Every single business wants to appear at the top of Google’s search ranking for a variety of keywords. But SEO is hard, and if you're working as an agency then you’ll know it takes a lot of work to optimize your clients’ content! So, do you know where to start with your keyword research?

Are you a marketer or business owner who struggles with defining an SEO strategy? Do you want to learn more about the keyword research tools that the pros are using? If you want results when optimizing your clients’ content online then you have come to the right place.

We have compiled a list of the most popular keyword research tools and tips from 34 SEO experts. These search marketing experts range from major influencers to everyday industry professionals experienced in content optimization. So which keyword research tool(s) are best for your business? We will help you decide.

Skip the reading and grab our Local SEO Checklist for your clients! 

Basic Free Keyword Research Tools

Answer The Public

This is the perfect tool if you’re in the content ideation process looking for direction. Like any piece of content online, it takes a bit of researching before you find a specific subject to write about especially if you’re writing content for a client’s business. Answer The Public provides users with suggestions, ideas, and frequently searched terms when thinking of a particular topic. After fetching keyword search terms, the application displays the searches in neat visuals (seen above) showing searches related to the different questions people ask online.

Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of the visuals, you can quickly download the keyword search data to a CSV.

Search for a topic or keyword and you’ll get:

  • Questions searched on Google related to the keyword/topic
  • Prepositions on Google with the keyword
  • Keyword comparison searches (and, vs., like, or)
  • Alphabetically organized searches
  • Related searches

In terms of topic navigation and researching, Answer The Public is one of the most widely used free tools online. However, on its own, Answer The Public lacks insightful search data so it is best to pair this application with another. Keywords Everywhere is a great browser add-on to give you search volume, CPC, and competitive data. With Answer The Public and Keywords Everywhere a user is able to combine two free keyword research tools to make a pairing that delivers great results.

Why Use Answer the Public Over Other Tools?

If you’re in the brainstorming phase of content creation, then this tool will point you in the right direction. Answer The Public was the most widely recommended free tool in our outreach for keyword research tools as suggested by SEO professionals. If you are going to add Answer the Public to your SEO toolkit, be sure to add Keywords Everywhere as well. With both tools, a user can not only gather content ideas and suggestions but also get the data to back up their keyword research.

What are the Professionals Saying About Answer The Public?

For both coming up with content ideas and then optimizing that content, I've found the free to use tool Answer The Public to be of great help. Just pop in a keyword and it will provide a whole range of content ideas from comparisons, propositions, questions, and even related keywords that users are actually typing into search engines.

Joe Flanagan

Career Advisor & Digital Marketing Expert, VelvetJobs

[Answer The Public] is great to use for blog post ideas and any informational keywords. This tool doesn’t take much explaining, you simply enter a topic keyword and get served with a range of questions that users commonly ask about these topics.

Provide useful answers to them and you’re almost certain to start getting traffic to your website. Answer the public is a free tool, and whilst it may be short of some of the in-depth data that SEMRush provides, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Danny Watkinson

SEO & Digital Marketing Consultant, Dijitul

The best free keyword exploring tool is without a doubt Answer The Public. It is particularly great if you are in a need of questions people often ask. I use it when researching for blog posts. It gives you every possible question people have Googled, related to your term and it is a great way of providing you with a knowledge-requests you can answer to.

Nikolay Trifonov

Digital Marketing, VIP Spades

One of the best keyword research tools that we use here at Bowler Hat is answerthepublic.com. The best thing? It's completely free! Plus, you can download all the data in a CSV for future use. You simply enter a topic or keyword of your choice and it spits out a bunch of suggestions, from questions to prepositions. With this tool, you really will struggle to run out of content ideas.

Ryan Scollon

SEO Consultant, RyanScollon.co.uk'

...try Answer the Public. Just give them a keyword or topic and they'll find hundreds of topic permutations. The results are even arranged by the type of search, including questions (like can plumbers putty stop a leak,) prepositions (like plumbers with leak detection equipment,) comparisons (like Teflon tape vs plumbers putty) and more.

