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The Best Free Keyword Research Tools

Learn about the tools that can help you craft a successful SEO strategy—all at no cost.

Keyword Research Tools-Hero illustration

Without keyword research tools, finding the right terms to incorporate into your blog or online store content to help it rank on search engine results pages (SERPs) would be like throwing darts in a dark room. Every once in a while, you would hit the target, but many darts would land on the floor.

Keyword research tools facilitate your SEO planning in multiple ways. They can help you generate keyword ideas, reveal how many people actively use a search term, identify trends, and show you how much competition you face to rank for a specific phrase.

Free keyword research tools

There are a surprising number of fantastic free tools you can use to gather vital information for marketing and SEO. Here are 12 free keyword research tools that are easy to use and full of valuable data.

Some are powerful keyword generators for Google and other search engines. Others provide targeted data for e-commerce websites like eBay, Etsy, and Amazon. The most comprehensive of these tools include essential SEO data like the monthly search volume and intensity of competition for your target terms.

Below are descriptions of what you can accomplish with each free keyword research tool, as well as their benefits and drawbacks. The tools covered are:

Keyword Surfer

Answerthepublic, keyword sheeter, ahrefs keyword generator, semrush keyword magic tool, ubersuggest, moz keyword explorer, keyword tool dominator, google trends.

free keyword research tool

Keyword generators for blog topic ideas

Keyword generators help you home in on what your potential customers want to know. They scrape search engines and question-and-answer databases to reveal new blog topics and keyword ideas.

Keyword Surfer is a newer tool that plugs right into the Chrome web browser. When it’s on, results automatically display on the right side of your results page each time you enter a search term.

The data delivered by Keyword Surfer includes:

  • Keyword ideas with their volume
  • Cost per click (CPC) for each search term
  • Pages that rank for the term you entered
  • Traffic to pages ranked 1 through 10 for that term

It’s a highly efficient keyword research tool and delivers results as you use your web browser. As a new tool, there may be some kinks to work out. Data delivered by the plugin can sometimes differ from data supplied by other Google search tools. However, it’s a fast and easy way to get content ideas.

AnswerThePublic is a great place to see raw search insights. After you enter your search term(s), it displays the questions people are asking related to that topic. The results are shown in a graphic display with all the who, what, where, when, why and other questions users ask.

It’s a powerful way to generate keyword ideas and see what your potential customers actually want to know. You can download the data as a graph or a list.

There is one con for this tool: With a limit of 3 free searches a day, you have to be thoughtful about each phrase you search.

Keyword Sheeter pulls autocomplete results from Google. It delivers real-time data on what people are typing into the search engine.

If you want to generate a long list of keyword ideas fast, Keyword Sheeter is an excellent choice. It pulls about 1,000 ideas per minute, and exporting your list is free.

It’s a simple and powerful resource to identify ideas for blog topics. However, the free features of Keyword Sheeter do not include search volume or data on how competitive it is to rank for a phrase.

Keyworddit mines Reddit for keywords. To use it, enter a specific subreddit with at least 10,000 subscribers and specify a timeframe. The tool searches through the titles and comments to extract up to 500 keywords with search volumes.

Due to the variety of answers within each subreddit, the relevance of the results may vary. There is an option to specify high relevance, which slows down the tool somewhat.

Keyworddit is not designed to replace other keyword research tools, but it can be an interesting complement to your existing strategy. Reddit is a popular site where people with specific interests take deep dives into a topic. It may reveal keyword phrases and blog topics you wouldn’t find using other search tools.

QuestionDB is an excellent blog topic idea generator. It pulls from several question-and-answer websites, including Reddit and Quora, to give you questions people are actively asking related to your keywords .

The free version of the tool allows unlimited searches without registering for an account. You can download your results with a single click.

You have the option to display the source link for each question. This allows you to review additional details about how people are framing their questions. You can also review the answers. QuestionDB also displays related topics mentioned in the questions.

The free account limits you to 50 results per query.

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Freemium keyword research tools for SEO analysis

A few of the premium paid websites offer free tools for limited use. You get the same outstanding services provided by the premium services for a limited number of searches or fewer features. Even so, they are comprehensive free keyword research tools.

Ahrefs Keyword Generator is one of the free tools offered by Ahrefs, which is a popular paid service. Enter any target keyword or phrase, and it will pull the top 100 keyword ideas from its database of over 8 billion keywords from more than 170 countries.

For each keyword phrase, the Keyword Generator displays:

  • Search volume
  • Keyword difficulty from 1 to 100
  • How recently this result was updated
  • A list of questions related to your search term

You can use this keyword research tool to identify long-tail keywords, target less competitive phrases, and isolate your search using geographic location or search engine.

It allows you to export your data by downloading your list of results. In addition to the Keyword Generator that pulls from Google, Ahrefs also has free Bing , YouTube , and Amazon tools.

While some freemium services include the SERP results inside the keyword search tool, Ahrefs provides their free SERP service on a separate page.

Ahrefs Keyword Generator is an efficient and valuable free tool that allows you to do unlimited searches without creating an account. However, unlike other tools, it does not allow you to download your results. And, because you don’t create an account with the free service, you have to prove you’re not a robot with every new search.

free keyword research tool

Semrush Keyword Magic Tool is one of several free tools offered by SEO giant Semrush. To access their free tools, create an account and select Skip Trial. You can always sign up for the paid service down the road if you’d like.

The Keyword Magic Tool gives you access to more than 20 billion keywords from over 120 geographical databases.

Free reports include:

  • Monthly search volume
  • Competitive density (competition among paid advertisers)
  • Keyword difficulty (how difficult it would be to rank in Google’s top 20)

The Keyword Magic Tool also has some helpful sorting and organizing features. It allows you to sort keywords into topic-specific subgroups, apply smart filters to narrow or expand your search, and quickly export your findings. You can see related keywords by topic and semantically related keywords or by keywords with similar phrasing.

The free account limits you to 10 searches a day across all the complementary tools provided by Semrush.

Ubersuggest provides a wealth of information with its free version. When you enter a search term, it displays the search volume, SEO difficulty, paid difficulty, and CPC.

Immediately beneath that display, it identifies the number of backlinks you would need to rank on the first page of Google for that keyword phrase.

As you scroll down, you can view lists of keyword ideas and page content ideas.

The list of page content ideas displays related blog titles. At a glance, you can see how many people click on and share each article. You can export most of your data reports to CSV to save and sort. Ubersuggest provides a free Chrome extension to see data right on the SERP easily.

The free version limits your use to a single website and 3 keyword searches per day.

Moz Keyword Explorer is an attractive and well-laid-out keyword research tool. You can see monthly volume, organic difficulty, organic click-through rate (CTR), and a priority score for each search term.

The organic CTR displays how many people who use the term follow through and click on one of the results. The priority score aggregates the difficulty, opportunity, and volume to show you in a simple score how likely you are to rank for that keyword phrase.

Keyword Explorer delivers a long list of keyword suggestions for each term, with monthly search volume and relevancy.

The SERP analysis, also included with the free search results, gives you 10 specific pages that rank for your target keyword. You can see their title, URL, page authority, domain authority, number of backlinks to the page, and the number of backlinks to the root domain. It’s easy to download results into a spreadsheet.

Moz provides an excellent service. The downside is the free account limits you to 10 queries a month.

Keyword research tools for e-commerce, online sellers, and multichannel marketers

Most keyword tools focus on Google and other search engines. However, platforms like YouTube, Amazon, eBay, and Etsy have their own algorithms.

For e-commerce stores or sellers whose goals reach beyond ranking on Google and other search engines, tools like Keyword Tool Dominator and Soovle help you target the platforms you are using.

Soovle is great for e-commerce websites or marketers using multiple channels. It helps you find popular keywords across several megasites, including Amazon, Wikipedia, YouTube, and eBay.

Soovle works as a keyword research tool and a keyword generator. As you type in your target terms, it autogenerates phrases to help you expand your ideas.

Soovle includes unlimited searches for free. On the downside, it is limited to an idea generator and does not include metrics like keyword difficulty or search volume.

Keyword Tool Dominator helps you identify search trends as they happen. It brings you the autocomplete databases from Google, YouTube, Amazon, Walmart, Bing, Etsy, and eBay to uncover up-to-date keywords and search terms.

It’s an outstanding resource for sellers and multichannel marketers who want to rank on more than Google or the other search engines.

The downside of this fast and easy-to-use tool is the free version limits you to 2 searches a day. For more queries, you’ll need to pay for a plan.

Keyword usage over time

Sometimes you want to know if a topic is an established trend or just a fad. In that case, Google Trends is a powerful and unique tool.

Google Trends is a free tool that delivers graphs and data on specific search terms used on Google and YouTube.

When you enter a search phrase on the homepage, it will deliver a list from Google by default. On the results page, you can change your options to see results from YouTube instead. It also offers trends from Google Shopping, Images, and News.

Google Trends is a valuable tool for:

  • Identifying what’s currently trending
  • Isolating popular topics or subtopics within an industry or related to a theme
  • Discovering local search trends
  • Finding related keywords that are growing in popularity
  • Graphing the public interest in a topic over a range of time
  • Seeing where a topic is most popular

Google Trends helps you identify keywords that are rising in popularity and avoid terms that are losing momentum. It does not provide data on monthly search volume or how much competition there is for each keyword phrase.

