An outstanding keyword research tool can help with meaningful organic traffic and positive SEO ROI.
Isn’t it amazing to know that Google alone receives over 74,000 searches per second.
That is a huge amount of traffic.
Searching for the right keyword to get traffic is a very important part of the strategy.
Thus finding the best keyword research tool which helps to generate quality content at the right keywords, optimizes the website and matches your project requirements can be quite a challenge.
In the article, I have listed the best free and paid keyword research tools which you can pick for the next SEO campaign.
What is a Keyword Research Tool
On the basic level, the core purpose of the tool is to find out the words which your target customer is using to describe his problems. This can give insights into consumer behavior and search patterns.
Now finding related keywords matching the seed words helps you generate a list of keywords and can create better content serving the customer.
Possibilities are that there exists one or more websites, blogs, or companies that are already in your niche helping people get better with their decision. Which might intrigue to look at the keywords which these websites are already using to be successful.
The message is that keyword research helps you evaluate competitor keyword assets and ultimately the competition and eventually the markets or niches.
In short, keyword research tool helps you
- Give insights into consumer search pattern and behavior
- Generation of related keywords
- Help with keyword ideation
- Gauge competitors keywords
- Evaluate competition, markets and niches
Now we understand the utility of the keyword research tool in a better way. But let us find out what should be the tool features which can really help us in achieving the above objectives.
Features We Really Care About in a Best Keyword Research Tool
Ideally, not only the keyword research tool but every other tool should be intuitive, easy to handle alike by a novice and a pro.
The keyword research tool should give meaningful data and information like volume and keyword difficulty which can be interpreted and compared.
Further, there should be some mechanism to weed out unwanted terms and phrases or to sort the data in a particular fashion.
Finally, the tool should help us in extracting or downloading the data in an easy and convenient manner.
Some of the features of the tools and its usefulness are as under
Features and Their Uses of A Keyword Research Tool
#1. Ease of Use
The research tool need not be overly complicated but should be easy to understand and use. Tools with intuitive and user-friendly interface are specifically beneficial for the new users.
All the key components and information housed at a single location is helpful in accessing them. Plus an easy informative display helps in a better understanding of the metrics provided.
However, the tool should not be so simple, that it only gives keyword suggestions or information which is hardly of any use.
Search volume is useful because search engines get you organic visitors and traffic. Thus it is important to have target keywords in the content with real search volume. If nobody is looking for the keywords you are targeting then it is a sheer waste of effort and money.
However, if you are targeting keywords with a very high search volume then it will be difficult to compete with bigger websites.
Long-tail keywords having more than four words with a high search volume of upwards 750+ are very useful for getting traffic.
Knowing relevant keyword, intent and volume metrics helps in SEO through good content. The better keyword research tool must help you find or suggest as many relevant keywords as possible.
#3. Keyword Difficulty
The difficulty metrics range from 0 to 100 in various tools. The higher the difficulty score the harder it is to rank on the SERP.
In other words, the keyword difficulty tells a user how much more difficult it would be to outrank if you build a new website around particular words.
The other way round, the keyword difficulty helps to spot low competition keywords that can easily rank.
Keyword difficulty matters because combined with search volume, backlinks and SERP analysis, KD can help in the selection of keywords that can help improve SEO and bid on keywords in PPC campaigns.
In SEO parlance, keyword difficulty is a measure of the number and quality of backlink to the top 10 pages in SERP for a particular keyword. Just check from the eyes of Ahrefs, which quotes keyword difficulty as the number of backlinks required from n number of websites to rank in the top 10.
Filters make your research much more meaningful and effective. Their power and speed not only segregates data quickly but also sorts them in a useful array to get the relevant result sets.
The filter function in the keyword tool must be able to segregate large keyword lists easily. One of the uses of filters for SEO for your new website would be to generate targeted wordlist by eliminating low volume and highly competitive keywords.