Joe Goldstein

SEO Director/Operations Manager, Contractor Calls

For years, one of my go-to content marketing strategies has been writing content around frequently asked questions in the industries I was competing in. This used to require me to go find the most popular forums, and manually dig up FAQs.

Answer The Public streamlines the entire process. Pop a topic in and answer the public pulls a list of every possible question asked about that topic. If you’ve got a tool like KeywordsEverywhere installed you’ll even be able to see the search volume.

Anthony Myers

SEO Specialist, Ambassador Referral Marketing

The best free keyword research tool is Answer the Public. You type in your keyword and get questions, prepositions, comparisons, and alphabeticals for your keyword. It is a great one size fits all tool for keyword research, the major thing it doesn't do is give you analysis of each keyword such as traffic, competitiveness or any other metric, but there are many tools for that in addition to Answer the Public.

Cale Loken

CEO, 301 Madison Consulting

Google Keyword Planner

Google’s Keyword Planner (GKP) has been a trusted keyword research application for a long time. For advertisers and marketers that are using Google Adwords, you will have access to this feature. The keyword planner provides relevant search advertising information to users looking for PPC information. However, the free tool also offers content marketers and SEO professionals to get search information directly from Google.

Since the information is coming straight from the source, many marketers verify keyword search data from other applications directly within GKP. The main use for keyword research within Google’s Keyword Planner is to access the average monthly search data. Keyword research within this tool can examine keywords based on broad match, exact match, and phrase match. If you use this tool for SEO purposes, be sure to set the dropdown to ‘exact match’ so that Google pulls information to match the keyword(s) you are researching.

In recent years, and even recent weeks, people have questioned the validity of keyword search volume within Keyword Planner. Moz’s SEO mastermind, Rand Fishkin, recently posted one of his infamous whiteboard Friday videos to explain the matter. He does a good job at explaining the benefits of GKP for advertisers but also emphasizes that search volume statistics are not as valuable to organic-focused marketers.

Why Use Google Keyword Planner Over Other Tools?

The main benefit of using Google Keyword Planner is that the information is pulled directly from the source. With other keyword research planners or tools, the information is often scraped from Google. When using GKP, users must consider the different ways that Google calculates its search volume for advertisers, including broad ranges and conflated keywords. If you’re an advertiser who uses Adwords and wants to gather data from an easily-accessed source then GKP is a viable option.  

What are the Professionals Saying About Google Keyword Planner?

There's only one keyword research tool that has been useful and remains the most useful. Google Keyword Planner is free in AdWords (even if you don't pay for ads) and it provides all the information you need on keywords data.

Nick Leffler

Owner, Exprance

Google gives you everything you need. Create an AdWords account and go to the Keyword Planner tool. Make a list of keywords you want to target, and find out the search volume for these terms. Are these terms being searched? If they are, is there a lot of competition? All if this data is free to research, it is up to you to determine which keywords are worth targeting and where you can make progress.

Daniel Ali

Vice President, MyQuickStartup

Google’s Keyword Planner is still a good option, too. Sure, it doesn’t have the same level of insight it once did, but being able to find synonymous and related terms in Ad Groups is an invaluable timesaver. Bonus points because it’s free.

David Greenspan

Content Manager, Next Level Marketing

Located inside Google Adwords, this free keyword tool is available for anyone with an AdWords account. While its primary focus is for paid search, it can be a great tool for uncovering search volume trends in specific regions. It also can suggest keywords that you might not have thought of.

Vincent DeCastro

CEO and Founder, SEO My Business

If you’re using AdWords you’ve probably heard of Keyword Planner. While some of the data is specific to paid advertising, Keyword Planner has many uses for SEO as well. We tend to use Keyword Planner as a starting point to gather ideas and then run data through Moz and SEMRush for verification and additional insights.

Lisa Lerman

Digital Marketing Specialist, Blue Compass

Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest is an extremely easy-to-use keyword research tool for beginners. Another bonus, it’s completely free to use! Ubersuggest was recently acquired by SEO icon, Neil Patel, so users who were familiar with the old domain will notice a redirect to Neil’s site. No worries, new website, still the same great tool.

