Finding keywords is a lot of fun, I use Google keyword tool (make sure you are logged in), Seobook keyword tool, and competition meta extraction dump analysis (see my post here)
I keep writing everything down, as I find more keyword ideas, chances are my list will be full of duplicates. I use an online app by techmechanic (link) to remove the dupes, all you do is paste your draft keyword list, then press remove duplicates.
After that is done, I paste my list into Google keyword tool, to check which ones are worthy. Depending on the niche, the amount of [exact] searches you want will differ. I like to find keywords that are anywhere from 5000-100,000 searches local (in USA) per month.
Next step is to check competition for the top keywords, I do this by entering in google using ” ” my keywords one by one, then I note down the total results found.
I enter everything into an excel, and in the end I divide my total searches per month (local) by the total results found, to get a number, and then I sort this in ascending order. The keyword that has the least amount of competition and the most searches gets the highest value, thus that is the winner I go with.
I don’t know about you, but there’s a lot of useless crap out there when it comes to tips on how to find good keywords. Many people always have a problem on where to start, etc. They know their own keywords, maybe two or three – but get stuck there.
I usually look at what keywords my competitors that are already ranking have in their titles/meta descriptions/meta keywords. To find good keywords as the base keywords we can build on, I usually make a list of all their titles/meta tags in an excel spreadsheet. Doing this by hand is one way, but there’s a cool site that lets you Mass extract the title, meta description, and meta keywords tags from a list of your websites. The URL is -> http://tools.buzzstream.com/meta-tag-extractor
Efficiency is one of my favorite things, and I always try and simplify to do the most in the least ammount of time.
Open a notepad, dump the top 20 results in google (use search.aol.com to get american results) for your keyword(s) and then paste the list of domains into this tool I linked above, and in a few seconds/minutes you will have all the titles/metas that you can download in CSV from the site.
Use this information to look at related searches, build your long tails from there on.