This post is broken into two sections:
- First, our keyword research guide with all the ins and outs a beginner SEO might need to get started conducting their own keyword research.
- Following the keyword research guide is our list of the best keyword research tools 2019. This includes keyword research tools for free and keyword research tool alternatives.
If you want to skip straight to the list, use the quick links we’ve provided in the table of contents. If the keyword research guide isn’t relevant to you, then, by all means, jump ahead to the list of keyword research tools, but if you feel like you could use a refresher on keyword research, then we encourage you to read the entire post as it could do you some good.
We will also be including the list of keywords we used to optimize this post. It isn’t as big as it would be if we were doing keyword research for an entire website, but it serves as a good demonstration of our content. Every keyword we use will be outlined in a bold font, so keep your eyes out to see just how much you should be incorporating keywords into your copywriting.
Table of Contents
The Awesome Web Designs Keyword Research Guide
We at Awesome Web Designs know just how important keyword research is when you’re planning out the development of a new website.
It’s vital that you establish a list of keywords before you start writing any copy for your site because you want your entire domain to flow naturally. Plugging in your keywords after everything has been done will make the written portions of your site seem choppy and unnatural to your end user. While your SEO might be pretty good, your bounce rate will be huge because of the poor readability.
In this part of our guide, we’ll take you through the keyword research process in detail. Whether you’re an aspiring web developer or just an average joe who wants to know what goes into some of the websites you see every day, this is how you optimize the language on your site and create your own keyword planner to rank better for your chosen keywords in Google.
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Identifying Your Niche Target Market
If you’re going to research keywords, you want to start by knowing your topic. In SEO, we call that your niche. It’s important to know what your niche is because it’s what will keep your keywords consistent and on-topic throughout your site.
Your site can fall under several niches. For example, at Awesome Web Designs, we focus on marketing, SEO, and web design niches. If you look hard enough, you can find more niches we would fall under, but this is where we’ve chosen to put our focus.
Fortunately, figuring out your websites niche is pretty easy. Just look at what its main service or goal is. If you run a forum about a video game, your niche is that specific video game. If you run a small business, your niche is probably your line of work, like landscaping or rental cars.
Your niche essentially describes your site in one or two words. It’s a simple enough first step, but it will go on to inform your entire SEO strategy, so make sure you choose wisely here. Some people don’t target a specific niche, or they’ll target niches that aren’t very applicable to their website, and it has a significant impact on their SEO results in the future.
Brainstorming Your Industry Keywords
Now that you know your niche, it’s time to brainstorm your keywords. These are the terms that you want to rank for in Google’s search results.
The brainstorming process starts out easy enough. You take the niche you identified in the last step and you build on that. For example, at Awesome Web Designs, we would target keywords that revolve around our three core business niches. We would take web design and turn that into something like ‘best ecommerce web design company’.
A great keyword tool: Keyword generators
A great keyword tool we’ll talk about later is the keyword generator. A keyword generator essentially types the basic form of your keyword into Google and scrapes it for autocomplete results. Some keyword generators also provide detailed statistics to inform your keyword analysis, which we’ll also talk about later.
The trick is to come up with the longer tailed search queries people are most likely to punch into Google when they’re trying to find a site like yours. You need to get into the mind of your user base and think about what they’re going to search before they search for it.
This is where a keyword generator becomes your best friend. While a good way to start is by brainstorming keywords off the top of your head, keyword generators greatly expedite the process and give you all sorts of relevant search phrases. Take a look at how many of these amazing SEO keyword tools we include in our keyword research tool list later and you’ll see just how great they can be.
The reason you want to use the ‘long tail approach’ is because they’re usually easier to rank for than something shorter and more general. Where literally every web design business will have the words ‘web designer’ all throughout their site, not everyone would have something like ‘professional WordPress web designer’.
Getting the most out of your keyword list
It also helps to take the keywords you’ve already done and think about similar phrases that you could use as well. Using our keywords for this post as an example, you could have ‘keyword research tools for free’, and you could also have ‘best keyword research tools free’.
It may seem repetitive, but if people tend to search for two similar terms a lot, consider the combined search traffic they get. If ‘keyword research tools’ has 12,000 hits per month, you could just as easily target ‘list of keyword research tools’ or ‘keyword research tool for Youtube’ to get additional traffic.