If you’ve got a keyword idea or theme for a new piece of content, type the word into Ubersuggest and the tool will provide numerous relevant search terms. The data can be easily sorted into highest search volume, lowest competition, or if you’re interested in CPC Ubersuggest also pulls Google’s data. Similar to Google’s Keyword Planner, although CPC is more useful to people looking to advertise on Google, the data still helps keyword researchers understand where money is being spent by other businesses.

Why Use Ubersuggest Over Other Tools?

Ubersuggest is a fantastic option for agencies that want to do SEO work but have smaller SEO budgets, or no budget at all. The tool is still completely free and will provide enough information to understand basic keyword data. The big difference between Google Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest is that long tail keywords are shown within the Ubersuggest dashboard. Long tail keywords essentially search terms that are more than 2-3 words. For a free keyword research tool that displays data for long search phrases and terms, this is your best option.

What are the Professionals Saying About Ubersuggest?

I always use Neil Patel's Ubersuggest when I write blog articles. It helps me find lots of potential long tail keywords that the Google Keyword Planner tool won't show me. It's also a great source of inspiration for new articles ideas. Type any keyword, and Ubersuggest will come up with a long list of content ideas that you might not have thought about until then.

Gregory Golinski

SEO Executive, YourParkingSpace

Ubersuggest (neilpatel.com/ubersuggest). This tool is also free and provides data on keyword volume, CPC and more. The cool thing about this is that you can choose whether you're using the keyword for the web, an image, shopping, YouTube, and News.

Melissa Finnegan

Digital Content Writer, Factor Finders, LLC

LSIGraph

Another free tool, LSI Graph was recommended to us from various sources. A very basic tool on the surface, but extremely easy-to-use and efficient when searching for keywords related to your topic. In recent years, Google has suggested that web pages rank better when they utilize a keyword and related keywords. Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) involves a search engine examining both focus keywords and other variations of the keyword.

Why Use LSIGraph Over Other Tools?

In short, LSIGraph is not extremely valuable to SEO professionals and marketers on its own. However, as a free tool, it can help marketers understand the topics related to their focus and target a broader set of keywords. LSIGraph is a great place to go for a quick search of related keywords to sprinkle in while creating content.

What are the Professionals Saying About LSIGraph?

Covering related topics and keywords in your content is a great way to keep readers happy and significantly improve your rankings. Just give LSIGraph your target keyword and it will return a couple handfuls of related keywords worth covering. It can be a little temperamental, but works better as you move towards head terms.

Joe Goldstein

SEO Director/Operations Manager, Contractor Calls

Gone are the days of making new pages for every individual keyword. Markers can leverage LSI Graph (for free) to identify LSI keywords that should be included to help increase the number of keywords a certain page can earn. This tool will help marketers uncover important long-tail keywords that can be leveraged through on-page copy (in a natural way) or as anchor text for internal links across your site.

Matt Edstrom

VP of Marketing, Zacol

We've always loved LSIGraph as a keyword generation tool. But as Google continues to increase the power of its latent semantic indexing, this free tool has become more and more important to our content strategy. At its core LSIGraph is a very basic tool, but it does what it does very well.

Sean Farias

Director of Account Strategy, Campaign Creators

Freemium Fundamental Keyword Research Tools

KWfinder

KWfinder is highly regarded by SEO experts for its keyword research capabilities, SERP analysis, and backlink analysis tools. KWfinder is free to use for all users but similar to other platforms, use is limited. If a user intends to use KWfinder frequently they will have to look into a pricing package that suits their business needs.

In terms of keyword research simply type the keyword or topic that you’re interested in and KWfinder does the rest. KWfinder quickly spits out metrics for the desired keyword and from a high level, a user will be able to understand how difficult ranking will be. So what can KWfinder tell you about the keyword entered?

