Think you need dozens of tools for keyword research? Think again.
I asked 137 search marketing experts a simple question:
If you could only use 3 tools for keyword research, which 3 would you choose?
Keyword research is at the core of any SEO, PPC or content marketing campaign. If you aren't bidding on or using the right keywords, you're not serving the right content to the right audience at the right stage in the buyer journey. This means less traffic, leads, customers...and dollars.
I wanted to know which keyword research tools the experts were using to get a leg up on the competition and build profitable online marketing campaigns.
There are a ton of top 10, 20, 30...100 lists out their floating around the web. Often, after reading, you're nowhere closer to finding the best tools for your business. That's why I decided to go straight to the source and ask the experts and see if the best keyword research tool would rise to the surface...
Here are the top keyword research tools recommended by the experts...
Note: This post has been updated several times since it was originally published a couple years ago. While many responses have been updated and new ones added, there are experts below who did not respond to update their original response.
Best Tools for Keyword Research (As Voted by 137 Search Marketing Experts)
#10: KWFinder (9 votes)
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The Best Keyword Research Tool For Your Online Marketing Campaigns
Read on to discover each expert's top 3 keyword research tools.
Responses are listed in the order they were received.
#1: Luke Monaghan (Koozai)
If I had to choose three keyword research tools that I use the most regularly, I'd have to choose:
1) SEMrush - Hands down for the competitive insight. Finding what your competition are ranking for is invaluable when building out a strategy to improve organic visibility.
2) SISTRIX - Similar to SEMRush, SISTRIX is great for competitive research, it's also good to identify historical keyword performance on certain domains which is translated into client-friendly visibility chart!
3) Keywordtool.io - for the more long-tail variants of keywords identified by the above tools. SEO has moved on from just targeting an exact-match, vanity keyword, you've got to build long-tail context around such terms.
#3: Geoff Kenyon (GeoffKenyon.com)
The three tools that I use most frequently for keyword research are, KeywordTool.io, SEMrush, and Excel.
While each of these are useful tools, they all serve very different purposes. KeywordTool.io is great for discovering variations of keywords to built pages around. Frequently, I use this the most for developing content.
I will use the tool to pull in a lot of keywords related to a theme and group them into relevant topics. These topics will either become their own content page or will be combined with other topics to create a page. KeywordTool.io is similar to other tools out there such as Uber Suggest, which I've used for a long time, but it tends to produce more keywords and it provides search volume for the keywords.
SEMrush is great for competitive keyword research. If you look at the organic competitors section of the tool, it will show you who you're competing with for common keywords. You can then go in to each of those competitors and identify keywords that you might not be targeting now, but you should be.
In addition, you can dig into the paid side of search and find out what keywords your competitors are bidding on, and then leverage those keywords for your own organic benefit if you're not already doing so. Search Metrics does this as well, but I've found SEMrush to provide a greater range of keywords and they save more historical keyword data than Search Metrics.
Excel serves a couple different purposes in my keyword research projects. Most simply, I've found Excel to be one of the most effective ways to simply and actionable present keyword research data. I use Excel to create keyword mapping documents where I provide the URL along with the associated keywords, titles, etc.
I've also found Excel to be very useful when you are working with a site that offers services in different areas. Using the concatenate or & formulas, you can easily create permutations of keywords and geographic regions to generate keywords for different services and geographies served.
#4: John Doherty (Credo)
Ahrefs, SEMrush and Answer The Public.
1. Ahrefs is killer for topic research.
2. SEMrush provides me domain-level analysis for competitors.
3. Answer The Public nails question-based keyword research.
#6: Paul Shapiro (Searchwilderness.com)
I think people's aresenal of keyword research tools are mostly the same:
1) You need a tool to examine search volume, most likely Google Keyword Planner
2) A tool to help you generate more keyword ideas. Tools that work with the search engines' autosuggestions are very popular such as KeywordTool.io and Ubersuggest
3) Then people might add a tool broaden the depth of their data, maybe including something like Google Trends or Moz's Keyword Difficulty tool.
Instead of focusing on the 3 tools that everyone needs to cover these important bases, I'll give you my top 3 keyword research tools that you need to go above-and-beyond what everyone else is doing:
1) KNIME - if you want a very open-ended tool that can be used to do all sorts of keyword analysis. It was the focus of my BrightonSEO 2015 talk on doing better semantic keyword research.
2) MarketMuse - This is a tool that's just taking off, but it's AMAZING. It basiciall crawl your website and/or your competitors' website and find keyword gaps using pretty sophisiticated topic modeling algorithims. It works extremely well.
3) Seed Keywords - Sometimes your keyword research needs a human element and you should be asking your consumer audience how they would search for something. Seed Keywords helps you create a small survey and get that feedback.
#8: Chris Dreyer (Rankings.io)
If I was limited to three tools for keyword research, I would use the following:
1) Ahrefs keywords Explorer: We use Ahrefs extensively for link tracking and analysis and their Keywords Explorer is also a useful feature. You can see all of the usual important metrics (search volume, competitiveness, traffic potential, and LSI keywords).
The features that make this stand out are the SERP overview and SERP position history. These reports give you a snapshot of how a site is doing in search for a particular keyword phrase compared with competing domains.
2) SEMrush: Much of our reporting is done out of SEMrush and its Keyword Analytics tool. If you are also doing keyword research for PPC this is a great tool. You can get all the info related to organic search and in addition stuff about ad history and other metrics important to PPC.
3) Search Console (Webmaster Tools): I believe Search Console is overlooked a lot because it’s a free tool provided by Google. Site owners and SEOs that aren’t using this on a regular basis are short changing themselves. There is a wealth of information related to keywords that people are actually using to find your site on this platform.
If you can’t afford using one of the paid solutions out there, this is a perfectly useful alternative. It can help you see what you’re ranking for (and what you’re not ranking for), what pages are associated with which keywords, and your SERP position. All the basics that can help give guidance to your SEO strategy.
#9. Adam Connell (bloggingwizard.com)
1) Ahrefs - These guys have an incredible keyword research tool. You can get great suggestions with this tool and some data that I haven’t seen in other tools - for example, you can see the percentage of searches that click (or don’t click) on search results along with return rate etc.
Ahrefs also supports competitor-based keyword research - type in a domain and see what keywords it ranks for.
However, this is much more than a keyword research tool - it’s a complete SEO research tool. And the fact that it has a huge backlink database makes it even more useful.
2) KWFinder - This is my go-to tool for quick stints of KW research, particularly for using Google’s autocomplete and coming up with question based keyword ideas. It’s got a really slick interface and one click SERP analysis.
3) AnswerThePublic – I mainly use the two tools above for KW research but this deserves a special mention. Type in a seed keyword phrase and it’ll spit out a bunch of relevant questions.
Great way to come up with blog post ideas on the fly. Compared to the above tools, this is a bit of a toy but it’s free so it’s an awesome way to get started without using a paid tool.
#10. Rich Missey (cars.com)
If I were restricted to three tools, they'd be SEMrush, Ubersuggest, and an internal database.
SEMrush is my go-to for organic landscape keyword research. This is where I start to get a pulse on owned domain rankings, competitor rankings, and adjacent business rankings. It also gives me a ballpark of how competitive a phrase/group of phrases/topic appear to be and how much effort it may take to break into the page 1 landscape.
