Keyword research is a fundamental part of SEO.
It allows you to gauge the popularity of topics in your niche, helps you get a deeper understanding of your audience, and enhances your content to a great extent.
For that reason, having a reliable keyword research tool is a must if you want to rank higher in search engine result pages (SERPs).
The only problem?
There are a plethora of keyword research tools to choose from and one can easily get overwhelmed trying to choose the right keyword research tool.
Which is why I’ve narrowed this list down to only the best keyword research tools on the market.
Here are the 8 best keyword research tools you should consider investing in.
Top 8 Keyword Research Tools
Semrush is arguably the best keyword research tool on the market. Loaded with features, it’s the preferred SEO tool of marketers, SEO experts, and bloggers all over the world, regardless of their niche and industry.
You can use Semrush to find variations for your target keywords, find semantically related keywords, get accurate information on search volume, find keywords that your competitors are ranking for, and even optimize your PPC campaigns.
Semrush also boasts of having the largest keyword database in the industry, with over 20 billion keywords in 120 geo databases.
But it’s not just the quantity of data that makes Semrush so popular.
It’s also the depth and quality of data — combined with the ease with which you can obtain the necessary keyword information.
From opportunity keywords to long-tail keywords to question-based keywords, Semrush will generate a boatload of keyword ideas you can use in your content to bolster its rankings.
To get started with keyword research on Semrush, just enter your seed keywords in the SEMrush search bar.
Semrush will generate an overview report for your keywords, where you can gather key information like monthly search volume, keyword difficulty, competition, and much more.
The overview report will also show you a glimpse of keyword variations for your target keywords.
To view more keyword ideas and to access Semrush’s Keyword Magic tool, hit the “View all” button below the keyword variations column.
This will open up the Semrush Keyword Magic Tool.
In my opinion, it’s this feature that sets Semrush from the rest of the keyword research tools out there.
This nifty tool is capable of not just generating an unparalleled amount of keyword suggestions, but also providing you with accurate metrics for those keywords and advanced filtering options to arrive at the exact keywords you’d want to use in your content.
But wait, there’s more…
In addition to showing a long list of keyword ideas for your seed keywords, Semrush also shows you keywords your competition already ranks for.
Enter your competitor’s domain in the search bar and navigate to “Organic Research” from the sidebar menu.
Scroll down till you find the “Top Organic Keywords” column.
This column will provide a glimpse of the top organic keywords your competitor is currently ranking for.
Click on “View all organic keywords” to get the full list of organic keywords, alongside important keyword metrics.
Play around with the filters until you zero in on the exact keywords you wish to target.
Bottom line: Semrush is the best keyword research tool you can opt for if you have the budget. It’s my favorite SEO tool and the one tool I recommend to all my clients who are serious about improving their search visibility. The basic plan costs $119.95/month, so it’s certainly not on the cheaper side. But it’s easily the best keyword research tool on this list.
Price: Starts from $119.95/month
Side note: Semrush is a powerful digital marketing software that can help you with more than just keyword research. Download our free eBook “The Ultimate Semrush Playbook” to learn more about how you can use Semrush to boost your search traffic and outrank your competitors in SERPs.
KWFinder is a part of the Mangools SEO suite, which includes four other tools: SERPChecker (competitor analysis tool), SERPWatcher (rank tracking tool), and LinkMiner (backlink analysis tool), and SiteProfiler (SEO analysis tool).
As you might expect, KWFinder is Mangools’ keyword research tool.
KWFinder is an easy-to-use tool that can generate a long list of keyword ideas in any niche, with a special focus on long-tail keywords.
Since its launch in 2014, KWFinder has slowly risen in popularity and has garnered a stellar reputation in the SEO community.
With pricing plans starting at $49/month, it’s also a reasonably affordable keyword research tool, considering the fact that you get access to all 5 tools in the Mangools product suite.
To start the keyword research process on KWFinder, just enter your seed keywords in the search bar.
KWFinder will return with a comprehensive report containing tons of new keyword ideas accompanied by the following SEO metrics:
- Monthly Search Volume
- Keyword SEO Difficulty
- Average CPC
- PPC Competition
- Search Volume Trend
You’ll also see the top-ranking pages for your target keywords in the SERP overview section of the report.
But that’s not all:
You can also use KWFinder’s “Autocomplete” and “Questions” filters to generate more keyword ideas.
KWFinder also allows you to export these keywords to a CSV file.
Price: Starts from $49/month
3. SE Ranking
Launched in 2013, SE Ranking is a cloud-based SEO software which includes a powerful keyword research tool that you can use to obtain an awesome variety of keyword ideas and long-tail keywords.
To get started, enter your seed keywords into the search box and SE Ranking will fetch important metrics for your keywords, including search volume, keyword difficulty, CPC, and competition.
Below these metrics, you’ll find lots of keyword ideas and variations for your seed keywords.
These keyword ideas are grouped into 3 categories — similar keywords, related keywords, and low search volume keywords.
Hit “View Detailed Report” below any of the columns to expand the list of keywords.
You can apply filters here to arrive at the most relevant keyword ideas for your next campaign.
