What’s the Best Keyword Research Tool to Use?

Are you looking for the best keyword research tool out there — but there are too many confusing options?

You’re not alone.

A popular thread in the SEO Copywriting LinkedIn group is “what’s your favorite keyphrase research tool?” People recommended 11 different tools, ranging in price from free (if you’re willing to forgo search volume information) to around $100 a month.

What’s more, there are way more than 11 keyphrase research tools on the market – so, is it any wonder it’s hard to find the best one for you?

Trying to make a choice? Here are some things to think about:

What’s your budget?

The reality is, you can’t conduct keyphrase research for free — especially if you’re working with more competitive industries. Consider what you can pay as a monthly (or yearly) cost, figuring you’ll need at least $50 a month for something decent.

If you have zero room to move, start increasing prices $25 or more a month to cover your keyphrase research costs. The cost shouldn’t be enough to freak out your clients, and it should mostly (or completely) pay for the tools you need.

Do you need the basics or all the bells and whistles?

Some keyphrase research tools just provide keyword data (such as KeywordTool.io.) Other tools are more robust and provide positioning information, competitive intelligence and site audit capabilities (like SEMrush.)

If you don’t need the bells and whistles, and you focus mostly on blogging/web content writing, save yourself some money and look for a basic platform. You can upgrade later.

If you’re helping clients with their content strategy, running content site audits and working with larger clients, a more robust tool will be your best friend. Yes, they cost more (Moz Pro, for example, is $99/month, paid monthly.) But, they will make it easy for you to find the competitive data you need more quickly.

Is it a platform you enjoy using?

Most keyphrase research tools give you a free trial, whether it’s a limited freemium account, or a 7-day free deal (sometimes, you can even find 30-day trials!). In many cases, you’ll have to give up your credit card information. It’s worth it.

The last thing you want to do is get stuck with a keyphrase research tool you hate using. Check out a few platforms and get a feel for the process. Is it easy to use? Is the data easy to find and understand? Does it provide all the data you need — or, does it confuse you with “too much” data? The best keyword research tool is the one you enjoy using.

Is the price too good to be true?

Beware of inexpensive tools that say they’re “just as good” as a more robust alternative. These tools may provide basically the same information as Google’s Keyword Planner, just in a different package. (Side note: I beg of you. Don’t use Google’s Keyword Planner for keyphrase research. Please.)

You’re looking for companies with high-quality databases, not one with a limited data set that won’t give you the information you need.  To be sure about your choice, ask yourself…

Do other experts recommend the platform?

Search experts love test-driving (and recommending) good SEO tools. If you see experts recommending the same tool, it’s definitely one to check out. On the flip side, if a company’s testimonials are sketchy-sounding, like from “Bob S. site designer,” you may want to investigate further before typing in your credit card number.

(And yes, good, low-cost (and even free) keyphrase research tools is a topic I cover in the SEO Content Writing: Step-by-Step course.)

What keyword research tools did the LinkedIn group recommend?

Good question.

Here’s the list of recommended keyword research tools. Starred entries (*) are better for content brainstorming than finding search volume information.

*KeywordTool.io (free) KeywordTool PRO does provide search volume information.


Keyword Finder

LongTail Pro

SE Cockpit

*Answer the Public


Amazon reviews (as one poster called them, “keywords straight from the prospect’s mouth!”)


Quora (to see your audiences’ pain points based on their queries.)


What about you?

What’s your favorite keyword research tool? Share it in the comments!

14 replies
    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      Howdy, Anton!

      Yes, Majestic and Ahrefs are great tools, and I talk about them in my training classes. And there are MANY other fantastic tools I didn’t mention. Please note that this list was generated from LinkedIn recommendations — so I’m guessing the folks who responded haven’t used those platforms. :)

  1. Lori says:

    Hi, Heather —

    In an article titled “What’s the Best Keyword Research Tool to Use?” I look forward to seeing YOUR opinion, not the LinkedIn group’s list, with no information added. A Google search generates the same list, pretty much.

    I value your opinion and look to your posts for that. I understand you needing to keep some information for your course, just please don’t bait and switch that we are going to hear your opinion on the Best Keyword Research Tool to use…. and then find we don’t.

    I enjoy and appreciate the information that you share. Thank you.

    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      Hi, Lori!

      Here’s why I don’t give my opinion in the article…

      Because, what I use isn’t important (for the record, I use SEMrush.) It’s more important for the writer to try different tools and find the best one for her. That’s why I outlined how to use the free trials for your benefit.

      Some writers will need all the bells and whistles, like SEMrush or Majestic. Other writers don’t have that kind of money to play with, and they are looking at Keyword Finder. Some platforms are easier to use than others.

      It all depends…

      So, my intent was not to bait and switch — nor was it a way to sell my course. What you saw is exactly what I tell every writer who asks the question, “what’s the best keyword tool to use.”

      I hope that helps to clarify. If not, just let me know — I’m happy to help!


  2. Juicy says:

    Hey Martin,
    Great topic you share here!!
    SEMrush and Ahrefs are great tools for keywords research of digital marketing 2017. This tool provides a short and long tail keywords research for PPC keywords and organic traffic. Moz is also one the best tools for keywords suggestions.

  3. Baltazar Camacho says:

    Excellent article Anton! I’ve been using keywordseverywhere.com it’s awesome. It’s a google chrome plug in. It took me less than 2 minutes to set up and now automatically when I search google it tells me right under the search box, the average PPC cost and searches per month for that keyword. From there i build a spreadsheet and pick and choose accordingly. But it’s been a great tool. It’s free also. I use these in addition to Majestic and Serpbook, but those are paid. Excellent article have some new tools in my belt now!

  4. Nick Stamoulis says:

    You’re right that it depends on the nature of your work. Not every website is going to need an expensive tool. For some sites, free or low cost tools work fine.

  5. Virginia says:

    I wonder what the main differences between all these tools are (aside from price). I’m just getting started in SEO and still trying to figure out which would be best for me but looking at some of the price tags makes me think why such big differences? I guess I just need some more reading and researching to do to figure it out.

    Thanks for the post!

  6. Soumya Roy says:

    My favorite and primary keyword analysis tool is Google AdWords Keyword Planner, additionally I use UberSuggest and LSIGraph. I used SEMRush few months back, and it was really good. In my advanced keyword research class I teach all these, but yes, many can be included on my list.
    Sometime I use Search Console too to get more keyword ideas for which my site has already got visible.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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