Ubersuggest is a good place to make me get out of my own head. This is where I go to set aside my own predispositions & expectations and see what else pops into the list. I'll find regional term differences, slang, and get an idea where I'm sinking into technobabble hell.
Once I have a list of phrases, rankings, and volumes from these tools, I'll look to internal tools (maybe Excel, Access, or another database) to organize, classify, and forecast opportunity. This is where I'll estimate a competitor's traffic based on volume & position CTR, set goals for a target position, and estimate traffic based off that position's CTR and keyword volume.
#11. Charlie Williams (ScreamingFrog)
1) Google Search Console: One of my favorite keyword sources is the variety of terms you already rank for. There are potentially thousands of interesting angles within your key topics to consider (especially if you use the API), plus Google already thinks you are relevant!
2) Competition analysis: I want to know what the entire potential search market is for my site. And to do that, I need to see what the rest of the market targets, and how the public finds them.
There’s a host of excellent tools for analysing your competition like this; take your pick from Ahrefs, Searchmetrics, Infinite Suggest, Sistrix, STAT, PiDatametrics and more.
As a bonus, they’ll give you plenty of context for your keywords, such as difficulty or if a rich snippet appears.
3) Something to scrape Google suggest: Finally, one of my biggest sources of inspiration is finding the common ways your audience searches within your niche through Google’s (or Bing’s, or Amazon’s) suggested answers.
Some of the best tools I’ve found for this are Infinite Suggest, AnswerThePublic and KeywordTool.io.
There’s plenty of other fantastic tools where you can put in a subject and know you’ll get a great spread of ideas.
Some of my other faves are SEOmonitor’s Topic Explorer and KeywordShitter (sorry about the name…) with the Keywords Everywhere Chrome extension installed.
#12. Christine Churchill (keyrelevance.com)
I am a big proponent of using multiple keyword tools and using them synergistically. For example I might take keywords from the Google Keyword Planner or SEMRush and run a few of the top terms into Google Trends to check out seasonality and trend lines.
I also warn people to never just take keywords out of a tool and implement them directly without reviewing them. Over the years I have seen people do some crazy things like take output from the Google tool and dumping them into their PPC campaigns with disastrous results. Scary but true!
My top favorite keyword tools (outside of the Google Planner tool and using your brain) that most people overlook are:
1. Google Trends – Provides years of historical trend data straight from the source.
2.) SEMrush – Fast, efficient results. I like the competitive insights it provides and the site audit information.
3. Ahref’s Keyword Explorer – Provides a useful cross-section of trend and competitive data. Unlike Google’s Keyword planner (which is more of a PPC tool), Ahref’s tool provides an SEO estimate of keyword ranking difficulty.
#13. Everett Sizemore
#14. Melissa Fach (Pubcon)
The SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool
SEMrush Keyword Research
SEMrush Keyword Competitors report
#15. Ian Cleary (Razor Social)
1) Inboundwriter - Inboundwriter helps at the ideation phase. I enter in my proposed title for a post and Inboundwriter will indicate how likely it is that I will rank on Google for these keywords. It will also tell me the related keywords that I should consider in my content.
2) SEMrush - Find out what keywords your competitor is ranking on so you can create better content and take some of your competitors traffic.
3) Google Keyword Planner - Find out an estimate of searches for particular keywords. Not always accurate but useful to review alongside the other tools.
#19. Kevin Indig (kevin-indig.com)
I like Wikipedia, Ahrefs/SEMrush, and Veescore.
Why? Because traditional keyword research is pretty much dead. Instead, I try to understand what's important about a topic, what the related sub-topics are, and what search volume on other platforms like Youtube looks like.
Thus, I like this setup of Wikipedia (if you can take a manual look), keyword tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush, and a YouTube keyword tool like Veescore.
#20. Georgi Todorov (Digitalnovas)
1) SEMrush - that's an awesome tool. I love their Keyword Magic Tool, it helps me check keywords per country.
2) Ahrefs - Ahrefs is great for finding low-hanging fruits. I use it to find blogs with lower authority that rank for some high volume keywords. Next step is to create a similar piece of content.
#21. Ilan Shabad (One Egg)
1) SEMrush - I normally start my keywords research with SEMrush by extracting keywords from the client's website and several of their competitors.
2) Google Keywords Planner - I use this to help expand my initial keyword list & generate additional keyword themes. I will also pull the monthly search volume & avg. CPC per target GEO.
3) Ahrefs Keywords Explorer - I use this tool for the keyword difficulty score, search volume & SERP export for each keyword to help eventuate the off-page competition.
#22. Erin Munson (Launch That)
SEMrush - This one is probably my favorite. I feel like there are so many different tools within SEMrush that I rarely need to use anything else. The only thing I don't really like is that the results you get between the Keyword Overview Tool and the Keyword Magic Tool don't always match up with each other.
However, the Keyword Magic Tool is still in Beta, so maybe that's something they're working on. Just take it with a grain of salt, I guess.
Ahrefs - When I want a second opinion on something or want to use some different tools, that's when I come to Ahrefs. I also really like Ahrefs for keeping track of which featured snippets you have and which ones your competitors have that you might want to go after.
Ryte - This site used to be called OnPage but now is Ryte.com. It's a German company so I feel like a lot of American SEOs that I talk to haven't heard of it. As with most sites, the generic version of their tool is free or you can pay for the pro version.
I just have the free version right now so I don't know all that the pro one can do. But even the free version has A LOT of tools you can use, I haven't even figured them all out yet. But one that I have used is their Content Optimizer. You can take a new or existing content piece of yours, and compare it to one of your competitor's pieces on a similar topic, and see where you might be lacking based on the keywords that are used in each piece.
The first time the site analyzes your site, it will take a while (could take several hours according to them), so make sure you leave time for that. But after that, it automatically tracks information about your site and you don't have to do that long analysis again.
#23. Brendan Hufford (Clique Studios)
If I only had 3 keyword research tools, I'd use tools that focus more on topical research and search intent instead of "keywords."
The best content ranks for thousands of keywords and we're seeing more content that seems to be written to nail a top keyword, but totally misses the long tail. Also, simply doing the research and putting the keywords (and related keywords) in the right places won't help you rank if you don't match the search intent.
We recently wrote about digital marketing and produced a 6k word article about how we teach it as instructors at the University of Chicago. But, no matter how many links we build to it, it'd never rank. When you look at the intent of that search, people want a quick bullet-point list and our epic manifesto wasn't matching.
The tool that I've found to be best for that effort is Ahrefs. I use it to look at content that's held consistent rankings over past updates, reverse engineer what it ranks for, and then I spend the rest of the time using my favorite SEO tool (my brain) to analyze it for levels of search intent (link to image that shows it:
Other tools that smart folks like John-Henry Scherk have recommended to me to continue building better content are Market Muse and Clearscope.
#24. Jacob King (jacobking.com)
1) Google Keyword Tool - still calling it tool, not buying into their Adwords keyword planner BS
3) Excel and then Scrapebox keyword scraper for some suggestions merging prefixes and suffixes too
#25. Andrea Lehr (Fractl)
1. SEMrush: This is a staple for most of the SEO world and for good reason - I use it for everything from keyword research and analysis to competitive audits in hopes of finding new opportunities to rank.