Since those keywords are so similar, they even help rank for each other. You could potentially rotate their use throughout your web page as a way to avoid repeating the same keyword over and over while still ranking for it. In this case, the root ‘keyword research tools’ would be registered every time you use the other two longer tailed terms. While you may be targeting these similar sounding keywords for their SEO convenience, this also gives your page a more varied and natural written profile. It’s a win-win for you.
Finally, you always want to include keywords relating to your geographic region. Awesome Web Designs is located in Toronto, so we include keywords such as ‘local Toronto web designer’, and ‘best Canadian web design agency’. This not only gives us a narrower, more specific keyword to target, but it also sends clear signals to Google as to where we operate, meaning more people in our area will see our site in their search results, regardless of whether they type our specific localized keywords.
Keywords that lead to conversions
Don’t forget, the goal of keyword research is to boost traffic to your site by ranking higher in Google searches. Ranking for keywords is the first step, but converting that into clicks is what matters most. As such, you shouldn’t try to rank for a keyword that doesn’t line up with your page’s intent.
If our website is about getting people to hire us to design their websites, we wouldn’t try to rank for ‘hiring web designers’ because the search intent is different than our site’s intent. Someone searching for that is probably looking for a job, not for a person to make their website for them. If they do happen to click on our link, they’re just going to leave when they realize it’s not what they expected, which increases your sites bounce rate and has a negative effect on your SEO.
Competitive Keyword Analysis: Research Your Competitors And Discover Their Keywords
Another great way to get keywords is by researching your competitors to see what keywords they rank for. Not only does this give you ideas you can build on and get creative with, it also lets you compete with them for keywords directly and puts your name near (or above) them in Google’s search results.
Most SEO specialists spend a lot of time carefully curating their keyword planner with both high and low competition keywords. Luckily for you, this keyword research guide outlines a few tools in our ‘Best Keyword Research Tools 2019’ list that lets you directly compare two sites. Some keyword tools even let you directly compare the keywords you share with another site and points out unique keywords that your competitor has that you don’t.
We’re going to discuss multiple keyword research tools with this feature in our keyword research tool list later. At this point in our keyword research guide, just know that it can only benefit you to investigate your competition and grow your keyword planner accordingly.
Knowing your competition is a vital part of any business strategy. Keyword analysis is no different.
Evaluate your keywords: Keyword analysis
Now it’s time to see how your chosen keywords perform. There are a few key performance indicators you want to see in a keyword. The ideal phrase has high search traffic, low competition, and a high click rate.
A high traffic keyword will get you the most exposure when you rank for it, but they can be exceedingly difficult to rank for. Some can be downright impossible.
This is why you also want keywords with low competition. The less people trying to rank for a given keyword, the easier it will be to come out on top of the Google search results page. You ideally want a high traffic keyword that has next to no competition because nobody else has thought to rank for it yet. In SEO, these kinds of keywords are called “low hanging fruit”.
Of course, ranking for a high traffic keyword is great and all, but if nobody clicks the links on that search results page, what’s the point in trying to rank for it? The last key performance indicator for your keywords to check for is click rate. Having no click rate on a keyword is a deal breaker.
How your website should shape your strategy
You should also consider your site’s authority when planning your keyword approach. If your site has a low authority rating, it might be best to start small and work your way up. At this stage in your SEO, you should be going for the low hanging fruit, or in other words, the easy keywords with relatively low traffic and low competition. They won’t shoot you to the top of the charts for clicks, but if a keyword has about forty hits per month, that’s forty people coming to your site that wouldn’t have seen it otherwise.
For this level of competition, a free keyword research tool will suit your purposes, but it’s really best to go for a premium alternative. Our list of keyword research tools will have plenty of both options for you to choose from, but just remember that free keyword research tools are meant as starters. You use them as a beginner or as a taster for a premium tool, but you shouldn’t base your entire SEO strategy around inferior tools. We haven’t been paid to say any of this, but it’s definitely in your best interest to pay for your SEO keyword research tools.
If you have a high authority site, on the other hand, you can try and wrestle for the high traffic keywords that have a lot of competition. Always consider the site your researching keywords for when deciding which ones are worth your time.