  • Trend Results: Trend of the search term over the last 12 months
  • Search Volume (12 months)
  • CPC & PPC Difficulty (for advertisers mostly)
  • SEO Difficulty: This score is unique to the KWfinder platform, taking information from platform data and Moz metrics to form a predicted difficulty in ranking for the keyword. One of the most accurate keyword difficulty metrics among all tools in the industry!

Many professionals mention that the most useful, or helpful, piece of the KWfinder platform is the SERP preview. The SERP checker shows the first page of Google, including all of the websites who currently rank for the desired keyword. By showing things like domain authority, page authority, citation flow, trust flow, and other Moz metrics a user is able to understand if their website can or can’t rank ahead of. Essentially, this feature is most useful to show someone the possibility or impossibility of ranking their website on Google’s first page.

Why Use KWfinder Over Other Tools?

In terms of pricing, KWfinder likely offers the greatest value to users. Top end keyword research tools and SEO platforms - like SEMrush & Ahrefs - are going to cost substantially more. KWfinder does a fantastic job of providing a quick solution when researching keywords and its dashboard is extremely simple to use for beginners. KWfinder does, however, rely on data from outside sources like Moz, which means Moz Pro users can access a lot of the information already.

In terms of SERP analysis, this is the most easily digestible tool on the market. KWfinder’s SERPChecker spells out who is on top of organic search and spells out an action plan to outrank competitors websites. If you’re looking for the best value on a keyword tool, and want the basics, this is likely the tool that most suits your needs.

What are the Professionals Saying About KWfinder?

For keyword research, KWfinder is a fantastic tool that I use a lot. Along with the standard data you’d expect (related long-tail keywords, search volume, CPC) it also gives a numerical SEO difficulty score with a helpful label (“easy”, “possible”, etc.).

My favourite feature is the SERP preview - click on any given keyword and the current SERP for that term is displayed within the tool, along with loads of great metrics about each ranking page such as Moz DA/PA and an estimated number of visits that site receives. It gives a fantastic overview of the competition for a search term and lets you evaluate very quickly whether a keyword is worth the effort of optimization or not. There’s a free version which is limited to five keyword searches per day, but you can pay for many more.

Natalie Andrews

SEO Manager, MYCS

Recently I stumbled upon KWFinder I believe it is a new tool, but it was love at first sight. It gives you top 50 keyword suggestions for free and you need to pay for the rest, but you can search niche-specific terms unlimited times and can bypass that restriction. I don't know if their algorithm differs much, but it regularly gives me fresh suggestions no other tools give. You just feed it with the main semantical keyword for a topic and it gives not only variations of the word, but synonyms as well.

Nikolay Trifonov

Digital Marketing, VIP Spades

While there are plenty of all-in-one SEO tools that include more features than KWFinder, it sets itself apart with its simplicity and accuracy on search volume and competition. With additional tools such as SERPChecker, SERPWatcher, and the new LinkMiner, the platform is beginning to look like it might rival some of the bigger names such as Moz or Ahrefs in the future.

Sean Farias

Director of Account Strategy, Campaign Creators

BuzzSumo

When people think Buzzsumo they are probably thinking contacts and influencers, not keyword research tools. However, Buzzsumo has recently introduced a tool called the “Question Analyzer” within their comprehensive dashboard. If you have ever wondered what questions people ask online, this is the perfect tool for you. The question analyzer searches Buzzsumo’s database of millions of real questions asked online across various sources.

The user is able to go beyond the conventional questions being asked on search engines like Google and dig into what is being asked across sites like Reddit, Amazon Q&A, and Quora. In terms of the ideation process, this tool is helpful in determining the direction of a piece of content before you start writing. The Question Analyzer gives users an idea of what people want to know or need to know and how you can deliver content to match customers needs.

Why Use Question Analyzer Over Other Tools?

Not your conventional keyword research tool, the Question Analyzer offers a different perspective in terms of targeting questions instead of specific keywords. Some tools offer similar long-tail research insights that include questions, but the Question Analyzer is unique in that its search goes beyond Google. Buzzsumo finds where questions are being asked all over the web including sites like Reddit and Quora. Marketers can not only optimize their content for organic search but also to provide answers to various threads across the web as an additional promotion tactic. This is definitely not a stand-alone SEO tool, but in combination with other keyword research tools can be very valuable.

