are for SEO professionals, and are more technical than I know what to do with.
These 3 tools are perfect for most small business managers and owners. They give you information you can use, without requiring you to make a career out of learning how to use them.