Understanding consumer search behaviour: best tools for the job

by on 16th June 2014

One of the most intriguing aspects of keyword research is gauging an understanding of how consumer search behaviour varies, depending on what niche or field you’re operating in. For anyone with a keen interest in the researching of keywords, you’ll likely be aware of the plethora of tools available. This post will highlight some of the best out there, whilst shedding light on what makes each one unique. Before the roundup begins though, it would be criminal not to mention the SEMrush and Grepwords API’s from our own Excel Tools plugin, which has previously been covered on the blog by Rich.

Search Queries (Webmaster Tools)


The first port of call when analysing consumer activity in any field should be the keywords that drive traffic to your (or your client’s) site, as this is where the majority of your low hanging fruit/quick win terms will lie. Since the ongoing rise in encrypted search, this data is becoming increasingly difficult (and pointless) to gather from Google Analytics. However, the big G has been kind enough to offer an alternative source for organic keyword data via the Search Queries tab in Webmaster Tools. While this is a heavily stripped down version, and doesn’t offer the same deep analytic capabilities as its Analytics counterpart, you can still get raw keyword data from a set time period to get you started.

Cost: free

Site Search (Google Analytics)


While (not provided) accounts for the large majority of your organic keyword data, a handy alternative in Analytics is the ability to see how users are searching within your site. Although internal site search is a different ball park to organic traffic, this data is a good primer for understanding whether any page/content types are missing or difficult to find within your current navigation.

Cost: free



Understanding search behaviour for your own site is useful, but we also want to get a handle on how consumers are discovering your competitors. At Builtvisible, one of our favourite tools for gathering competitor ranking data is Searchmetrics – a paid tool that allows you to analyse both online and paid visibility for any site. The competitor keyword data exports also provide you with the ranking position and URL for the site, as well as the search volume for each term. Gathering data for 2-3 competitors should provide you with a pretty solid list of competitive terms.

Cost: starts at €69 per month

Keyword Eye


While a few competitive keyword analysis tools have already been cited above, Keyword Eye offers a more visual approach to understanding relevant, volume driving keywords in your field, which can be very useful from a reporting perspective. The content analysis feature also allows you to view frequently occurring words that appear in the SERPs for whichever keyword you input. Similar to Searchmetrics, you can discover what keywords a particular site ranks for, as well as the ranking URL and the position they appear in. Furthermore, you can also find out the number of organic results for all reported keywords, giving you an additional measure on the competition of any keyword.

Cost: £9.99 per month

Keyword Suggest Tool (SEOchat)


Knowing how users search in Google is great, but how about gauging a similar understanding for similar behaviours on the likes of Bing, Youtube and even Amazon? SEOchat’s Keyword Suggest Tool does exactly what it says on the tin for all four of the above search engines. While you can only input one keyword at a time, this tool is really useful for spotting keyword patterns that you may not have already considered – in which case you can easily populate any such keyword patterns with Mergewords. For a free tool, this really churns out some gold.

Cost: free

Micro Niche Finder


When looking for new keyword ideas in Google’s Keyword Planner, its suggestions can often deviate from your original query. This is where Micro Niche Finder comes in handy, by offering a more expansive set of keywords that closely relate to your initial term(s). Another handy feature to this tool resides in the SOC column, which gives you an indication as to how competitive each keyword is and, ultimately, what terms are worth pursuing.

Cost: $47 (but you can try out a free 30 day trial version)

FreshKey Spy Tool


Similar to SEOchat’s Keyword Suggest Tool, Fresh Key allows you to view search term suggestions across an array of search engines… but with a few extra additions. Fresh Keys goes further by allowing you to view search behaviour on eBay and Wikipedia. The combination of both Amazon and eBay search data provides especially useful information for any ecommerce sites.

Cost: $49.95




This gorgeous search engine for every breed of computer nerd has more than a few handy features up its sleeve for search experts. Specifically in the case of keyword research, the ability to search for sites by title and header tags can give you a good insight into how your competition is using certain keywords.

Cost: Free, but Enterprise plan costs $79 a month

Keyword Tool


The simply titled ‘Keyword Tool’ was only announced to the SEO community last week, and works very much in the same way as Ubersuggest. Frankly though, this tool is a more convenient alternative; simply because there’s no need for a CAPTCHA, the keyword output is a lot quicker, and the general layout is simple. What’s worth a mention though, is that the volume of generated keywords differs between either tool, depending on the input keyword.

Cost: free

Personally, I wouldn’t dive into any keyword research project without the above toolkit at hand. As mentioned above, there are a LOT of tools out there, so feel free to list any distinguishable ones in the comments.

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