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If you want a site that kills it against your competition, targeting the best keywords is a no-brainer. Keyword research can be a time-consuming chore unless you have a tool that simplifies the process while optimizing your results. Here, we give you the best keyword research tools, whether you’re a beginner or need to advance your SEO strategies.
- Which Features Matter?
- Best Keyword Research Tools
- Best Free Tools
- Expert Tips (Video)
- More SEO Tools To Consider
Whether you’re doing basic keyword research for a blog or looking for specific keywords that are driving traffic to your competitors’ sites (and PPC, pay-per-click, conversions), there are several features to consider when deciding on the best keyword research software.
- Keyword suggestions: You want a tool that finds and suggests as many relevant keywords as possible.
- Search volume trend: The best tools show you search trends for each keyword.
- Filtering: You must be able to filter and organize large lists of keyword suggestions easily.
- Keyword difficulty: Keyword difficulty scores tell you how competitive keywords are. These scores can vary widely from one tool to another based on their data sets. It helps to know how experts and users weigh in on the accuracy of each tool’s keyword difficulty measurements.
- SERP analysis: SERP (Search Engine Results Page) analysis involves looking at the top web pages that rank for a specific keyword or topic. The best SEO software gives you tools to make sure your chosen keywords are relevant in your niche and determine if you can outrank your competitors.
We based our rankings on the strength of the features we highlight above and give you detailed information in our reviews.
SEMrush, an all-in-one SEO software giant, has several different tools to help you conduct keyword research. With their Keyword Magic Tool, you can enter a seed word and get up to 2 million keyword suggestions. You can sort and filter these by search volume, keyword difficulty, SERP features, CPC (cost-per-click) data and competitive density.
Using the Organic Research Tool, SEMrush gives you the ability to see who is ranking for your desired keywords and then find out all of the other keywords that page is ranking for, allowing you to build out a robust content plan. PPC users can also see what keywords your competitors are bidding on. You can also see the exact search queries they’re ranking for, and you get a handy SERP overview. The one downside to SEMrush is their Keyword Difficulty Tool. It’s not always as accurate as some other software, like Ahrefs.
SEMrush offers a 7-day money back guarantee on all plans. The following prices are monthly. You get discounts if you pay annually.
|Price Per Month||$99.95||$199.95||$399.95||Must Contact|
|Reports Per Day||3,000||5,000||10,000||Must Contact|
|Scheduled PDF Reports||5||20||50||Must Contact|
SEMrush also provides custom plans if there isn’t a stock product that works perfectly for you. For example, if you just want to add another session (simultaneous login) or user, you can pay for this a la carte.
With its release of Keyword Explorer 3.0 in February 2019, Ahrefs now gives SEMrush some serious competition as the best keyword research tool on the market. This totally revamped version is extremely user-friendly and gives you a ton of bang for your buck.
By analyzing large amounts of clickstream data, Ahrefs estimates keyword volumes from 10 different search engines. (Clickstream data includes data from a variety of sources other than Google, i.e., multiple search engines, mobile apps, various data mining tools, etc.).
Ahrefs lets you filter by keyword difficulty, search volume, number of words, SERP features and more. You can also get helpful SEO metrics, like return rate, clicks per search, % of clicks, % of paid clicks and more to help you optimize your SEO campaigns. Like SEMrush, Ahrefs is another all-in-one SEO powerhouse software.
Ahrefs offers a 7-day trial for $7 for its Lite and Standard plans. You can save 20% off the following prices if you pay annually.
|Price Per Month||$99||$179||$399||$999|
|Number of Users||1||1||3||5|
Moz has been a big player in the SEO game since 2004. Their Keyword Explorer uses clickstream data to generate suggested keywords and has solid keyword difficulty measurements. But this tool falls short compared to our top two picks. It caps keyword suggestions to 1,000 for each seed word search and often doesn’t give you search trend volume data.
Moz Pro offers a 30-day free trial. You can also save 20% off the following monthly prices if you pay annually.
|Price Per Month||$99||$179||$249||$599|
Other Keyword Research Tools To Consider
Although not as powerful as our top picks, KWFinder by Mangools is a definite step up from free tools for keyword research — and many other SEO software options that cost a lot more. They also have a free keyword finder tool that includes 5 lookups per 24 hours and 50 suggestions per search.
Its keyword difficulty score is known as one of the most accurate in the industry. And it gives you metrics for each keyword, including search trends for the last 12 months, search volumes and CPC and PPC data. The main downside with KWFinder is its strict search request and result limitations, which will keep heavy users away.
Pricing plans give you access to Mangools’ suite of SEO tools, including keyword research and tracking, SERP analysis, backlink analysis and auditing. You can save up to 40% if you prepay for a year.
|Price Per Month||Free||$49||$69||$129|
|Number of Lookups Per 24 Hours||5||100||500||1,200|
|Number of Keyword Suggestions Per Search||50||200||700||700|
As its name suggests, Long Tail Pro is a great tool to find less competitive long tail keywords. It pulls keywords from Google’s Keyword Planner and uses a unique Keyword Competitiveness algorithm to calculate each keyword’s ranking potential (on a 1-100 scale).
You can conduct a website competitive analysis of the top sites using your chosen keywords and also enter a competitor’s domain to get their metrics and see your chances of outranking them. Its new Rank Value tool gives you an estimated monetary value, including income from AdWords and Amazon Affiliates, of ranking in the #1 spot for any given keyword.
Long Tail Pro offers a 10-day money back guarantee and 30% off if you pay annually.
|Price Per Month||$37||$67||$147|
|Daily Keyword Lookups||800||2,500||6,000|
SpyFu’s focus is on competitive research for SEO and PPC. You can find out what your competitors are doing by seeing which keywords they buy, which ads they run and which organic keywords they rank for.
What stands out? Not only do you see this competitive information now, but there’s a 12-year history provided. SpyFu offers good keyword tracking on Google, Yahoo and Bing.
All SpyFu plans come with a 30-day money back guarantee.
|Price Per Month||$39||$78 |
(1st month is $39)
|Weekly Tracked Keyword Rankings||5,000||15,000||40,000|
|Sales Leads & Domain Contacts||250||500||2,000|
|Historical Data||6 months||10+ years||10+ years|
|Custom Brand Reports|
Keyword research is like everything else — you get what you pay for. That’s not to say some of the best free keyword research tools aren’t worth it for beginners or to supplement your main SEO tools. They just won’t meet advanced SEO needs. The following free tools come highly recommended by experts as great starting places.
- Google Keyword Planner
- Google Search Console
- Google Trends
- KeywordTool.io (Pro version available)
Check out this brief video by SEO guru Neil Patel for some fantastic tips on how to do keyword research.
Part of finding ideal keywords is analyzing how targeted keywords are trending. Learn more about how keyword trend analysis can help you get the best results.
If you’re looking for more than keyword research in your SEO tool or need additional tools to cover all your bases, be sure to read our comprehensive reviews of the best SEO tools on the market. We include features, pros and cons, pricing and more for the most popular SEO tools you can find.
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