But how does one evaluate these metrics? Websites don’t just give you a free keyword research planner, and Google won’t give you a full keyword analysis report of your search queries. How do you go about testing your keywords?
Luckily, many developers have asked themselves that same question. Today, there is a wide variety of keyword research tools you can find that allow you to dive deep into your keyword research metrics. As we’ve already said, you can find some keyword research tools for free, but all the best ones require a premium subscription to use.
Compiled here is a list of the best premium and free keyword research tools of 2019. More tools may come around in the future, and these tools might even receive updates that change their effectiveness, but as of right now, this is our personally ranked list of keyword research tools. They’re all viable options as SEO keyword tools, but the further down the list you get, the more effective those tools will become.
The Keyword researchers toolkit
There are many online tools out there that exist to empower your keyword research. For the casual researcher, there are several free options that will help you get the job done. However, every professional SEO champ knows that in order to get the job done right, you want to use premium tools.
That being said, there’s nothing wrong with using a free alternative. Below, you will find two keyword research tool lists: one that details the ideal premium keyword research tools, and one that lays out some of the free keyword tools on the market today. While the products you have to pay for will definitely get the job done better, the keyword research tools for free will still do just fine.
Without further ado, here are the best keyword research tools of 2019 you’ll need to get your keyword analysis done the right way.
Best Keyword Research Tools Free as of 2019
Plan your marketing strategy with Google Ads Keyword Planner
The Google Ads Keyword Planner is the basis upon which almost every other tool extracts its data. As such, it makes sense that some of those tools make better use of this free option than you could.
A human can spend hours doing the work a web scraping program does in minutes, which is why this shouldn’t be your go-to keyword research tool.
It does make it incredibly easy to get an ad online, however. This usually increases your chance of having your listing seen by a greater volume of people.
If you decide you want to advertise your site at the top of Google’s search results page, you can take your keywords and punch them into a Google ad and it will cut out the necessity to rank for your keywords.
That is, so long as you continue to pay for the ad.
Ads also have a different ranking system than the rest of Google’s search results, so there’s still a chance you’ll have to fight for your place in the SERPs.
Expand your horizons with Google’s autocomplete
This one isn’t really a dedicated SEO keyword tool, but it’s an easy trick you can use to see some of the priority search queries pertaining to a specific topic.
Anyone who has ever used Google knows that the famous search engine has an autocomplete function that attempts to predict what you’re going to type based on the most commonly searched phrases on the internet.
It just so happens that these are exactly the kinds of phrases you want to target as keywords. Punching in one or two words on Google can serve as its own kind of keyword research because it’s an easy way to see exactly what everyone is searching about a specific topic.
While it’s great that you’re getting all the hottest phrases to target for your niche, you don’t get any statistics or keyword analysis out of this. There’s no way to know search traffic, click rate, or competition here.
By all means, take advantage of the Google search bar as you brainstorm. Beyond that, it isn’t very useful for our purposes.
Do some real research with Keywordtool.io
Keywordtool.io takes the manual labour out of using the Google autocomplete method. This is our first example of a script doing your job better than you can.
This tool lets you type a phrase in, then it inserts it into Google’s search bar itself. It then data mines all the relevant keywords by adding letters and words to your phrase to encourage additional results and eventually spits out hundreds of the top relevant searches.
However, this is just a free sample. Most of the results are blurred, encouraging you to pay for the premium service they offer. By paying for premium, you can apply filter words that will exclude results you aren’t trying to target. The free version only lets you use a handful, but the paid version says you can use 2,000. It also gives you access to two additional categories of search results, questions and prepositions.
On the upside, this tool is great for coming up with lots of relevant phrases. On the downside, the data it provides is somewhat lacking compared to the tools further up list.
Analyze your keywords with Ubersuggest
Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest is a reliable free keyword tool. Its first priority is statistics and keyword analysis, which lets it provide exactly the details you need to select powerful keywords.
This is the next step after using your keyword generators.
Typing a keyword or phrase into the search bar will give you a few vital pieces of information. The first thing you’ll see is the overview of your keyword. This includes search volume, an SEO difficulty rating for both standard SEO and paid ads, and the price of an ad using that keyword.