Free keyword research tools aren’t your only option. If your business is booming or you want to go down a new avenue, you can always invest in paid tools. Tools that require payment or a subscription to access do everything that the free tools above can do, but may also:

  • Provide more keyword data
  • Enable you to do more keyword research
  • Feature location-based SEO tools
  • Have rank trackers so you can see how well your website is ranking on SERP pages for certain keywords
  • Have more user-friendly interfaces
  • Have an all-in-one suite where you can conduct all your keyword research

If you are looking to branch into pay-per-click marketing, these tools may also offer additional insights into search engine marketing. (One free tool for paid marketing is Google Keyword Planner , which supplies data around Google’s biddable keywords.)

free keyword research tool

Planning with data

Whether you are promoting a blog or building an e-commerce website, each page you create takes time, energy, and expertise. When you use the best keyword research tools for your business, you ensure your efforts produce results.

Don’t throw darts in the dark and hope they find their target. All the data you need to make solid content planning decisions is available in these 12 free keyword research tools.

Your audience knows what they want and need. Do you?

Best Keyword Research Tools: FAQ

Which tool is the best for keyword research.

When conducting SEO research , finding the best tool for keyword research can feel overwhelming, especially with the vast selection of both free and paid solutions available today. One of the most notable keyword research tools used today to help with understanding the top-performing keywords in any industry includes Keyword Surfer. Keyword Surfer is a well-known keyword research tool that can be used entirely for free from Surfer SEO.

Is Google keyword research tool free?

Yes. Both Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner are free keyword research tools that can be accessed by both individuals and business owners alike. With Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner, take advantage of free keyword tools that deliver top-tier results based on the latest algorithms in place by numerous search engines, including Google itself.

Using Google keyword research tools is highly recommended, especially if you are interested in boosting the ranking of your website or eCommerce store within Google search results themselves. With Google Trends, you can quickly and efficiently search for and compare keywords, phrases, and trends that are most relevant to your business and brand. Compare regions where your keywords are most popular as well as data as it has been collected and tracked over time. Using Google Trends is optimal for anyone who is seeking the best free keyword research tool or for those who are just getting started with keyword research for the first time.

Google Keyword Planner also provides a free keyword research tool that can help you plan for PPC and SEO marketing campaigns based on keyword popularity, usage, and market trends.

Are paid keyword research tools worth it?

At times, paid keyword research tools may be worth the investment, depending on the features you require as well as the budget you have for your next marketing campaign. Some paid keyword research tools provide additional keyword data, offer more results, and even include location-based SEO tools, which are optimal for those interested in locale-based targeting.

With paid keyword research tools, it is also often much easier to save and store your keyword research in one central location. You can also take advantage of rank trackers to determine how well individual pages on your website are currently performing with the tweaks you have made using your preferred paid keyword research tool.

How to choose the best keyword tool for your needs?

Before choosing the best free keyword research tool for your business or brand, consider your needs and the reason you are conducting keyword research. Ask yourself the following questions before determining whether a free or paid keyword research tool is right for you:

  • What purpose is my keyword research going to serve? What am I attempting to learn or gain by conducting keyword research?
  • Am I trying to spread the word about my business or brand with proper keywords and targeting, or am I attempting to generate sales with my keywords?
  • How can I reach my users with relevant language and keywords? What keyword is my target audience most likely to search for while browsing for the products, services, or content I provide?
  • Who is my current competition and how can I use popular keywords to boost my own ranking among my competition online?
  • What features matter when it comes to a keyword research tool?

Knowing what features are necessary to achieve your own marketing goals can help in the process of eliminating keyword research tools that simply do not serve your needs.

Find Keyword Ideas in Seconds

Boost SEO results with powerful keyword research

19 Best Free and Paid Keyword Research Tools for SEO

Brian Dean

Written by Brian Dean

15 BEST Keyword Research Tools for SEO

This is a list of the 19 best keyword research tools in 2024.

These amazing tools have helped my organic traffic grow by 28.55% over the last year:

Backlinko – Organic traffic increase

And in this guide, I’ll reveal the world’s best keyword research tools…

…and help you choose the best one for you.

The best SEO keyword research tools for SEO have one thing in common: helping users boost organic traffic and search engine visibility .

However, each tool approaches this goal differently. Some are all-in-one SEO platforms that specialize in technical SEO, backlink opportunities, and guest post outreach.

Others focus on niche SEO opportunities, such as finding underserved and easy-to-rank keywords or topic cluster research.

We’ve updated this post to account for SEO opportunities in 2024 and guide your choice of the best keyword research tools suitable to your needs.

Editor’s Note : Our recommendation for the top all-in-one SEO tool is Semrush . Keep scrolling for a detailed overview.

19 Best Keyword Research Tools

Semrush works a little differently than the other tools I will show you.

Instead of entering a seed keyword and getting a long list of keyword ideas , Semrush shows you keywords that your competition already ranks for.

(These are usually outside-the-box keywords that would be impossible to find using any other tool.)

Here’s how it works:

First, enter a competitor’s domain name in the field at the top of the page.

Semrush – Input website

If you’re doing SEO in a country outside of the US (for example, in Google.co.uk), you can choose to see information about that specific market. Just choose that country from this menu:

Semrush – Domain overview – Country filter

Next, take a look at the “Organic Research” section:

Semrush – Organic research – Overview

Here’s what the different terms in that section mean:

  • Keywords are the estimated number of monthly organic visitors that come from Google.
  • Traffic is the estimated number of monthly visitors.
  • Traffic Cost indicates how valuable this traffic is (based on Google Ads CPC).

So if you see a domain with a lot of Organic Search Traffic but a low Traffic Cost, you know that they’re ranking for keywords that don’t convert into buyers.

But the real value of Semrush comes from the “Organic Keywords” data:

Semrush – Top organic keywords

This box will show you 5 of the top keywords that your competitors are ranking for. To see more, click on “View all [number] organic keywords”.

And you’ll get a list of all of the keywords that the site or URL ranks for:

Semrush – Organic search positions

This page alone will usually give you a handful of solid keywords for digital marketing .

But if you want more ideas, go back to the “Organic Research” overview and check out the “Competitors” in the menu bar.

And you’ll see that site’s first-page competition:

Semrush – Organic competitors

When you click on one of THOSE results, you can see the exact search queries they’re ranking for.

There will be some overlap from what you just saw, but you’ll also (usually) dig up some real gems.

You can also start your Semrush search with a keyword instead of a competitor’s site:

Semrush – Search – Keyword research

Semrush will show you a “Phrase match report”, which is a list of long-tail keywords that include the keyword you entered:

Semrush – Keyword Magic Tool – Phrase match filter

This is really helpful for finding long-tail variations of Head and Body Keywords.

For example, if you wanted to rank for the keyword “weight loss”, you’ll quickly find that it’s simply too competitive.

But Semrush will show you long-tail variations, like the “weight loss calculator”, that is MUCH easier to rank for:

Phrase match – Weight loss

My Favorite Feature: Keyword Magic

This tool pulls keyword suggestions from Semrush’s massive database of over 25 billion terms.

Semrush – Keyword Magic Tool

Semrush is my favorite keyword research tool. Not cheap. But if you’re serious about SEO, it’s a must-have.

2. Free Keyword Tool by Backlinko

For those just starting with SEO, it can be daunting to invest in expensive keyword research tools.

That’s why we’ve created this  free keyword research tool , leveraging the extensive database of keywords from Semrush.

This tool assists in pinpointing low-competition keywords, sparking ideas for blog content, and providing insights into monthly search volumes.

free keyword research tool

This is our first free tool on Backlinko and I already love using it for quick keyword research.

Scrape suggested keywords from multiple sources. Soovle gives you suggested keyword ideas from Google, YouTube, Bing, Yahoo, Amazon and more.

(All in one place.)

That way, you can find untapped keywords that your competition doesn’t know about.


My Favorite Feature: Saved Suggestions

Easily save your favorite keyword ideas with Soovle’s “drag & drop” saved suggestions feature.

free keyword research tool

Then, download your favorite keywords to a CSV file.

Soovle is one of the best free keyword research tools out there.

4. TopicRanker 

Discover keywords based on problems and weaknesses on the search engine results page.

TopicRanker is a fantastic tool for those who want to hit the ground running.

It’s meant for the SEO layperson — folks who don’t require advanced SEO features but are on the hunt for keywords that they have an immediate chance of ranking for.

The best part? TopicRanker does all the heavy lifting — all you have to do is input your website URL.

Key in your website URL into TopicRanker

Once the app analyzes the topical depth of your site, it will suggest seed topics relevant to your niche.

Seed keywords after TopicRanker analysis

Note that these are seed topics — groups of keywords that can be further broken down into related keywords.

Clicking into any of these seed topics is where TopicRanker really starts to shine through by showing you specific keyword queries with multiple problems on the search results page:

TopicRanker shows multiple queries to target

The tool combs through millions of search results to find only the search queries with an actual problem with the search results.