2. BuzzSumo: It's one of the first tools I use for content ideation, but it's also great in revealing what your target influencers are already sharing.
3. Buzzstream: Outreach is a huge part of SEO because it's what gets your content links. Their platform helps me organize my campaigns while also keeping track of any influencer relationships--an essential ingredient to generate high-quality links.
#26. Eli Schwartz
Ahrefs is my favorite tool for getting a sense of what keywords my competitors rank for, how long they have ranked, and finding general keyword ideas.
Rank Ranger for really drilling into search console to see what keywords are performing for the site.
The Google Keyword Planner - is my all around most trusted source for relative traffic data on keywords.
#27. James Norquay (Prosperity Media)
Great tools for keyword research in 2018:
1. SEMrush - Great tool for PPC & SEO Analysis.
2. Ahrefs - Has provide great additional data in he last year with the tool. The data set they have is growing daily for Keywords.
3. Keyword Keg - Another great tool for doing analysis on top search terms.
4. Keywords everywhere chrome plugin - great tool for looking at auto suggest search terms.
#28. Kristi Hines, Freelance Writer
My favorite three keyword research tools are Google AdWords Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, and HitTail.
1) Google AdWords Keyword Tool allows you to export up to 800 suggestions for most seed keywords and phrases. You can then use them to optimize your main business pages as well as come up with great topic ideas.
2) Ubersuggest shows you what Google suggests when you start typing in keywords. These suggestions can point you to some great long-tail keyword phrases and content ideas.
3) HitTail connects with your Google Webmaster Tools to help you find the (not provided) keywords that people are searching to find your site - keywords you may not be using as much as you should.
#31. Connor Wrenn (SEO @ Bankrate Inc.)
SEMrush: Outside of GSC, this is the handiest tool for keyword prospecting at a reasonable price. Now, if only they could brush up their backlink profiler...
Ahrefs: The index I trust most for backlink research. Plus, the keyword tracking here is getting better every day, even though you have to pay more to get full access to it (in that sense, SEMRush will continue to kick its butt). SERP snapshots and featured snippet reports are a big plus here.
NetPeak: You've got to have a crawler tool in there somewhere, and I know enough folks will already vote for Screaming Frog (as they should). However, I don't see NetPeak getting a lot of love, and it should.
For starters, NetPeak reports on over 60 issues across 50 different parameters, and it prioritizes those issues for you, making is easy to deliver the most important insights at the beginning of a campaign. It's in-app filtering capabilities are also very flexible; I can easily generate custom report before I have to export anything into Excel.
And those are just the unique features; it has a lot of the same options you expect out of Screaming Frog, like custom search, custom user agent, and other crawler customizations.
1) Google Keyword Planner - There is no better tool for giving somewhat accurate data and ideas. Especially when it comes to local keyword research. Being able to look at a broad keyword like "lawyer" and then narrow the search field to a specific city or market is one of the best uses that only this tool can provide.
2) SEMrush - This tool offers fantastic competitive research around domains to find what keywords could be driving traffic for your competitors. Looking at paid keywords ad spend can also help you know which keywords might have monetary value worth pursuing organically. If a competitor is willing to spend a high ad budget on terms and you think they do a good job running their ad campaign, then its a good indication it is worth organic ranking effort.
3) BuzzSumo - This tool can allow you to take a keyword or concept you are interested in and see what type of content has performed the best around social and link building on the subject. I find this tool to be incredibly useful for finding what type content people seem to care about for specific keywords.
#33. Mark Preston (Mark Preston SEO)
1. Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
I have tested every keyword tool going over my 20 year career in this industry and I personally prefer Ahrefs as it gives me an accurate view on the real traffic potential by using the data to make a simple calculation.
It may seem strange but I like Answer The Public as it gives me an insight into the industry by researching what questions are being asked within each niche. I can then run a tailored campaign.
3. Google Trends
In every single one of my SEO training sessions. Every single time I demonstrate Google Trends, it creates a light-bulb moment as most people realise they are targeting the wrong audience. So many things can be gained by using Google Trends during the keyword research.
#34. Bill Sebald (Green Lane SEO)
We use Keyword Planner of course (#1). But we're also very fond of Grepwords (#2) and a few Google Suggest tools (choosing the one that best fits the client needs at the moment (#3); our list is here. I'm very fond of Grepwords' extensions for giving search metrics on tools like Ubersuggest.
I use multiple keyword research tools at the same time, for a few reasons. They work to cross-check each other using their different databases. Each offers something a little different, giving me insights the others don’t.
I use Ahrefs to find ideas for keywords to add into content, and content to create around keyword opportunities. I like how Ahrefs shows keyword difficulty, search volume, traffic potential (how much organic search traffic it’s possible to get when you rank #1 for a parent topic keyword) and lets you group keywords together to create lists. It’s really useful.
But, I also use SEMrush - it has the largest keyword database on the market (9.4 billion keywords and counting) and is my go-to for inspiration and brainstorming content strategies.
And finally, I use Moz to track keyword rankings and compare them with Ahrefs, Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. The three together give me a crystal-clear picture of what people are searching for, and which terms are ripe to leverage for maximum results.
If I only used one of them, my strategies wouldn’t be nearly as effective.
#36. Jesus Meca (Real Focus Marketing)
3) Keyword Researcher Pro (best auto-complete I've found so far).
#39. Kevin Cotch (TopRank Marketing)
If I could only use three tools for keyword research I would use SEMrush, AdWords Keyword Planner, and AnswerThePublic.
SEMrush does a good job providing search volume and keyword difficulty metrics for competitive keywords.
I use the AdWords Keyword Planner for long-to-medium tail keyword phrases that SEMrush doesn't have in its database yet.
The last tool I use for keyword research is AnswerThePublic to find more long-tail keyword phrases that people are actually searching on Google.
#40. Larry Kim (WordStream)
Like countless others, I still use Google Keyword Planner for keyword research in SEO. Google is the one with the vast majority of the search data, so even after all these years, they're still the best place to go to find high-level keyword data.
Once you have all of these great keyword ideas though, how do you prioritize them? I use the secret formula you can find under #3 here (well, it was secret until I shared it with my readers) to assign an actual value to each keyword phrase, factoring in search volume, competition and suggested bids.
Once I have all of this insight in hand, I head over to BuzzSumo to see what angles and headlines are working really well on any given keyword topic. It helps you to see what's already been done, so you can make sure your take on it is unique and interesting.
#41. Cyrus Shepard (cyrusshepard.com)
#42. William Harris (Elumynt)
From an SEO perspective, my favorite tool is Ahrefs. I love the way it presents the data, shows the volume for many platforms including YouTube, and organizes it in a way that I personally find very useful.
My second must-have keyword tool is the Google Keyword Planner. It's not meant for SEO, but it can be a powerful tool if you know how to use it.
If you want to know what Google thinks is associated, how much people are paying to show up for those keywords, etc. then it helps to go straight to the source.
My final one is BuzzSumo. It's not a "keyword" tool in the traditional way, but it can help me figure out what other sites are doing, if those blog articles are getting a lot of shares, and really frame things in the form a question.
#43. Gabriella Sannino (Level343)
We use a lot of tools for keyword research, up to and including good old fashion competitive research, but if I had to narrow it down to three, I'd say Google Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool.io and Ahrefs, in no particular order.
