Finding the right keywords is crucial for any successful SEO strategy. But with hundreds of keyword research tools out there, how do you know which ones to use? We tested the top keyword research tools to help you focus your efforts on the ones that deliver results.

In this article, we share our picks for the 5 best keyword research SEO tools, including heavy hitters like Google’s Keyword Planner, Semrush and Ahrefs. We evaluated each tool across key criteria like accuracy, search volume data, competitiveness metrics and ease of use. Our in-depth rankings reveal which tools provide the best keyword research data to fuel your content and search marketing.

The answer may not be as obvious as you think because one study found that Ahrefs and SEMrush generate the highest number of keyword suggestions, followed by Ubersuggest, Sistrix, and SECockpit. Google’s Keyword Planner provides 67.9% fewer keyword suggestions than the average output from other major paid SEO tools.

You’ll learn which tools offer robust databases for discovering high-value keywords in your niche. We also provide tips to maximize the tools’ features based on your specific needs. Whether you’re an SEO newbie or a pro, our guide will help you focus on the top keyword research tools to uncover golden keyword opportunities. Read on to boost your SEO game and get found for the searches that drive traffic and conversions!

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TLDR; The Best Paid and Free Keyword Research Tools

  • Keyword research is critical for SEO success to drive targeted traffic.
  • Google Keyword Planner provides robust keyword suggestions and search volume data.
  • SEMrush has extensive keyword databases and competitive intelligence.
  • Ahrefs Keywords Explorer reveals untapped, low-competition keywords.
  • Moz Keyword Explorer delivers detailed keyword difficulty and CTR metrics.
  • Ubersuggest is user-friendly with advanced competitor analysis features.
  • No one tool has everything—use multiple keyword research tools for the best insights.
  • Focus on long-tail, low-competition keywords that align with your content pillars.
  • Continuously optimize keywords based on search behavior data over time.


The 5 Best Keyword Research SEO Tools

Luckily for us marketers and website owners alike, there are plenty of tools available online that offer assistance with keyword research and optimization. These tools have been developed specifically to help make the process faster and more effective. Here are the top five best keyword research tools:

  1. Google Keyword Planner: This free tool from Google provides users with a ton of data surrounding specific keywords or phrases. It’s especially useful if you’re running a PPC (pay-per-click) advertising campaign on Google Ads since it lets you see how competitive certain keywords are.
  2. SEMrush: SEMrush offers a suite of tools designed specifically for digital marketing professionals who want detailed data about their websites and competitors’ sites alike. 
  3. Ahrefs Keywords Explorer: As one part of an extensive suite of SEO tools offered by Ahrefs, this tool provides accurate keyword data that makes it easy to see which keywords will be most effective in driving traffic towards a particular site.
  4. Moz Keyword Explorer: This tool combines data from various sources to provide users with a comprehensive overview of the most effective keywords for their websites. 
  5. Ubersuggest: A comprehensive keyword research tool that offers insights into search volume, competition, and keyword difficulty scores.

It’s entirely free to use, making it the perfect solution for startups or small businesses on a budget. Each of these tools has its own strengths and weaknesses, but all are incredibly valuable when it comes to improving SEO and driving traffic towards your website.

Google Keyword Planner

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What is Google Keyword Planner and How Does It Work?

The Google Keyword Planner is an invaluable keyword tool for generating keyword ideas and suggestions to help with SEO and PPC campaigns. This free keyword research tool allows you to input a website or keywords to get back a robust keyword list full of keyword suggestions based on relevancy and search volume data.

For those focused on search engine optimization, the Google Keyword Planner is a must-use tool for keyword research to find high-potential keywords that can drive more targeted traffic to your site or campaign. The metrics and keyword data provided in this tool for SEO make it easy to research and select the right keywords to focus on in your content, metadata, ads and overall optimization strategy.

If you’re looking for a way to find untapped keyword opportunities and improve your keyword targeting, the Google Keyword Planner is one of the best free keyword tools out there.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Google Keyword Planner for Keyword Research

Google Keyword Planner can be a useful starting point for conducting SEO keyword research thanks to its integration with other Google products. By connecting your Google Search Console and Google Analytics accounts, you can view keyword performance metrics to inform your research.

Additionally, Google Trends provides insight into keyword popularity and seasonality that can further guide your optimization efforts. However, Google Keyword Planner has its limitations. Since it relies on AdWords data, the search volume metrics it provides aren’t always fully accurate for SEO.

