Keyword research has long been an important aspect of SEO.
This is essentially the practice of uncovering the exact keywords or phrases that people are searching for in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo and then optimizing your content around those keywords so that you can better rank for those search queries.
The basic method of keyword research goes something like this:
- Come up with a list of keywords (there are so many ways to do this! You could do it manually, look at competitors, and/or use some of the tools below to get ideas or find keywords).
- Run your list of keywords through a tool to get more keywords (you might as well get all the possibilities based on what you have so far and many tools suggest new keywords).
- Run the keywords through a tool to find exact traffic and competition for those queries (this is the info you need to help you choose what keyword to optimize towards).
- Choose your keywords (probably those with low competition, low CPC, low to medium competition).
Keyword research is pretty simple in theory. It’s really just a matter of using various tools.
Finding which tools to use, and which tools work best, is sometimes the difficult part. That’s where this post comes in.
I’ve long had a bookmark folder where I’ve been adding keyword research tools as I find them. In this post, I thought I’d share those tools with all of you!
Please note that there is no particular order here. I did NOT rank these tools. I haven’t even used all of them, although I have used over half.
My List of 39 Keyword Research Tools for 2017
Google Keyword Planner (Free)
Google AdWords Keyword Planner is a keyword research tool that allows you to find the right keywords to target for ad campaigns, but it has long been used by SEO’s in order to research keyword volume and competition for use in their content, with the goals of ultimately finding low competition, high volume keywords to rank for and bring in organic traffic.
While you might think getting the info straight from Google is the best route, Google recently updated Keyword Planner to hide a bit more of the search volume. Whereas before you might see that a specific query has 250 or 750 searches per month, those queries are now bunched into a group that shows 100 – 1K avg. monthly searches. So you don’t know if the query gets 100 or 1,000 searches.
They also group keywords into ad groups, so you can’t see exactly what people are searching for but instead see ad groupings full of closely related keywords. This of course boosts Google’s revenues, as users have to bid on ad group rather than buying a specific search term, but it is just another way that Google Keyword Planner is becoming worse for researching keywords.
I should mention that high spending AdWords accounts do still have access to the exact search volumes, which is really just another way that Google is trying to put down small businesses while promoting the big brands.
Ahrefs Keyword Explorer (14 day free trial)
Ahrefs has one of the biggest databases of keywords and it updates constantly.
Honestly, this is probably the best keyword research tool out there, both because of the info they provide and the easy way they show detailed information. Whenever someone asks about the top SEO or keyword research tools in SEO threads or forums, ahrefs is practically always the one that gets the most recommendations.
This is the tool pro SEO’s use. However, it also is pricey at $99 per month or $990 per year ($82 a month for a year). There is a 14 day free trial.
I am currently using Ahrefs (Feb 2017).
Moz Keyword Explorer (2 free searches daily – 30 day free trial)
Moz is really the other major player in the SEO world that is always mentioned in SEO threads when talking about the top SEO tools. Many SEOs find fault with the tools as the database isn’t quite as big as Ahrefs and the tools or more aimed at beginners, but that may not be a bad thing as it helps people learn.
I also think it is pretty cool that they let you have two free searches per day. That may not be useful for pro SEOs, but if you are just a blogger writing one post a day, that number of searches can be useful to you.
Moz has a 30 day free trial and they bill at $99 per month or $948 per year ($79 a month for a year).
SEMRush (Limited data & searches for free + Pro Plan Available)
SEMRush is probably my personal favorite SEO tool, possibly just because I’m used to it and have used it a lot in the past.
They allow limited free searches each day and the keyword research results that they show are extremely detailed. If you are a blogger, not an SEO, then I think you could probably just use your free searches on SEMRush rather than paying for a service (like SEMRush, Ahrefs, or Moz) to research keywords.
Much like Ahrefs and Moz, SEMRush costs $99 a month or $990 for a year. They also sometimes have sales for a year of SEMRush. Those sales typically happen around Thanksgiving. They also have a 30 day free trial (you may need to find an offer to get that deal).
Google Trends (Free)
How is Google Trends a keyword research tool? For some people, it will give you ideas about what to write about as it shows trending topics. You then can capitalize on what’s trending by writing about it and bringing some of that traffic to your site.