Google Keyword Planner is great for finding a starting keyword bucket and estimated cost for PPC campaigns
Keyword Tool.io also helps with building a keyword bucket and estimated traffic.
Google Keyword Planner and Keyword Tool.io are the "big picture" tools - gives you a good starting point. Ahrefs takes those bucket terms (and helps you find more) and gives you the close up view. Keyword Difficulty, for example, is a very useful metric to review when choosing similar terms.
We always start with manual digging, but by the end of the keyword list, we've used these tools the most.
#44. Josh Laughtlan (jtree.net)
If I could only use 3 tools for organic keyphrase research (what a glorious world it would be) my 3 punch keyphrase research combo would be Google Autocomplete, Keyword Planner and AuthorityLabs Now Provided reports.
Given you have a good idea of where to start and are fairly confident you are speaking the same language as your client, jump start research by generating related keyphrases and long tail variants with the ever so easy to use Google Autocomplete. This tool makes predictions based on what you are typing that are a reflection of Google search activity.
Google's Keyword Planner can then be used to pull historical search volume for any newly discovered Autocomplete phrases in addition to conducting further keyphrase research.
AuthorityLabs Now Provided reports deliver the final blow of the combo by identifying keyphrases classified as "not provided" by Google (AKA hidden) that already send traffic to the site. This process also helps identify new keyphrases to send back to Autocomplete and Keyword Planner for further research.
#47. Shane Barker (Shane Barker Consulting)
1. SEMrush - Very intuitive and by far the best tool to research competitor keywords. Great for finding keywords you’re not currently targeting, but should be.
2. Google Keyword Planner - It gives excellent keyword ideas and also detailed traffic estimates, which can be useful for understanding the value each keyword might be to you.
3. Wordtracker - It’s very easy to use, helps discover great ideas for longtail keywords for search engines besides Google (Amazon, Bing, the App Store, etc.)
#48. Harris Schachter (Optimize Prime)
It's hard to boil it down to just 3 keyword tools, so instead I'll describe 3 categories of resources.
1. The first is the literal keyword tools, my favorites include BrightEdge's Data Cube, Wordstream, Ubersuggest and others. These tools give you the actual search phrases, either with or without search volume.
2. The second category are keyword tools based on the competition. One of the first things to determine is not only who the business competitors are, but who the SEO competitors are. Keyword research can be done by simply doing research on high-performing competitors. Some of my favorite domain-based keyword tools are SEMrush, SpyFu, and BrightEdge's Data Cube.
3. Finally, there's just good old research through trends and news. Google Trends, keeping up on industry news of the business, and even newsjacking (if there are relevant topics). These all require different resources depending on the business, but once you find the leaders in their news you can not only leverage them for keyword research but also glean insights into how you can become an industry leader yourself (and dominate SEO).
#51. Alan Silvestri (Growth Gorilla)
1) Ahrefs: This is my main keyword research tool and hub. I use it to gather keyword data, gauge the difficulty and competition, and keyword tracking.
2) Keyword Shitter: I LOVE the name and it’s a super simple, free and easy tool to get all of the Google suggest keywords.
3) Google: This is pretty straight forward but it’s the main reason I like it. I search for my main seed keyword in Google, and use the keywords that Google itself highlights in bold on the search results, plus the “Searches related to” section at the bottom to get keyword variations or LSI. That’s basically what Google is telling you that topic is about. No need for a thousands other tools. I use these to optimize the on page of my target pages as well.
#53. Maggie Cerciello (SEER Interactive)
I use Infinite Suggest as a staple for any keyword research. The tool pulls in related searches for each query, and it allows me to go down the rabbit hole and get as specific as I can. The end result is a well-rounded keyword set that uncovers relevant queries and topics that I didn't know of before!
I also rely on SEMrush's Keyword Magic Tool. It strings together queries to uncover both head terms and valuable long tail queries. This is a wonderful tool especially for exploring topic clusters.
#54. Dave Michaels (Sage Groove)
My priorities in keyword research:
*Getting a clean list of relevant long-tail keywords for niche content topics, low competition keywords, and stronger semantic SEO.
*Getting accurate search volumes and keyword difficulty.
1. KWFinder: I’m impressed with KWFinder. They get their keyword data from Google (as well as Moz and Majestic). The recommendations are all solid and include separate keyword types (most notably questions) with associated search volume and a robust Keyword Difficulty ranking. Covers local and international markets.
2. LSI Graph: LSI Graph is free and easy to use. It provides latent semantic indexing keywords to support your focus keyword. It’s also helpful for generating new ideas for content.
3. Adwords Keyword Planner: I always like checking Keyword Planner to confirm search volumes and it’s a good alternative for finding competitor keywords.
#55. Tom Demers (Measured SEM)
If I had to stick to three I'd opt for Ahrefs, Google's Keyword Planner, and Google.com.
Personally I like the difficulty scores from Ahrefs and have been using their "Keyword Explorer" more recently to put difficulty data next to terms.
I use Google's Keyword Planner frequently to get additional ideas and volume estimates.
I use Google.com to see the search suggestions that are returned, related searches, and "People Also Ask" features to get an idea of other terms and topics that Google finds relevant (and likely that they know are being searched for) related to a core topic.
#56. Brian Lang (Web Developers Etc)
Google tools (Keyword planner will show the main keywords worth targeting and webmaster tools will show keyword data from your site).
Forums / communities (because they're a great place to see what topics people are talking about).
SEMrush (shows competitor keywords that are driving traffic to their sites).
#57. Tadeusz Szewczyk (OnReact)
Google Trends - The data is meant to be used by real people not marketers. It's a bit vague but uncensored and not meant to drive sales of Google Adwords. It lets me see whether a keyword has a downwards curve over the years or seasonal ups and downs.
SEMrush - They give a quick overview of what a keyword is all about in a larger context with some ready-made insights into potential combinations and competition.
Ubersuggest - It allows me to get lots of relevant keyword phrases without a lot of fuss. I just need to pick the most accurate from then on and find some common sense combinations.
After I used those I just have to test the list I got with Google Keyword Planner and find out whether they really is demand for them. The job is almost done.
#59. Brian Jackson (Kinsta)
If I could only use three tools for keyword research they would be the following:
1) Ahrefs to quickly see “the big picture” when it comes to any keyword I'm researching. I can instantly see the top holders in the SERPs. I then immediately take the top holders list and go check out their sites. I need to make sure I can beat them content-wise, otherwise I will search for another keyword to try and rank for, or perhaps go down the long-tail route. The Ahrefs tool and data quality get better and better every year. It's one of my favorite tools.
2) SEMrush is my go-to tool for any PPC keyword research. Being able to see ad history or what a competitor is doing on their paid campaigns is priceless when it comes to generating new ideas. The keyword difficulty estimation in SEMrush in my opinion is probably one of the most accurate.
3) KWFinder is one of the "newer" kids on the block, but it's probably just about the easiest way I have found to find new long-tail keywords quickly. A couple of things I like about this tool is that it allows me to create lists of keywords. So I can group up my different sites by lists and revisit them at a later date. I can export the data to CSV and start building out campaigns. It also keeps a nice scrolling list of the last 20+ keywords you have looked up. The SEO difficulty indicator comes in very handy as well! As far as ease of use goes, KWFinder wins hands down.