Below that is a graph of search traffic over time, and below that is a breakdown of other keyword ideas that branch from the one you entered.
But that’s not all. On the sidebar, you’ll also see a variety of other tools at your disposal, including a more detailed list of keyword ideas, traffic analyzer, and SEO analyzer.
Neil Patel’s site is a great reference for anyone getting into the SEO game. It breaks down all sorts of data for you in an easily comprehensible manner and is an excellent way to conduct keyword analysis.
The only downside is that it sometimes fails to deliver results on a keyword. The screen will be stuck with a loading icon until you search for something else.
It’s also not the fastest SEO keyword tool. It takes time to punch keywords in one by one, but it gets the job done if you only have a few keywords to analyze. In all, this is one of the best free keyword research tools.
Discover new queries with Answerthepublic.com
Answer The Public has a unique spin on keyword suggestion. When you type in your keyword, you’re given a visual web of additional keywords, organized by the kind of question that is addressed by the generated phrases.
You’ll see sections such as who, what, why, can, will, and several more.
That’s not all though. You may notice the header also has suggestions for prepositions, comparisons, and alphabeticals, and that’s because this tool generates results for all those categories as well.
Under prepositions, you’ll see categories such as for, is, and with. Comparisons uses words such as like, or, and vs.
At the very end, it also recommends a few additional search queries that may suit your purposes, allowing you to start the process all over again with a new phrase.
The load time on the site can be an issue, but like Neil Patel, it’s far from a deal breaker when you consider the results you’re getting.
It’s visually creative and one of the best keyword research tools for free.
A taste of premium content, KWfinder.com
KWfinder is owned by Mangools and is another one of those amazing multitools. The first step to using them is creating a free account, but once you do, you have access to a lot of information.
To start off, you have the keyword finder. When you type in a keyword, you get a few different results. First is the keywords statistics. This includes search traffic, ad costs, and the keywords relative difficulty.
You’ll also notice an autocomplete function that will develop long tailed keywords based on the original one you typed in. Beside that is a questions tab that tells you the most common question based queries. All of this is information you can import in a CSV format for your own database. In fact, we used this exact tool to create the keyword planner we’ve included in this blog post.
On the other side of the screen, you’ll see visuals of the keyword’s difficulty and a graph depicting the phrases search traffic over a twelve month period.
Below that is the SERP overview. This tells you where URLs rank on Google’s search results page, as well as a little data about each of their website’s SEO.
On its own, the keyword finder is a pretty useful tool, but Mangools has many more SEO tools to offer as well. This includes a detailed SERP checker, complete with various statistics about everyone who ranks on a given SERP. This provides relevant information on how competitive your keywords are, letting you evaluate the market yourself to establish whether or not you want to try ranking for a phrase.
There is also a SERP watcher, link miner, and site profiler, all of which have less relevance to keyword research, but nonetheless make Mangools’ KWfinder a great multitool resource for any SEO specialist.
Free users have access to every tool on the site, but they can only use them a few times per month. A subscription here would definitely be a good bang for your buck.
#BONUS: Quick and easy Google Chrome extensions
There are also a few extensions you can get for Google Chrome that you might find helpful in your keyword research studies.
SEO Stack will generate thousands of relevant keywords for you for a variety of search engines, including Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Youtube. While it doesn’t provide any data, it’s great for providing a quick list of words.
It’s especially useful for generating Youtube tags, making it a great keyword research tool for Youtube, but there are a variety of other creative uses you can get out of it too.
Keywords Everywhere is a browser addon that provides a brief data report on your keywords, including monthly search volume, cost per click, and adwords competition. It’s a quick and easy way to check your keywords on the fly.
Hypersuggest lets you evaluate keywords within a variety of search engines. This is good if you want to rank for keywords on certain platforms such as Youtube, Amazon, Ebay, and Instagram.
You should never underestimate a keyword research tool for Youtube, or any other social platform, for that matter, as they can be huge drivers of traffic. Every platform has a search algorithm, so naturally, there will always be people looking for a free keyword tool that will rocket them to the top of it.
Best Keyword Research Tools 2019, PREMIUM
Going into our premium keyword research tool list, it’s worth mentioning that these are some of the best tools in the industry. With that being said, we’re going to count down the best keyword research tools 2019.