Like Mangools, SE Ranking is quite affordable. Its basic plan costs just $39/month. So if you’re on a shoestring budget, SE Ranking is the best keyword research tool you can go for.
Price: Starts from $39/month
Ahrefs is a tool primarily known for checking and analyzing backlinks.
But Ahrefs also has a powerful tool called Keywords Explorer, which has a database of over 10 billion keywords. It provides you with a massive list of keyword ideas for your target keywords, alongside essential keyword metrics.
Like any other keyword research tool on this list, you just need to type your seed keywords in the Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer search box and you’ll get in-depth information on your target keywords.
The best part about Ahrefs’ keyword overview report is that you get to see the estimated number of clicks for your target keywords.
This data will allow you to calculate search volumes more accurately. You’ll get an idea as to the average number of clicks you can expect for your target keywords once your page starts ranking on Google.
You will also find keyword variations for your seed keywords and you can view the complete list of potential keyword ideas by clicking on the “View all” button under each section.
Ahrefs is also a decent Amazon keyword research tool. You just need to select “Amazon” as your search engine in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and enter your keywords.
If you have a product listing on Amazon, you can gain more visibility on the site through the keyword data obtained from Ahrefs.
Price: Starts from $99/month
Serpstat is a powerful SEO and PPC platform which also has a nifty keyword research tool.
Serpstat allows you to quickly find all the common keywords you and your competitors are ranking for.
Furthermore, you can discover search terms and phrases that are semantically connected to the queried keyword.
Here’s how it works:
Just enter your seed keywords in the search box and hit “Search.”
The keyword overview report will show the keywords’ search volume, competition, CPC, and keyword difficulty.
Below these metrics, you’ll find the top 5 keyword variations for your seed keywords.
Hit “Show all” below the column to view the complete list of organic keywords.
Play with the filters and adjust the sorting options to arrive at the most relevant keyword ideas for your next piece of content.
Price: Starts from $69/month
But Keyword Planner can also be used effectively as an SEO keyword research tool to research organic keywords.
And since it’s from Google, you can expect the keyword data to be accurate.
With Google’s Keyword Planner, you can:
- Search for new keywords
- Get traffic forecasts for keywords (predicted clicks and estimated conversions)
- Get search volume for a list of keywords
- See how a list of keywords might perform, and even create a new keyword list by multiplying several lists of keywords together.
Google’s Keyword Planner is easily one of the best free keyword research tools on the market.
The data obtained from this tool can help you create compelling content on a consistent basis.
7. Keyword Tool
Keyword Tool uses Google Autocomplete data to create its database of long-tail keyword suggestions.
The first thing you’ll notice about this tool is the minimalistic interface.
But don’t let the simplicity of the interface fool you. This is a powerful tool, capable of generating a long list of keyword ideas for your seed keywords.
Since Google’s Keyword Planner is primarily a PPC research tool used for Google Ads, a few SEO experts believe Google hides valuable, lucrative keywords that you can discover via Keyword Tool.
This tool is free for the first 750 keyword suggestions.
You’ll need to upgrade to the pro version to see keyword metrics such as search volume, CPC, competition, etc.
Price: Free (for the first 750 keyword suggestions); Keyword Tool’s basic plan costs $89/month
As the name suggests, Long Tail Pro is a long tail keyword research tool. It can help you find thousands of unique long-tail keywords combinations and less competitive keywords.
Long Tail Pro (LTP) has a built-in Keyword Competitiveness (KC) metric which automatically calculates a simple 0-100 score using LTP’s proprietary algorithm that is consistently being tested and tweaked.
The score allows you to determine the difficulty of ranking different keywords in the top 10 Google results.
With Long Tail Pro, you can perform all of the following activities:
- Find easy keywords using the unique KC feature – Leverage the Keyword Competitive (KC) feature to obtain hundreds of profitable, low-competition keywords.
- Calculate keyword profitability – Use the Rank Value feature to determine a keyword’s profitability based on whether you’re building an AdSense site, an Amazon site, or selling your own product.
- Scope out the competition with detailed metrics – View metrics (powered by Majestic) to help determine domain strength, page strength, referring domains to page and domain, indexed URLs, number of links, and site age.
- Filter, sort, and export results as needed – Export lists of keywords, competition data, top 10 Google results, and keyword metrics data.
- Google Ads data – Input a list of keywords and get data on competition, CPC, local/global monthly searches, and the number of words.
(Use code “99SIGNALS” to get a 30% discount on the total bill amount)
Final Thoughts on Keyword Research Tools
Creating content without keyword research is like taking a shot in the dark.
The chances of your content gaining search visibility are practically zilch without keyword research.
Bottom line: To rank higher in Google SERPs and outrank your competition, you need to spend some time researching the keywords you wish to target in your content.
You can take the guesswork out of your keyword research process by investing in any of the 8 keyword research tools listed here.
Do you have a favorite keyword research tool that’s not listed here? Let me know in the comments section.
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Editor’s Note: This article was first published on 31 March 2017 and has been updated regularly since then for relevance and comprehensiveness.