#60. Aaron Agius (Louder Online)
#61. Emily Yost (SuperScript Marketing)
1) Ahrefs - Great tool for competitor research and content gap analysis. I also find the KD score very useful, as it's based on a domain's backlink profile.
2) Google Search Console - I think a lot of SEOs overlook the power of GSC keyword data. I regularly dig through GSC for KWs with high impressions but very low CTR - this gives great insight for gaps in your KW targeting.
3) Ubersuggest - An oldie but a goodie, UberSuggest is my go-to for longtail KW discovery (bonus: it's also wildly entertaining to see what some people have search for).
#62. Loz James (Content Champion)
It’s easy to get sidetracked with all the great keyword research tools available, but I always find myself coming back to the same three:
1) Google Keyword Planner
2) Market Samurai
The last two on this shortlist are paid tools - so going the Google route is a good idea if you’re just starting out.
There’s a load you can achieve with the keyword planner, but I just like to cross check across a few tools to achieve the best results.
#63. Andrew Shotland (Local SEO Guide)
#65. Sam McRoberts (Vudu Marketing)
#70. Sam Hurley (Optim-Eyez)
LongTail Pro — Awesome for uncovering hidden keyword gems otherwise overlooked. Includes plenty of comparable metrics. Great for article topic planning.
Scrapebox — Great to use in combination with LongTail pro and other tools. Collect masses of 'Google Suggest' queries at once! (And it still feels kind of 'hacky'. In a good way!)
SEMRush — Needs no intro 🙂 Beautiful interface and highly intuitive with tonnes of competitor analysis. Very large keyword data set used by millions.
#71. Joshua Hardwick (The SEO Project)
1) Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
2) Google Trends
3) Answer The Public
#73. Bob Gladstein (Overdrive Interactive)
1. AdWords Keyword Planner - It's still the standard, although Google keeps making changes that just aren't helpful. I get that they want us to treat closely-related keywords in such a way that we're not creating multiple pages when we should just have one, but I'd appreciate it if they'd still break down the volume for each keyword that makes up a group (or at least list the keywords they're clumping together into a group).
They also seem to be getting this wrong often enough that I've got less confidence that the keywords that make up these groups really belong there. I recently tried to check the volume for the keyword [active monitoring] (the practice of checking on a network by injecting test traffic and seeing how it's handled, as opposed to passive monitoring) and the Keyword Planner gave me the volume for [activity monitor] (aka Fitbit).
2. Answer the Public - very useful for discovering long-tail searches, especially if you're building a FAQ section or targeting quick answers.
3. Ahrefs - I've only recently started using ahrefs for keyword research, but I'm liking it so far, especially when it gives me data on keywords that Google insists on changing on me.
4. (Bonus) Google Search Console's Search Analytics Report (or "Performance" in the new GSC) - Great for finding queries that are getting you impressions, but not clicks, or queries you only get impressions for when they're branded.
#74. Tahmid Jawad (Salient Marketing)
1. Google Keyword Planner - Simple yet the most powerful tool for keyword research.
2. AgencyAnalytics - Keywords ranking monitoring plus search volume both present in a single place.
3. Google Webmaster - Search Queries.
#75. Jordan Kasteler (Hennessey Consulting)
1) Moz Explorer - great for finding questions related to topics.
2) Google Keyword Planner - great for finding what people are willing to pay for those keywords.
3) Keyword.io - great for finding longtail keywords
#76. Joe Howard (WPBuffs)
BuzzSumo: Seeing what kind of content has been performing well over the past week, month or year is essential to predict what kind of content will attract traffic in the future. BuzzSumo does just this, and gives me other essential social and traffic data as well to inform our content decisions. Very slick.
SEMrush: I like to check out the content my competitors publish and see where they're winning links from so I can see if I can get some of my own. SEMrush makes this super simple, and their export function allows me to play with the data as much as I want. Awesome.
Mozbar: This is a great tool for keyword research! In Google search results, you can see the DA of every website listed and find searches without a lot of competition. Great for finding low-hanging fruit and areas for SEO gain. We use it regularly to find keyword opportunities for our content team. Boom!
#77. Nate Oulman (Real Estate Sandpoint)
All three of these tools in 2019 will help you get ahead of your competition
1) Ahrefs - I love there style, function and how I can break down any competitor website profile.
2) SEMRush - Pricing is not bad, and they have really upgraded the backend over the last few years.
3) Moz - Awesome link profile structure and shows a more realistic DA the incoming domains have.
#78. Kurt Frankenberg (shoestring101.com)
Because I run several local businesses and help others to promote theirs, my first, second and third SEO tool is a little off the beaten track:
It's actual human interaction, plus a yellow pad to jot down responses. Let's take for example the little screen repair company I founded as a 30 Day Challenge over on Shoestring101. At first I just wanted to make a business with my 14 year old to show him no one needs to give you a job...you can MAKE a job.
So we started with physical signs and free listings in local directories.
But once we got some actual paying customers we started asking them how THEY might go about finding us if they had used the internet.
So far, "repair screen door" and "repair window screens" is the top response.
These can be further refined by asking customers that already found us, HOW they found us.
In the phone script that I use to close local leads, one of the questions is, "How did you find out about us?" If the answer is "internet", which it almost always is...the followup questions are "what search engine did you use?" and "what keywords did you enter?"
It's these, actual-paying-customer-generated keywords that have been most useful. Better than Market Samurai, better than any Google tool, whatever they're calling it now 😉
Thanks for asking, Robbie! I wouldn't want to tell you that my SEO first, second and third tool was effective without offering compelling proof, so here it is:
If you type in "hack local seo" into Google, you'll find my landmark post, 7 Ways to Hack Local Search SEO for a Free Front Page Listing. In that post I show how I get unlimited leads for my screen repair company and my martial arts studio. See, after getting the right keywords, ya gotta know what to do with 'em.
#79. Joe Williams (Tribe SEO)
1) Keywords Everywhere: a free Chrome plugin that injects keyword search volume data into free Google Keyword Planner accounts, it also gives search volumes for my Google searches and has a nifty bulk upload search volume feature.
2) SEMrush: the daddy keyword research tool for competitor keyword research. It's worth checking out the Guru subscription plan which has historical keyword data and Google positions as far back as January 2012 and this comes in handy when trying to work out when a search engine penalty happened for a potential client.
3) Ahrefs: probably my favorite all-in-one SEO tool and they are edging closer to overtaking SEMRush as my preferred keyword research tool of choice as well. It has just about everything you need from competitive keyword research, a vast database of keywords and accurate search volumes.
#80. David Schneider (Ninja Outreach)
1) Long Tail Pro: This is the case primarily if I am looking to build a niche site. I don't build niche sites anymore and am no longer a user of LTP, but I do think it is a great software and have no problem recommending it.
2) Google's Adword Keyword Planner: Again this isn't something I would go to often BUT it is free and if I am just looking to get an idea of the volume, since in many cases that is the key metric for me, I would probably go here.
3. Ninja Outreach: Full disclosure this is my own tool, and it is actually an outreach tool, so you may be wondering how it plays into Keyword Research. The fact is there are quite a few data points that NinjaOutreach gets for me that I find useful in keyword research, such as the articles that are ranking for the keyword in Google, their domain authority, their page authority, the number of backlinks they have, and other social and contact data. It's pretty valuable stuff, especially if there is going to be an outreach campaign tied into the keyword research. I wrote a great article with Jake from LTP showing the combination of the two tools.
