How I do my SEO keyword research for (almost) free.
Published on December 26, 2017
A step-by-step guide on how to perform effective keyword analysis for less than $1 (ONE dollar) without paying anyone for a monthly subscription
I love keyword research. Off the top of my head I can name a few very popular keyword research tools such as AHREFS, SEMRush, Keywordtool, Serpstat, and maybe a few lesser-known ones.
Those tools have many different features, their interfaces are very rich and I do like some of them a lot. It's safe to say that some tools are TOO feature rich for my purpose.
BUT! There's only one problem with all of those tools.
You guessed it - it's their sky-high price.
$68 per month for Keywordtool.io (PRO basic plan)
$82 per month for AHREFs (lite plan)
$99 per month for SEM rush (PRO plan)
And so forth…
I kind of understand when a small-to-medium-sized agency spends ~$100 per month on a SEO SAAS tool, but those prices HURT when you're a small freelancer, just like myself. I don't have to be a mind reader to guess that you are reading this post as you're having the same issue and saving money is a priority. I want my tools to be affordable, and $100 per month on a tool which I'm not using five times a day is the opposite of "affordable".
Of course, in some cases you're not only getting access to keyword databases, but also a few other cool tools, which you might never use, so why in the world would I want to pay for those? I'm probably going to sound crazy when I say it, but…
What if I'm only planning on doing keyword research a few times per month and I don't want to pay a ~$1000 annual fee? What if I'd like to pay on a pay-per-search basis?
No big name SEO tool offers this kind of option, because when you are running a huge SAAS company it's not feasible and you need your users to be in for a long term by subscribing and paying a monthly fee. To be completely honest, I can't name a single pay-as-you-go KW research tool, except for the one I'm going to tell you about in this blog post.
So, without further ado let me introduce you to the…
Algosaur keyword explorer bot!
I've spent a while figuring out how to reduce the cost of finding relevant keywords and their search volume, given that the process is in fact quite pricey. So I arrived to the conclusion thfat it could be split in two parts:
Step one. Getting relevant keywords, based on initial "seed" keywords.
Step two. Getting search volume and ad prices for those keywords.
By separating these processes into two separate bots I gained more control over my KW research process and managed to reduce the costs by a margin. Now I've made this tool available for everyone to use, here's the link if you would like to look at it right away.
Now, since you're probably already tired of waiting for the juicy part, let me walk you through the whole research process!
Bot #1: Gets new keywords
For this example let's assume you are researching SEO keywords for your client, who owns a digital marketing agency in New York City, which is looking for clients within the same area. Now, let's fill in the data.
Step zero: basic information
First of all you need to come up with a name for your job and assign it to a project. I'll name my job "SEO agency keywords" and will create a new project called "KW research":
Step one: figure out your "seed keywords"
To get a list of keywords we first need some relevant "seed" phrases that describe our business. I'll make up a few ones really quickly:
• Digital marketing agency
• Marketing agency nyc
The bot will collect relevant key phrases based on the seed keywords you provide. The more keywords you list - the more relevant keywords will be returned. I'm only going to use two key phrases for this example to simplify things, but I already know that these two phrases will give me enough material to work with. I'm going to paste these seed keywords into the main "Keyword list" field:
Step two: targeting
The key to a successful keyword research result is in setting up your targeting options correctly. Luckily, it's a pretty straightforward process. We already know that our agency is located in New York City and is targeting local companies, which is why we are selecting "New York city". Our target language is obviously English:
Step three: minus words
Minus words are very important. These are words that blacklist certain key phrases from getting into our end results, which gradually reduces our review time and increases precision. In our example my minus words will be:
- "Design" - we'd like to exclude queries like "digital design firms" or "web design agencies"
- "Global" - if we're assuming our agency will only be targeting local businesses
- "SEO" - let's pretend our client doesn't do SEO. So why would we want SEO-related keywords?
- "Large" - our client is a small agency and we're not targeting
You get the idea. Coming up with good minus words is a valuable skill, which reduces keyword research time significantly.
Since the results won't show up immediately, I will turn the notification options on:
Step four: Get those keywords!
After we have all of our data in place we can press the "Start algorithm" button:
If everything went well, you will see your job working and collecting data:
The process will take a while to complete and you will get an email notification (if you've enabled the corresponding option in the previous step) and will see your job request panel change when it's done. You can either download the spreadsheet to your computer, or view the keywords in the browser:
As you can see the amount of keywords we collected is around 1000 (slightly more than that) and so far we've only spent $0.06 (SIX cents)!
Bot #2: Gets search volumes
Not always, but in many cases you'd also want to find out what the search volumes for those particular keywords are. Understanding the search volume will make it easier for you to define the main key phrases for your titles, meta-descriptions and article texts. For this particular purpose I created a separate algorithm, which you can find here. But before you start, make sure to read about how it works below 😅
I took the keywords from the previous steps and filtered them according to most relevant, reducing their total size from a little over a 1000 down to 50.
Now, to retrieve prices and volumes for those keywords, I'm going to use the "Google keyword price and volume" bot. I'll select the same region for consistency of my SEO research (New York City, US) and will set the price to be displayed in USD:
Will paste the keywords and hit the "Start algorithm" button:
Note the price - it is $0.05 (FIVE cents)! Beat that!
After the algorithm has finished gathering my data you can click the "View data" button again:
Now I can view the volumes and prices in my browser and sort the key phrases by most popular:
As you can see, the data is there and it looks great. I now have all of my semantics collected in no-time and it cost me only $0.11 (eleven cents, lol) which is a very nice number.
If you're a semi-frequent keyword researcher and care about your budget, I urge you to try out the Algosaur keyword explorer bot and forget about monthly or yearly subscriptions. And after you have tried it, tell me what you think!
Questions? Thoughts? Leave a comment!