Content-based websites are often built around a single focal point or theme. Topics can range from media, technology, fashion, education, finance, among many others. But a significant portion of traffic to these websites will often come in from search engines. Organic search traffic is the best method for pulling visitors who have an interest in your website because they find your pages after searching for some combination of keywords.

If you can present information which helps users when searching in Google, you will rank for a number of related keywords and continually drive traffic without needing to do extra work. I want to share a few tools which can help when analyzing your related keywords and see how visitors are finding your website. Many of these tools are well-known by webmasters but it is worth putting together these links for those who are unfamiliar with keyword research.

AdWords Keyword Planner

The Google AdWords system is an online marketplace for advertisers looking to promote new products or websites. This includes a large database of keywords for sale based on bidding prices. Thankfully you don’t need to be an advertiser to have access to all of this information.

The AdWords Keyword Planner requires a Google account but does not require placing an order. You can search for a small collection of comma-separated keywords which will then offer suggestions based on the most heavily trafficked terms. This can be a great method for researching other keywords to use in future blog posts which may drive natural organic traffic through Google.

google adwords keyword planner 2013 screenshot

Keep in mind that the volume of keywords presented here is also relative to the marketplace itself. This is not a tool for checking the total volume of search terms as you can find with Google Trends. Instead this is a way to determine which keywords are popular in advertising that seem to drive a lot of results from Google users.

The search features allow you to specify results globally or limited to a specific region. After entering your search terms there are comparisons and recommendations based on the total volume and CPC prices. I would definitely suggest roaming around in this tool before planning any of your more prominent articles. It may help you recognize specific phrases which you could drop into the writing for higher ranks.

Webmaster Tools

Obviously the most popular choice in this realm is Google Webmaster Tools. It will provide a growing list of keywords which your website has ranked for and which pages are displayed to users. It can also provide information about how many of those viewers actually clicked the link going to your website. It’s an absolute necessity for any serious webmaster.

However I would argue that Google alone just isn’t enough these days. Bing Webmaster Tools is another service put out by Microsoft which targets Bing search results. Granted there are fewer people who use this service but it is still an important facet of searching on the Internet. It is also safe to assume that Google and Bing are using very different algorithms to rank websites, and so it can’t hurt to have your domain submitted into both places.

bing webmaster tools dashboard clicks screenshot

These are both the greatest tools you can have for studying organic search traffic. You can learn which keywords are driving more attention onto your website and even where your page ranks in the search results. From personal experience I would attest that Bing takes longer to crawl through your pages and get everything ranking.

But I will also state that getting your website added into both webmaster tools is practically essential. This is definitely true if your website is based around managed content because you want to have this indexed & ranking ASAP. There is no good way to cheat the organic system. Submitting and verifying your website in both of these online tools is the most beneficial first step to getting yourself recognized among the masses of other domain names.

Google Trends

I just want to briefly touch upon Trends because it can’t provide direct relative value to your site. But it can provide empirical value when studying terms you want to start writing about. The Google Trends website displays a graph of the keyword volume represented over time. So we don’t know the total number of searches but we do know when a search phrase has hit a peak in traffic.

Market ceilings are always expanding for newer products that are growing in popularity(Pinterest, Vine, Dribbble). If you look at any of these keywords in the Trends graph you will notice they have spiked rapidly since inception. Google Trends is great at predicting when a market will continue growing based on past search data. Use this tool sparingly but recognize that it can help you determine if a market segment is growing or shrinking in size.


Longtail keywords often make up a large percentage of natural website traffic. Organic searches happen every day and many of them are longer than just a few words. This means if you can figure out which longer phrases are being searched, you can target them with related content and hopefully rank near the top of the results page.

Übersuggest is a free online webapp to help you plan out some of these keywords. It helps if you can figure out a simple head term related to your article headline or key area of focus. Then the application will return a number of Google Suggest results based on query volume. This is a powerful tool when getting prepared to write an article on a certain topic.

uber suggest online webapp tool google suggest keywords

Organic search will provide a method for building websites that you can setup to run properly and let them go. Once you have a site pulling in tremendous volumes of search traffic it is easier to break from content writing and slow down to a more reasonable pace. Some websites which haven’t updated in months or even a year can still drive traffic from Google if the older articles are relative and retain lower bounce rates.

If you want a more premium solution to long-tail research might I suggest HitTail? The online service does cost money for paid clients but you can sign up and try it out for free to see what you think. Their cheapest plan costs $10/month which can be affordable if you manage a collective network of websites. But honestly there are many free tools available for tracking your organic searches so HitTail isn’t a requirement. Keep researching and over time you will quickly understand how markets adapt and what users really want to find when looking for content in search engines.


Running a successful website will require a lot of time and work. Granted the work will not appear difficult if you genuinely enjoy what you do. But this also comes at the expense of tough learning lessons when jumping head-first into a project. I hope these organic search tools will help webmasters keep track of their headlines and determine which keywords are most helpful and related to your content strategy.

Posted by Jake Rocheleau

Jake is a writer & digital designer/illustrator. He writes about all things web and creative. Check out his website for work samples and follow his latest updates on Twitter @jakerocheleau.

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