How to Do Keyword Research for Free, without Tools

Emily Harris
Emily Harris
Head Writer & Editor at Inkless

Keyword research softwares like Semrush and AHrefs have a secret.

You don’t need to use their products to do keyword research.

In fact, only one company has concrete data about what people are Googling. That company is Google itself. 

In truth, you probably have everything you need to do free keyword research right now as you read this article. 

Below, we’ll break down how to do keyword research for free like a pro so that your content can drive traffic to your website without taking a big bite out of your budget.


Why You Don’t Really Need Keyword Research Tools 


Keyword research tools can’t predict the future, and they don’t really know how many people are Googling certain terms per month. They only act retroactively by looking at what is already ranking, and giving estimates based on that content. 

They find summaries of search engine results pages for a given word and predicting which keyword(s) are most likely to rank. 

For example, say you put a keyword into SurferSEO, a popular optimization tool. SurferSEO will scan the top articles ranking for that keyword to find the most commonly used words, headings, and average word count.

Then, the program puts that information into a helpful editor tool. 

While these options can simplify the research process, they come with a sometimes hefty price tag.

And remember that if a machine can do it, so can you. 

Plus, since these tools produce guesses, not results, they’re not always accurate. 

You might be told a keyword has a low search volume, for instance, even when the traffic on your website seems to disagree. Or, you might be guided to write an article that doesn’t match what most searchers want. 

So the best tools for doing free keyword research are your brain, a document to type on, and an open Google search bar

How to Use Google for Keyword Research (For Free!)


If you’re willing to do some digging, you can use plain ol’ Google to do free keyword research for written content of all kinds. Here’s how.

Check Suggested Search


When you begin to type your keyword into Google’s search bar, pay attention to the recommendations that pop up. 

Here we see several related potential keywords that people often Google when looking up types of flowers. The best part? These are the things that people are actually Googling, not a third-party’s best guess.

You don’t need to list each search term as an individual keyword (though you may). Instead, you can note specific words, questions, and phrases relevant to your article. 

In this example, we might decide to write down things like “bouquets, white, purple, pictures,” and “meanings” as possible keywords or things to include in headings. 

To get even more options, play around with your keywords and use different letters or word pairings to see what Google suggests.

Based on what we see here, it seems like our decision to use keywords like “bouquets” and “meanings” is probably a good one.

Google Keywords for Guidance


Once you’ve explored suggested searches for a while, go ahead and Google your keyword. 

The results that pop up right at the top can provide additional words to note. 

In this example, we got a little lucky. Google listed dozens of flower types from sources around the web, giving us a large bank of options to discuss.

However, you might get an answer to a question or a featured snippet in other cases. Regardless of what you see, try your best to look for words that seem significant.

Skim Recommended Searches and Questions


Scroll down your search results page until you find the “People also ask” section for potential headings and key phrases. 

Once you expand the answer to one question, you should see additional related options pop up below, as shown in this example. 

These questions work well in a frequently asked questions section, as headings throughout the article, or as keywords that you incorporate into your text.

Finally, scroll to the bottom of the search page to see other suggested searches. 

Repeat this process with related keywords to get a wide range of words that you can use. 

Use the keywords that actually make sense for your writing, though, and avoid stuffing too many in one piece.

Other Free Ways to Do Keyword Research


If you want to take things a step further, there are other free methods you can use to discover how to help your writing rank.

Check Out the Competition


When performing keyword searches, you can look at what top-ranking articles are doing right for some guidance. 

Take note of their headings, words they use often, and the article’s title. The more articles you look at, the better of an idea you’ll get of how to rank. 

Visit YouTube for Inspiration


Another option is to head to YouTube and look for videos or channels discussing your topic and getting views. 

Take a look at their titles, descriptions, and tags. 

Do you see any keywords you found earlier? Are there new ones that you can use?

Get Some Advice from AI


Artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT are often seen as replacements for writers, but they don’t have to be. They can instead be resources for writers. 

For instance, you can ask ChatGPT to help you develop keywords or topics as you conduct your research. 

Alternatively, you can paste in a completed piece and ask for feedback to help you better optimize the writing. 

Key Takeaways


Using Google to conduct free keyword research is pretty simple, especially after you’ve had time to practice. Here are a few key things to remember:

  • Use suggested searches, Google results, and “people always ask” results to guide your keyword selection.
  • Pay attention to what others are doing right to discover how to do the same.
  • Utilize other free resources to brainstorm ideas that will help your writing rank. 

Remember, you’re not doing yourself a disservice by making your best guess. That’s all that keyword research tools do, anyway. 

At Inkless, we’re well-versed in using Google and a range of other keyword research tools to learn what readers are looking for and why. 

Our pieces help clients boost their domain authority, rank high in search results, and drive traffic to their services.

When you choose to work with Inkless, you’re choosing to work with avid storytellers with an eye for detail. We never miss a deadline, and our services are personalized to work for each client. 

To get in touch with us, contact us today via LinkedIn, by visiting our website, or by reaching out to