When you’re ready to dive into keyword research for SEO, there are tons of amazing tools at your disposal — free and paid alike!
It can be tough to know where to start, but here’s a fun little SEO secret:
You don’t have to pick just one!
In fact, when you use a variety of tools to find inspiration and cross-check data, you’ll end up with smarter content that drives real results.
In this post, we’ll give an overview of the best tools (some completely free) that can help you excel at keyword research so you can capture more traffic from search!
Keyword research tools
1. Google Search Console (free)
Google Search Console is a fantastic, free resource with loads of helpful information that you can take action on. Check out reports for your site’s performance, indexing, and areas for improvement, so you see where to optimize your site and identify topic clusters you can build on.
The Performance tab is especially useful for your keyword research efforts, showing you:
- Changes in your search traffic over time
- Where your traffic is coming from
- All search queries you are currently ranking for and how your content is currently ranked
- Queries by device (so you can optimize your mobile traffic)
- How many people are clicking through to your page from the entry on Google’s search results
- And more!
2. Google Keyword Planner (free)
Google’s Keyword Planner is another free tool from Google that can help you find keywords to write about. This tool is designed for advertisers but can be a helpful way to come up with new keywords for your content creation as well.
In order to access Keyword Planner, you’ll need a Google Ads account, and you’ll set up an AdWords campaign. But you can immediately stop the campaign and then proceed to the research tools!
- Discover new keywords: In this tool, enter keywords you are thinking about and discover new or longtail keywords you may want to target.
- Get search volume and forecasts: Use this to get search volume for any keywords you are thinking about targeting.
Where Google Search Console is good for identifying existing keywords you have traction on and can build on, Google Keyword Planner is a great, free tool for new keyword discovery.
Helpful resources: Check out this guide from Google for help using Google Keyword Planner, refer to Ahref’s detailed guide, and check out this step-by-step guide from Backlinko on how to use this tool for your content creation process and SEO efforts.
3. SEMrush (paid)
SEMrush is one of the most useful keyword tools out there. It comes with a higher price tag but it really is a Swiss army knife of tools to maximize your growth and hone in on the right keywords for your business.
For your keyword research, SEMrush offers powerful keyword analytics, as well as a helpful keyword manager so you can save favorites, get the latest numbers, and export your keyword list to use elsewhere.
One of our favorite tools is the Keyword Magic Tool, which can help you uncover some great low-competition keywords. You’ll find the volume, competition, and difficulty for the keyword and can also explore and filter by topic groupings.
Helpful resources: SEMrush offers a keyword research course to help you get up to speed on how to use their tools. And check out this [AdThrive publisher-exclusive] session on Competitive Research and Content Strategies using SEMrush.
Exclusive SEMrush discounts
- Try it free for 7 days
- 10% discount when you sign up for a 6-month plan
- 20% discount when you sign up for an annual plan
Note: We’re don’t receive any incentive for mentioning SEMrush — we want to pass any benefits straight on to you!
4. Ahrefs Keyword Generator (free)
The Keyword Generator from Ahrefs is a free, basic tool to get your creative juices flowing.
Type in a seed/parent keyword and it will provide you with 150 keyword ideas and 50 question queries with a keyword difficulty score (for the first 10 entries) and the search volume.
You can also use this tool to find ideas for other platforms besides Google, including Bing, YouTube, and Amazon.
5. Ahrefs Keywords Explorer (paid)
Similar to SEMrush, Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer is an extremely powerful paid keyword research tool. Discover lots of new keywords, calculate the volume, and understand the competition and ranking difficulty, across various search engines including Google, YouTube, Amazon, and more.
You’ll see an estimated number of clicks for the keywords, understand the context for your keyword through broader parent topics you can reach for, and be able to save and segment your keywords to organize upcoming projects.
6. KWFinder (paid)
KWFinder is more affordable than SEMrush or Ahrefs and is lauded for its intuitive UI for people who are less experienced with keyword research.
Find longtail keywords with low SEO difficulty, do some quick competitive research, get search volume and historical data, filter words that aren’t profitable, and more at a lower subscription price point.
7. Keysearch (paid)
Keysearch is another tool that’s a fraction of the price of SEMrush and Ahrefs. Its interface is very easy to use and it comes with all the standard features you need — keyword recommendations, difficulty scores, volume, backlink analysis, and more!
8. Ubersuggest (free + paid version)
If you’re looking for a free keyword planning tool, Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest is one of the best around. Check out keyword suggestions, search volume, keyword difficulty, annual search volume trends (to help identify those seasonal lulls), competitor insights, and more!
There are some limitations to the free version of Ubersuggest, but if you try it and love it, you can decide to go for the paid plan. They offer a monthly plan, or you can pay once for lifetime access.