It then filters these easy-to-rank keywords ensuring relevancy to your niche by giving you search volume and specific problems it identifies on the search results with actionable ranking strategies.

Click 'view details' to see exact problems on SERP

Expanding ‘view details’ highlights specific problems spotted on the SERP:

  • Title mismatch – the title of the page ranking does not contain search query terms
  • Thin content – word count of pages ranking is very low,
  • Old content – the search results page contains a lot of outdated articles
  • Poor readability of the pages ranking high on search results
  • Poor load speed of the pages ranking high
  • Forums sites such as Quora, Facebook, and LinkedIn appear high on search results
  • High spam score for sites appearing high in search results

Take these tips, produce better content, and you’ll start to see results quickly.

TopicRanker takes a unique approach to how it weighs its prioritization metrics, allowing it to surface opportunities other tools won’t find. This tool combines epitomizes efficiency and relevance in keyword research by finding problems and weaknesses in the SERP. TopicRanker will soon be launching its AI Writing Tools to generate content with AI and NLP; making it a must-have for anyone doing SEO. Plus, at just $47 it’s a great value.

Get thousands of related keyword ideas within seconds.

This is a straightforward (yet powerful) tool.

So, what makes Jaaxy unique?

First off, it gives you LOTS of different keyword ideas.

(Including some that you won’t find in most other tools.)

Plus, you get helpful data on every keyword that it generates (including competition, search volume, and potential traffic).

Jaaxy – "keto diet" results

My Favorite Feature: QSR

QSR stands for “Quoted Search Result”.

This is a fancy way of saying: “how many other websites are trying to rank for this exact term?”.

Obviously, the lower this number, the better chance you have of ranking #1.

Jaaxy – QSR

Jaaxy is a decent freemium tool. Not nearly as good as something like Semrush. But at $50/month, it’s not a bad deal.

6. Google Search Console

Find hundreds of “Opportunity Keywords”.

The Google Search Console isn’t a traditional keyword research tool.

But it does have a feature that makes finding awesome keywords a CINCH.

The feature?

The Performance Report .

This report list out the pages on your site that get the most clicks from Google.

(And the exact keywords that brought them there)

So: how can you use this feature for keyword research?

It’s easy: use it to find “Opportunity Keywords”.

Opportunity Keywords are where you rank between #8-#20 in Google for a specific keyword.

And with little extra on-page SEO , you can find yourself with a nice rankings boost.

For example, my average rankings for the keyword “SEO tool” is 6.2.

"seo tool" SERP – Average position

That keyword is an Opportunity Keyword. And if I optimize my page around “SEO tool”, my rankings for that term should go up.

My Favorite Feature: Google Analytics + Google Search Console

Did you know that you can combine your Google Search Console and Google Analytics accounts?

Well, you can.

And it’s VERY helpful.

When you do, you’ll get more in-depth keyword data than you would with either tool by itself.

The Google Search Console is an underrated keyword research tool. No other tool can help you find Opportunity Keywords like the GSC.

7. Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

Make smarter keyword decisions.

Ahrefs recently rolled out a new and improved “Keywords Explorer”.

And what I like most about Keywords Explorer is this:

It gives you SUPER in-depth information on each keyword.

Sure, you get the data you’d expect (like search volume). But you also get a breakdown of the first page competition… and how many searchers actually click on a result.

Ahrefs – Keyword Overview – "link building"

My Favorite Feature: Keyword Difficulty

Most keyword research tools give you vague difficulty info (like “easy” or “difficult”). Or a score (like “89/100”).

But Ahrefs tells you EXACTLY how many backlinks you’ll need to rank on the first page of Google.

Keyword Difficulty – Link building

Ahrefs is mostly known as for backlink analysis. But I have to say: it’s got a killer keyword research tool. I find myself using it more and more every week.

8. SECockpit

Keyword research for SEO pros.

This a Swiss Army Knife of keyword research tools.

Like any other keyword tool, you give SECockpit a seed keyword… and you get a list of results.

But what makes SECockpit unique is the built-in features that allow you to get A LOT of depth on search trends, organic competition and traffic estimates.

Which means that it’s a tool largely designed for SEO professionals.

Sure, newbies can get value out of this tool. But there’s no doubt that SECockpit is targeted for people that sleep, eat and breathe SEO.

If you’re brand new to SEO, the sheer number of features in this tool might be overwhelming for you. But if you’re looking for lots and lots of depth, you’ll probably get your money’s worth.

With that, here’s how it works.

When you login you’ll automatically go to your Dashboard, where you can create projects around sets of keywords…or jump right in with a single keyword search.

SECockpit – Dashboard

To start the keyword research process, click on “Start a Keyword Search”:

free keyword research tool

Then, enter a seed keyword in the field marked “Keyword Phrase”:

free keyword research tool

You can get even more results by choosing to include Google Suggest, Related Searches and synonyms pulled from Google Ads:

free keyword research tool

When you’re done, click on “save and close” and the tool will get to work:

free keyword research tool

Here’s the report you’ll get:

free keyword research tool

If you’ve ever used the Google Keyword Planner , the data here should look familiar to you.

In fact, the columns “Phrase”, “Monthly Searches” and “CPC” are pulled directly from the GKP:

free keyword research tool

(The only difference is that CPC is called “Top of page bid” in the GKP)

So: what does the other information in SECockpit mean?

Well you’ll notice a bunch of green bars under the column labeled “Niche”:

free keyword research tool

This bar is a single metric that takes into account first page competition, monthly search volume, and commercial intent. In other words, whether or not that search query is a good overall choice. The larger the bar, the better the keyword.

Next to monthly searches you’ll notice a series of orange bars labeled “Top Results”:

free keyword research tool

This bar indicates the difficulty of ranking for that particular keyword based on the current top 10 results.

And when you click on a keyword, you get a breakdown of that keyword’s search results.

When you do, SECockpit will display important competition metrics for the top 10 pages in the results… including Moz Domain Authority and total backlinks:

SECockpit – Competition metrics

This is a great way to quickly size up competition without having to look one-by-one at the SERPs .

And you go back to the keywords page, you can actually add at least 20 more columns to the results:

free keyword research tool

For example, you can see a ratio of the keyword’s competition in comparison to its search volume. Or you can get a comparison of the estimated traffic you’ll get from hitting the top 3 for that keyword. And lots more.

My Favorite Feature: Filtering

You can use over 100 filters to find the keywords that you want.

For example, do you only want keywords that get searched for at least 10k times per month? Done.

Or maybe you want terms that have the best ratio of search volume and competition. You got it.

SECockpit – Filters

Clunky? Yes. Intuitive? Heck no. Feature-rich? Absolutely. If you want lots of advanced features, and don’t mind a steep learning curve, definitely check out SECockpit.

9. Google Keyword Planner

Tap into Google’s massive keyword database.

The GKP is pretty vanilla compared to most other keyword research tools.

So why use it?

Because the data you get from it comes straight from Google.

(So you know its legit)

"link building" Google Keyword Planner results page

My Favorite Feature: “Top of page bid”

This is how much people advertisers are bidding on a keyword.

For example, of you see a top of page bid of $10, people are spending an average of 10 bucks per click.

Obviously, the higher this number, the more commercial intent that searcher has.

Google Keyword Planner – Top of page bid

The data in the GKP is the most reliable out there. That said, because it’s designed for Google Ads, using it for SEO can be tricky. This Google Keyword Planner Guide shows you how the GKP for SEO-focused keyword research.

10. KeywordTool.io

Get boatloads of targeted keyword ideas.

Here’s another Google Suggest scraper (just like UberSuggest and Soovle).

What makes KeywordTool unique?

Two things:

First, KeywordTool gives you A LOT of keyword suggestions.

KeywordTool.io – "seo" search results

For example, I just did a search for “SEO”… and got 1,394 relevant keywords.

Second, you can easily filter, drill-down or expand the results to find the right keywords for you.

KeywordTool – Filtering

My Favorite Feature: Analyze Competitors

This is a very cool feature I don’t see in many other keyword research tools.

Just enter a competitor’s site… and the tool will generate a list of keyword ideas based on that site’s content.

For example, when I pop Backlinko into the tool, I get keywords that I’d expect.

(Like “SEO” and “blog”)

KeywordTool – Analyze competitors

But I also came across terms that I don’t use anywhere on my site… but are closely related to the type of stuff that I write about.

(Like “digital marketing” and “how to check backlinks”)

KeywordTool – Untapped terms

One of the best overall keyword research tools on the market. Worth a try.

11. Moz Keyword Explorer

Find keywords that will generate the most traffic.

Moz’s Keyword Explorer does an awesome job of finding “lateral” keyword ideas.

For example, take a seed keyword like “weight loss”.

Like most other tools, you get a list of closely related keywords:

Moz – "weight loss" search

But what makes Moz unique is that it’s SMART.

This means you get outside-the-box suggestions that you probably won’t find anywhere else.

Moz – Outside the box keywords

My Favorite Feature: “Organic CTR” and “Priority”

These two awesome features let you know how many clicks you can expect to get from your target keyword.