The following tools are used intensively throughout the industry. Considered some of the most reliable benchmarks out there, these are the standard household names of SEO. You might have heard of some of them yourself, but this is a great place to learn a little more about the tools that make the SEO industry possible across the globe.
Sistrix is probably the least known tool on this keyword research tool list, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time. While it may not be an industry powerhouse, Sistrix is still an amazing paid SEO keyword tool you should consider within our keyword research guide.
The folks at Sistrix want nothing more than to help make your Google statistics visible and comprehensible. They created their visibility index ten years ago and have only improved it since.
Sistrix gives you the numbers on a variety of key performance indicators for your site. It also illustrates this information with helpful visuals that allow you to quickly comprehend your sites most relevant trends.
The keyword research tool they offer is particularly powerful. It features an advanced keyword discovery interface that lets you get pretty specific results if you want them. You can investigate specific phrases, find results that contain the words you’ve inputted, and even examine search results by country.
The way the tool uses seed keywords leaves plenty of room to add, remove, and optimize the most important parts of your keywords. Once you have the specifics down, Sistrix does all the rest and spits out the keywords that are relevant to everything you’ve inputted into pre-sorted keyword groups.
Already, this level of organization easily makes Sistrix the best keyword research tool we’ve discussed in our list of keyword research tools so far.
The next step is keyword analysis. Once you have your words, Sistrix provides the various relevant metrics you could need. This includes search volume, trends, competition, and existing SERP features. The keyword tool box also lets you record your keywords in a list, making for an excellent keyword planner template.
All this data is great and all, but it really shines when you know how to evaluate it. For example, by looking at the trending graph, you can see the seasonal popularity of a keyword. This is great because it means you can better target evergreen keywords, or you can focus more on a temporary niche phrase that will serve as a quick boost to your site’s traffic in the coming months.
Sixtrix also comes with a myriad of other tools that will benefit your on site and off site SEO. There are resources for SEO, paid ads, and social media optimization, including a keyword research tool for Youtube, like we mentioned earlier, so you’re definitely getting a good quality product here.
Semrush is our first household name on the list. Semrush is known for its wide array of tools and keyword analytics available to users, cementing its brand as another one stop shop for the SEO minded people of the world.
The Semrush SEO toolkit isn’t much different from Sistrix. The two pack a lot of similar functions. However, it has something special going for it that you won’t find just anywhere. You can directly compare the keywords of two domains.
This is exactly what we mentioned before we got into our list of the best keyword research tools for free. We said we would talk about it in our keyword research guide, and here it is, the second entry of our list of keyword research tools.
This means you can examine your competitors use of keywords and try to rank for them yourself. You can even try to snipe their easy, long tailed keywords and get in on their search traffic if you really wanted to.
This particular tool breaks keywords down into two categories: common and unique. Common keywords are terms that you’re both currently trying to rank for. This way, if you see that you’re lagging behind your competitors for certain high traffic keywords, you know to intensify your efforts and jump ahead of the crowd.
Unique keywords are great because those are terms that you’re competitor came up with that you might have never thought of. This can broaden your list of keywords, which means you’re only opening yourself up to more search traffic in the future.
You can also use Semrush’s chart feature to get a quick and easy way to examine how you stack up compared to your competition. Visuals are a big part of understanding data, so it’s no surprise that all the premium options on our keyword research tool list make great use of graphics to help the user comprehend datasets faster.
Don’t feel bad about stealing anyone’s traffic, though. A little competition never hurt anyone.
Semrushes portfolio of keyword research tools doesn’t end there, though. They have their own keyword research tool list to offer users. For example, they also help you compile custom made reports that will let you import all your data into an easily viewable PDF format.
From various analytics reports to all sorts of metric tracking tools, Semrush delivers a staggering amount of content for the price of one subscription.
It’s also worth mentioning that virtually every Semrush tool is paired with relevant visual data such as charts and graphs. That’s right, it isn’t just their keyword planner. Being able to visualize your data seriously helps your comprehension of the subject matter because it lets you immediately see trends and outliers in your data. The whole point of going over your data is to find information such as that, so the fact that Semrush helps you do it so efficiently is a great boon on top of an already amazing product.