Additionally, the filters with include and exclude features can give a better view of the sub-niches that you may want to target or research further.
In a sense, if you are generating a list for the word “tea”, it will be helpful if you exclude the word “party” or “sets” and include the word “green” or “organic”. In this way, you can generate a more focused list targeting a sub-niche.
Another awesome way to use filter is “Keyword questions” which lists out all the questions within the overall settings such as broad and exact matches.
Knowing queries of people related to keywords and optimizing content to answer them can increase the traffic and link-building opportunities.
From an SEO angle, relevant content for a question-based keyword that solves user’s problems can get awarded with a featured SERP snippet.
Webpages with snippets have a higher chance of getting clicks and traffic.
#5. Export of Data
Now, this should be the benefit that all the research tool needs to have so that you can export in a form like xls. and csv. to tinker further with the search results or pdf to present in a useful manner.
Some tools like SEMrush help you export only a few selected keywords or with groups that can be helpful in analyzing data on a broad and micro level.
Let us explore the tools in detail.
Best Free Keyword Research Tools in 2020
#1. Google Ads Keyword Planner (GKP)
Google Ads Keyword Planner is a reliable basic tool for the early stages of website SEO because the data comes directly from Google.
One can enter up to 10 seed keywords when searching for new ideas. The GKP tools also give grouped ideas, a set of related keyword which otherwise may not be available in general search.
The GKP is designed for advertising as pay per click research tool and not as an organic keyword tool for SEO, hence using it for SEO can be a bit tricky.
Ease of Use
The tool is a lot easier to use with just keying in the keywords, locations and language.
The initial results displayed have few metrics like average monthly searches, top of page bid range and competition levels. But the interface is not among the best out there.
However, if you add the keywords results to the plan overview for the PPC campaign. Then Google keyword planner does show some interesting figures and facts which can be useful like cost metrics for the keyword, devices used and the top search locations.
The number of searches is high and authentic as the searches are coming directly from Google itself. The word “weight loss” threw 767 keyword ideas.
But the average monthly search volume is indicated by the range and not the exact figures which can be a spoiler using the tool.
GKP does not give keyword difficulty numbers, unlike other tools. The difficulty levels can be gauged by the competition level which the tool indicates by words low, medium and high and the top of the bid range values.
One can also put the research results in the plan overview to get a more granular level of cost and competition involved.
The GKP has a number of elaborate filters like broad or exact match keyword text for including or excluding searches and even a unique filter for excluding adult ideas which no other tool has.
The other useful filters which can sort keywords are based on competition, Ad impression share, competition and organic impression share and position.
Export of Data
The tool has one-click download keyword ideas in a csv format. But the exported data is not in good shape and requires a lot of segregation of unnecessary values.
Lastly, you need to add a payment method to the Adwords account in order to use the tool properly.
- Free tool
- Uses google massive database
- Good for local SEO targeting city or area
- Vague volume and competition data
#2. Answer the Public (ATP)
Answer the public is an intuitive free visual keyword research and content idea tool with autocomplete data from Google and Bing.
The simple visualization of data creates search clusters with long-tail keyword ideas.
Ease of Use
Answer the public scores high on ease of use with direct keying of the seed words on the landing page of the website. Solo marketers and individual bloggers looking to generate content ideas can start using it without any account creation.
While ATP has a Pro account for agencies, professional SEO and PR marketers for ongoing content projects.
ATP does not give a numeric value for the volume of searches.
However, the 897 keyword suggestions for weight loss is a bit higher from the GKP even though picked from google autocomplete.
The keywords are in the form of visual clusters comprising of questions(what, where, why, which, how), different prepositions(like to, with, near, is), comparisons(or, and, like, versus), alphabetical keywords(a to z) and even related suggestions.
Export of Data
ATP provides a straightforward option to download keyword search results in csv format and visualization in png image format.
ATP does not employes any metric as keyword difficulty. But the keywords are sorted based on their popularity with the darker green ones being the more sought after keywords.