Moz – Organic CTR

Organic CTR is the number of clicks you can expect to get if you crack the top 10. For example, if a SERP has a ton of PPC ads, news results, and a knowledge graph, your CTR is gonna be low.

Priority takesCTR, search volume and difficulty into account. It’s an “overall” score of whether or not you should target a particular keyword.

Moz – Priority

So if you’re overwhelmed by keyword data, you can use this single metric to find keywords that are going to bring you the most traffic from Google.

Moz’s keyword tool is pretty darn awesome. Unfortunately, it’s not a standalone tool (you have to pay for their entire suite of SEO tools to use it).

12. Keywords Everywhere

Get search volume (and more) wherever you go.

Keywords Everywhere is a paid keyword research tool that displays keyword data on top of 10 websites …including Ebay, Amazon and Answer The Public.

That way, you don’t need to copy and paste keywords into the Google Keyword Planner. The data shows up in your Chrome browser. Very cool.

Keywords Everywhere – Homepage

My Favorite Feature: “People Also Search For”

Get a list of keywords related to your search term… in the Google search results.

Keywords Everywhere – People Also Search For

What’s cool about this feature is that you can find keywords that your target customer searches for when they’re not searching for what you sell.

For example, when I search for “SEO Tools”, I see terms like “Google Keyword Planner SEO” and “”Free SEO analysis”.

(Both of which get decent amounts of searches every month)

Keywords Everywhere – "seo tools" search

If you’re serious about keyword research you NEED to install this extension. It rocks.

13. Keyword Snatcher

Find 2,000 keyword ideas with a single search.

If you want a lot – and I mean a lot – of keyword ideas, Keyword Snatcher is a dream come true.

In fact, you’ll usually generate at least 2,000 keywords from a single seed keyword.

Just open up the tool and choose the sources that you want Keyword Snatcher to pull its suggestions from:

free keyword research tool

I recommend keeping them all checked so you can generate as many keyword ideas as possible.

Next, enter a seed keyword into the field and click “Get Suggestions”:

free keyword research tool

And after a long wait, you’ll get an insane amount of suggestions:

Keyword Snatcher – Suggestions

The big downside of this tool is that it doesn’t give you any data on the keywords that it generates (like search volume and keyword competition). It’s simply a keyword idea tool.

To get that information, you need to extract the list of keywords by clicking on “Download Suggestions” and saving your keyword list as a text or CSV file:

free keyword research tool

Then, copy and paste those keywords into the Google Keyword Planner.

Google Keyword Planner – Volume & Forecasts

My Favorite Feature: Word Count

This nifty sorting feature lets you focus on keywords that are a certain length.

(Like terms that are at least 4-words long)

This makes finding long tail keywords MUCH easier.

Keyword Snatcher – Word count

Not the best keyword tool ever made. But it’s one of the few out there that don’t require a monthly subscription.

14. Google Trends

Find new keywords and search trends.

There are two ways to use Google Trends for keyword research:

First, you can search for a specific keyword…

Google Trends

…and take a look at the “related queries” section.

Google Trends – Related Queries

Second, you can see if whether or not a keyword is growing in popularity.

Google Trends – Interest over time

Why is this important?

Well, let’s say you’re debating between two keywords:

“Content Marketing” and “Inbound Marketing”.

As you can see, interest for “Content Marketing” is growing fast… and fewer people are searching for “Inbound Marketing” than ever before.

Google Trends – Interest over time – Comparison

This isn’t to say that “Inbound Marketing” is a bad keyword. But the fact that it’s trending down is one factor to keep in mind as you decide on your next keyword.

My Favorite Feature: YouTube Search

See whether a given keyword is growing on the world’s 2nd most popular search engine: YouTube.

Google Trends – Interest over time – YouTube

If you write lots of evergreen content , you NEED to use Google Trends. That way, you can see if a keyword is going to bring you traffic over the long haul… before you write a word of content.

15. KWFinder

A powerful keyword tool that’s also easy to use. KWFinder is quickly becoming one of my go-to keyword research tools.

Because it has lots of the features that other tools have. But unlike most other tool, KWFinder is VERY intuitive.


As you might expect, this tells you how hard it will be to rank for that keyword.

But unlike most other tools, KWFinder automatically shows a Keyword Difficulty score next to every keyword.

(So there’s no need to click on every single one to see its difficulty score… which gets old fast)

KWFinder – Keyword difficulty

At $29/month you really can’t go wrong with a KWFinder subscription. Great value.

16. QuestionDB

Find lots of question-focused keyword ideas (for free).

QuestionDB pulls question-focused keywords from threads on Reddit.

So if you’re looking for an alternative to Answer The Public, QuestionDB does the job.

QuestionDB – Search

My Favorite Feature: Popularity Sort the results by popularity. That way, you can create content that answers these burning questions.

QuestionDB – Results

When it comes to finding question-keywords for blog content, QuestionDB can’t be beat.

17. Serpstat

Analyze the first page competition. Serpstat is a SEO software suite with tools for content, link building, and more.

Which means Serpstat doesn’t specialize in keyword research.

Even so, it still has a VERY decent keyword research tool.


My Favorite Feature: Competitors Graph This lets you visualize the sites that are competing for a given keyword (and related terms).

So if you see big bubbles for “Wikipedia” or “Amazon” it’s probably time to look for a different keyword.

SerpStat – Competitors graph

Is Serpstat one of best tools on the market? No. But at $19 a month, you get a lot of pro features for your money.

18. AlsoAsked 

AlsoAsked a fantastic tool for topic cluster research.

Seasoned SEOs understand that the best way to rank for head keywords is to create topic clusters — multiple pages that talk about the topic in-depth.

AlsoAsked helps you map out these clusters and visualize how people ask questions on the topic.

For example, let’s say you wanted to rank for ‘home security cameras’ – a head keyword that has a 100,000 monthly search volume.

home security cameras as visible on AlsoAsked

Plugging this keyword into AlsoAsked gives us four distinct cluster topics, divided into specific questions around each cluster.

Answering these questions in your content is an excellent method of building authoritative topic clusters — and driving tons of SEO traffic.

Brian's Bottom Line

With API access coming soon on Alsoasked, and with an affordable pricing, it could be a tool for SEO veterans to use while undertaking massive SERP analysis across different niches and regions.

19. KeywordTool

Great app for bulk keyword research.

Rounding up our list is Keyword Tool. It’s a great app for bulk keyword research, although the free plan is somewhat limited.

Plugging a generic keyword into the tool gives you a massive list of keyword suggestions, sorted by search volume, trend, and competition.

Key in your target keywords and see the results

Generate lots of relevant keywords by using this tool. However, the tool needs complimentary insights to get the most out of its output. Plus, it integrates data from other search engines besides Google thus opens more ranking opportunities.

So greatfull for this info thanks!

No problem Carlos

There is no better SEO Keyword Research tool other than Google Keyword Planner and Ahrefs. Other give more keywords but they are more effective (according to my keyword research experience).

Thanks Alan. Have you tried SEMRush? It’s also pretty awesome.

How do you feel about mangools?

KWfinder is pretty cool

Mr. Dean I wanted to drop in and personally thank you for everything you do for us rookies in the online marketing field. I have learned so much from your lessons/guides/articles/videos you name it! I also been using Raven Tools and find it pretty helpful as well in regards to keyword research, what say you? Look forward to all your future posts! Also, it says a lot about you that you actually take the time and respond to the comments that users leave you in your articles, don’t really see that too often these days! All the best!

Thanks Daniel. Raven Tools is great, but I haven’t used it for keyword research.

Great stuff Brian! Any recommendations on prioritizing different iterations of keywords within broader keyword themes? Keyword difficulty, search volume etc.

Really good question, Haley. I’d check out this guide that walks you through some of the steps to figuring out the best keywords on a list: http://www.backlinko.com/keyword-research

Brian, thank you for all of these informative guides! I started out as a digital marketing intern and everything that I learned from your site has helped me land a job as a marketing specialist. I’m truly grateful and enjoy everything that you published so far. If you have a chance, I’ve started using this tool called SEOClarity, I was wondering what’s your take on it? Have you used it before or know anyone that has?

Thanks again!

You’re welcome, Nathalie. I actually tried to review SEOClarity a few years ago for my big SEO tools post: https://backlinko.com/seo-tools . I sent them a demo request but never heard from them.

Brian, I´m beyond grateful with this article. It´s really complete and very, very useful, and specially your hint on Google Search Console. I’d like to suggest an article: how to index on Bing? And is it worth it? Thanks!!

Thank you for this fab article! I use Jaaxy (I’m at Wealthy Affiliate, so it comes with the membership), and I like it a lot. However, now that I see you recommend the SEMRush – it will be my next investment in keyword research tools.

Thank you for the amazing info you share with us! Best, Alenka

P.S. Love your YT videos 🙂

You’re welcome, Alenka. Happy to help

SerpStat or Kwfinder (and the mangools suite)? Which one is the better value?

In my opinion, KWFinder

Thanks for the information. Have you tried Wordtracker keyword tool before? What do you think about it?

You’re welcome. I have tried it actually. Solid tool.

Thanks for the very comprehensive keyword tools list.