Google SERPs (Free)
Did you know that Google tells you related searches at the bottom of each search? This can be useful as you can take that info and plug it into a keyword research tool to find volume and competition, possibly uncovering potential queries to target.
Google Suggest (Free)
Another way to find what people are searching for in Google is by using Google Suggest. When you start typing into Google search, they give you suggestions of searches you might want to try (see image). These are the popular searches based on what you’ve typed. This can be a great way to find keywords to target.
KWfinder is an awesome keyword research tool for finding exact search volume for a query along with search volume for related queries.
They also actually show a ton of information for free (you get 3 searches a day). You can view the SERP difficulty, volume by month, top 10 listings, and top 25 related searches with volume all for free.
A paid account also isn’t all that expensive, starting at just $25 a month.
LongTail Pro (Free trial)
Long Tail Pro has long been a favorite among marketers and niche or affiliate site builders. It makes it pretty easy to dig down and find keywords with lots of volume and low competition. I’ve used LongTail Pro in the past but I always thought it was a bit expensive as it was a $97 fee plus $37 a month. They seem to have now changed it, and if you sign up for a year it is just $25 a month.
BuzzSumo (Free limited + Free trial + Pro Plan Available)
BuzzSumo isn’t exactly a tool designed to do keyword research, but it is a great way to find competitors top content along with share numbers, who shared the content, and backlinks.
If you stick a competitor’s url in and find their top content, you then can analyze those pages through other tools to find what keywords are working best for your competitors. Often you just need to glimpse the article to see what keywords they are going after. I think knowing your competition’s top content and working backwards to find the keywords used is a great way to research keywords.
You can also try to get the same backlinks as your competition and maybe get the people who shared their content to share yours.
UberSuggest is a pretty simple tool; enter your keyword, hit the button, and you get a bunch of suggested keywords.
Their homepage currently (Feb 2017) says:
Use Übersuggest to quickly find new keywords not available in the Google Keyword Planner. Take your keyword research to the next level with tons of keyword ideas for SEO, PPC and your next content marketing campaign.
You can also see in that image above that the tool was recently acquired by well known online content marketing guru Neil Patel. It’ll be interesting to see what new features Neil adds to the tool. They already have Google Trends data, but it sure would be nice to have search volume next to the suggested keywords.
Keyword Shitter (Free)
Keyword Shitter (terrible name) is a tool where you can enter a few keywords, hit the button, and it generates a massive list of related terms. You then can filter that list down and later copy and paste the list into other keyword research tools (like Keyword Planner) to find competition and volume.
It really is a useful way of uncovering high volume, low competition keywords to target. This really is an awesome tool, even though it has a terrible name and is really simplistic. I find myself using it quite often.
KeywordTool.io (Limited free + Pro Plan Available)
KeywordTool.io is really quite similar to UberSuggest, except they provide keyword search volume if you have a paid plan.
This is an amazing tool for getting keyword suggestions, but with the paid plans starting at $48 a month, I’ve found it too expensive to try. I take the keywords from this site and run them through other tools to find volume and competition.
Answer the Public (Free)
Answer the public allows you to enter a keyword and then see a circle graphic showing related questions other people have been typing into Google.
When writing a blog post, these exact questions (taken from Google Suggest) can be a good starting point.
WordStream Free Keyword Tool (Limited free)
WordStream’s keyword tool gives you a list of keywords and their general frequency of use, as shown by a bar. The tool will email you a bigger list if you give your email.
WordStream also has a free trial, although I’m not sure how long of a trial it is (I’ve never used the free trial). Looking at their pricing page, I’ve always been completely confused about what it is you are buying and the pricing starts at $279 a month.
Bing Keyword Research (Free)
To use the Bing Keyword Research tool, sign in to your Bing Webmaster account, pick your site, then go to Diagnostic & Tools in the left menu and pick Keyword Research.
The tool gives you related searches, the number of times it appeared in Bing, and Bing Trends.
While what they give you is great, you need to bear in mind that these numbers are for Bing. As Google gets a lot more volume and it is similar people searching, the actual numbers for content optimized for these keywords is probably much, much greater.
