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.


Feb 19, 2016

For some reason the YouTube link doesn't work.. Does anyone know how to get to the YouTube keyword search?

Apr 29, 2016

Man, glad I came across this. I’ve been looking to compare different tools and thought I had a good grasp on everything that was out there. I have a broad idea about the SEO competition. I have tried quite a few but have not come across to one that seems to both give an accurate prediction and at the same time scalable. But I lean heavily on manual review (not real scalable, I know). But, once I have found a decent opportunity using a tool like SEMrush, I’ll run the query through Google and analyze the first page results by MOzbar domain authority. Not the most accurate metric, but a solid directional cue.

This post is such amazing! Most of them are really useful. Thank you!
Keep with the good work...

May 23, 2016

It is incredibly, very user-friendly and user friendly. Great job for the fabulous site.Backlink Maker

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May 30, 2016

Really,helpful information.Thank you so much for sharing helpful information

May 30, 2016

I've been having great results with But there are so many great tools listed here, great page - Thank you.

George Raboy
May 31, 2016

EXACTLY, these update on "regular basis" (satirical) that semrush, spyfu, raven and the likes claim to have ARE HOLLOW PROMISES!

I switch to Serpstat for this reason. For the same price you get everything SEMrush has + updates.

Jun 24, 2016

This has been a very helpful post, thank you very much!

Gerge Lorent
Jul 12, 2016

Great post!
Most of these free tools are really free unlike most keyword research tools that use freemiums that offer no value doing real kw or competitors research. I've been using SEMrush's cheapest (or should I say least expensive) plan and now lookiing for alternatives. I know tools like SEPStat and SpyFu or Raven tools offer same results for less money but thanks for reviewing cool free tools!

Kiril Yovev
Jul 12, 2016

I like using PowerSuite package as it provides several kw research options. Also, I would like to mention one disadvantage of PowerSuite - it's not good enough for small markets, Bulgaria, for example.


Marius Sonnentag
Jul 15, 2016

thanks for the List. I didn`t know about Freshkey and the Google Trends integration look promising. It now costs 49,95$ and the YouTube keyword Tool is no longer available… – maybe you want to update the post.

Sitaram Kattel
Aug 04, 2016

Thanks, buddy, really cool stuff. Ubersuggest is a new one for me.

Murat Kucukosman
Oct 17, 2016

You have different view, thank you for this good source about keyword research

Nov 13, 2016

Hi, I'd like to point out a new tool called (disclaimer: I made it).

It features 200+ Million keywords. Give it a try. Interested in writing a review?


Stephen Jaymes
Feb 16, 2017

Thank you, thank you and thank you. I appreciate your time and research. :)

Apr 05, 2017

"I wondered upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts."!!Thanks

Ivan Palii
Apr 07, 2017

Most of that tools don’t introduce new features. And now it’s one of the most important criteria for seo masters as I know. Google, Bing, Amazon change own algorithms every year, and keyword suggestion tools should do it also. So, only semrush, kparser and serpstat make changes regularly. What do you think about others?

May 11, 2017

This post is awesome!!This is what i am looking for thanks. Thanks for sharing this one post........

May 31, 2017

The Google Keyword Planner one of the best tools for keyword research and it's integrated with many more features. that is Keyword research is one of the most important, valuable, and high return activities in the search marketing field. Ranking for the right keywords can make or break your website.

Jul 06, 2017

Great list of tools. I was looking for an alternative to SERP. Ubersuggest it is. Thanks a lot for sharing!

Nishat Mahmud
Jul 06, 2017

Very informative post buddy. I would definitely use wordstream's keyword tool. Thanks for sharing.

Aug 05, 2017

Great list of tools for Keyword research.

Thanks You...

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Oct 19, 2017

It is very useful for keyword research. Thanks for sharing awesome post.

Dec 28, 2017

Great post...I didn't know that there were so many keyword tools I'd never heard of! That Fresh Key looks promising. keep it up

Jan 17, 2018

Another tool I use daily is Venta Marketing's Keyword Concatenation Tool. If you use mergewords at all you'll find this refreshing. Check it out here

Jan 18, 2018

i couldn't find how to work with adwords keyword planner
sb plz help with it

Dave Ingalls
Feb 19, 2018

I urge anyone who makes it this far reading this post to seriously consider using Serpstat for ALL of your SEO needs including keyword research. Why? First, you need to use a tool like this to truly see what's going on with your Web site versus its competitors in the major search engines. Second, it is VERY reasonably priced (can use for free on limited basis and first paid level is only $19/mo) compared to the most popular SEO tools like SEMrush and MOZ (both cost a minimum of $99.95/mo). Note: I have no financial relationship with Serpstat - just trying to help my fellow bloggers.

Rachel Craig
Mar 01, 2018 (free for one website)

This is a great list, there are some gems here.

CanIrank is an excellent keyword research tool. It analyses the probability of primary, secondary and related term keywords to rank against your competitors.

Then if you're new to SEO, it will provide a step-by-step guide on how you can rank for those keywords that provide the best opportunity.


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