Though Google’s move to keyword (not provided) has changed analytics and eliminating the Keyword Planner tool has impacted SEO practices, keywords still matter.

Expert SEO Keyword Research GuidesIndeed, as the volume of online verbiage explodes—91% of b2b marketers have embraced content marketing; the web now contains at least 1.65 billion pages; Internet users collectively created and shared nearly four zettabytes of information in 2013, and the volume continues to grow—identifying and properly using the optimal keywords for your audience is arguably more vital than ever.

Fortunately, tools and methods for keyword discovery and analysis have advanced as well. How can you maximize the value of Google’s “dumbed down” Keyword Planner tool? What other tools and resources are most valuable for keyword research? How can you use keyword research results more strategically?

Find those answers and more here in a handful of the best expert SEO keyword research guides of the past year.

Keyword Research 101: How to Discover New Keywords for Your Business by HubSpot

Samantha WinchellGoogle’s decisions to hide referring keywords from organic search and to replace its Keyword Research tool with the dumbed-down Keyword Planner have made keyword research more challenging. But Samantha Winchell here recommends 10 helpful alternative paths to finding the best keyword phrases for optimization, from the keywords associated with your most popular blog posts to online industry forums.

Google Keyword Planner: The Ultimate Guide by Razor Social
***** 5 STARS

Ian ClearyConfused by Google’s new “lite” keyword research tool? Ian Cleary helpfully explains how Google’s new Keyword Planner tool works, how to access it, the differences between the new tool and more-robust-but-now-discontinued Keyword Research tool, and the three options for performing keyword research with the new tool.

The Hidden Guide To Keyword Research by Reporb SEO Business Courses

This detailed and excellent primer on keyword research steps through why keyword research is vital, how to identify the most promising keywords for your site, how to use the Google Keyword Research tool (now defunct, so see Ian’s article above on how to use the Keyword Planner tool instead), and the pros and cons of 10 alternative keyword research tools.

Multi-level Google Suggest Keyword Research: Featured Tool of the Month by SEO Chat

Ann SmartyThe brilliant and prolific Ann Smarty shows how to use the Google Suggest keyword research tool, expanding each phrase to the second and third levels to produce a huge list of actual organic keyword phrases, not skewed toward commercial searches.

12 Tips for Keyword Selection to Guide Your Content Marketing SEO by Content Marketing Institute

Mike MurrayMike Murray lists a dozen questions to ask when conducting keyword research in support of content marketing efforts, from “Have I mined keyword research resources?” (beyond Google and other obvious tools) to “How will this keyword phrase choice fit into future content?” (strategically planning ahead for future content, not just immediate projects).