- Keyword research is standard – and effective – part of SEO. With hundreds of tools out there to do it, finding the best one for you can be a challenge.
- Paid tools like SEMrush and SEO PowerSuite can provide full a rundown of your keyword strategy, and help you build a new one with in-depth insights and overviews.
- Free tools, on the other hand, like Google Keyword Planner and Keyword Surfer, are perfect for people who want help creating a keyword list without the extra bells and whistles.
Keyword research, as anyone can tell you, is a lot of work. If you’re not using the right keyword research tools to discover monthly search volume, create keyword lists, dig deep into competitor keywords, and all else that the keyword research process entails, you could devote even more time to it than is necessary.
To help you nail your marketing strategy this year, we’ve compiled a quick overview of the best keyword research tools in 2023. So whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or part of a massive organization and looking to window shop new tools, there’s a keyword tool out there for your needs.
Let’s dive in.
Why do keywords matter in SEO?
Keywords are a big part of how search engines categorize your content. They are words or phrases that best match what people are typing into their search bars.
The goal is to use the exact phrases users might type in, so that you rank higher in their search results. Using the right keywords is one standard element of SEO (search engine optimization); with them, you ensure that people find and engage with that perfect piece of content you worked so hard on.
For example, if you are running a business that sells organic dog food, you would want keywords that reflect what people are looking for. As you find keyword suggestions, your search could lead you to the following organic search phrases:
- Organic dog food
- Best organic dog food
- Best dog food
- Who sells organic dog food
While this is just one example, the principle remains: you want your keywords and phrases to reflect how people actually search for things. Recent Google updates focus on creating content for people, by people – thinking as a human, not an algorithm, when you look for keywords will go a long way.
But how do you know what people are filling up their search bars with? How do you optimize your content so that it’s discoverable?
Keep reading for the best paid and free keyword research tools to add to your marketing arsenal.
The best paid keyword research tools
These tools are great ways to help you research keywords, generate a list of keyword suggestions (both short and long-tail keywords), track your target keywords, and compare how you stack up against your competitors in organic search.
Semrush is one of the top keyword research tools out there. With 21 international awards naming it the best SEO software suite and over 30% of Fortune 500 companies utilizing the platform, data supports its usefulness.
Semrush offers three different subscription options, ranging from Free to Guru. They offer a host of features, including:
- Keywords with daily rank tracking – their target keyword tools are especially robust. As you search for keyword ideas, you’ll gain insights into monthly search traffic, competitor keywords and competition score, keyword difficulty score, and a peek into questions and related search phrases.
- Domain research – See backlinks, keyword positioning, and a rough view of average monthly traffic.
- On-page SEO checker
- Social media management, tracking, and analytics
- Content marketing tools – Get a leg up with content strategy using their content marketplace and content planner.
- Backlink analysis
- Integration with Google Data Studio
This platform has one of the most comprehensive toolkits available for researching popular keywords in a given vertical, finding a new target keyword, and being a valuable asset to brands and content creators alike. With over 50 tools to choose from, you can utilize Semrush to help you market on almost any platform.
The features it offers allow you to organically skyrocket your marketing and land at the top of search results.
The UI can be a little challenging when first using the platform. Although having so many features is a great benefit, it also clutters up the site, making navigation a bit tricky at times. It also does not provide unlimited searches in free modes.
In addition, it only offers data from Google. So, if you’re utilizing sites like YouTube, you won’t be able to track that data in Semrush.
2) SEO PowerSuite
SEO PowerSuite is another comprehensive keyword research tool. It contains four sub-tools within its umbrella: Rank Tracker, WebSite Auditor, SEO SpyGlass, and LinkAssistant. With 17 years in the industry, SEO PowerSuite can easily give brands a leg up in their keyword and content planning.
- Competitor rank tracking – with detailed reports and in-depth insights, you’ll get a 360 view of your site’s current performance, allowing you to identify opportunities for improvement.
- SEO analysis tools – including the ability to schedule and automate tasks. See what the top-ranking pages are for certain keywords for SEO, discover long-tail keywords and search terms, and create a list of keywords to use in your content planning.
SEO PowerSuite is one of the best paid keyword research tools because it hosts a wide range of capabilities within a robust, friendly UI. It also gives you access to features that help you automate, track, and optimize your SEO.
Reviewers note a steep learning curve when getting their hands on SEO PowerSuite. It’s not user-unfriendly (in fact, it’s very friendly), it just takes time to learn how to use all of their tools in the most effective ways.
It is also not quite as comprehensive in terms of keyword research as some other tools on the market.
The best free keyword research tools
1) Google Keyword Planner
Keyword Planner is a free keyword research tool that helps determine which keywords work best with your products or services. This keyword tool allows you to see how frequently users search a term each month and can organize keywords into different categories for you. If you’re familiar with Google Search Console, Google Ads, or Google Trends, you’re likely familiar with the Keyword Planner as well.
In addition to what we mentioned above, this tool is one of the most accurate keyword data sources, which should be no surprise since so many people use Google as their search engine.
It’s also free! If you’re dipping your toe into the keyword research world to generate a few content ideas, Google Keyword Planner could be a great option before committing to a more expensive plan elsewhere.
The platform is simply a keyword research tool. While this can work well for some marketing teams, others may need more complex and integrative tools to propel their business forward and give them more data and analytics. Google Keyword Planner will, essentially, give you a relevant keyword list to do with what you will.
2) Keyword Surfer
Keyword Surfer is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to see search per volume, CPC, word counts on competitor’s pages, and a list of keyword ideas.
It’s free! Keyword Surfer’s handy extension lets you stay on the page you’re working on and utilize its features, so there’s no toggling back and forth and wasting time.
This tool doesn’t have as many clear metrics as other platforms when it comes to using the keyword generator. So while it will still get the job done, Keyword Surfer may not be the most helpful tool on the market regarding keywords and SEO.
Keywords made even easier.
Keyword research tools are essential. Fortunately, you can find a variety of free and paid options to choose from that will help you achieve your SEO goals. If you want a hand with your keyword research – and your content marketing, link-building, on-page SEO, and more, getting it all in one place is the way to go.
At Redefine Marketing Group, we specialize in offering our clients the tools they need to boost conversion rates through organic traffic – including by helping you with your keyword research. For more information on how our services could take your business to the next level with the right strategy, contact us today to explore a potential partnership!