Owning a paid key word tool can be useful. It can provide you a lot of information that helps you outpace your competitors when trying to rank on the first page of Google. However, I've often found such keywords tools to have too many options or are just too complex to operate.
Do I really need to know if the page in position 1 has optimized his H1 and H2 tags on his blog better than I did on mine? Do I care if I didn't fill in my meta description and he did? You'll find that you will be bombarded by various experts on what seems to have worked for them and what haven't.
It's completely up to you to decide how much time and effort you want to put into analyzing your competition. At the end of the day, just be sure you've spent more of that time optimizing your own pages and improving your on-site and off-site SEO.
If you don't know what that is, then you'll want to look it up online. If you want to know how to implement it in effective manner that helps your pages rank and earn properly, then I recommend checking out Matt Carter's program.
Google Adwords Keyword Tool Works Fine (And It's Free!)
The Google Adwords Keyword Tool is relatively accurate from Google's point of view. After all, they're the ones who accumulate the data each month every time we type a phrase or two into the search brower. You want to look for exact matches.
I'm sure you've heard that before, but that's actually the most accurate depiction of what people are looking for in your niche. Broad and phrase matches incorporate any willy nilly combination of your keyword phrase people have been looking for and won't be as accurate.
But...you've only just found the volume of searches for that key word.
You Need That Other Free Keyword Tool, Too
Don't forget about keyword competition. If 1500 people a month are looking for that key word phrase, you can guarantee that other people have already tried ranking for that same word and strengthened their position to be on the first page. So you'll need the free add-on tool on Firefox: SEO Quake. This will show you what kind of PR the highest ranking pages (not sites) have for that particular keyword you chose. It will also tell you how many backlinks it has.
Now, you'll have to do an analysis to determine if you can rank for that keyword or not. That takes a little bit more skill and expertise. By this point, some people get so frustrated about not knowing what to do that they simply end up buying a sophisticated keyword tool, hoping it would simply tell them what to do.
But if only it were that simple. You're getting your money's worth with these tools, but do you know how to use them?
Market Samurai seems to be a very popular one. They've got a good video tutorial showing you how to use their device with all the neat ninja sound effects to go with it. Plus, they also have a good tutorial showing you basic SEO fundamentals. You can also learn more about google search ranking by visiting different blogs and sites by SEO experts.
I find that these tend to get complicated and end up sounding more like a university lecture. As an online marketer, you only really need to know enough SEO to help your pages rank and make money. So when in doubt, just ask Matt (Not Matt Cutts).
So in truth, you don't have to buy a key word tool to find good ranking keywords. Free keyword competition tools work just fine if you know what you're doing. Others prefer the convenience and all the informational and integrated features of a paid tool. The choice is yours.