While it’s an extremely important part of your online content strategy, it’s a totally foreign concept for most solo lawyers.
I’m here to remedy that.
In this post, I’ll break down the best keyword research tools and why you should use them. I’ll categorize them by budget level, so you can keep costs under control as well.
FYI – this post may contain affiliate links, which give me a portion of any purchase to help support the site. However, all of the products I recommend below (free or paid) are products that I actually use and love.
Why use keyword research tools?
SEO in general is a pretty nebulous concept, but once you understand the basics and have some specific processes to use, it gets much easier.
One of these basics is using a keyword research tool to find topics for your blog articles.
Find search terms that people are typing into Google (called “keywords”), which are “low competition.”
In the SEO world, “competition” refers to the number of people trying to get their content onto the first page of Google search results for a given keyword.
High competition keywords are generally those that have a higher number of searches and are more “generic” or “high-level” terms. Low competition keywords are usually going to be more specific search terms, with much lower numbers of searches.
Here’s an example:
Search terms like “divorce” or “divorce lawyer” have huge numbers of monthly searches (about 12,000 and 3,000, respectively). The competition to be on the first page for those would be fierce. Running ads for those terms, especially “divorce lawyer” will be extremely expensive, as well.
On the other hand, keywords like “grounds for divorce in california” and “how to start divorce process in california” have much lower search volumes (110 and 70 per month, respectively). The chances of getting one of your articles on the first page of Google search results is going to be much higher.
I pulled that information from a keyword research tool (KWFinder, to be specific). This is extremely useful information for planning out your solo firm’s content marketing strategy, and a cornerstone of how I get clients!
They can even help you to decide what particular practice areas to focus on.
Now, onto the reviews.
As I said before, I’ve used all of these tools, so the recommendations and ratings are straight from my own experience using them.
For the budget-minded lawyer: Free keyword research tools
If you’re just starting your solo firm, you may not want to spend a ton of money on tools. I totally understand.
That’s why these free tools are such a great idea. They can help you jumpstart your keyword research while not dipping into your limited budget.
Top Pick: Keywords Everywhere
Keywords Everywhere is a web browser plugin that will show you a bunch of information about keywords, as you search for them!
It basically works automatically, and shows you:
- The search volume and other info for the keyword you searched for
- A list of related keywords and their search volumes
- Search volumes for Google’s suggested keywords
It’s also got info on the cost per click for ad purchasing and a competition score (though I prefer to use other methods for figuring out competition, such as the Keyword Golden Ratio).
This is all very useful information, and Keywords Everywhere allows you to add interesting keywords you find to a list that you can export as a CSV file.
The export features helps you to get the info out and into your spreadsheet for doing some data-driven keyword planning.
I use Keywords Everywhere all the time for my law practice and my various other websites. I can’t recommend it highly enough, especially if used in conjunction with other tools.
The Verdict: 5/5 – easy to use, super useful, and totally free
Check it out by clicking here and installing the browser extension.
Answer the Public
One of the main tactics for creating blog content is to answer common questions asked by potential clients.
A great way to find these questions that are being asked online is to use a service called Answer the Public. It’s an aggregator for question-based keywords that can be a useful supplement for your keyword research.
You simply type in a seed keyword, and Answer the Public shows you related question keywords that you could potentially use as:
- Topics for a whole article on your site;
- Sub-topics for an article about the overall seed keyword you typed in; or
- Guest post topics that you can pitch to other blogs and websites.
Answer the Public lets you export a CSV, and in conjunction with Keywords Everywhere, you can click each one and see the search volume and other info.
Like I said, AtP is a great tool that may not be everything you need, but can be a perfect brainstorming tool and a supplement to your other keyword research methods.
The Verdict: 4/5 – You can’t go wrong adding this free tool to your keyword research toolbox!
The unfortunately-named Keyword Shitter is another useful tool whose job is to basically spit out a ton of related keywords.
When you use it in conjunction with Keywords Everywhere, it’s a great way to look at a ton of potential keywords quickly. You can see a huge list of them, choose the ones that look good, and add them to your Keywords Everywhere favorites list.
The Verdict: 3.5/5 – Useful tool that does what it says – spits out a ton of keywords that you can sort through later.
See this tool by clicking over to their site here.
One tool to avoid:
Lots of online lists will mention Google Keyword Planner.
Avoid it like the plague.
It used to be a great free tool for searching keyword competition, but now it’s just for those planning out their Google ad purchases. Worthless.
Spend a little money: Mid-Budget keyword research tools
If you’ve got a little money to spend to expand your content strategy, these tools will help you out immensely.
They’ll allow you to extend your reach and access way more keywords than you probably found with the free tools. They also have better data to show you competition and difficulty scores, along with other perks.
Top Pick: KWFinder
KWFinder is one of the tools in developer Mangools’ suite of SEO-related offerings. It’s the tool that I use as my main keyword research method.