Also, its keyword suggestions can sometimes be too broad. For the best results, use Google Keyword Planner as part of a comprehensive keyword research workflow that also includes competitor analysis, mining your analytics data, leveraging other third-party tools and more. Take its data as directional rather than absolute. With a thoughtful, multi-pronged approach to SEO keyword research, you can uncover the most valuable keyword opportunities.

Tips for Using Google Keyword Planner Effectively

To make the most out of Google Keyword Planner, it is important to keep in mind the following tips: 

  1. Start with a broad topic: Instead of focusing on specific keywords, start with a broad topic related to your business or industry. This will help you generate a wider range of relevant keywords and identify new opportunities for content creation.
  2. Analyze your competition: Use the “Top of Page Bid” and “Competition” metrics to see how other advertisers are ranking for certain keywords. This can give you insights into what is working well in your industry and help you optimize your own campaigns.
  3. Refine your keyword selection: Use the filter options to refine your keyword selection based on factors such as search volume, competition level and estimated CPC data. This will enable you to identify high-value keywords that have low competition levels and are therefore easier to rank for.

SEMrush: The Swiss Army Knife of Keyword Research

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SEMrush is a versatile and comprehensive keyword research tool that is trusted by a multitude of SEO professionals. It allows users to analyze domains, keywords, and backlinks, making it one of the most sought-after tools in the industry. SEMrush comes packed with several features that can help you identify your competition’s rankings and traffic sources.

You can also use its analytics software to track your website’s performance over time. One of the benefits of using SEMrush for keyword research is that it provides users with an extensive database of keywords.

The tool has access to over 20 billion keywords from 140 databases across more than 100 countries. This feature enables users to find long-tail keywords related to their niche market quickly.

It also comes with a “Keyword Difficulty” feature, which allows you to evaluate how challenging it will be to rank for specific keywords. Another significant benefit of using SEMrush is that it provides competitive intelligence data on your competitors’ domains and how they rank for particular phrases or terms.

This information allows you to identify high-performing content on your competitor’s site, determine where they get their backlinks from, and track their ads’ performance. Using SEMrush effectively requires some knowledge and skill; otherwise, you might miss out on its full range of features.

Here are some tips for effective usage:

  • Start by creating a project on SEMrush for the domain(s) you’re interested in analyzing.
  • Use the “Domain Overview” feature first as it gives an overall idea about the domain’s performance. – Next, move onto “Keyword Analytics” or “Organic Research” features.
  • Use filters when performing keyword research tasks. – Compare data from multiple sources within SEMrush.

The only major drawback I have encountered while using SEMrush is that it can be overwhelming at first due to its range of features. However, SEMrush provides a significant advantage over other tools in the market due to its extensive database of keywords and ability to provide an overview of a website’s performance.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

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Ahrefs is one of the most trusted SEO tools out there. It has a wide range of features and one of its best assets is the Keywords Explorer tool. This tool offers a comprehensive database with more than 10 billion keywords from over 170 countries.

The Ahrefs Keywords Explorer tool allows you to search for new keywords, analyze the difficulty of ranking for specific keywords, and track your website’s keyword rankings over time. Its user-friendly interface makes it easier for users to navigate through data.

Benefits and drawbacks of using Ahrefs Keywords Explorer for keyword research

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer is a robust keyword analysis tool for conducting in-depth SEO keyword research. With Ahrefs, you can input a given keyword and find hundreds of highly relevant keyword suggestions along with extremely accurate monthly search volume data. This helps you identify viable, high-traffic keywords to target in your content and optimization strategy for free SEO wins.

However, Ahrefs does have a steeper learning curve compared to some other keyword tools. The huge amount of keyword data it provides can be overwhelming at first. And its premium plans are more expensive than other keyword research solutions. But if you take the time to master it, Ahrefs Keywords Explorer offers invaluable SEO intel to find untapped keyword opportunities beyond what free SEO tools provide. The key is leveraging its vast keyword data strategically within your broader SEO approach.

Tips for using Ahrefs Keywords Explorer effectively

To find the best keywords to target using Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, start by identifying a few top-performing pages or posts from competitors in your space. Plug one of these URLs into the Ahrefs Site Explorer to see which keywords are driving traffic to that content. You can then take those terms and use the Keyword Explorer to discover similar keywords and long-tail variations with high search volume.

Make sure to utilize the filtering options to narrow down keywords by difficulty, CPC, search volume and more. This allows you to pinpoint low-hanging-fruit keywords that align with your content pillars and have less competition. With some strategic mining of competitors’ successful keywords as a starting point, you can leverage Ahrefs Keyword Explorer more effectively to surface untapped, high-potential keyword opportunities.