What are the Professionals Saying About Buzzsumo’s Question Analyzer?

My favorite new tool for FAQ keyword research right now is Question Analyzer as a feature of Buzzsumo.com. It segments questions into categories so you can get directly to what type of questions you're looking to optimize for. It's also a great tool to come up with content ideas as you can type in a keyword and see the most shared content for that keyword. From there, you can see the influencers who helped make that content powerful.

Jordan Kasteler

Digital Marketing Consultant/SEO Specialist, JordanKasteler.com

Premium Keyword Research Tools

SEMrush

SEMrush is definitely one of the most complete and comprehensive SEO tools on the market. With a variety of tools, SEMrush provides an all-in-one solution for marketers looking for rich insights. The platform itself is extremely easy to navigate, providing a great user experience for beginners and experts.

Despite offering various features, we look to focus on the keyword tools that SEMrush boasts. In terms of keyword research, SEMrush is able to help marketers target keywords for both SEO and PPC; keyword volume and cost-per-click (CPC) are provided in the dashboard. In addition, SEMrush offers phrase matching, related keyword suggestions, and insights into long-tail keywords to match your business’s specific keyword needs.

When you enter a keyword into the SEMrush search it will bring up the keyword overview page. A variety of reports are shown on the keyword overview page and each report allows you to click further for more information, what they call a snapshot. Another great competitive feature of the platform is the Domain vs. Domain dashboard, which compares up to five competitor domains at once. This allows the user to see who is outperforming who and can be very valuable in vertical-specific business or local businesses in the same industry.

The Keyword Magic tool is still fairly new, and not everyone uses it within their everyday use of the platform. In specific, the keyword magic tool works wonders for long-tail research. Like mentioned by professionals below, if a business is looking for more specific queries, this tool can provide a lot of insight.

There are a TON of tools on the dashboard that may not be directly relevant to keyword research but are extremely useful when it comes to search marketing. SEO professionals everywhere use SEMrush, and it’s no surprise as the robust platform offers a wide array of solutions while continuously diversifying its product offerings.

Why Use SEMrush Over Other Tools?

SEMrush is going to offer the user a complete set of tools for all things SEO, including advanced keyword analytics and research features. As noted by industry experts, SEMrush is often the preferred tool for SEO professionals due to its clean UI and seamless usability, especially for SEO beginners. If you’re looking for a paid solution that offers a one-stop for advanced insights, then SEMrush may be a solution for your search marketing needs.

What are the Professionals Saying About SEMrush?

I love SEMrush's Keyword Magic tool for longtail keyword research. You can see related keywords, and then filter them by length and search volume. If you want a longtail query related to travel that has at least 200 searches a month, you can quickly find a nice variety. You have to sign up for a free account to use the tool, and if you don't pay for a premium account you're limited to one keyword list at a time. The free account works great for content writers and strategists who don't do a lot of SEO work, but like to optimize the content they write with well-researched keywords.

Jami Barnett

Associate Director of Research, ConsumerAffairs

SEMRush is a must-have for SEO Experts in 2018. The most efficient and trustworthy keyword tracking tool by far, SEMRush provides its users with a wealth of information in regards to their own websites as well as the competition.

Simply plug in a URL and take advantage of the utterly comprehensive keyword tracking (positioning, difficulty to rank for, as well as volume and percentage of traffic driven to your website through the keyword), site auditing, competitor comparison, page analytics and more. The site even provides handy organic traffic and backlink tracking tools, although Ahrefs provides the superior experience if your priority is backlink checking.

Nate Masterson

Marketing Manager, Maple Holistics

I simply adore this tool. It brings all the right things in order to optimize your content: I compare my leading posts to my competitor's ones and track them and seek any on-page changes.

Liraz Postan

SEO Manager, Outbrain

SEMrush is a great aid in improving your businesses SEO. This handy platform provides the insights your company needs to recognize low competition keywords, which can be used to create original and compelling content, so it is properly and efficiently optimized.

