What in the world qualifies me to give a keyword research tool review? Ummm, to be quite honest – it's not so much about shining expertise as it is a mix of pressing need and lots of trial and error. I've figured a lot of things out the hard way, and I'm all for sharing what I've learned with others. I am not a marketing savant or an SEO guru (yet).
But I AM a career-long researcher who knows the Web. I began my freelance writing career doing print materials for nonprofits – and in late 2009, I turned web content writer. Did I know anything about SEO? I am accused to say I did not know the difference between a backlink and a LinkedIn link. My goodness – I had to learn a LOT about SEO before I could turn out the kinds of keyword-optimized articles my new clients expected. (I admit it – I was really learning as I went … just bumbling along by the seat of my pants.
Oh. but I knew one thing I wanted. I saw that I would get just one chance to impress a local prospect enough to get ongoing article-writing, web-updating, and SEO-maintaining business. Would not it be lovely, I thought, to have a tool that was so whiz-bang that I would impress a prospect from that very first meeting? And keep 'em for the long haul.
What exactly would that take? A keyword research software tool that would allow me to do a quick, up-front keyword list – complete with competition overview and related applications. All from within a single, easy-to-read interface.
I set to work researching premium keyword research tool reviews. And here's my top-5 list of must-have's: full-featured interface, robust criteria-based filtering, free screenshot-based training, no recording subscription fees, and easy-to-read results.
1. Full-featured Interface
A big drawback of some of the free tools out there is that it is next to impossible to conduct all of the necessary research within a single, unified interface. Browser window after browser window must be opened to check on the Google competition, research domain ages and available names, and so on … and so on.
What to do? Is there a software product out there that handles all of the keyword research, competition analysis, domain research, and even content research? Yup, there is. And I stumbled across it through a forum of marketers.
In my attempt to marinate myself in all things SEO, I joined the Warrior Forum – a very active, driven group of Internet Marketers. I was, I'm ashamed to say, certainly a lurker of the lowest order. But what a rich education my lurking proved to be! I will never forget the wonderful post that asked forum members to tell what tools, out of ALL the tools they had ever invested in (and believe me, these folks try out EVERYTHING you can imagine), had yielded the greatest returns. Out of pages and pages of posts (23 or something) naming various useful tools and tutorials, one software product was mentioned in about 60% of the posts. That product was Market Samurai
I first assumed a bunch of IM'ers were providing affiliate links. Nope. Market Samurai did not even have an affiliate program at that time. The IM veterans in that forum simply thought it was an awesome product and wanted to say so. And what did they most love about it (away from price)? Its comprehensive, full-featured interface.
2. Great Video / Screenshot Training
Keyword research tools can make you feel like a read idiot. Keyword research tool reviews often neglect to mention that unfortunate fact. It's quite remarkable to see a list of related words populate table rows after you enter only one word or phrase – but then … gulp!
WHAT in heaven's name are all those numbers? Am I expected to dig out a PDF manual and look up OCI and SEOC while I am examining all of those tiny little figures on the screen? Danger, Will Robinson … newbie overload alert.
For goodness sake, do not try this stuff at home without the proper training.
So … I explored the Market Samurai training tools – appropriately called the "Dojo." Hold off on all that a ** – kicking, little white belt, until the Sensei has spoken. Sheesh, after all, no one tries to tackle building a website without learning HTML, right ?. Silly to tackle professional market research (which is exactly what keyword tools enable) without training.
The Dojo was excellent. So was the Aussie Sensei. And I've got a teaching background and a lot of training snobbiness in me. The guy in the training vids took me through the use of the tool (in bite-sized bits). I watched, made notes, and found that by the end of the series, I "got" how to do results filtering. And how to make research into a very streamlined workflow.
3. Easy-to-Interpret Results
Guess what? (I'm going to lay a deep bit of wisdom on you here. Ready?)
The only keyword results that are important are the ones that actually give you access to a niche. In this business, that means getting rid of all junk – as in, never having to view it at all!
One of the most useful features of the free market Samurai Dojo is its step-by-step video tutorial on effectively applying filters.
Oh, and guess what? You can get a taste of the Dojo videos without buying or downloading a thing.
4. One-time, Up-Front Cost
As a novice "info-preneur," I'm quite pleased to invest in excellent marketing tools – but I do avoid recurring monthly costs . My goal is to generate monthly income – not to see my money draining out in the form of automatic credit card charges.
So, I made myself a promise as I began my business that I would stick religiously to a "tool budget" and limit myself to purchases that required only a one-time investment. Ahem … sorry, Wordtracker. I love you, but you're too rich for my blood. Back to reading more keyword research tool reviews ….
What else did the Warrior Forum members extol about Market Samurai? Its very reasonable, one-time-purchase price model. I agree. Mmm-hmmm – very nice indeed.
But you can, of course, give it a spin without paying a nickel – OR giving your credit card.
I liked the terms of Market Samurai's free trial offer. 12 DAYS! No credit card required – just an email list opt-in. That's fair. They advertise their $ 97 discounted price to you if you purchase the software during the 12-day trial period. I wish they would just keep it $ 97 and not apply the pressure – but, well, I get it. And that is, of course, their right. And it's pretty sweet that all of the Dojo vids are available during that 12-day trial period.
5. Rapidly Generated, Easy-to-Read Results.