Like quite a few other tools on this list, SimilarWeb is really an SEO tool for examining your own site and competitor sites. It also includes keyword information.
Just trying SimilarWeb without signing up, you can see a site’s top 5 keywords. If you signup for an account, you get 3 months of free use of their tool, which contains much more detailed information on keywords.
As a keyword research tool, you would use SimilarWeb to find your competitors top keywords that you can rank for.
Can I rank (14 day free trial)
I haven’t personally tried this tool yet, but it looks interesting. It sounds like you sign up for a free account and they then give you keyword suggestions, content ideas, estimated growth timelines, and even explain why things rank the way they do.
I’ll sign up for their free account and let you all know how it goes one of these days.
AccuRanker (14 day free trial)
A tool designed to help you keep track of your rankings, AccuRanker also has analytics data to help you:
Make better strategic decisions with additional analytics data per keyword (search volume, traffic per keyword, traffic potential).
The tool starts at $44.95 a month but there is a 14 day free trial.
WordTracker (7 day free trial)
It looks like this tool gives a lot of information and is fairly similar to KWfinder. They also have a really nice web design.
Unfortunately, the free plan is extremely limited to the point where it is useless, and I haven’t tried their paid plan yet (which start at $27 a month), so I can’t really say how good this one is.
I think it is notable that Danny Sullivan, an SEO expert and the owner of Search Engine Land, backs this tool.
Affilorama Tools (Free Trial)
Affilorama has a keyword research functionality built into their platform.
From their website:
AffiloTools is “whole picture” web stats for online marketers. AffiloTools crunches data from a range of premium sources to find out what’s REALLY happening on your website.
Search engines, social media, revenue… All your most important data, all in one place.
http://stats.grok.se/ Wikipedia Keyword Tool (Free)
Stats.grok.se is kind of unique among these tools as it only gives keyword insights into Wikipedia.
Why would you want that? Because Wikipedia is great at figuring out what keywords and related keywords to target. If you just look at what they do and look at how much traffic each of their pages is getting, you can figure out which keywords you should target. You may want to do the low traffic ones that aren’t very competitive if you have a new site. I wouldn’t recommend the highly competitive, highly popular keywords.
KeyWordEye ($1 trial + $35/mo.)
This tool has a few keyword research features, such as an LSI keyword tool and a question finder.
I haven’t tried it and don’t plan to as I’m really turned off by the $1 trial thing. It also isn’t clear how long the trial is for and when they bill you the $35. They do have a 30 day money back guarantee.
KeywordSpy (Lifetime Free Trial)
KeyWordSpy seems like a really useful tool for checking out your competitor’s keywords and links. You get to see the top 10 for free, but need a paid account to see any more.
Paid accounts start at $89.95 which seems steep to me considering SEMRush and Ahrefs have the same functionality plus many other features for around the same price.
Soovle is kind of a silly tool that let’s you enter keywords and see the top related searches on various platforms including Google, Bing, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube and Answer.com.
This could be useful in uncovering related searches to target. This tool is 100% free to use.
SpyFu (Limited Free)
SpyFu is really a full SEO tool. That includes a keyword research section. The free plan only let’s you see the top 5 results for a keyword. Paid plans start at $44 a month.
I haven’t tried their paid plan yet, but may sometime in the next year as this seems like a really good tool at good value (similar tools run around $100 a month).
SerpWoo’s Keyword Finder (Free trial)
You are required to sign up for a free account to try this tool.
From their site:
Keyword Finder will then pull the related terms for your single keyword and then display everything for you in an easy to understand format.
Paid plans start at $49.95 a month.
Seed Keywords (Free)
Seed Keywords is an interesting tool where you create a scenario basically asking people non-leading questions about the topic you are going to cover, then you share that scenario with contacts to find out what real people would search for. They market this free tool as a way to begin the keyword research process.
SECockPit (30 day free trial)
Priced starting at $399 a year, this isn’t the cheapest tool for Keyword Research. I’m not sure if the “free 30 day trial” is actually free, as the website says “Start a risk-free account today (starts at $40)” at the top of the homepage. They do have a 30 day money back guarantee, but I’m really not a fan of trials where you need to give credit card info.