I use SEMrush because it’s an all-rounder; it provides keywords, positions, and volumes where your website ranks. I can paste in a domain and it generates relevant keywords relative to that particular domain and shows which keywords it's already ranking for. You can then create and build content around these keywords to improve your position on Google. Google AdWords is also a great keyword tool, although it is mainly based on keywords, meaning it isn’t as extensive as SEMrush.

Keyword stuffing is out of the question though; Google is too intelligent to let this common practice slide and although SEO is crucial to content, overusing keywords makes for clunky, unclear content, which the reader will recognize has only been created for SEO purposes.

Steve Pritchard

SEO Consultant, GiffGaff

Everyone has their own process for optimizing content, but the SEMrush keyword research tool (premium SaaS product) can adapt to almost every approach. Here are several reasons why it’s our go-to tool:

  • Granular Search Demand: The Organic Search Positions report provides search demand information at a keyword level; this is superior to Google Keyword Planner which now combines demand for similar terms into a very broad range with makes accurate targeting difficult.
  • Competitor Data: Offering a large database, SEMRush gives access to competitor ranking data which makes the creation of a content gap analysis easy. If you’re unfamiliar, a content gap analysis compares sets of ranking keywords between a target site and its competitors to identify opportunities & “low hanging fruit.” The identification and targeting of keyword themes with the opportunity to improve content performance.
  • Historic Performance: The toolset contains data that give users the ability to track performance from both broad or granular perspectives. Whether exporting a graph covering “Total Ranking Keywords” to tracking trends on a per keyword basis, SEMRush offers a lot of flexibility for both agency and in-house users alike.

In closing, we’ve found SEMRush to be incredibly useful when optimizing content. It offers a level of functionality that compares well to that of enterprise level-tools like Conductor and BrightEdge at a fraction of the cost. It’s definitely a go-to keyword research tool for us.

Bill Rowland

SEO Director, Trinity Insight

One of my favorite tools to use is the SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool. It's fantastic, you enter a seed keyword and it provides a long list of keywords that you should consider targeting. You have the option to filter the data many ways.

My favorite filter to use, especially with the rapid importance of voice search and having content on your website that answers questions, is the Questions filter. By using the Questions filter SEMrush will identify and only display keywords that are asking a question.

Ryan Raplee

Co-Founder & CEO, Legal InSites, LLC

I have several tools that I use in my suite to make sure that our content is ranking for our target keywords as well as to conduct keyword research that we can gear future content towards. My favorite, by far, is SEMRush which is a freemium tool that I use to do a lot of keyword research and quick organic stat check on competitors. The free version has valuable stats regarding estimated organic traffic/month based on keyword ranking, search volume for keywords, and competitor analysis.

A paid SEMRush account allows for extensive keyword analysis of every single keyword you rank for and the estimated search volume/month of each and their change over time along with many other features.

Alex Brown

Digital Marketing Manager, Projectmanager.com

It’s always a concern when it seems like one product is trying to do too many things at once. This was my hesitation when I first learned about SEMRush years ago. But after a few years of daily use, I’m comfortable saying that SEMrush does a little bit of everything, and does it all well. The backbone of SEMrush is the Analytics Reports. From this tool, you can research search data, traffic, and competitors for a domain or a keyword. If you are into paid advertising, you can get a deep look into what keywords your competitors are bidding on and how much traffic they are generating from their efforts. Piggybacking on all of this research is SEMrush’s backlink analysis. We are customers of SEMRush and use most features of the service in our SEO marketing.

Jeff Butler

Chief Analytics Officer, We Rock Your Web

The gold standard of keyword planning tools is SEMRush. Not only can you run competitor searches, find out what they’re ranking for, and put together an Eiffel Tower plan, but you can even see how many links a competitor has to their specific page you’re trying to dethrone. This helps you begin to plan an effective outreach campaign alongside your on-page SEO plan. It’s a lot of bang for only a little spend.