The tool already sorts results in a clear array of clusters. There is no further scope for using filters with Answer the Public tool.
- No account creation
- Visualization of content ideas
- No metrics like search volume and difficulty
- No filtering option
Ubersuggest aggregates data from Google suggest has far more visual like keyword trend data and is more useful than other free tools.
The domain overview and the top of the page SEO report are helpful in competitor analysis which is typically found only in paid keyword research tools.
The domain overview gets you the list of top competitors and the state (hard, medium & easy) and percentage change in ranking.
The top SEO pages report helps dissect the competitor’s webpages and get useful information on the organic keyword phrases and the details on most shared articles on FB and Pinterest.
Ease of Use
Using Ubersuggest is brisk easy, just start with entering the seed words or the domain and select region preference. Easy enough for beginners to use and understand.
However, the number of keyword suggestions are fewer than the other free tools out there.
But the good thing is that unlike other tools you have keyword trends data with Ubersuggest which gives some sort of popularity indication.
Ubersuggest is one of the free tools with volume numbers for different keyword suggestions.
Ubersuggest tool measures keyword difficulty as paid difficulty(PD) for the PPC and SEO difficulty(SD) for the rankings. The SEO difficulty is unique for a free tool.
Ubersuggest does give a filter to segregate data but lacks in-depth filtering options. Yet you can not sort keywords into the list or can perform additional analysis.
Export of Data
One can copy easily into csv and clipboard but you can not save data for later use.
- Reliable data
- SERP analysis feature
- Volume & difficulty metrics
- Keyword difficulty score is way off
- Clear keyword suggestion
#4. Keywords Everywhere(KE)
Keywords Everywhere is an API based browser addon with the functionality of getting monthly search volume, CPC and competition data for the keywords.
Keywords everywhere can get the above metrics on many websites like Google Search, Analytics, Trends, Keyword Planner and Trends. Other commonly used non-Google websites on which KE is helpful are eBay, Answer the Public, Youtube, Bing, Etsy, Amazon and Keyword Shitter.
Ease of Use
Keywords Everywhere work on browser window itself and do not require you to go to open up any website or tools.
It can be easily installed on either Chrome or Firefox through API. The API can be obtained from the website.
Plus on the right-hand side bottom one can see the list of “related keywords” and the list of “keywords searched by the person” feature which is simple and unique.
The tool saves time on researching and comparing keywords on multiple tools by giving results real-time at the time of searching itself.
The search volume KE shows are the average of the total searches performed for the keyword per month over the last 12 months.
For example, the search volume of 1000 indicates that people have searched for an average of 1000 times every month in the last 12 months.
The CPC and the competition data are as per the Google Adwords for the specific keywords.
Keywords Everywhere take data onto the different sites directly and hence sorting the keywords in any form is literally impossible.
Export of Data
Keywords Everywhere let you copy directly the data list on a single right-click as an Excel, CSV or PDF file formats.
- Keyword research from browser
- Gets real-time data on multiple websites
- CPC and competition figures are taken from Adwords
- Filters can not be used
- Relies on Google’s data
Soovle uses multiple sources which include search engines like Bing, Baidu, Yahoo and Google to gather keyword suggestions at a single location.
The other sources from which soovle gets data include e-commerce giants like Amazon, eBay and Walmart.
Ease of Use
Soovle does not provide any kind of metrics for volume or keyword difficulty. Further, there are no options to filter data in any manner.
But you can definitely pick you your favorite keyword from any of the websites and add in soovle suggestions and then can download the sheet separately or can email or get it printed directly.
Export of Data
Soovle lets you download the data set in a csv format for further analysis.
- Get keyword suggestions from multiple sources
- Easy to use
- No metrics for volume or difficulty
- Limited keywords
- All information is not accurate
Best Paid Keyword Research Tools in 2020
SEMrush tool package is a powerful holistic tool for digital marketing efforts whether it is SEO or PPC, competitor analysis, keyword research and implementation, content marketing, backlinks checks, SERP, SEO Site Audit and much more.
