Practical Ecommerce

Quick Keyword Research Tools

At the core of many search engine optimization campaigns is keyword research. In order to target what Internet users are looking for, the choice of words they use to describe those things must be known. By following tendencies in keyword choices, a website can target searches for those terms to capture traffic from search engines, internal searches and even social media entities.

Consider Google Suggest

There are many keyword research tools of varying size and complexity, but often only a quick and simple reference is needed. When a large number of pages is being optimized (as they often are in ecommerce situations, such as creating or improving product pages) the subject is obvious, time is of the essence, and only a cursory amount of keyword research is needed. An effective and basic tool for this scenario is actually right at your fingertips: Google Suggest.

Google Suggest began as a separate interface within the Google itself as an experimental page that would offer a dropdown menu of suggestions relevant to a term (or even a few keystrokes) typed into the Google field. Its primary use was to auto-complete searches for users to speed up the process of searching, but the auto-complete suggestions are derived from popular search phrases used in Google, with the more popular terms displayed at the top of the list. According to the Google Suggest FAQ (, “Google Suggest uses data about the overall popularity of various searches to help rank the refinements it offers…Google Suggest does not base its suggestions on your personal search history.”

What’s even handier is that Google has added Google Suggest into the Google Toolbar search box, which can be downloaded free for all popular browsers. So, while looking at a given page in your browser, you can use Google Suggest right at the top of the browser to test and compare various keywords.

Great for comparing words

The tool works great for comparing keywords or terms that start with the same word or keystrokes. It has limitations, though. You can’t, for instance, compare “laptop computers” with “notebook computers.” But for quick and easy keyword research, this Google tool is sweet.

Yahoo! has a similar tool called, quite creatively, Yahoo! Suggest. There are varying reviews on its usefulness as compared to Google Suggest, but I’ve found it to return a lot more junk than Google Suggest. Still, it is another quick tool to keep in mind when doing cursory keyword research. While neither of these interfaces is a replacement for more advanced tools like Keyword Discovery and Wordtracker, for fast keyword reference, keep the Suggest tools in mind.

Jeff Muendel

Jeff Muendel

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  1. Legacy User May 8, 2008 Reply

    As a copywriter who writes a lot of Web content, I place a lot of value on tools like Yahoo! Suggest that tend to return a lot of junk. Especially when you are working with pay per click, it’s good to know what junk is showing up in the search terms, so you know which phrases to avoid. You can set up your pay per click campaign to disregard hits that contain your keyword if they also contain words or phrases that you deem as junk.

    Dan Lambert, MBA
    Freelance Copywriter

    — *Dan Lambert*

  2. Legacy User May 8, 2008 Reply

    I find it interesting that Yahoo seems to have gone this route first with Yahoo Search Assist. It's a valuable tool for keyword research and useful tool for people trying to remember what on earth they should be searching for.


    — *Chris*

  3. Legacy User May 8, 2008 Reply

    Please include links to the referenced sites in the future. It appears Yahoo! Suggest is no longer a current service. At least it's not appearing in search results.

    — *CHebert*

  4. Legacy User May 8, 2008 Reply


    The Yahoo! function is actually called Search Assist. To use it, start by doing a Yahoo! search of any kind (through the Yahoo! home page or a tool bar etc.).

    When the results page comes up, there will be an option to enter search terms at the top of that page. Right next to that search box is the word "options," click on that word and choose "preferences."

    From there you will see the "Search Assist" option and you should change your preference to "Always." I think it defaults to "More," which only shows suggestions when it thinks you need help.

    Once you've changed your preferences you'll see a large gray box with suggested search terms. If you want to keep using it, you'll need to allow cookies.

    Dan Lambert, MBA
    Freelance Copywriter

    — *Dan Lambert*

  5. Legacy User May 16, 2008 Reply

    Dan, good point on using Yahoo Suggest/Assist for PPC campaigns. I was speaking strictly about natural search research in which a quick reference is needed, but using the "junk suggestions" for exclusion in PPC campaigns is an interesting point.

    — *Jeff Muendel*

  6. Legacy User June 12, 2008 Reply

    Thanks!! Great info here!!

    — *Marie*

  7. October 17, 2008 Reply

    This article has quite a few keyword gems in it. We often use various tools such as Wordtracker, Wordze or KW discovery to construct our keyword lists, however we’ve found that many of the BIG three aren’t necessarily quick, easy, or cost effective over time, especially for smaller projects. Recently we developed our own keyword research and ranking tool for use in-house which is now offered for free on our website. Thought maybe readers here would like the opportunity to try it out. We encourage feedback so please don’t hesitiate to let us know if you feel something could be improved…

  8. Josh Wexelbaum November 13, 2008 Reply

    The Google Keyword Tool is also a great resource!

    Your readers might also find my in-depth keyword research comparison chart useful:

  9. Long Tail Keywords July 17, 2009 Reply

    You should also try long tail tools. They can give a lot of keywords with low competition and big potential.

  10. Jack Duncan July 27, 2016 Reply

    Here is a list of 33 keyword tools that you can use to find even more keywords including some tools that automate Google Suggest and Yahoo Search Assist: