The 9 Best Keyword Research Tools


Keyword Research Guide

Doing great keyword research is like being a fisherman. Reeling in the big profits takes knowledge, a Speedo, and a thermos.

Whether you like it or not, keyword research is at the core of pay-per-click marketing and SEO practices. If you aren’t bidding or using the right keywords, short- or long-tail, then you could be selling yourself short on your potential success.

And wouldn’t you rather reel in a big whale shark instead of a few sardines? (You can obviously tell I don’t know my fish very well.)

See, doing good keyword research is like being a seasoned fisherman, casting his net at the right place, at the right time. So whether you’re looking to patch up the holes in your current keyword selection net, or expand the size of it, consider this article a potential algal bloom of profits.

By now you should know that the Google AdWords Keyword Tool is no longer available – Google has folded the tool into Keyword Planner, a combination of the old keyword tool and the Traffic Estimator. Now, you need an AdWords account to get keyword suggestions from Google. But Google is far from the only keyword game in town.

In this article, we’ll look at my nine favorite keyword research tools, plus some fancy tricks you can use to get a wooden peg leg up on your competition. Some are free, and some are not (but well worth the money).

Keyword Research Tools

So without further ado, let’s take you from being like this guy...

Keyword Tools

To this guy.

1.) WordStream’s Keyword Tool (free)

Ahhh yes... Of course I could never forget WordStream’s very own keyword tool for both SEO and PPC keyword research.

The WordStream keyword tool allows you to target certain niches (groups of related keywords), gives you further suggestions, and also allows you to group them based off of a common theme for easy ad group launches.

Best Keyword Research Tools

This keyword research tool gives you 30 searches for free, after that you’ll have to sign up for their WordStream Advisor to use it additionally.

Hidden bonus? You get a free 7-day trial on top of the 30 free searches you already did!

2.) FreshKey ($20 software)

Though not free, FreshKey is my #1 go-to keyword research tool that allows me to see beyond the regular Google Instant suggestions and predictions that appear when I start typing things in on Google.

Not only does it give you new keyword ideas, variations, and synonyms, it also sorts the keywords depending on popularity.


Instead of just getting four new keywords from the Google suggestions drop-down, you can now potentially get an unlimited amount of keywords if you keep adding small letter variations like a, b, c, d, etc. to the end of your keyword root.

Keyword Tools

Best Keyword Tool

FreshKey will even give you ideas of which negative keywords to add before you actually have to pay for them the old-fashioned way by going through your search query report.

You can also use it to get Amazon search box suggestion terms.

You can also export the keyword results as a spreadsheet or copy them directly to your clipboard.

BOOM! You can stop reading the rest of this article now. (JK)

3.) Soovle (free)

If you have multiple channels you wish to do keyword research for and want to sound like an idiot explaining the pronunciation of this tool to your watercooler buddies, then Soovle is a perfect fit.

Soovle allows you to explore the most typed in keywords on multiple search engines based on the keyword root you give it. It even includes Amazon and eBay.

Not only is it a great keyword research tool to use, but it’s also a great brainstormer as you can slowly start typing in your ideas and allow it to auto-generate its own ideas.

I would’ve never thought to call a bounce house an inflatable castle, but now I do :)


4.)  Ubersuggest (free)

Meet the keyword research tool on steroids, Ubersuggest.

Ubersuggest takes any keyword you give it and immediately gives you an almost unlimited list of alphabetized and numerical keyword variations of your original keyword.

You can even take it further by adding “bounce house ab, ac, ad” to uncover more keywords that you could potentially bid on or use for SEO purposes.


5.) Serpstat ( $19 )

Serpstat is an all-in-one SEO platform, and keyword research is one of its functions. This tool has some unique features that can help you optimize your website and get ahead of your competitors’ sites as well.

Unlike similar tools, Serpstat is a page-oriented platform for in-depth competitive analysis. You can find competitors and define missing keywords for a single URL or even entire domains. You can also view historical position data for a range of pages organized by phrase, as well as see which pages have dropped in rank and their rank distribution as a percentage, which is very handy if you want to compare data from two different time periods or observe changes over time based on algorithm updates and other factors.

Serpstat search questions screenshot

Serpstat also allows you to view search questions and suggestions. This data is based on real search queries, meaning you can use this feature to come up with fresh ideas for creating traffic-driving content that people are actually searching for. 

Serpstat has a unique "tree-view" algorithm. You can use it to check your pages’ positions, improve the ones that are just behind the first page, and gain more traffic. 

Serpstat tree view screenshot

This tool has advanced filtering options that allow you to set your own custom parameters and get exactly what you’re looking for. Although Serpstat is primarily intended for SEO, you can research PPC keywords using the tool and content marketers may find the search questions feature quite helpful, making it a solid, cost-effective all-rounder.

6.) Search Term/Query Reports (free-ish)

Now even though you won’t be expanding your keyword net by using search query report mining, you’ll at least be improving your AdWords or Bing Ads account by patching up holes.

One common thing I notice in PPC accounts is the lack of attention and detail in which the account owner or previous agency allows one or a couple of keywords to be the “catch all” for everything. A common example would be to have the keyword +bounce +house or “bounce house” and leave it at that.

The only problem is that you can’t possibly laser-target every ad to the search query, and your landing page will definitely not be as targeted as it could be either. Not even dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) would help, because who wants to click on an ad with the headline of just “Bounce House”? Let’s just say it gets tricky, and you’re a little lazy if that’s all you do.

The search term/query report is a PPC report that shows you what search terms have actually triggered your ads based on the current keywords you’re bidding on. So it won’t expand your reach since your ads are already showing for those terms, but it will help you improve your quality scores and granularity within your account.

Here’s how to access the search term report in Google AdWords:

AdWords Search Queries

Here’s how to access the search query report in Bing Ads:

Bing Keywords

7.) Google Keyword Planner (free)

Duuuhhh...! Of course this is on the list.

The Google Keyword Planner is sometimes regarded as the alpha and omega of keyword research tools. You must have an AdWords account to access it, and that doesn’t mean you have to pay anything to use it, it’s still free.

The Google Keyword Planner will show you some pretty neat stats like average monthly searches, competition level (high, medium, or low), the average cost per click, and more.

It doesn’t give you exact keyword suggestions like FreshKey or Ubersuggest, but it actually takes it a step further and suggests more synonyms and variations than many other tools available.

Is it accurate? Sort of. I always tell people to take the suggested keyword stats with a grain of salt.

Here’s how to find it. Log in in to your AdWords account and go to the Tools and Analysis tab:

AdWords Keywords

Here are some of the keyword results:

Keyword Planner

You can find more great tips for using Keyword Planner here.

8.) Competitor Source Code (free)

This might not be the best and most fruitful keyword research tool but it allows you to see what meta keywords your competitors could be using to try to rank organically.

Since I use Google Chrome as my browser, it’s super simple to right-click on a site and select “View Page Source.”

View Meta Keywords

After that, all you have to do is locate the keywords and read what they’ve got. That’s it!

Two caveats for this method:

  • Your competitors might not be using the best keywords
  • Your competitors might not have meta keywords enabled (since Google doesn’t include meta keyword data in its search algorithm anymore)

9.) AdWords Display Planner (free)

AdWords' Display Planner tool isn't solely a keyword tool, but it does offer a great deal of functionality that could be invaluable to marketers of all stripes.

AdWords Display Planner

The Display Planner tool replaced the YouTube Keyword Tool in 2014, and can be accessed from the Tools section of your AdWords account. Although it's a little more involved than entering a keyword into the YouTube Keyword Tool, the Display Planner offers some great functionality for making the most of Display campaigns, including keyword-driven video ad campaigns on YouTube. The Display Planner also offers precious insights into the demographics and interests of your audiences, allowing you to create highly tailored Display campaigns.

Happy fishing! :)

Find out how you're REALLY doing in AdWords!

Watch the video below on our Free AdWords Grader:

Visit the AdWords Grader.


Dec 17, 2013

Update:  24 hours later, and, it should be noted, I still don't have my software license key from Freshkey.  Their alleged call center isn't working (when you dial the number, there's simply one long continuous ring), and nobody is returning emails (2 of them, as of this morning, 3).  I admit it, I've been had.  I'd purchased a copy of their other product, as well, to assess for recommendation (or not) to my clients, and this is NOT off to an auspicious start.  I'll report back on any further updates.  As-is right now, by this evening I'll be alerting my credit card company to cancel the transactions and put that company on whatever possible fraud lists that they have. Very disappointing, the tool looked great, but I don't even have a URL for it.  All this aggravation for $20? 

Dec 18, 2013

This post is awesome!!This is what i am looking forthanks

Arindam Dutta
Dec 24, 2013

Thanks for your post. I always select wordtracker for keyword research and Keyword Research Tool will help you research appropriate words and phrases to include in your web-page's body text to promotion.

Steve Fort
Jan 23, 2014

The free tool like soolve is superb. Thanks for sharing these much free resources. I bookmarked your site. :-)

Jon W
Feb 05, 2014

Wow, This almost makes me laugh because I had no idea of all the free keyword research tools out there.  I had been using google's keyword planner, but upgrade to Market Samurai, which is a paid tool.  I have heard of Long Tail Pro, another paid keyword research tool, but am already invested into Market Samurai.

Abhijit Gupta
Feb 06, 2014

Thank you very much for your list of SEO tools. The list is excellent and very helpful. Really it's very informative posting. I like this posting. Thanks for posting with us. 

Abhijit Gupta
Feb 20, 2014

Really it's very informative posting. Thank you for this information. I am new to SEO. It is a helpful piece of information for me and others. This post is really is most helpful.

Feb 25, 2014

Speaking of keywords, Colibri has a great keyword related feature. It will find you similar keywords and show you on which keywords your competitors are positioning. It’s very helpful and easy with them. It also have other nice features

Rafay Ansar
Mar 03, 2014

Amazing list, thanks Johnathan Dane a lot for helping. Nice Article....:)

Mar 12, 2014

Thanks for all these keyword tools list. These make work easy

Mar 14, 2014

very nice article

Abhijit Gupta
Mar 17, 2014

Thanks for sharing such an informative article. I am using free keyword tool MOZ and Google Adwords tools. Google Analytics, Google Webmaster, Keyword Density Analyzer Tool are most important. These will help you lot in your SEO. 

Mar 28, 2014

Nice post! very insightful information about keywords tools.

création site maroc
Apr 07, 2014

Thank you for this article which puts in place good practices. for me, I still always includes a part of highly competitive keywords, not to be in the top positions but to be present. Without concentrating the entire campaign that allows for more diversification anchors that link to the url.

Prashanth Raj
Apr 14, 2014

Thanks for your research. I know it takes time. I've to admit that you've gathered a superb collection of useful tools. I've bookmarked it right away.But, I've an addition to make (for your kind consideration) which is all about grammar:While "the quality of your grammar is no direct ranking signal" (Quote by Matt Cutts), proper grammar and spelling can "make or break it" when an authority website (e.g. The Huffington Post) considers linking to your content. They surely won't link to a source with low-grade grammar and spelling mistakes. Some might disagree, but this is what I experienced. 

Peter Tiffany
Apr 18, 2014

Johnathon,What a great article!  I did some PPC campaigns several years ago and am now getting ready to jump back in, and with the PPC world verywell matured at this stage, it was fantastic to see your thoughts on a really nice collection of free and paid for tools.  Very nicely written, concise and tothe point.  I feel like I now have all I need to successfully get back into PPC.   I look forward to reading more of what Wordstream has to share.

Apr 21, 2014

Soovle is very very cool keyword search tool.  I love it!  Youtube keyword tool is temparorily disabled. 

Apr 28, 2014

Thanks for that great work. I prefer to utilize a big mix of SEO Tools to get the best results. It’s really essential to use different tools for tracking, link research, and all the other thing we SEOs do all the time.

Fiona Williams
Jun 05, 2014

Thanks for these tips. Keyword research is the corner stone towards a successful blog or website. It is the very basic one should do well to be successful in SEO. Will surely check your suggestions. 

Jun 09, 2014

Thanks for this article i will take note of this research tools!

Jul 01, 2014

I was cracking my head trying to find a good keyword search tool. Thanks for the list of them. My turn to explore it. 

Jul 03, 2014

Thank you very much for your list of SEO tools.The list is  very helpful. Really it's very informative posting. I like this posting. Thanks. 

Ajay Mehta
Jul 07, 2014

I think apart from the above tools SEMrush is also an amazing tool to be used for analyzing keywords. Most of the time I use keyword planner or SEMrush.

Jul 10, 2014

This post is really informative. Google analytic is a amazing tool that provide data for complete site analysis. Thanks for sharing it.  

Katie Chestnut
Jul 10, 2014

I'm just curious if FreshKey also gives you traffic estimates like the Google Keyword Planner? I'm looking into purchasing it, and want to make sure it gives me all the information I want. 