Keyword browser extensions
9. Keywords Everywhere (free + paid version)
Keywords Everywhere is a handy extension for Chrome or Firefox that will show you the monthly search volume, cost per click, and competition data for keywords on 16 websites (including eBay, Etsy, Answer the Public, Amazon, YouTube, and Bing).
You’ll also see “People Also Search For” and “Related” keyword results, plus volume metrics right inside Google’s results page whenever you search for something. Keywords Everywhere can help streamline your process by appending the term, volume data, etc., into your favorite keyword research planning tool.
10. Ubersuggest browser extension (free)
The Ubersuggest extension for Chrome displays search volume and CPC data for your search term right in the search bar — for Google, YouTube, and Amazon.
One especially interesting feature is that it will show you the average number of backlinks, the domain score, and Pinterest/Facebook shares for the top 10 ranked Google search results. You’ll also find the numbers of searches in the past 12 months, the click-through rate the term gets on Google, as well as the age demographics searching for that topic.
11. MozBar (free + paid version)
With the MozBar Chrome extension, you can compare metrics and create custom searches by search engine, country, region, or city. What’s cool about MozBar is that you can also see an assessment of Page Authority and Domain Authority for any site or page. You can find and highlight keywords on a page, see different links by type, expose page elements, and more!
12. Keyword Surfer (free)
Keyword Surfer is another free extension for Chrome that allows you to see search volume for your desired topic directly in your Google search results. It will also add search volume estimates for other autocompletes and similar keywords in the search results.
Keyword inspiration tools
13. Keyword Sheeter (free + paid version)
Keyword Sheeter is a basic but fast tool to get lots of ideas instantly. This tool will show you thousands of autocomplete suggestions from Google which you can easily export. You can use positive (include) and negative (exclude) words to help filter your results a bit more.
14. Buzzsumo (free + paid version)
Buzzsumo is another unique, fantastic content planning tool. It has your standard keyword tool features — monthly volume, cost per click, articles published, etc., but what really makes it stand out are the trends and social insights you can glean. You can see how many social shares the top-ranking content got across various social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit) and dive deep into Facebook optimizations.
You can also use the tool to find emerging viral trends and get instant performance data for newly-released content. Get deep into different topics and gather a lot of inspiration to break through creative ruts. There are also some great backlinks tools and ways to keep track of your SEO performance.
15. Answer the Public (free + paid version)
Answer the Public is another fun tool to get some creative inspiration! It will find questions, prepositions, comparisons, alphabeticals (Google autocomplete suggestions), and related searches on your desired parent topic.
In the questions section, for example, it will display all the various search queries containing the keyword that people are asking — who, what, why, where, how, can, which, when, will, are, and is. The results, by default, will display a cool visualization but you can also toggle to a list format or save images of the breakdown.
16. Keyworddit (free)
Keyworddit helps you get into the mindset of your audience by scanning through Reddit. It extracts keyword ideas when you input a subreddit name (or choose from autocomplete suggestions), mining the titles and comments of the various threads to provide you with up to 500 relevant keywords.
17. Soovle (free)
Soovle is a cool website that allows you to see suggested keyword ideas from Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Bing, YouTube, Ebay, Wikipedia, and many more. You can see the top keywords of the day, save your suggestions, and export your list.
18. Keyword Guru (free + paid version)
Similar to Soovle, Keyword Guru will show you a quick overview of related phrases from Google, Yahoo, Bing, YouTube, Amazon, Ebay, and Google Play. Use it when you are stuck and need some fast inspiration.
19. Tag Crowd (free)
Tag Crowd can help you quickly see which keywords are important on a specified web page. Use it to analyze your competitors’ pages or your own content. It will display a nifty cloud visualization of keywords, with the most important keywords highlighted.
20. Niche Laboratory (free + paid version)
Niche Laboratory will analyze the top results for the search term you input and display a list of keywords and phrases, a keyword tag cloud to show which words are most important, a list of the top URLs that rank for the keyword, and some article ideas!
21. Seed Keywords (free)
With Seed Keywords, you can ask your audience directly what they’d search for. You create a search scenario and send a link to your readers and contacts, inviting them to type in the keywords they would use to search for information on the topic.
This list of tools is by no means exhaustive. There are a lot of other amazing tools available so keep your eyes open, ask your peers (the exclusive AdThrive Community Facebook group is a great place to connect with other professional publishers!), and experiment.
But watch out for analysis paralysis! The most important thing is to actually do keyword research and build content based on your findings. You can always try out new tools and switch up your process as you go along, so use our list as a guide to choose 2–3 tools that sound the most interesting to you, and then get going!