If you want Google to send you more visitors, a great keyword research tool is a must.
How many times in the past week have you gotten onto Google to look something up? Since Google processes an average of 40,000 searches every single second, the answer to that question for most people will be “a lot.”
Here’s another question: how many times in the past month can you remember searching for something on Google and actually continued on to the second page of search results? How many times did you look past the first four? This number is probably significantly smaller, if it even exists at all.
That’s why keyword research is so important, and using the right keyword research tool can make the difference for your business.
Copywriters almost always do keyword research before they even get started working. It can help you determine which keywords you should be optimizing for, and which will help your content be seen.
If you’re unsure where to start, that’s where keyword research tools come in, and I’ve put together a list of the 7 best keyword research tools I’ve ever used.
SEMrush is my favorite keyword research tool, hands down. This tool provides both short and long-tail keyword research, along with information on keywords for both PPC and organic traffic. And all our international readers will like this: they let you do this research that is specific to more than 131 different countries.
SEMrush gives you data about how many searches different keywords are getting, along with their CPC Adwords price, the number of results each keyword has, and the competition level of the keyword.
They’ll also show you keywords that match the phrase you’ve searched for exactly (with all the above data), and related keywords. Beneath this, they’ll show you the top results for the keyword you’re researching in both organic and PPC searches. Basically, this tool shows you who your competition is, which is an incredible asset to have.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of time doing keyword research, their Keyword Magic Research tool is a must-have feature. You can enter a keyword, and then advanced search criteria like:
- Whether you want it to be a broad or exact match
- CPC range
- Competition level range
- Volume range
- Word count
Next to the search, they’ll have related keyword add-ons that you can combine to your search, helping you to find the exact keywords you need quickly.
SEMrush’s keyword research tools are free to use, but if you want to track keywords (which I recommend), you’ll need to upgrade to a paid account. Their Pro plan starts at $99 a month when paid monthly.
2. Google Adwords
Since Google is the one handing out all the traffic, it only makes sense that most people want to know about any potential Google keyword research tools. Google’s Keyword Planner is designed for Adwords, but if you’re looking for a free keyword research tool, this is the one to go with.
Google Adwords search volume tool is highly effective and extremely easy to use. If you’re new to keyword research and just want some quick info on the search volume and competition level of a few keywords you have in mind, this is a great tool to use. Just enter in the specific keywords that you want to compare, and then view the results. You’ll be able to see the search volume, general competition level, and suggested Adwords bid.
Pro tip: If you’re looking to generate keyword suggestions, I’d use another tool, like SEMrush or Moz.
While Google Adwords will give you plenty of suggestions, I’ve always found that they’re not always very relevant to what I’m actually searching for and that the other tools are able to do this better, even once you turn on the search criteria for keywords that are closely related to search terms.
Moz is one of the best resources available when it comes to SEO, so it’s not much of a surprise that their Keyword Explorer is so great.
I love Moz’s interface and how they give you data on the keywords. It’s easy-to-read, making it an ideal solution for both experts and newbies alike. They’ll show you both numeric and visual representations of a keyword’s monthly search volume, its opportunity for ranking, priority, and difficulty. They’ll also show you keyword suggestions and SERP analysis, which is fantastic and detailed.
If you don’t want to pay for a keyword tool, Moz may not be the most effective choice for you.
You can search for two queries per day for free, but you need to upgrade to a paid plan if you want to search for more than that. Since you almost definitely need to search for more than that, you’ll be paying $150 a month for their basic plan. They do have a free 30-day trial, though, so you can test it and see how you like it, first.
4. Keyword Tool
Our next tool is self-explanatory, and is quite literally titled Keyword Tool (from keywordtool.io). You can search for keywords in different languages, but not nearly as many as SEMrush has available.
This keyword research tool is effective, automatically providing you with keyword suggestions that other sites haven’t necessarily turned up (which it’s intended to do), along with their search volume, CPC, and Adwords competition. In order to get any actual information about the keywords, though, you need to upgrade to Keyword Tool Pro (which is a little misleading on the site copy). This plan is $88 a month, and if you’re just doing keyword research for Google, I’d recommend choosing one of the other tools for the price.
Here’s where this tool’s value really comes in: Keyword Tool has keyword research tools for multiple search engines, not just Google. If you want to do keyword research for YouTube, Bing, Amazon, the App Store, or eBay, they’ve got keyword suggestions (and data) for you. If YouTube videos, for example, are a central part of your marketing strategy, this could easily be worth the money.
As the name suggestions, SpyFu is a competitor research tool that seeks to help you improve your business’s results by understanding how your competition gets theirs. If you want to understand how your competitor is using keywords in their marketing campaign, this is the tool to use.
You can type your competitor’s URL, and SpyFu will pull up all the keyword data on it. You’ll be able to see how many keywords they’re ranking for, the estimated number of clicks-per-month the site is getting, and the ratio of organic to paid traffic.
You’ll also be able to see paid keywords, how they’re keywords are maintaining their status on the front page, their top keywords, and their top competitors.
If you want to use this data to do some regular searching and to track the keywords your competitors are using, you can upgrade to one of their paid plans, which are highly affordable and start at $33 a month when paid annually.
6. KW Finder
KW Finder is similar to the Google Adwords tool; it even pulls up similar results, which aren’t as entirely on-point as the immediate results from SEMrush and Moz. From my experience with KW Finder, the searches are a lot better if you put some time into manually adding in filters like negative keywords and additional keywords you do want to include.
Like the other research tools, this one shows you keyword suggestions, how they’re trending over time, the number of searches, CPC, and difficulty level. It does this all effectively and cleanly.
What I love about this tool is the data they provide on the top-ranking sites for this keyword.
They’ll show you information like how many external links the site has, the number of Facebook and Google+ shares, estimated visits per month, and its page authority. All of this is valuable intel that can give you insight into where your page could potentially rank against them, without needing to do more research with a separate tool or on another page.
The best part? KW Finder is a completely free keyword research tool—and it’s a darn good one.
7. Google Analytics
While this one isn’t necessarily a keyword research tool, it will give you valuable insight into how the keywords you’ve been optimizing for so far are actually performing for you. You might realize that you could start ranking for more keywords with more difficult competition, for example, or that only keywords on certain subjects are working for you.
If you go into Google Analytics click from Acquisition to Channels and then click on Organic Search, you should hypothetically be able to see the keywords users searched for to find your site. The catch: these keywords are almost all blocked.
Fortunately, there’s a way around this.
If you go to Search Console under the Acquisition tab and then click Queries, you’ll be able to see different searches (aka keywords) that users found you through. You may have to set this up, but it’s easy to do and only takes a few minutes; you can see how here. Use this information to evaluate and monitor your keywords to see what’s working and what needs to be changed.
All of these tools will give you the information you need about the keywords you’re interested in.
Remember to be realistic about the keywords you’re optimizing for, since many newer businesses sometimes do better to optimize for keywords with less competition. As your site authority increases, the competition of the keywords you choose can increase, too.
What do you think? Which keyword research tools do you use? Which ones are your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comments below!