#83. Ariel Kozicki (Wpromote)
#84. Hamish Elley-Brown (Online Republic)
#85. Ryon Flack (Bruce Clay, Inc.)
1) AdWords Keyword Planner – It is always best to get data directly from the source. Also, Google's data tends to be more comprehensive and precise/accurate.
2) Search Console – GSC is a great source for keywords once your site has been live for a while. This is also one of the few good sources for long tail keywords.
3) Bing Ads Intelligence – This tool is useful for harvesting keyword data. You can often compare it with Google’s and one big advantage is that it can integrate directly into Excel.
#87. Saurabh Bisht (Yellow Pages)
1) SEMrush - I believe that among all the 3rd party software, SEMrush has the largest keyword database. Their search volume data is pretty accurate and aligns with the Google keyword planner. Also, based on the type of content that needs to be produced (i.e. informational, transactional, etc.), one can utilize different filtering options available in it.
2) Ahrefs - This is my go-to tool to check if the given keyword performs better for organic results or PPC and whether that search translates to any clicks. It also shows the keyword volume share among different countries. This really helps in deciding if you are targetting the right country, especially for an affiliate or e-commerce site.
3) Keyword Everywhere - Works best when some manual research is required using google auto-suggest. It provides 'Related Keywords' and 'People also search for' terms right next to the Google SERP results and gives the search volume on the fly in Google auto-suggest box.
#88. Jason Acunzo (sorryformarketing.com)
I actually don't use any keyword tools aside from Google Trends, but only rarely do I even use that. I try to talk to many of our target audience members (entrepreneurs) as I can. I attend events, I have phone calls, I sit next to them while working. Generally speaking, I think it's a waste of time to START with keyword tools instead of actual customers. Yes, you can target people in broad swaths and get a high level sense for what's interesting and trending, but at least in the case of our business at NextView Ventures, it's way more powerful to talk to actual "customers" you serve.
#89. Lisa Barone (overit.com)
Can't go wrong with the Google Keyword tool, SEMRush and Google Trends. The Keyword tool for volume estimates, SEMRush to see what keywords competitors are ranking for/targeting, and Google Trends to make sure the traffic is actually coming from countries I'm trying to target. Gives a relatively accurate picture of when to expect traffic spikes and seasonality insight.
#90. David Arrington (Profit Pursuits)
1) If you don't have a budget you can still learn some useful information with the Google Keyword Planner. In addition to the search traffic for your list of keywords, take a look at the trends to see what's likely to remain popular in the future.
Next, take note of the Adwords competition and bid price. If people are bidding on the keyword there's a better chance of converting people to your list or products. The related keywords tool is also great to get alternative ideas. Finally, plug your top keywords into Google to spy on the competition and see the total number of results.
2) If you have some budget it's hard to beat SEMRush. You get a full keyword research suite and competitive intelligence tool in one convenient package. Check out Robbie's in-depth guide to learn how to get every ounce of functionality out of this tool.
3) For a simple interface that still packs in all the important data, go with Long Tail Pro. I especially like the keyword competitiveness feature, and the ability to check for keyword title competition. This goes deeper than just listing the total search results, allowing you to see how many people have specifically targeted your keyword.
#91. Venchito Tampon (Digital Philipines)
3) Google (Related Search Suggestions feature)
#92. James Richardson (Optimising)
1. Ahrefs: Solid data for the Australian market (Which is sometimes difficult to get)
2. Google Keyword Planner: Standard.
3. Phone: We find the best way to do keyword research is to really get to know the business either by phone, or in person. Sometimes you can get some gems out of them that you would not otherwise think of sitting in front of your keyboard.
4. SEMrush: I'm a little late to the party but its hard to beat SEMrush for a great multi purpose tool. I've only just started using this more regularly and been loving it.
#93. Joseph Morales (The Marketing Joe)
If I had to use only 3 keyword research tools, I'd use the following.
1) Keywordtool.io (fantastic tool for auto suggest on Google)
2) Soovle. It's a little unconventional and kinda archaic looking, but a fantastic tool that pulls keywords from various search engines.
3) SEMrush. Another fantastic tool with so much available at your fingertips, you won't want to leave. Ha!
#94. Kevin Gamache (Boise Search Strategist)
#95. Patrick Coombe (Elite Search Strategies)
I use 1 and only 1 tool for keyword research: Google Keyword Planner. I've never seen the use for any other tool. They all seem to confuse things and most of them get the data from GKP anyway. There are a few good ones on the market, but I really just don't have the need for more than one keyword research tool.
#97. Jacob Wulff (Thrive Internet Marketing Agency)
1) AdWords Keyword Planner is the clear front runner, but may prove limited in terms of data.
2) SpyFu is also a serious contender as it provides a slew of competitor keyword data to analyze.
3) KeywordTool.io which is both affordable and provides many metrics that Google's option doesn't include.
#98. Carina Parry-Stevens (Fast Web Media)
If I could only use 3 tools for keyword research, it wouldn't be a difficult decision for me to make.
The first one is Google Adwords Keyword Planner - it's the king of keyword research tools as far as I'm concerned. The downside is, you have to have put at least one PPC campaign live to use it.
Keywordtool.io is good for generating keyword ideas to target. It's not the most accurate in terms of search volume, but great for maximizing a blend of keywords in your SEO copy.
A more recent tool I've come to really rate is SEMRush's Keyword Magic Tool. I like the fact you can build lists, the search volume seems accurate and the keyword difficulty rating is particularly useful.
#99. Jason Mun (Bespoke)
KeywordTool.io - Great tool to get suggests data along with monthly search volumes FAST - Ability to get question based queries easily for content ideas as well.
SEMrush - Great for gathering keyword ideas of competitors. Love the Domain vs Domain feature where you can find common intersect keywords between websites.
Their Keyword Magic tool is fantastic. Great features and one-click to get question based content ideas.
Ahrefs - Their keyword explorer is also awesome. A great tool to analyse a specific keyword and get semantically relevant keywords from a seed keyword - Content explorer within Ahrefs is another of my favourite when planning content for clients. I can use this to see high performing articles and analyse what keywords they are ranking for.
#100. Jignesh Gohel (olbuz.com)
By considering the latest enhancement in SEO industry, we really need to take care of various points while doing keyword research.
For example, mobile traffic, voice search queries, local business related queries (near me) and search intent. Here if we choose the keywords based on its difficulty and volume, chances are there, we may miss some great opportunities.
My strategy is very simple, I generally use a combination of tools to filter out keywords + manual analysis from the Google search result data.
If I have to name the 3 keyword research tools, I would include:
1. Google Keyword Planner
3. Ahrefs and Ubersuggest (tie)
#102. Stoney deGeyter (Pole Position Marketing)
- Google Adwords Keyword Planner for keyword ideas
- Keyword Explorer for discovery and data
- Microsoft Excel for data organization, filtering etc.
#104. Carrie Hill (Ignitor Digital)
I've actually stopped using keyword tools for the most part.
That said, I do use the SEMrush Keyword Magic tool a bit but find that talking to clients, and having them talk to their customer service people & customers does MUCH more than a tool does.