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Moz Keyword Explorer is one of the most popular keyword research SEO tools on the market today. Essentially, it is designed to help digital marketers analyze and target the right keywords to improve their website’s search engine ranking.

Moz Keyword Explorer also provides users with important metrics such as keyword difficulty scores, organic CTR (click through rate), priority suggestions, and more. Moz Keyword Explorer works by providing a list of potential keywords based on a broad topic or seed keyword that you input into the tool.

It then breaks down each keyword into important metrics such as search volume, difficulty score, organic CTR, and priority suggestions. This information can be incredibly useful in helping you determine which keywords to target based on your specific needs. Benefits and drawbacks of using Moz Keyword Explorer for keyword research

One of the biggest benefits of using Moz Keyword Explorer for keyword research is that it provides incredibly detailed information about each potential keyword in an easy-to-understand format. This allows digital marketers to make informed decisions about which keywords they should be targeting in order to improve their website’s search engine ranking.

However, one potential drawback of using Moz Keyword Explorer is that it can sometimes be overwhelming for beginners who are just starting out with SEO. With so much data available at your fingertips, it can be difficult to know where to start or how to interpret the results effectively. Tips for using Moz Keyword Explorer effectively

If you’re new to SEO or just getting started with Moz Keyword Explorer, there are a few tips you should keep in mind: 

  1. Start with broad topics: When inputting your initial seed keyword into the tool, try starting with broad topics rather than specific long-tail keywords. This will help you get a better sense of what potential keywords are out there and which ones might be worth targeting.
  2. Use filters: Moz Keyword Explorer provides a variety of filters that can help you narrow down your results based on specific metrics such as search volume or difficulty score. Experiment with different filters to find the ones that work best for your needs.
  3. Analyze the competition: One of the most useful features of Moz Keyword Explorer is the ability to analyze your competitors’ top keywords. This can give you valuable insight into which keywords they are targeting and how you can potentially compete with them for search engine rankings.

Ubersuggest: The Future of Keyword Research

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When it comes to keyword research, Ubersuggest is a relatively new tool that has already made an impact. Created by Neil Patel, one of the most well-known digital marketers in the industry, Ubersuggest offers a robust suite of features for keyword research and SEO analysis. So what exactly is Ubersuggest?

At its core, Ubersuggest is a keyword research tool that helps you find new keywords for your website or blog content. Simply enter your target keyword into Ubersuggest’s search bar and the tool will generate hundreds of related keywords along with their search volume, competition level, and estimated cost per click (CPC).

It also provides insights into specific pages on your website including their ranking position in search engine results pages (SERPs), organic traffic, backlinks and much more. One benefit of using Ubersuggest is its ease-of-use.

Unlike some other tools that can be overwhelming with information overload, Ubersuggest presents all the important data in a user-friendly format and offers helpful tips along the way. However, one drawback to consider is that while it does offer some free features like monthly keyword searches and site audit reports, more advanced features like competitor analysis require a paid subscription.

If you’re looking to get the most out of this rising star in SEO research tools, here are some tips for using Ubersuggest effectively:

  • Start by searching to find keywords for each page on your website
  • Use filters to narrow down your results; analyze your competitors’ content strategy
  • Use content ideas to create blog posts or landing pages around popular topics
  • Track changes over time to see how adjustments to keywords affect rankings

By following these tips and leveraging all of Ubersuggest’s features you’ll be well on your way to better rankings and an optimized website!

Key Takeaways: Keyword Research SEO Tools

Now that we’ve explored the 5 best keyword research SEO tools, it’s clear that they can be incredibly helpful in improving website ranking. By effectively researching keywords, you can optimize your content to drive targeted traffic to your site and increase conversions. Google Keyword Planner is a great place to start for beginners due to its ease of use and free access.

SEMrush offers a more robust suite of tools for advanced users who are willing to pay for a subscription. Ahrefs Keywords Explorer is particularly useful for analyzing competitors’ keywords, while Moz Keyword Explorer offers unique features such as organic CTR data.

Ubersuggest rounds out our list with its combination of simplicity and advanced features. All of these tools have their strengths and weaknesses, but when used together, they can provide a comprehensive view of your target audience’s search behavior.

So take advantage of these keyword research SEO tools to help elevate your website’s ranking in search engine results pages. With some diligent research and optimization efforts, you’ll be well on your way to attracting more traffic to your site and achieving higher conversion rates.