Picking the right keywords is critical to your success.Picking keywords is the single most important job that anyone in the world of SEO has to do. If you pick the wrong ones, you will find that your efforts will be for naught at creating new blog posts or even websites. After all, while you can do well without Google, it’s not a practical option for most of us meaning that you do need to do good keyword research.

The Old Standby

Most of us use the Adwords keyword tool to search for keywords. It works well at finding appropriate keywords and their competition levels. The tool works well at finding you synonyms as well, which allows you to increase the number of potential LSI keywords. The best part about it of course is that it’s also completely free to use.
The bad part about Adwords is that the program is somewhat limited since it’s designed to allow you to find keywords for Adwords campaigns rather than for SEO purposes. This means it won’t necessarily show you competition levels from an SEO standpoint (it shows you levels for Adwords campaigns) and it won’t show you a list of top ranked websites which use that keyword so you can see the competition.

Enter the Alternatives

There are a number of alternative programs which will give you that ability, though none of them are in fact free to use. The market leader is Market Samurai, which I’ll discuss in a moment, though another popular option is Brad Callen’s Niche Finder (I happen to use SECockpit, which I’ll discuss in a moment as well).

Market Samurai

As I said, the leader in this field is Market Samurai. The software gives you a complete listing of keywords and LSI alternatives, pulling from both Google Adwords and the Google Wonder Wheel to create a complete list of possible keywords.
The software also gives you access to a list of websites which use the keywords in question, allowing you to see what kind of competition there is for the keywords you are using. The program is available for a one time cost of $149, though they do give you a free trial for 7 days and if you sign up during the trial, they give you a discount.

Brad Callen’s Niche Finder

Similar to Market Samurai, Brad Callen’s Niche Finder (that’s the full name – another program called Micro Niche Finder exists as well, but I know nothing about it) also offers you a complete list of LSI keywords. It also happens to include a neat feature, which lets you see how easy it might be to rank for any particular keyword that you want to rank for. The big advantage from what I can see is that this program is just $99 as opposed to the $149 that Market Samurai charges.


Even though I didn’t mention it in the title, I want to put in a note about SECockpit as well. It’s still in experimental stages of development and is much pricier than the other two. The basic program is $49 per month with their executive level service being $99 per month.
The big advantages that SECockpit has over the other two options are first that it’s web based. This means that you’ll be able to run as many searches as you like using the software (with the other two, they access Google and Google can limit you after a while) and they also offer access to SEOMoz information about the competition, which again, you can’t find with the other two.

Bottom Line

I’d be inclined to go with Brad Callen’s Niche Finder if you’re not doing a serious amount of SEO work. The software does the job and is the cheapest of the bunch. On the other hand, if you do want to do a heavy amount of keyword research, I suggest looking at SECockpit, but only if you’re really going to get enough use out of it to make it worth spending the money each month. As for Market Samurai, it may be the market leader, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice around…