I am trying to find out anyone tools that can search, generates or suggest alphabetically any keyword *before* the seed (main) keyword.

any keyword + usa (main or seed keyword)

Anyone that I missed?

Again, thanks a lot for your effort 🙂

I think Keywordtool.io does that.

Great list indeed. Which tool do you use often?

Probably SEMRush.

Hey Brian, just to let you know – ‘Suggestion Keyword Finder’ is a non secured site. Personally don’t think non secure websites are value.

Thanks. I’ll check it out.

Thanks for the post. I use Ahrefs myself, but now looking for other tools. Have you tried Windsor keyword optimizer? They have invite-only mode, so looking for the code right now.

You’re welcome, Thomas. I haven’t seen that actually.

Awesome stuff, I’ve tried one or two from the list and settled for Keywords Everywhere Chrome Extension. It works like CHARM for me.

What tool’s Keyword Difficulty would you say is the most accurate? As I understand Ahrefs use a KD score based on the links profile, however that is not always the case. While other tools look more if the keyword is in the title, the number of words of the article etc…

For me, the most important feature is Keyword Difficulty accuracy.

I say most use links to estimate KD. Which tool uses keyword in the title etc?

It’s a great list. I use Keyword Planner and Keyword Everywhere most of the time, I’ll definitely give a try to other tools. Thanks Brian, your content is really helpful for me.

As always great information. Have you tried StoryBase? What do you think about it?

Ubersuggest is also a good tool. I have been using this for a long time. Thanks for this awesome list.

Great list, very helpful. Thank you Brian! Do you happen to know of any free tool for monitoring keywords for your website? Thank you.

You’re welcome, David. I usually use paid tools for that so I’m not 100% of any free ones that work well.

Hi Brian! Thanks for this awesome list… very comprehensive! But I have a question for you… As a small luxury retail business I am of course very keen to get our SEO for the website spot on. My assumption is that one should choose a few options for keyword research and SEO and stick with them. What would be your SEO software bucket list that you would use on a regular basis? Thanks! Nisa

Hi, Brian What about Seobook.com keywords suggestion tool. Is It Good For Researching keywords.

Thanks a lot, this is awesome.

Would also recommend KeyworX if you get chance to look at it ( https://keyworx.org/ )

Not sure if it would factor in your list or not but it’s certainly worth being aware of

Hi, Brian 14 th keyword tool showing 404 error. I am following your guides for a long time thanks for your big knowledge sharing.

Thanks. I’ll replace that ASAP.

is there a tool you recommend for seeing how many words of content the top 10 competitors are using?

I know clearscope does that. I’m surprised it’s not a feature in more tools.

Absolutely great guideline. But each one will not able to pick several tools. So if anyone asks to recommend only one among all, what will be your recommendation?

Hello Brian, We really need a tool that can support every language for a keyword research. More local – based. And even better if that tool, is a freemium one! Do you have any suggestions?

Hi Brian, great piece as usual. I used the Alexa tool for about 3 months. It was steep at $149 a month. Based on your recommendation I cancelled Alexa and subscribed to SEMRush. Is the Alexa tool without merit entirely? Why didn’t you list it? Just curious I geuss. Thanks, Dave

Hey Dave, thank you. I actually haven’t tried the Alexa tool in years. I haven’t really needed to thanks to SEMRush.

Man I’m just eating up your content more and more I read from you. Such an amazing blog.

I’m the owner of a relatively new keyword tool called Keyword Supremacy. We give away free accounts so you can get as many keyword suggestions as you like for free, but getting the search volume, CPC and comp metrics are what cost money.

However, we don’t charge monthly or annually, we sell non-expiring credits as a way to keep our customer VERY happy. Buy some credits, when they are used up, buy some more kind of thing.

We also have a very unique “Local Search” only keyword search that cross references the populations of all towns and cities in USA, Canada & UK. So you can put in a search like “plumber” then choose to see all the cities in “California” with a population of between 50k – 100k and it will spit out plumber suggestions attached to the locale. Pretty neat.

Would I be able to give you a personal tour to make it onto this list possibly?

Informative content Brian Dean. I appreciate the time and energy spent to make this article exist. But I’m still curious! Could you recommend the top three keyword tools in both paid and free versions (3 free & 3 paid). Thanks in advance.

What about Ubersuggest it is good and accurate?

No Long Tail Pro anymore? I know it was in a previous list of yours.

Hi Phil, LTP is solid. But not in my top 15 at the moment.

Hey Brian, really great work, as usual. Just the best :-). I’d like to add another great keyword or better ‘question tool’ called “answerthepublic”. Just google it and check out if it fits. Best regards from Germany, Udo

Thanks Udo. I’m also a big fan of that tool.

Hey Brian, Keywords Everywhere just became a paid chrome extension. Is there a substitute that is free. I simply want to see how many searches per month for a keyword if I check a keyword on google. Very simple.

Hi Eran, I just read that. I plan on updating the post with a new tool. In the meantime, your best bet for figuring out search volume is the Google Keyword Planner.

Hi Brian! Thanks for this awesome list… very comprehensive! But I have a question for you… As a small luxury retail business I am of course very keen to get our SEO for the website spot on. My assumption is that one should choose a few options for keyword research and SEO and stick with them. What would be your SEO software bucket list that you would use on a regular basis? Thanks!

You’re welcome. The thing is, the “best” tools depend on each business, your marketing budget etc. That said, I list my favorites here: https://backlinko.com/seo-tools

Great Article very helpful. What are your views about Longtail Pro? I’d be interested in your opinion.

Have you ever tried Marketing Miner? It has more click-stream data than SEMRush, and Cyrus Shepard uses it on Keyword Research.

Hi Tomas, I haven’t tried Marketing Miner. I have to check it out!

Hi there. What’s your take on Keysearch?

Thanks! Lori

You are not just the backlinko you are also the bosslinko 😀 :*

Again Great post but you missed the https://answerthepublic.com/ It is also one of the best keyword tool.

Great list. I personally use Ahrefs, Google Search Console and Senuto.com

Great list but I can’t believe you left out Ubersuggest which is simply the best free SEO keyword finder tool right now. Or was that intentional…

Thanks. Ubersuggest is great. I’m actually working on a post that dives into how to get the most out of that tool right now.

Wow! Can’t wait to read that post.

Great list…do you think Google Keyword Planner is really that accurate? Search volume of 10-100,000 seems very broad. Hearing many conflicting views on accuracy of this keyword tool for SEO

Heyy Brian, Looking at your blog post has always inspired me to create quality content. Thank you for not being a generic blog post popping up on Google.

No one is better than Ahref and Google Keyword Planner(According to my experience). Ahref is my primary choice if we come on Keyword Research. SEMRush’s Writing assistant is also a good tool. I always use Ahref, Keyword Anywhere to know all the keyword on any particular page and SEMRush.

Thanks, Brian,

I always appreciate your thorough information. It’s very helpful!

I personally use Jaaxy and love it. It gives me everything I need, and many great ideas for future articles.

Cheers, Suzanne

Hey Brian, What do you think about https://answerthepublic.com/ as a KW research tool. – It’s pretty in-depth! All the best, Tom

Thank you Brian, you did a great job but nowadays I am finding it difficult to get to know about keyword difficulty. Although Ahref has some cool features regarding KD, but from my personal experience, I don’t think the data is as much reliable as it should be. I have tried many keyword difficulty tools and ahref estimation is better than other tools but still, it needs improvements. So here my question is, can you please recommend us a way to find out KD of keywords that would be exact and super accurate. I would really appreciate if you can refer us any resource. Keep rocking…

Hi Furqan, the only real way to estimate KD is to publish a page. Every tool calculates KD differently: https://backlinko.com/keyword-research-tool-analysis

Hi Brian, this is some great information. My blog is pretty new so I’ve been learning as I go, but I decided to start with using KeySearch as it was in the ‘budget’ category but seemed to offer some good features. Overall it seems to be decent, and I certainly can’t justify the price tags on SEMrush or AHRefs quite yet, but they look really tempting! What would you recommend to be the next step up from KeySearch that I should aim for as my next upgrade? Thanks! Matt

Thanks Matt. I’d look at SEMRush or Ahrefs next. They both have excellent keyword tools.

Hi there! Thanks for providing such valuable and useful information! These tools seem really useful!

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Find ideas for keywords with the Research Tool

Just put in a keyword and get suggestions


Find relevant keywords for your content with this free, fast and easy-to-use tool.

You already have an idea for a landing page or piece of content and know which keyword to optimize on, but you’re still looking for related keywords? Use our free Keyword Research Tool to find relevant keywords for your content.

Here’s how it works: enter your keyword in the first field, select a country and click on "Start research". You don't have to limit your search to a single word as you can also enter word groups or phrases (e.g. "best keyword research tool"). After a few seconds, you will get a clear list of related keywords that our tool has found for your search term or phrase.

Example Keyword Research

Clear keyword list

To help you with your research, our tool also provides you with the search volume, CPC (Cost per Click on Google Ads) and competition of each keyword. This way, you can decide which keywords are actually important for you and have the greatest potential for your SEO. An example:


Select your keyword

Enter the search term you want to rank for, e.g. “keyword research”.

Analysis starts

The tool analyzes 100 related keywords that are relevant in this context.