Still, this certainly looks like a good tool. I am perhaps swayed towards it as the tool is recommended by Backlinko and that site’s owner, Brian Dean, who is big in the SEO world. I would consider giving this software a try in the future.
TermExplorer (Free trial)
Their site reads:
Find the MOST Profitable Keywords. TermExplorer delivers the highest volume of relevant keywords & most actionable competative data available.
Users can create a free account and try the tool out. Pricing for the tool starts at $34 a month.
Market Samurai (free trial)
Unlike some of these other tools, Market Samurai by Noble Samurai is software you need to download. They just ask for your name and email prior to sending the download link.
I really don’t know much about this software (I haven’t tried it), but it does seem to be recommended by lots of bloggers, which is why I added it. I think their webpage and software looks dated, which makes me hesitant to even try this software. The way the webpage looks like they are selling some cheap affiliate product also turns me off of it.
SearchMetrics (Contact for a demo)
Their site reads:
As the industry moves away from a focus on keyword optimization to page optimization, SEOs must employ an integrated approach that includes keyword, page and content strategies. With Searchmetrics, you can:
Achieve complete page-based analysis and optimization
Generate an overview of all keywords associated with pages and their KPIs
Identify trends and growth potential
Use advanced filters for each page
Unfortunately, you need to contact them to get a demo.
Traffic Travis (Free download)
It’s free, it’s a download, it’s recommended by CNET, and it’s owned by Affilorama.
Honestly, this looks like it could be a really cool tool that I am excited about trying out sometime soon.
The free tool is limited compared to the premium product. For free, you get two projects, can track 30 keywords, analyze the top ranking sites for 10 keywords, and use their keyword suggestion tool to get 100 suggestions.
The pro tool ($97 a year) has additional features like competitor analysis and the ability to save reports, plus you get unlimited number of projects, keywords to track, 2,000 keyword suggestions, and an affilorama subscription.
Mondovo (7 day free trial)
Mondovo let’s you do searches for free which then show keyword suggestions, but you need a paid account to see search volume.
They also have several other features for keywords, such as a tool to see competitor’s keywords, a bulk search volume tool, a keyword generator, a keyword replacer tool, and a keyword spinner. Those are just the tools they have related to keyword research, there also is a whole host of other SEO tools, like rank checking, social analytics, web analytics, an auditor and more.
The pricing for Mondovo also is interesting, as they charge you for what you use. Keyword Research starts at $0.401 per report, which includes 500-1000 suggestions. You can read more about their pricing here.
SERPS (30 day free)
From their site:
The SERPs Keyword Research Database is a free tool that allows you to search for high-value keywords and then filter the results to build a list of relevant results.
This tool really seems to work quite well just using the free version that is available without signing up for anything. I did a few searches and it will give hundreds of related keywords and it gives the exact volume and CPC.
Enter keywords, get exact search volume, all for free!
This tool is simple, but works.
Sonar (14 day free trial)
Sonar is a keyword research tool for Amazon products. It gives volume estimates of how many people are searching for specific queries on Amazon. That info comes from their own algorithm.
I would think that data could also be useful for creating niche sites, as what people are searching for on Amazon is likely similar to what people search for on Google. There also is buying intent in those searches, making them more valuable to marketers.
SERP Stat (free)
SERP stat seems to be another full SEO service with tons of features and tools. I was surprised that it starts at just $19 a month.
Specifically for Keyword Research, their features include: collection of keywords for SEO and PPC campaigns, value of keywords, keyword variations and suggestions, longtail keywords, webpage relevance check, trends, and checking SERPs for keywords.
Among their many other features, they also have a content marketing ideation suite to give you ideas on what to write about.
RankBrain provides longtail keywords, shows Google autocomplete suggestions (or Google Auto Suggest), has search volume, PPC/CPC, and ad competition data, keyword analysis, and there are multiple regions and languages supported.
It looks like a free plan gets you access to a few of the features and paid plans start at $5 a month.
There you have it!
39 keyword research tools you can use to research keywords and phrases in 2017.
I hope you all can use them to find some awesome keywords that bring you oodles of traffic!
If you know of any other keyword research tools that should be on my list, feel free to send me a message and let me know.