A step up from things like Keywords Everywhere, KWFinder allows you to search by location, language, and in different formats (like questions or using Google’s “autocomplete”). The location-based searching can be a huge help when you’re a local law firm looking to target those in your area by seeing what they’re searching for.
The bottom-tier plan has some limitations as far as the number of keywords it will show you, but I haven’t found it to be a problem so far. You still get plenty.
In addition to KWFinder, the suite of tools also includes the following:
- SERPChecker – gives you info on the actual search results Google comes up with for a keyword, so you can scope out the competition and plan accordingly
- SERPWatcher – lets you track how well you rank for specific keywords over time, so you can tell if your SEO is working correctly
- LinkMiner – this tool allows you to check the “backlinks” that are going to a site, which means that you can see who is linking to your competition. This lets you potentially go to those sites for guest posts or links and increase your own rankings, among other things.
- SiteProfiler – you can use this tool to see statistics about any given site, including its authority, which can be helpful in choosing which sites to ask for guest posts on.
Given the amount of tools and the usefulness of the main KWFinder tool, I can’t recommend the Mangools suite highly enough. For the price, you get a ton of value from it.
The Verdict: 5/5 – super useful suite of keyword research and SEO tools that are a huge value for the money, especially if you pay for an annual plan
Check it out by clicking the link here. (affiliate link)
Note: You can use KWFinder for free, but it’s severely limited in the number of results. That’s why I didn’t list it under the free tools. However, you can use that free version to see if it’s the kind of tool that you want.
Keyword Keg is basically my second choice for paid keyword research tools, if it weren’t for KWFinder.
While it does all of the basic keyword research stuff that KWFinder does, the cool thing about Keyword Keg is that you can go beyond just looking at Google keyword search results. It’s got a number of search types that you can choose from, including:
- Google Play
In fact, I just paid for it (in addition to my KWFinder subscription) specifically because it can search YouTube-specific search results. That will be super helpful for my upcoming law firm YouTube channel.
The Verdict: 4.5/5 – A great tool that I would use if I didn’t already use KWFinder and the Mangools suite. Would be a 5/5 if it had the breadth of functionality that Mangools provides in their different tools. It’s certainly cheaper.
The Price: From $16 a month, for lowest tier plan (paid annually); $32 a month if paid monthly
Go see their plans and pricing here.
For the Serious Researcher: Premium keyword research tools
If you’re looking to spend a lot more on your keyword research, these tools I’m going to discuss are the way to go.
Why are they so expensive?
- An absolutely huge amount of data that is refreshed fairly often, which allows them to be more accurate with their competition scores, search volumes, and other data
- A much larger suite of tools that is for serious SEO pros to analyze their site, their competition, and to plan out new content and improve existing content
If you’ve reached a point in your law practice that you want to expand your content marketing strategy and do a big content push, these tools are the way to go.
In order to save some money, it’s often a great strategy to just subscribe for a month or two to do all of your research for your upcoming content creation in one shot. I’ve done this before, and it’s been very helpful.
I’ve used Ahrefs for my law firm site and a number of other sites. Once you learn how to use it, there’s no substitute for the huge wealth of useful data that this tool provides.
The best part about Ahrefs is their huge amount of super helpful YouTube content. These YouTube videos cover a number of different keyword research strategies, including:
- Finding new keywords
- Analyzing your site and your competition
- Looking at where your content is lacking and what you can add (by checking out the rest of the content ranking on the first page of Google)
- Discovering and fixing technical problems with your website
Check out the video below for a sample:
One of the most important reasons to use Ahrefs is to keep an eye on your site and see how it’s doing. It allows you to track the keywords that you’re targeting, as well as find out which keywords Google is associating your content with (whether you knew it or not).
You can export all of the data that you find, and mess around with it to better plan your content marketing.
I can’t recommend Ahrefs highly enough. A truly top-tier tool for serious keyword and SEO research.
The Verdict: 5/5 – one of the best in the business, though the learning curve can be difficult. Their YouTube videos do a lot to alleviate this, with specific instructions on how to do various SEO research tasks.
The Price: Starts at $99 a month (billed monthly), with a 7-day free trial for $7. Annual billing gets the monthly cost for the lowest-tier plan down to $82.
(review coming soon)
Wrapping it up: Which tool should you use?
I know that’s a lot of info, but if you’re still unsure, you could just copy my strategy.
I use the following tools regularly:
- KWFinder for my main keyword research tool when I want to find a bunch of them
- Keywords Everywhere for more targeted keyword research, like when I’m looking for a specific one on a topic by just typing things into Google
- Answer the Public for the occasional search for client questions
The rest of them have their uses, but there’s a ton of overlap. I have bought into the top-tier tools like Ahrefs once or twice in the past, but it’s not something you need to keep a monthly subscription for unless you’re doing some serious content creation.
Hopefully you’ve found a tool you like on this list. You can see my recommendations for web hosting and for other tools to use in your solo practice here.
Need advice on how to actually USE these tools? Sign up for my mailing list to be the first to know about my SEO and Keyword Research articles and courses!
Have another tool you love? Let me know in the comments below.
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