Compare search volume

The results are already sorted by search volume so that the most important keywords will be right at the top.

Select keywords

You can now select the keywords that are relevant for you and include them in your text.

Compare CPCs

If you want to start a Google Ads campaign, the CPC indicates the click prices you can expect.

Evaluate keyword competition

The bar at the right shows how strong the competition for each keyword is. The higher the competition, the harder it will be to rank for this keyword on Google.

How to find the right keyword?

Finding the right keyword to achieve good Google rankings and increase your search traffic is not easy and requires an analytical process. Even if your website ranks high for a specific keyword in Google’s search results, it doesn't mean that this keyword will bring success. Does the keyword have a high search volume? Which topics could also be interesting? The following tips for your keyword research will help you find such related terms.


Google Suggest

While you are typing in your keyword, Google will suggest further, complementary terms (this is called "Google Suggest"). You can use these keywords for a deeper, more accurate search.


Related searches

Once you have submitted your search query, scroll down to the bottom of the first search result page. There you will find other search queries that are related to your search term. These terms and word groups can also be an important source for research.


Compare keywords

You can now compare the terms from Google Suggest with the related search queries. Consider including terms in your text, that appear in both places as these seem to be highly relevant for users.


Refine your research

Use the terms suggested by Google to refine your keyword research with this tool. This way, you will get even more terms that you can use to create and optimize your content.

What to bear in mind when doing your research

When creating your content, you should not include too many of the terms from your keyword research. Both Google and our free keyword tool only give you suggestions that are important but not mandatory. Always write your text in a way that makes it readable and interesting for users. Through various updates in the past, Google is now able to detect overoptimized SEO texts that don’t provide real value to users. Therefore, you should always ask yourself what your users are actually interested in when you’re creating content for them. Combining this with sound keyword research will help you create content that is both valuable to users and optimized for search engines.

Interesting links on the subject of keyword research

  • https://backlinko.com/keyword-research
  • https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-do-keyword-research-ht
  • https://www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-guide/complete-guide-keyword-research/

Find long tail keywords with low SEO difficulty

Kwfinder is the only keyword tool in the universe you will ever need. seriously 😎.

  • Search b B y Keyword
  • Search b B y Domain

Screenshot of KWFinder app

Trusted by the big ones, loved by everyone

Keyword analysis tool, find keywords that you can easily rank for.

Keyword analysis is no rocket science. 🚀 Just go for the keywords with low SEO difficulty and high search volume. We have exact search volumes and the most accurate keyword difficulty!

KWFinder has lots of the features that other tools have. But unlike most other tools, it's VERY intuitive. At $29/month you really can’t go wrong with a Mangools subscription. Great value.

Competitor keyword research tool

See what your competitors rank for.

Don't know where to start? Find out what works for your competitors. Just enter their domain or URL and our keyword finder tool will show you the best keywords they rank for. Easy-peasy 😎

Screenshot of Competitors keyword research

KWFinder is a super-effective tool for finding easy-to-rank keywords. What I love the most is its interface. Simple and straightforward, exactly how most SEO tools should be.

Exact search volumes and search trends

Get search volumes with historical data.

Timing is the key to keyword analysis! Create content based on historical search volumes and long-term trends. Identify seasonal keywords and hot topics 🌶️ that will boost the organic traffic of your website.

Screenshot of search volumes in keyword finder

Weekend is for planning ;) Using KWFinder to find a gold mine of keyword opportunities! Amazing tool!

Keyword finder tool meant for local SEO

Local keyword research and serp analysis.

Find location-specific long tail keywords for your website! Choose from more than 50k locations 🌍 and get precise local search results for each keyword.

screenshot of location finder

Mangools has a good mix of simple and advanced data for both newbies and experienced users to work with. This is in contrast to some other tools, which have too many advanced settings and data for newbies to figure out quickly.

What's under the hood

Thousands of keyword ideas.

Get 5 lookups per 24 hours, 15 related and 5 competitor keywords per lookup for free.

Approved by SEO authorities

“At a low price and with new functionality rolling out regularly, KWFinder is easy-to-use, and inherently valuable tool to have in your SEO arsenal.”

review author: homeworkingclub

“Mangools brings ease of use to a type of tools that are often mind-blowingly complicated. The supplementary features make it even more compelling.”
“KWFinder is an excellent tool that really simplifies the keyword research process in a way other tools just haven’t managed to do.”

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Google Keyword Planner: How To Use The Free Tool For SEO

Don't get overwhelmed by the wide range of SEO tools. Start by utilizing Google Keyword Planner effectively for your keyword research.

free keyword research tool

With all the options on the market, deciding which SEO tools you want to use can be a bit overwhelming.

There are many tools for keyword research, competitive analysis, keyword rankings, and all the other tasks we complete as SEO pros.

The number of SEO tools available continues to grow, and it can be challenging to determine which is best for you.

That answer depends on many factors, including budget, team size, and the structure of your business and website.

Do you run a blog or an ecommerce store? Are you at an agency or in-house ?

The list goes on, and you don’t want all those options to give you analysis paralysis.

Google Keyword Planner is one of the most common keyword research tools and has been around for quite a long time.

The benefit of using Google Keyword Planner for keyword research is that it is free and uses Google data.

If you don’t know what to use, Keyword Planner is a safe pick that can provide value to just about anyone.

This article will walk you through how to leverage Keyword Planner for your keyword research needs.

What Is Google Keyword Planner?

Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that assists digital marketers in their research efforts, most commonly for search campaigns, both paid and organic.

It highlights various types of “keywords” or “search phrases and terms” related to your business.

Keyword Planner estimates the monthly search volume for specific keywords and the cost of targeting them with a paid campaign.

While Keyword Planner’s original intent was for paid search campaigns, the tool is valuable beyond search engine marketing (SEM).

SEO pros have been dipping into this free tool for years as a free resource for keyword research.

Why Use Google Keyword Planner For SEO?

Google Keyword Planner offers the ability to look for keyword insights for free.

Many tools require a paid subscription, but Keyword Planner is a free alternative that allows you to conduct keyword research .

Keyword Planner has many benefits, including finding new keywords related to your objective and determining how many times consumers search for these each month.

Suppose you don’t have access to any paid tools yet. In that case, Keyword Planner can help you identify what is essential in a keyword research tool so you know what features to look for when shopping around later.

How To Get Started With Google Keyword Planner For SEO

Now, let’s walk through the steps to getting Keyword Planner set up – and getting you one step closer to your keyword research goals.

1. Create An Account

First and foremost, you need to have a Google account to leverage Google Keyword Planner.

If you already have an account, you will need to log in.

Google Keyword Planner Login screen

Once you have created your new account, log into Keyword Planner .

3. Choose A Task

Upon logging into Keyword Planner, you will be presented with two options: “Discover new keywords” and “Get search volume and forecasts.”

If you are unsure which option you are looking for, jump in and try one!

Mining The Data For Strategies

Discovering new keywords is a great option when you want to expand the keywords, phrases, or topics you cover for your domain.

You can also use a domain’s URL to help filter out suggestions that don’t match your business well. This means that the domain you use will filter out any keywords that are a service/product you don’t offer.

This will provide you with ideas for related keywords, the monthly search volume, how much demand has changed year-over-year, the level of competition, and the cost per click (CPC).

You have the option to broaden your search to include other keywords to give you more diverse keyword ideas .

You can also narrow it down to the desired criteria for location, language, and time frames.

If you want to get even more granular, depending on your search topics, you will be given the option to refine based on options like brand or non-brand, new or used.

1. Discovering New Keywords

Let’s walk through an example.

You are looking for new opportunities to target for Xbox.com in terms of gaming. You start with products or services closely related to your business, such as “Xbox games” and “gaming.”

You will then use xbox.com as the site to filter out unrelated keywords and run the results.

Discover new keywords adding services and url

2. Location

Now, let’s take your results and narrow them down even further.

By default, it is filtered to the United States and the last 12 month’s timeframe.

You are going to narrow down your location, which also allows you to see the “reach” in different locations.

Reach is defined as the estimate of how many people are interested in the topics you choose on specific sites. It is based on the number of signed-in users visiting Google sites, so keep in mind that demand could be much higher.

Location selection in keyword planner

You will change your location to California, giving you opportunities to reach your California audience.

Using location could show significant shifts in keywords, but it also may not. This depends on your product or service.

There are other filters available, but for this scenario, I will mention the dropdown where it defaults to “Google.” You can change this to Google and Search Partners.

These sites partner with Google to show advertisements and free products, such as YouTube.

Expanding your research to partner sites can be a great opportunity if you are wondering about overall reach or planning to pursue topics from angles other than just written content – like video .

When you look at the keyword ideas, they are sorted by relevance. Keep in mind the top keywords might not be your greatest opportunity.

In this example, you can take a look at the average monthly searches, the three-month change, year-over-year changes, and competition to get you started for SEO strategy purposes.

The first set of keyword ideas is very broad, or head terms, with a lot of volume, pretty flat YoY, and high-medium competition.

So, as you scroll down and keep an eye on the fields we outlined above, some opportunities stick out here.

