I'm asking this question even though I'm sure I know the answer. But the point of asking question here, for me at least, is to get Jill's (and other) expert opinion.
There are numerous keyword research software programs out there. Probably one of the most popular is Market Samurai. They supposedly save you time by showing you various things about keywords, such as the competition for that keyword, and where other sites rank and your ability to rank high in the search enging results for that keyword.
There are dozens of these programs, all claiming to have a particular edge or feature to make it easy for you to find "long tail keywords", especially.
I've looked at a bunch, but I've come to these conclusions:
1. They all use different algorithms so all give different results.
2. I don't know what algorithms they use so don't know how to judge whether their tool is giving me "accurate" or useful results.
3. I think I can do enough keyword research using Google's keyword tool
4. I realize there's no magic to any of this. Some people seem to think there is (or want people to think there is so they can make money selling them "systems" and products)
5. I'm cheap and don't want to pay for the software
6. It's the same old story as all the other tools out there online: they promise fantastic results and lure you in with their siren song that you will be way ahead of the competition and make more money...
That said, I have found tools like ahrefs useful. But I'm using the free version. I know Jill uses it as well.
I keep telling myself that I shouldn't have to pay a dime to do keyword research and that these programs are just making money for the people selling them.
Then there's the programs that check your rankings. How could they possibly do this? Rankings are so relative as to be useless, correct? And I've tried one or two programs that scrape Google for the info they're compiling for you and what happens is that you then get the "there have been too many queries from your IP" message when you go back to searching Google in your browser. In Google Analytics, you can get the average position that your site appeared in search results for the particular keywords that people used to find your site. But other than that, because of Jill opening my eyes and educating me, I don't really pay attention anymore when people tell me their site "ranks #1 in Google" for a particular keyword. Am I wrong?
I can see how some people may find keyword software helpful for organizing their growing list of terms they want to target. But the more I learn about *real* SEO and not just all the little myths and tidbits I have been exposed to for years, the more I think that putting too much emphasis on a bunch of keywords and such can be a bad idea.
Hope some of that made sense.