The keyword magic tool is out of the beta phase recently. However, the other tools related to SEO including SEO content, CPC Map is still on beta phase.
Domain (Competitor) Analytics
SEMrush is a great all-round competitor based keyword research tool for SEO. One of the best tools out there for full-length competitor analysis.
If you are not sure of your competitors then you can very well put your domain name in the search bar and then generate a list of competitors along with positioning map.
SEMrush reflects a host of metrics for domain overview like details on organic and paid search traffic, backlink and anchors, top organic keywords, competitors, referring domains including sample text and images.
For keyword research, SEMrush uses Keyword Analytics, basically the “Keyword Magic Tool”.
The magic tool suggested keywords are 80,397 for search “weight loss” which is approximately 80% from the keyword suggestion from the Ahrefs tool which is pretty decent.
Further, the keywords suggestions giving the longtail ideas are also arranged in the descending order of volume.
Ease of Use
On entering keywords you will get tons of neatly grouped data with volume which is easy to understand.
The tool is simple and powerful with useful SEO metrics like volume, trend, keyword difficulty, CPC and results in SERP all aligned with the suggested keyword.
The keyword results in SEMrush are automatically arranged in the descending order of volume where you get a fair idea of the long tail words vis a vis search made.
Plus you get a standard volume trend graph for the past 12 months. However, the SERP results are cached Google’s SERP for a given keyword with no data about the ranking pages.
Keyword suggestion is not reliable as the data are not updated frequently.
SEMrush, scores difficulty on a percentage scale of 0 to 100. The scores are segregated in three levels.
Above 80% (Highly Difficult)
The keyword with such difficulty requires investment in SEO and link building practices. For a brand new website, this would be not much of effort and time.
60% to 80% (Medium Difficulty)
Compared to the above, targeting such keywords to get on page one would be more realistic but will not be easy.
Below 60% (Low Difficulty)
These set of keywords with steady search volume are the best opportunity for ranking the pages with SEO.
Keywords with low difficulty are generally the hardest to find but are easiest to rank.
However, in order to calculate keyword difficulty, SEMrush takes into account the authority of the domain that is showing up on the results page. Later estimates how hard it would be for a new website to outrank on SERP.
This can be just wrong and the metrics could be flawed.
Another feature is the Keyword Difficulty Tool for in-depth analysis of features implemented in SERP, right from site links to featured videos.
SEMrush sorts and filters data for a wide range of options helpful in creating meaningful lists. The advanced filter includes filters for wordcount, volume, KD, CPC and also based on SERP features.
Export of Data
SEMrush lets you export data in groups or even can select data to be easily exported in xlsx and csv format.
Starts from $99 pm and above
- Excellent competitor based research tool
- Easy to learn and use
- Wealth of information
- Advanced Filters
- Keyword suggestion not reliable not updated
- Cluttered user interface
Ahrefs is the world’s largest index of live backlinks and one of the best handy tools for SEO like Site Explorer, Content Explorer, Keyword Explorer, Rank tracker and Site audit tools.
Ahrefs strength lies in the backlink profile and searches traffic analysis which is evident from a huge index of crawled pages, external and internal backlink data and even data for new and lost backlinks and internal backlink change per day.
The Ahrefs keyword suggestions are powered by clickstream data and the keyword database is updated every month.
The keyword research tool allows you to enter seed words and choose various platform as shown below to generate ideas.
The only drawback is that certain platforms may not have enough metrics such as keyword difficulty or click through rates.
The maximum number of keywords suggestions 109,068, for the word “weight loss” was from Ahrefs which left all other tools far behind.
Gives the flexibility to choose data from various platforms.