3. High Volume Broad Vs . Narrowing

First, Fortnite.

Fortnite is a popular video game played across many gaming consoles.

Remember, it filters results based on Xbox.com and its products and services. This could be an excellent opportunity to pursue if you haven’t maximized it yet.

It shows an average demand of 1-10 million per month for California alone, stable demand over the last year, and low competition!

From here, you would dive deeper into Fortnite to decide what strategy and tactics would allow us to perform well in the space.

reviewing the data in keyword planner based on volume

4. Seasonal Opportunities

The second stand-out opportunity is for another game on the list, “Madden 23.”

Pretend that, for the sake of this exercise, you are not familiar with this popular game franchise. Seeing the monthly demand of 10,000 to 100,000, a year-over-year decline in interest of ~90%, and high competition.

These data points could lead you to look into Madden 24 and preparing a strategy around this topic, year after year.

Remember, keyword and topic research doesn’t have to yield net new ideas every time. There are events, products, services, etc., that occur on a cadence, so leverage that knowledge and those reoccurring opportunities.

reviewing the data for opportunities with changes MoM

5. Refine Even Further: Brand, Game, And Others

You can also leverage the “refine keywords” to add another layer.

For this use case, you can filter opportunities by brand or non-brand, game, food, and others. You will filter by brand and choose “Lego.”

Using the refine keywords filters

As you can see, your results get even more granular and present you with specific opportunities around “lego.”

Leveraging the logic we discussed in example two, we see a trend for the “Star Wars Lego game,” which has increased by 900% in the last three months. This indicates that this is a hot topic and an opportunity for you to capitalize on.

You can also leverage the “game” filter in this example, similar to “brand.” The filtering opportunities aren’t perfect, but they can definitely help form strategies when appropriately leveraged.

Bonus Strategies & Tips

1. save money.

Everyone likes to save money, so why not use that data point to help form a strategy?

One of the columns we can leverage for this in Discover Keywords is the “top of page bid (high range).” Sort by this column to view the most expensive keywords first.

You can then evaluate this list in partnership with your partners in SEM for any costly keywords that are a priority for the brand.

Once you identify these, you can decide how to better capitalize on these keywords in the organic search landscape, whether to improve ranking, gain a featured snippet , drive higher click-through rates, etc.

2. Export Your Data

While there are many ways to expand and filter the data, there is also a way to export it to share with your team or manipulate it in an Excel file in a way that benefits you.

Select “download keyword ideas” and choose Google Sheets or CSV file format.

3. Unlock The Exact Data

If you have used Google Keyword Planner over the years, you know Google hasn’t been open to sharing exact search volumes, which can be frustrating, as a range might be from 1,000 to 10,000 searches per month.

This can be a bit too broad, especially when looking at long-tail keyword opportunities .

There is a new “trick” to unlock the exact search volume when you need it in Keyword Planner. Leveraging the “Get search volume and forecasts,” we used “discover new keywords” for the example above, so we’re changing gears.

choosing the search volume and forecasts tab

From there:

  • Enter your keyword in square brackets.
  • Navigate to the Forecast tab.
  • Click the arrow to show the graph.
  • Look for the highest cost on the graph and click on it.
  • Look at the impressions column.

Knowing you selected the highest cost, your impression volume should directionally show search volume per month.

This may seem like a lengthy process and can be a bit tricky, so if you have access to other tools for exact search volume, that would be great. However, if you don’t, this can be very helpful.

4. Understand Your Audience

For international and national brands, don’t rule out the value that exists in localization strategies. I am not referring to just having a Google Business Profile for your brand; what I mean is knowing your audience and crafting strategies for them.

Go to the saved keywords tab and select the keyword you would like to use. If you don’t have any saved keywords, add one and name the group.

Once this is saved, navigate to the forecast tab and scroll down to the locations module. You can view this by region, state, county, etc.

Continuing with our example above, for the term “Fortnite,” the top city is New York City. But Miami is in the top 5; you may consider targeting Miami as one of your opportunities to grow.

That could be a variety of things, but if your goals are to increase awareness and bring people to your website, you may explore written content about Fortnite with contextual information relevant to Miami.

Outside of SEO, you may decide to connect with an influencer with a high presence in Miami. The list can go on forever.

location breakdown by city in keyword planner

You can also leverage the Device section to adjust or optimize strategies you have in place.

For the term Fortnite, we see that most impressions may happen on mobile phones. Still, actual clicks and conversions happen at a higher rate on desktops.

Does that change your strategy in terms of how you create SEO content? Maybe not. Could it change how you align your calls to action on your experience? It could.

device breakdown in keyword planner

Both are great examples of ways to leverage Keyword Planner for SEO, but they should be taken to the next level to drive results.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways to leverage Keyword Planner for various marketing channels besides its initial creation, which focused on the PPC space.

The opportunity to leverage the tool lies in the “how” you use it and the data it provides. We reviewed how to get started, use the functionalities, and leverage that data for strategy.

As an SEO professional, I always recommend using tools to complement each other rather than using only one. However, not everyone has access to various tools.

You can form an entire SEO strategy by leveraging only Google Keyword Planner and maybe some other acquisition strategies as well.

If you are in a position where you can leverage different tools, I recommend reading about these keyword research tools.

More resources:

  • How To Effectively Perform Keyword Research For Ecommerce
  • Top 7 SEO Keyword Research Tools For Agencies
  • A Guide To Essential Tools For SEO Agencies With Sortable Master List

Featured Image: Monster Ztudio/Shutterstock

Tessa Nadik leads the SEO and Content Team at Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader as the Sr. Director for Cox ...

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Keyword Planner

Choose the right keywords

The right keywords can get your ad in front of the right customers, and Google Ads Keyword Planner is here to help.

Bathing suits

Jean shorts

How Keyword Planner works

Get help with keyword research and selecting the right terms.

Discover new keywords

Search for words or phrases related to your products or services. Our keyword research tool will help you find the keywords that are most relevant for your business.

Suggested keywords

Clothing store

Fashion retailer

Research keywords

Our keyword research tool gives you insight into how often certain words are searched and how those searches have changed over time. This can help you narrow your keyword list down to the ones you really want.

Get bid estimates

Keyword Planner will give you suggested bid estimates for each keyword, so you can determine your advertising budget.

Suggested bid

Make your plan

Once you’ve found the keywords you like, you can add them to your advertising plan. Save your plan for future reference or share with your business team. When you’re ready, you can finalize and launch your campaign.


“We’re able to stay on top of keyword trends to refine search campaigns and ensure content remains relevant.”

- Brad Beiter - VP Performance Content, Performics

Find the right keywords for your business

Have additional questions?

Discover other tools

The 4 best free keyword research tools

Hero image with the logos of the best keyword research tools

There's no shortage of tools purpose-built for keyword research (literally hundreds of them), and they run the gamut from beginner-focused to highly advanced. They also range from totally basic and unhelpful to super valuable.

When done right, the best keyword research tools simplify and streamline your workflow—they make it easier to find the right keywords to target and give you the data you need to actually rank for them. But they shouldn't require you to empty out your bank account and sell your first-born child in order to access that data.

After years of working with multiple clients who use all different tools for keyword research and SEO content optimization, I've seen the best (and the worst) of them—and I know how important it is to choose the right keyword planner tool. To help, I considered over 70 tools with a free option for keyword research. After in-depth testing, here are the four best free keyword research tools, including the all-around greats and apps built for more specific use cases.

The best free keyword research tools

Google Keyword Planner for researching paid keywords

Ahrefs for simple SEO tools

Semrush for advanced SEO professionals

What makes the best keyword research tool?

How we evaluate and test apps.

Our best apps roundups are written by humans who've spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. Unless explicitly stated, we spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it's intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We're never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog .

The features that make for a great keyword research tool are pretty straightforward: you search for a given keyword, and the tool tells you about it. But there are so many different ways to use keyword data, so I wanted to find tools that could handle a variety of use cases, along with a few designed for some of the most popular uses for keyword research.

During testing, I looked primarily at the factors below to determine which apps made our initial list.

Data included. The best keyword research tools give you all the data you need to rank for your chosen keyword. All of the apps we selected include, at minimum, traffic, keyword difficulty, and competitive SERP analysis .

Data sources. You should be able to trust that your keyword data is free of errors and biases, so considering where the data in each keyword research tool comes from was an important step for us. Every tool we included pulls data in from Google Analytics or Google Search Console at a minimum.

Keyword optimization guidance. You shouldn't have to be a 10-year SEO industry veteran to use keyword research tools—the best tools offer simple, straightforward suggestions to optimize for your keywords. There are tools (like Ahrefs, Semrush, and Moz) that do complete SEO analysis on your site, checking for everything from site speed and technical details to domain authority and topic clusters. That's not what we're looking for here. We're looking for tools that any business owner or marketer can use to quickly understand their target keyword and optimize their site to rank for it.

Free plan allowances and upgrades. Some tools include super limited results for free and call it a "free plan." Or they put time limits on the free plan, effectively making it more of a trial. I only included tools with evergreen free plans generous enough to actually be useful—and they won't break the bank when it's time to upgrade, either.