Serrurerie paris 4eme
Jul 11, 2014

Thanks for this very useful and helpful tools, Thank you also for this great Article

Aug 13, 2014

I'm just curious if FreshKey also gives you traffic estimates like the <a href="">Google Keyword Planner</a>? I'm looking into purchasing it, and want to make sure it gives me all the information I want. 

Sep 01, 2014

FreshKey is new to me. I guess with this post it's a good keyword tool to try. Thanks for sharing this.

Taki Elias
Sep 20, 2014

Thanks a lot for your list of best SEO keyword analysis tools.This list is very helpful. Really exclusive post for seo learner. Need post like Keyword analysis process. May we get it soon please ?

Sep 23, 2014

Hello, i am a newbie and currently using Adwords tool. so far its working for me. and Thanks for the Article, it helped me to keep going. 

Oct 07, 2014

It might be worth mentioning that the Youtube Keyword URL no longer works and has integrated to AdWords :( I've been hunting for insightful kwd tools this afternoon and was rather hopeful that there was a secret one here (

Oct 22, 2014

Thanks for the info.I wanted to use the Google keyword service, but didn't know where it was on their website for bidding on keywords.It has completely changed its looks and your instructions are know longer correct, but they still helped me becausethey let me know what direction to look.  Thanks for your straight forward, light hearted approach........Selene 

Saif Ullah
Nov 05, 2014

Thanks so much for sharing such an informative article. I am using free keyword tool MOZ and Google Adwords tools. Google Analytics, Google Webmaster, Keyword Density Analyzer Tool are most important. These will help you lot in your SEO.

D. Freeman
Dec 01, 2014

Thanks Jonathan. That's lots of great tools you listed out here. I also discovered yet another amazing tool called Serpstat. It has the ''questions only'' option and gives more relevant content titles, thereby making content plan creation alot more easier. 

Praveen K
Dec 05, 2014

hello, nice to read this article about keyword research tool, its interesting to go for research with some tools online .. 

Dec 11, 2014

Very often I use most fo the listed tools to select best keywords for my website. Among those Google keywords planner, ubersuggest, wordstream (paid) I use frequently. Google trends also help me a lot in finding trending keywords and relevant searches according to set locations. 

Anwer Ashif
Feb 03, 2015

Thanks for sharing best keyword research tools. I'm using FreshKey. It works well but not like Long Trail Pro... But beginner should use Google Keyword Planner... :)

Tim Glaim
Feb 10, 2015

Great list, John. I've bookmarked it and will make good use of it. Thank you.

Apr 08, 2015

Thanks for sharing this post. I had always been using google planner tool but this time tried soovle and its really an amazing and helpful tool

Jun 20, 2015

Thanks for the List of Keyword tool, i was late but want to thank you.

Saqib Ahmad
Aug 18, 2015

Great list! Thank You so much. I really like soovle. Its simple and can generates really great keywords.

Aug 27, 2015

Good. Great Article. I was looking for a different option and an alternative of adwords keyword planner.

Ozair Akhtar | SEO SEM Social Media Marketer
Oct 12, 2015

Really a very useful post. I really didn't knew about the possibility of so many Keyword tools available online. Being a Digital Marketing professional from Karachi, Pakistan I would like to know about good tools available for SEO, SEM & Social Media Marketing that can help me a lot.

Oct 14, 2015

There is a very nice keyword research tool named iLovePage1 (guess why !! :D) not mentioned that can quickly do it.I find it very interesting because in just one step it allows me to get to gold seed keywords in seconds.

George Bates
Dec 17, 2015

Great post!

These are some really helpful tips for anyone looking for a new PPC tool :)

I’ve written something similar which is a bit of an extension of your post but with 43 tools ranked in order by PPC experts. Feel free to take a look:

Sahadath Hossain
Dec 30, 2015

This is a great list, you share an important article. I am using Google keyword planner, it s really good. Thanks for sharing.

Jan 21, 2016

There are so many keyword research tools. Everyone is claiming for the best. It is really very tough to relay on the tool without any expert advice.

Thanks a lot for this experienced based advice. This will certainly help me and others looking for a good research tool.

Jan 22, 2016

The youtube keyword tool is now dead

Jan 28, 2016

Thanks for your post

Feb 03, 2016

It’s always great to read the views of experts. The positive aspect I found on this article is KWFinder, a great tool to find long tail keywords with SEO/PPC competitiveness.


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