Going a step ahead and viewing all the keyword ideas opens up a detailed analysis where you have useful metrics for the keywords including parent topic and details on when was the data last updated.
And not to forget the SERP analysis throwing lots of details like Ahref rank, domain rank and URL rank, details of referring domains, estimated organic traffic top keywords and volume ranked for.
Ease of Use
Ahref keyword explorer interface mixes easy visuals with useful metrics in a card format giving positive user experience.
The search volume shows per month, country-wise average data for the last 12 months for the target keywords.
Plus a visual search volume trend graphs that show the percentage of results clicked and results not clicked.
The keyword difficulty in Ahrefs is purely based on the backlink profiles of the top10 pages in SERP.
The estimates range from 0 to 100 and predict how hard it would be to rank on the first page of search results for any given keyword, using the number of backlink that is required.
Ahrefs has filters based on search volume and keyword difficulty. There are some unique filters such as SERP features, clicks based filters and return rate* filter for the micro view of the keyword suggestion.
*Rate return feature measures the likelihood of the reader to revisit the page in the next 30 days.
Export of Data
Ahref keyword result data can be exported in csv files inclusive or exclusive of SERP data. The other benefit is the encoding for MS excel or for other types of office software to maintain compatibility of data.
Starts from $99 pm to $999 pm
- Slightly better-organized layout
- More keyword suggestions
- Rate return feature
- Bundled up package
#8. KW Finder
KW Finder is an easy to use keyword research tool for finding ideas based on suggestions, autocomplete and questions. KW Finder is operated by Mangools and is a part of mangools five tools.
The tool returns a decent set of keyword ideas arranged in a way similar to Ubersuggest along with trends and metrics for CPC and keyword difficulty.
The greatest drawback is that the free version has keyword suggestions restricted to 50 and the paid version restricted to 700 ideas.
KW Finder tool has Google SERP analysis based on DA, PA, link features (citation flow, trust flow and external backlink), estimated FB shares and volume.
The tool also indicates a trend over a one year period and a keyword SEO difficulty. All of which resembles pretty much similar to other paid tools.
Ease of Use
Look, feel and usage wise KD finder tool is pretty similar to Ubersuggest. The easy to understand interface provides keyword suggestions and SERP information on a single screen.
The keywords suggestions have average monthly search volume for the last 12 months.
The keyword SEO difficulty is proprietary algo developed by Mangools and is calculated based on the link profile strength of URLs ranking in the first SERP.
Further, the SEO difficulty level has suggestions to help decide the selection of the keyword.
KW finder tool has filters for volume, CPC, keyword difficulty, exclude & include and the number of words. But are arranged haphazardly.
Export of Data
The tool lets you export data in csv and also to the clipboard.
Starts from $29 pm to $79 pm.
- Easy to use interface
- SERP and keyword suggestions on a single page.
- Lowest keyword suggestion of 700 ideas
- Haphazard filter
- No competitive analysis feature
#9. Moz Keyword Explorer
Moz Keyword research tool uses clickstream data. The services are restricted to keyword suggestions and SERP analysis.
Moz research tool has unique ‘Organic CTR’ and ‘Priority’ scores features which let you know how many clicks you can expect to get from your target keyword.
Organic CTR is the number of clicks you can expect to get if you crack the top 10. For example, if a SERP has a ton of PPC ads, news results, and a knowledge graph, then your CTR will be low.
Priority takes into account CTR, search volume and difficulty. It’s an “overall” score of whether or not you should target a particular keyword.
The drawback is that the keyword suggestions are capped at 1,000 for each seed keyword.
Moz keyword explorer has some out of box suggestions which you normally would not find anywhere like below
And the SERP features with details like PA, DA, linking root domain to page and linking root domain to root domain details beautifully presented in a unique manner.
Ease of Use
Moz presents keyword data in a visually appealing manner. The interface is Intuitive with good use of visuals.
There is no search volume trend data which is unusual for a paid tool like Moz.