Standalone functionality. Since you're looking for something free, your keyword tool should be a one-stop shop—without requiring any additional tools or extensions to work for you, especially not ones you'd have to pay for.

To find the best of the best, I put each tool that checked those boxes to the test by running through an in-depth protocol. Here's what my testing workflow looked like:

If needed, I created an account and went through any provided onboarding or guided tutorials (many of these free apps don't require account creation or provide any onboarding).

I searched for a few different kinds of keywords—e.g., "free keyword research tools," "chocolate cake," and "best white sneakers"—to see the results for different search intent .

I checked which related keywords, metrics, and other data were offered. I also made note of the source, whether information was pulled from Google, included non-search engine websites (like social media or forums), or was drawn from the tool's own native data.

I verified allowances for the free plan—whether limited by time, number of results, metrics included, searches per day or month, or something else—and the cost to upgrade to a paid plan if needed.

Where available, I tested out additional keyword research tools like competitive gap analysis, content optimization features, and more.

After spending over a dozen hours with these apps this year, I landed on the four best keyword research tools—each with a manageable free version—below.

The best free keyword research tools at a glance

The best free keyword research tool overall, moz keyword explorer (web).

Moz, our pick for the best keyword research tool overall

More approachable data presentation than many other tools

"Priority" score makes it easy to find the keywords worth chasing

Broad set of tools available for free

Less data than more robust tools

Free plan only includes 10 queries per tool per month

Moz 's SEO platform offers several different tools designed for keyword research. While Moz doesn't include as many data points as some of the other full-featured SEO tools (like SERP position history or the total number of keywords a competing result ranks for), I'd consider that a benefit. It makes for a less overwhelming user experience for those who aren't professional search marketers, without skimping on the metrics you really want.

With the Keyword Explorer tool, you can search any keyword you choose and see its monthly volume, difficulty, and organic clickthrough rate (CTR). Scroll down from there to see an analysis of current results ranking for it and suggestions for similar keywords.

My favorite feature: Moz includes a "Priority" score that simplifies keyword research by giving you the bottom line on whether a keyword is worth chasing for you. Moz automatically calculates the score based on the keyword's volume, organic CTR, and difficulty, along with your "My Score"—a metric you set yourself, designating how important a given keyword is to your business, based on your own expertise and knowledge of your business and industry.

Plus, with the Keyword Gap feature (part of the Competitive Research tool), you can find all the keywords your competitors rank for that you don't.

Moz pricing: Keyword research features are available for free for up to 10 queries per tool per month with up to 1,000 keyword suggestions and 10 SERP analyses per query; Moz Pro plans start at $99/month for 150 keyword queries per month

The best free keyword research tool for paid keywords

Google keyword planner (web).

Google Keyword Planner, our pick for the best free keyword research tool for paid keywords

Google Keyword Planner pros:

Completely free forever, even if you don't use Google Ads

Helpful forecasting features for budgeting if you do use Google Ads

Can pull keyword suggestions from just your website

Google Keyword Planner cons:

Not helpful for organic keyword research

When it comes to PPC keyword research, Google Keyword Planner is one of the best tools out there. It's completely free (even if you don't buy Google Ads), so you never have to worry about running into limits or expensive upgrades.

Google Keyword Planner includes two main features: one for exploratory keyword research and discovery and another for more in-depth research on search volume and forecasting.

The "Keyword ideas" feature is similar to many of the tools on this list: you search for a seed term, and it generates other keyword ideas, along with details on monthly search volume, change over time, competition, ad impression share, and bid ranges. You can refine your keyword list by brand or non-brand keywords, source website, and more. If you're also using Google Ads, the "Forecast" feature makes it easier to plan ahead for your paid ads and budget in advance.

Keyword Planner can inform your organic strategy, too, by showing you where ranking organically may help you save on PPC costs.

Google Keyword Planner pricing: Free

The best free keyword research platform for a broad suite of SEO tools

Ahrefs free seo tools (web).

Ahrefs, our pick for the best free keyword research tool for simplicity

Ahrefs pros:

Free tools cover a broad array of SEO use cases

Super simple to use

Includes keyword research for non-search engines (YouTube, Amazon, Bing)

Ahrefs cons:

Limited amount of data available for free

While you can't access the full Ahrefs suite for free, the company offers a surprisingly robust set of free SEO tools that are perfect for doing simple keyword research. The free suite includes a Free Keyword Generator, Keyword Difficulty Checker, Keyword Rank Checker, and keyword research for YouTube, Amazon, and Bing, among other tools.

The keyword generator includes up to 150 keyword ideas for free (100 phrase match keywords and 50 question-based keywords), along with data on monthly search volume for each and keyword difficulty for the top 10 results. The keyword difficulty tool includes a difficulty score, estimated number of backlinks needed to rank, and SERP analysis for the top 10 results.

None of these tools will give you the depth of data you'd get from a paid account, but the suite's breadth is a strength. Taken together, Ahrefs free tools can handle just about anything a basic SEO operation needs—keyword research, yes, but also link building, website audits, ranking and traffic monitoring, and more. And if your budget changes, you can upgrade to a tool that rivals the best of the best.

Ahrefs pricing: Free Keyword Generator includes up to 150 keyword suggestions with limited data, and Keyword Difficulty Checker includes difficulty score, backlink estimate, and basic SERP overview; paid plans start at $99/month for 500 search credits per month, additional data, and up to 5 keyword lists.

The best free keyword research tool for advanced SEO

Semrush (web).

Semrush, our pick for the best free keyword research tool for advanced SEOs

Semrush pros:

Tons of granular keyword data

Wide range of specialized keyword research tools

Pretty generous free plan

Semrush cons:

Can be overwhelming for those less experienced with keyword research

Most expensive upgrade

If you're looking for something more advanced, Semrush shares a ton of keyword data and makes it easy to dig into the details, like SERP features (featured snippet, reviews, site links, image pack, and so on) and granular analysis of current results. Semrush offers a broad range of keyword research tools, too, from the standard traffic and search volume data to content-driven keyword research and competitive keyword gap analysis.

That range is what really sets Semrush apart, including the standard Keyword Overview, the Keyword Magic Tool for exploratory keyword research, a Keyword Manager and position tracking, competitive Keyword Gap analysis, and Organic Traffic Insights, which—when connected with your Google Analytics or Search Console account—can uncover those famously tricky "not provided" keywords.

As an added bonus, the SEO Content Template tool lets you automatically create a content brief and optimize content as you write by grading your content in real-time for readability, originality, tone of voice, and SEO: it uses a handy bullseye graphic to help you strike the right balance. Plus, the tool visually checks off SEO recommendations (like using your target and related keywords and adding relevant links and images) as you go.

All of this means that upgrading will cost you a pretty penny—but you can use it for free at low volumes to start.

You can do more with Semrush by connecting with Zapier to keep track of SEO tasks across Semrush and your project management tool, automate site audits and re-crawls, connect with Google Analytics goals, and more. Here are some examples:

Re-crawl site audit campaigns in SEMrush when new site audits are completed

SEMrush logo

Create SEMrush overview reports for new Google Analytics goals

Google Analytics logo

Semrush pricing: Free plan includes up to 10 Analytics reports per day and 10 tracked keywords; paid plans start at $119.95/month for up to 10,000 results per report and 500 tracked keywords per month.

Can you use AI for keyword research?

You can ask AI chatbots like ChatGPT and Bard to do keyword research for you—but should you?

The main benefit of going the AI route is simplicity. You can ask for straightforward, simplified results and get a simple, streamlined answer.

Kiera asks "I'm writing an article about 'the best free keyword research tools. In a table, tell me the top 5 keywords I should target and how you know." Google Bard offers an example.

The results are clear and actionable, and Bard did a great job of synthesizing data from a variety of sources and planning for both high-traffic and long-tail keywords. (Assuming it's not lying to me .)

ChatGPT isn't connected to Google Keyword Planner, and it did a slightly less impressive—but still kind of helpful—job.

ChatGPT's response to the same thing

But both ChatGPT and Bard struggled with anything more complex than the prompt above, offering super generic advice…

Generic advice about keywords from ChatGPT

…or not answering at all:

Google Bard saying it can't give information like keyword difficulty and top competitor articles

Bottom line: AI chatbots aren't built for keyword research. They don't allow for building keyword lists, saving analyses and keyword reports, tracking your rankings, competitor gap analysis, or robust content optimization. Not yet, at least.

If you're in a bind and need simplified, bottom line-style information on a keyword quickly, an AI chatbot may be of some help. But as of today, I wouldn't recommend using AI chatbot as your primary keyword research tool—especially given the number of truly helpful dedicated free keyword research tools you can use instead.

Related reading:

The best SEO content optimization tools

The best WordPress SEO plugins

How to find low competition keywords that drive traffic

How to do keyword research on a budget with Keywords Everywhere

The best SEO rank trackers

The best SEO audit tools

This article was originally published in June 2021. The most recent update was in June 2023.

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Kiera Abbamonte

Kiera’s a content writer who helps SaaS and eCommerce companies connect with customers and reach new audiences. Located in Boston, MA, she loves cinnamon coffee and a good baseball game. Catch up with her on Twitter @Kieraabbamonte.

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