Moz is considered the industry standard SEO benchmark. Coining the term Domain Authority, there’s a reason Moz has cemented itself as the go-to metric for link exchangers everywhere. Moz has been around since 2004, and in that fifteen years, it has fostered a huge community of Search Engine Optimizers that has only grown. Their work helped create the industry we know today, so it’s no surprise that they offer some of the best keyword research tools around.
Before we even talk about their premium services, we have to mention one of the best keyword research tools for free, the Mozbar. This free keyword tool lets you evaluate a sites domain authority incredibly conveniently. How does this relate to our list of best keyword research tools 2019? It tells you who takes their SEO seriously, thus allowing you to identify your true competitors in the field.
There’s no point comparing yourself to a business that’s spent no time on SEO, afterall. The invaluable Mozbar provides the earliest form of competitor evaluation you need to rely on, which also makes it one of the best keyword research tools free.
When it comes to actually conducting keyword research though, Moz offers some pretty unique utilities in a simple format that lets you spend less time poring over the numbers and more time ranking for keywords.
Like Semrush, Moz lets you explore another site’s keywords. Once again, the intent is to discover some keywords that you had never previously considered. The stress here, however, is on seed keywords, which are the part of your keyword with the core phrase. In the phrase ‘best keyword research tools free’ that you probably noticed a couple paragraphs ago, ‘keyword’ is the obvious seed in the phrase. Moz builds its results from there, giving you a deeper pool of results to possibly choose from.
Moz also offers all sorts of keyword analysis and performance measurement tools, plus the ability to organize your own lists to track your keywords and examine SERPs.
Really, Moz has everything wrapped up in a perfect little package. If it exists, you’ll find it with Moz. Given Moz’s place in the industry, you can also expect nothing but improvement from their tools in the future.
The reason Moz ranks higher than Semrush on this list is because you get access to so many general SEO tools beyond keyword research. While they may be available elsewhere, Moz brings more together into one subscription, making it a higher quality product overall.
Obviously both are among our best keyword research tools 2019, it’s just that we think Moz is that much better.
# 1. Ahrefs
Finally, there’s Ahrefs. Ahrefs is the single best tool to have on hand for keyword research, period. Everything everyone else offers, Ahrefs does it better. If you have any experience with Ahrefs, you would probably agree with us when we say it should top every list of keyword research tools out there.
Not only can you examine your competitors keywords and compare them to your own, you also get a full statistical breakdown of their SEO strategy.
You get access to a database of top keywords across Google, broken down by country. Not only do you have access to al the top searched terms, you also get insights into their behaviour, such as prior searches and similar searches made by people who used those common terms.
Ahrefs takes the top spot for us because they offer industry leading SEO tools, and then they take everything a step further than the competition, not to mention the fact that Ahrefs is constantly working on new software to meet their users every need.
Ahrefs takes every one of those special, unique research tools listed by the previous brands and gives them additional features that blow the competition out of the water.
This is why we put it at the top of our list of keyword research tools. If you’re deep into the SEO game, you need Ahrefs.
Should you go premium?
Without a doubt. Having gone through our keyword research guide, you should already know that if you’re an SEO expert with a career in the industry, you need to go premium. This is one business investment that will make your job ten times easier. You’ll be a more effective SEO and you can offer much more for your clients in a fraction of the time otherwise.
Every SEO expert will tell you the only way to conduct useful keyword research is by using one of these amazing paid tools. They go above and beyond the simple keyword generators you find in most free keyword tools.
We would recommend using Ahrefs or Moz above anything else. The two are the best in the industry right now and it’s looking like they’re going to stay that way for a long time.
Of course, when it comes down to it, it’s just a matter of preference. There’s a reason Semrush and Sistrix have huge user bases, and it’s because they offer a reliable product too. Always pick a product that’s right for you.
This concludes the Awesome Web Designs list of keyword research tools. Did we miss anything? If you have recommendations for any paid or free keyword tools, leave them in the comments. While we did say premium tools are the tops, we also want to deliver the most comprehensive keyword research tool list possible.
Finally, if you want to take a look at how we incorporated our desired keywords in this blog post, you can download our list of keywords in a .csv format here.