Moz uses their own proprietary page authority(PA) and Domain Authority(DA) metrics of the top ten pages ranking for a keyword to calculate the keyword difficulty.
Moz keyword research tool limited. The suggested keywords can only be grouped or use exclusive semantic filters
Export of Data
The list of keyword ideas can be exported to a CSV file.
Starts from $99 pm to $249 pm.
- Intuitive Interface
- Generates longtail keyword ideas
- Accurate search volume
- Detailed SERP data
- No select all option
- No monthly keyword trend data
- Keyword suggestion capped at 1000
- Not a standalone tool
Keyword Tool.io is based on Google autocomplete for keyword research like Ubersuggest and Soovle.
The best part is that the KeywordTool gives you more of keyword ideas in the form of suggestions, questions and prepositions. This suggestion includes longtail keyword variants.
The suggestions are pulled from a host of the platform like Google, Amazon, Youtube, including Twitter and Playstore.
Later the tool has an easy filter to drill-down or expand the results to find the right keywords.
Ease of Use
Keyword Tool is fairly simple to understand and use without any hassle.
The search volumes are the average number of searches which may not be highly accurate.
The tool is similar to Google Adwords planner in measuring keyword difficulty which is really sad. The tool uses metrics like CPC and competition data to measure keyword difficulty.
Hardly there are any advance metric filters to use in the tool. Few are the filter options.
Export of Data
The keyword data can be exported in clipboard, csv and excel format.
Starts from $89 pm to $199 pm.
- Very simple to use
- Collects data from various platforms
- Inaccurate volume
- No SERP or backlink details
- No advance metric data and filters
SerpStat is an all in one SEO platform for position tracking via SERP analysis, backlink analysis for strategies, keyword research, site audit and competitors research.
The keyword suggestions show up decent 12,347 ideas a lot better than the paid tools, except Ahrefs and SEMrush. Further, there is a long-tail keyword suggestion for both SEO and PPC.
Not only that the tool can help you generate content with lots of question combinations by using search questions under content marketing features.
Ease of Use
The interface is simple, smooth and easy but on the flip side, it is a bare minimum and needs an overhaul being a paid tool.
The values are average keyword searches for the past one year.
Keyword difficulty is presently not available in India. However, for international use, the keyword difficulty is based on the number of incoming links a specific URL has. The other factors considered are the number of referring domains, SerpStat page and Trust rank.
Serpstat has an intuitive filter option where you can introduce additional filter options based on the needs. The filters can be combined to get the desired list of keyword sets.
Export of Data
The data can be easily exported into csv format.
Starts from $19 pm to $299 pm.
- Easy to understand interface
- Segregated keywords ideas for SEO and PPC
- Intuitive filter
- Interface needs overhaul
Free Vs. Paid
That is the real question. The free tools are skewed towards only providing the keywords and are largely devoid of metrics for the keywords to be useful. The user should go for free tools when he is very tight on budget.
The paid tools, on the other hand, provides metrics and data relevant to the needs of the individual, project, or agency. The prices usually for paid tools start from $19 and upwards. Go for premium tools if you have a budget and project with stakes.
Still, Confuse! What to do
The Best Value for Money Keyword Research Tool
Serpstat is the best value for money research tool in the sense you get a host of decent benefits like position tracking, backlink analysis, keyword research, site audit and competitors research for $ 19 per month basic plan ideal for small projects
The higher plans starting from $69 to $299 have full benefits including team or agency benefits across Serpstat products.
The Best Premium Keyword Research Tool
For the choice of the best premium keyword research tool is to pick between SEMrush or Ahrefs.
I find Ahrefs as the best because Ahrefs has the largest index of live backlinks.
Unlike SEMrush it is slightly better organized. The keyword data can be picked from various sources including google. The tool is powered by clickstream and the database is updated every month.
The tools give the maximum number of keyword suggestions among the other tools and has a detailed SERP analysis.