Using the words that customers use to describe a product or service matches with how queries are typed into search boxes. I also use search suggest and the featured snippet PAA boxes. This helps with connecting entities together when you interlink pages.
Doctor > plastic surgeon > rhinoplasty > nose job > non-surgical nose job > Juvederm| Botox| Bellafill.
Then tying all those entity keywords in with local/geo keywords: nearby, near me, Colorado, Denver, Aurora, Saddle Ridge.
Then tying those with descriptors to create a keyword map: best, reviews, recommended, highest rated, top results, before and after.
#106. Nefer Lopez (Growth Hacker Kitchen)
Here are my top 3 keyword research tools:
1) Google Keyword planning tool.
3) Buzzsumo - it's not a keyword tool, per se, but I like the social validation of certain keyword themes I have in mind.
#108. Joe Putnam (iSpionage)
#109. Justin Herring (YEAH! Local)
#110. Shane Melaugh (IM Impact)
I'd use SEOcockpit and I really don't know if there's anything else I'd need in addition.
#112. Jason Acidre (Xight Interactive)
1) SEMRush - their pro version can certainly provide a lot of useful data (which can help you lead to practical insights) in terms of keyword research and competitive intelligence.
2) Google Keyword Planner - I'd also suggest Keyword.io, they have tons of other relevant suggestions (based on Google and Youtube's autocomplete search/suggest feature.
3) Google Analytics - really useful especially when you've already built enough traffic to better understand user behavior for certain key terms you're aiming to get more value from (particularly long-tail keywords).
#114. Ryan Stewart (Webris)
#116. Stephen Jeske (CanIRank)
CanIRank is the only tool I use or need for keyword research. Two things I particularly like is that it assigns a ranking probability for each keyword I'm researching, plus it has a heat map that shows me what I need to do to compete with those entries on the first page of Google.
That way I can focus on going after keywords for which I have a realistic chance of ranking, and concentrate my efforts on doing things that will really move the needle.
AnswerThePublic is a great tool too, if you're looking for a starting point for content ideas. It's like Google's autosuggest on steroids, with some really neat data visualization.
#118. Sean Si (SEO-Hacker)
Google Keyword Planner - It helps to have the data straight from the search engine itself. With this tool, I am confident that the data is valuable and accurate. Lastly, the reports are easy to pull up as you can have it straight to a Google Spreadsheet or a CSV file.
SEMrush - Their tool is constantly evolving to cater keyword research. What I like about SEMrush is the options they present you with. It's easy to navigate and packed with features that you don't see in other keyword research tools. Their database provides many choices that are essential for SEO.
KWFinder- This is a simple tool that even a rookie SEO Specialist can use. It does all the work for you and this is vital especially for those who are looking for time-efficient tools to use for their research.
#119. Helen Pollitt (Reflect Digital)
Keyword Hero - this beta product is proving to be the most exciting keyword tool entering the market. Designed to recover the lost "not provided" organic keywords from Google Analytics, my testing so far has suggested it does exactly that!
Using information from a range of sources, including Google Search Console, clickstream data and browser plugins, we might truly be on the cusp of a keyword revolution.
Keywords Everywhere - this simple but crucial Chrome and Firefox extension gives information on search volumes of keywords straight onto some of your most frequented data websites, including Google search, Majestic's anchor text report and Google Trends. So convenient.
Authoritas - specifically the keyword potential report. This handy report looks at existing keyword data in your account and automatically suggests keywords where an improvement in their rankings could lead to significant gains in search traffic. It's a great way to focus your keyword research and identify where to spend your time and energy.
#121. Tyler Tafelsky (Yisoo Training)
For more data-driven keyword research processes, Ahrefs and Google's Keyword Planner are my go-to tools. However, I do think Google Predictive Search can be a valuable and often overlooked keyword research tool, especially considering the value of long-tail keyword targeting.
With the competitive nature of SEO becoming more and more fierce, most websites need to incorporate lesser competitive long-tails into their strategy, as short-tail counterparts may take years to achieve top rankings.
Using Predictive Search can help you pinpoint those perfect phrases that might not be evident from using Keyword Planner or Ahrefs alone.
#122. Jon Dykstra (Fat Stack Blog)
I use two keyword research tools. They are:
Ahrefs: This tool provides loads of data and metrics for discovering new keywords, researching the competition and pointing out keyword gaps on my own sites. It's amazing and is the one KW/SEO software program I use for every website I own.
Keywordshitter.com is my favorite tool for finding long tail KW opportunities as well as looking for KW phrases which can be used to create multiple pieces of content targeting many similar phrases.
For example, I recently discovered using this tool that people search for a topic within one of my niches with a phrase including "... starting with A", "... starting with B" and so on.
That made it easy for me to create 26 pieces of content, each targeting searches for aspects in my niche based on the the first letter. This is just one of many examples of how I use Keywordshitter.
#123. Miles Anthony Smith (Kompelling LLC)
For organic search keyword research, the best bang for your buck is SEMrush, hands down. It allows you to spy on what keywords your competitors are ranking for and with what content. Plus, you can drop in specific keywords, and it will show you lots of related ones. Then you can sift and sort by many fields and export.
It even has a site audit tool that you can use so as not to have to pay for a separate tool. On top of that, you can see what competitor's ads are (display, PPC, or PLA) and piggyback off of their success.
I use Buzzsumo for topical research to see which ones are trending on social media (like infographics, how-to's, listicles, etc.).
And for non-Google keyword research (like Amazon, YouTube, ebay), I use keywordtool.io. I also recommend you stay away from Google Keyword Planner for organic search since it can be misleading; it really should only be used for paid keyword research.
#124. Jack Saville (Bynder)
Moz Keyword Explorer is my first port of call for keyword research. It is great at giving rough keyword volume data and is great for offering keyword suggestions.
For more specific keyword volume data I call upon Google Keyword Planner.
Then for even more accurate keyword volume data I ask our PPC team to bid on a word and use the impressions and impression share metrics to get an accurate monthly search volume figure.
#125. Ryan Scollon (www.ryanscollon.co.uk)
Tool #1 would be Answer The Public. It gives loads of great suggestions, and even covers prepositions, questions and then goes through each letter from A-Z to find any other keyword ideas.
Tool #2 would be Google search. You can't get much better than that. There is the autosuggest when typing in a search term, but you can also find a list at the bottom of the search results called 'Searches related to ..' and it will give you around 8 other suggestions.
Tool #3 would be Adwords keyword planner. It's my least favorite out of the three, but I do like how it groups keywords together. So say you were looking at keyword ideas for wedding rings, it will show different groups such as 'Gold rings' and then show you a bunch of terms related to that group.
#126. Ryan White (Banc)
SEMrush - The Keyword Magic Tool is absolutely amazing. Gives you an amazing selection of specific filters to help you easily find and filter the correct keywords which turns keyword research into a fun task whilst still giving you in-depth data.
Search Console - Absolute beast when trying to find out what keywords are actually being used when users to access your site and can give you a bit of an insight on how to improve performance of individual pages.
Sistrix - This tool lets us know exactly how competitors are ranking for specific keywords. With this we are able to gauge the difficulty and opportunity of each individual keyword
#128. Antony Robinson (Pure Optimisation Ltd)
My three goto tools are SEO Monitor, DeepCrawl and Ahrefs.
