Keyword research has changed a lot over the past few years—from merely searching for long-tail opportunities with lower competition to in-depth niche research.

Moreover, keywords are no longer the sole focus of rankings; search engine optimization now includes context, intent, location, authority, citations, etc.

The tools discussed in this article will help you adapt to the ongoing evolution.

These tools are most helpful at the very first stage of keyword research: When you have a few core terms and you are looking to expand your keyword list before digging deeper.

But these tools will do more than just extend your core terms (something that your current tools are likely already doing); you'll be able to research context, related concepts and entities, and natural language wording.

1. Human-Powered Suggestions: Seed Keywords

The very first step of any new keyword research project is sitting down and making a list of words you would use if you were to search for something that's related to your site. You think which questions you'd ask, which problems your site is solving, and how you'd use Google to find answers and solutions.

Sometimes it's hard to come up with the initial list of core search terms you'd then build on, especially if you are a search marketer: Since I've been into search engine optimization for a while, I don't search in the same way as users who are exposed to search only when they actually need to find something.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Ann  Smarty

Ann Smarty is founder of ViralContentBee, a Web-based platform that uses a crowdsourcing model to facilitate the generation of real "social buzz" on quality content. She also offers guest-blogging services at SEO Smarty.

LinkedIn: Ann Smarty

Twittter: @seosmarty