I utilise SEO Monitor for three main reasons;
1. SEO Monitor has an incredibly insightful keyword/content research tool providing a prioritised list of opportunities.
2. For new business pitching it provides a great commercial modelling tool for traffic uplift of non-brand organic terms.
3. SEO Monitor's primary function of rank tracking and reporting suite facilitates user free reporting direct to clients.
I find this to be simply the best technical SEO Tool on the market for monitoring crawl-ability, crawl budget and SEO improvement opportunities. Of all the tools the agency uses, this is without doubt our most important.
As every SEO knows, monitoring a client's backlink profile is an integral and essential function. The link data AHRefs provides is as robust as any yet is significantly more cost effective.
#129. Mackenzie Peters (Gustin Quon)
Google Keyword Planner + keywordtool.io to get a baseline/set of keywords to work with then SEM Rush for competitive research & so much more.
#131. Natalie Athanasiadis (Ormi Media)
SEMrush: This is a great tool to find out what your competitors are ranking for so that you can be highly strategic and increase your visibility in those areas to increase your market share.
Google Search Console: This is sometimes passed over for other paid platforms but there is a wealth of knowledge in here. Google also Beta testing a brand new Search Console design that allows for year on year comparison of keyword rankings which could provide even further value.
Google Trends: Lastly, Google Trends can give you some incredible insights relating to specific industries. A great platform to incorporate into your content planning.
#132. Freddie Chatt
1) Ahrefs - Their keyword explorer is flawless, accurate and provides a great indication of difficulty. A great source of discovering additional keywords to help structure the content you are creating.
2) Keywords Everywhere - Incredible Chrome plugin for a quick snapshot in all the tools you use regularly as an SEO. Also shows the related keywords and 'people also searched for' queries and volumes directly within the SERPs. All for a super-affordable price.
3) AnswerThePublic - If you want to know all of the questions ever asked around a topic. This is the perfect tool - great for content creation.
#133. Evgeniy Garkaviy (Online Strategist at Hopespring)
1) Google Keyword Planner: This tools is fantastic because it can help me to identify long tail keywords for
my niche. It is official Google’s tool and it has the recent trends and keyword variations. For example
you may think that this keyword is great “buy ipad air in liverpool” but Google may suggest “iPad air sale
Liverpool”. Yes, not often it is accurate but when I’m using it alongside the other tools – I can get clear
2) SpyFu: I suggest to have paid account on SpyFu. I just need to find my competitors who using Adwords and review them using this tool. It will show me what ads and keywords they are using. Note that my competitor who paid for that particular keyword knows exactly that it is important for his business including recent trends. Also using SEO feature you can input any URL and find our which keywords they are ranking for.
3) Yandex Wordstat. It is very similar to Google Keyword planner. Yandex is Russian search engine but it does not mean that you can use it only for Russian keywords. In Russia many people use this search engine for US searches too. And Wordstat can show me what keywords they were using to find my niche.
I started using SEMrush a long time ago. At the moment it has a lot of resources for both free and paid quality keyword research.
Recently I had a dilemma with one of my projects, it is related to ecards and many people still using word “cards” instead of “ecards” but Google Keyword Planner and some other tools showed almost the same information for both keywords. At the same time I did not want to have many words “cards” and “ecards” on the landing pages. Semrush helped very much. I found correct data and made a nice PPC campaign.
#134. Hayden Miyamoto (nohatdigital.com)
1) Long Tail Pro
LTP differentiates itself from other KWs tools because it provides you with an idea of how difficult a keyword is to rank for - it doesn’t just spit out KW ideas endlessly. There are definitely reasonably good free keyword tools out there, but in my opinion Long Tail Pro (Platinum version) pretty much pays for itself over time.
SEMRush is great for scoping out the competition and for finding keywords that other sites in your niche are ranking for. It’s a little more expensive for the average user, but if you’re playing at a high level, it’s indispensable.
Ubersuggest is useful as a way to find a ton of KWs at once - the only issue is that you have no idea whether those KWs are competitive or not. In tandem with LTP though, ubersuggest is great - I can just import a ton of KWs at once and then see if they’re worth targeting or not.
#135. Spencer Hawes (nichepursuits.com)
1) Long Tail Pro
Obviously, I’m the creator of LTP, so there may be a little bit of bias in this - but I stand by LTP 100%. In fact, I use it frequently for my own KW research, and on my Niche Site Project 3.0, I’m encouraging my latest mentee to use it as well.
2) Google Trends
I’ve found google trends to be an interesting way to see if a keyword (and by extension a niche) is growing or shrinking, and whether it’s seasonal or not. I can’t think of any other tool out there that can reliably tell you this information, so that’s really useful. Also, if you’re building a site, especially an authority site, getting onto something that’s trending upwards is a fantastic idea.
SEMrush is a very useful tool for both researching competitors when starting a site or for growing an established site. I really like to find weaker niche sites that still seem to be ranking for lots of keywords; SEMrush helps me see what they are ranking for and what I can potentially target. You can also see what keywords you’re on the cusp of ranking for with your established site - another very useful feature.
You can even see things like whether or not your competitor’s are running paid traffic. SEMRush is just so versatile, and it has a lot of functionality that’s really useful if you already have a successful site going.
#136. Adam Chronister (Enleaf)
At Enleaf we use a lot of different tools and tactics for keyword research.
Some of our favorite tools and tactics include using SEMrush utilizing its Keyword Analytics tools. (Related Keywords, Keyword Difficulty, Keyword Magic Tool, etc) in addition to this, we still use Google Keyword Planner and often contrast and compare what we get there with what we pull out of SEMrush.
Then, probably the most accessible tool we use is good old Google. We will often use Google Auto-Suggest and the Search Related To features to help generate seed words in our initial keyword research phase.
#137. Robbie Richards (robbierichards.com)
1) SEMrush - there are several ways I use the platform to find high-intent keywords.
First, I'll analyze which keywords are driving the most organic traffic across different subfolders. For example: I can quickly see which keywords and URLs within an product category subfolder are driving the most traffic to an ecommerce website.
Similarly, I can analyze the reviews subfolder of a large affiliate site, and layer on additional keyword filters, to find the best mid-funnel intent queries.
Second, I use the Keyword Magic tool to quickly find hundreds of targeted long tail keywords touching every stage of the funnel.
Third, I can perform domain, subfolder or URL-level keyword gap analysis to uncover missed opportunities. This works for both primary and secondary keyword analysis.
Fourth, run organic-paid gap analysis to see which terms competitors are bidding on that I have no organic visibility around. These are often less-obvious buyer intent keyword targets.
2) Ahrefs - the Keyword Explorer has come a long way over the last year or so. In addition to the different keyword reports - Questions, Phrase, Newly Discovered etc - and the robust gap analysis capabilities, I now find myself relying on the link data inside the SERP Overview reports to more accurately qualify keyword opportunities.
THAT'S A WRAP!
A big thanks to everyone who contributed to the roundup. Please share if you found it useful!
137 Online Marketing Experts Reveal Top Keyword Research Tools
And, just to recap, here are the results one more time...
Best Tools for Keyword Research (As Voted by 137 Search Marketing Experts)
#8: Google Trends (12 votes)
#9: Moz (11 votes)
#10: KWFinder (9 votes)
If you could only use 3 tools for keyword research, which 3 would you choose?
Let me know in the comments below...