David Greenspan

Content Manager, Next Level Marketing

Ahrefs

Most people consider Ahrefs to be a backlink checking tool or maybe marketing agencies use Ahrefs exclusively for backlink research. However, Ahrefs is much more than a backlink tool; it is an enterprise resource for search marketing. In Ahref’s own words:

If you look at the big picture, Ahrefs is a data company. We collect data, we process data, we store data and, finally, we build all sorts of tools that let you use our data in your marketing.”

In terms of keyword research, Ahrefs is regarded as having one of the most accurate and largest keyword databases. Within the platform, a user is able to access various keyword instruments including keyword difficulty projections, search volume, parent topics, keyword ideas, and a keyword generator. Ahrefs growing database has allowed their keyword research tool to become one of the strongest on the market, while continuously providing more accurate insights. Lastly, with the new addition of organic clicks, users can access metrics that show how many people click on a link after a search is made on Google.  

Ahrefs keyword solution is split into two different areas or focuses: conventional and competitive based. The conventional tool is going to do a lot of the basic keyword analysis including search volume, difficulty or related keywords. The competitive side of the keyword research digs into SERP analysis allowing users to stack their content against their competitors. With this side, a user can put together a game plan to outrank competition and jump to the first page of Google.

Ahrefs is a paid solution, so it is not as accessible to beginner search marketers who are looking for something basic. However, the tool itself is extremely user-friendly, so beginners will benefit from using Ahrefs if they have the budget to afford its offerings. Anyone familiar with SEO or keyword optimization will express that Ahrefs is well worth the price tag.

Why Use Ahrefs Over Other Tools?

Ahrefs provides the most information-rich enterprise solution to search marketers. By this, we mean that Ahrefs sets the standard for other keyword platforms in terms of data accuracy and keyword data precision. Ahrefs is an amazing research tool for content writers and strategists looking to optimize a website’s organic performance. Not to mention, the backlink tool alone is worth the price you pay in order to access the Ahrefs platform. If you’re looking for an enterprise solution with extreme accuracy, big data, and a platform trusted by many marketers then this is the best solution for you.

What are the Professionals Saying About Ahrefs?

Ahrefs is my favorite SEO tool. It helps you check your website's keyword rankings and those of your competitors. It also offers other invaluable tools such as the Content gap tool to see where your competitors are ranking while you're not. A great way to know what content you should create because it's missing on your website.

Gregory Golinski

SEO Executive, YourParkingSpace

While Google AdWords Keyword Planner is a tried and true method, I prefer the premium software tool I get with Ahrefs. This tool provides what I feel more accurate keyword data, as well as other highly valuable information such as keyword difficulty scores, related keywords, quick snapshots into the SERPs to see who is ranking and how many links they have to their URLs, and other PPC-related cost-per-click data.

Where Keyword Planner will give you some idea of how difficult a keyword is to rank, the Ahrefs tool provides you a precise estimate of how many links you'll likely need to outrank the top spots to help you determine how competitive it is.

Daniel E. Lofaso

Founder/Owner, Digital Elevator

With different web properties and divergent target audiences, I need a tool that's in-depth, accurate, and smart. I use Ahrefs and Moz keyword tool. I love to use Ahrefs for keyword research.

As Google has gotten smarter, it is more important for me to understand keyword phrases instead of individual keywords. Ahrefs can group keywords together and provide a top-level view of key phrases. I can drill down into specific keywords, and Ahrefs provides comprehensive lists of similar keywords and keyphrases.

Alex Deckhard

SEO Specialist, Aeroflow Healthcare

My vote for aHrefs as best in class for backlink research tools could also be my vote for best in class for keyword research tools if they moved away from their feature restriction based pricing structure which limits the number of returned keyword results.

Zack West

Director of Digital Marketing, Novomotus, Inc.

Ahrefs is mostly known in the industry as a backlink tool, but has become much more than that with recent updates. Ahrefs is now capable of reporting all the keywords a given domain ranks for and sharing what percentage, if any, are driving traffic.

Another functionality that should be used in any worthwhile keyword research is the fluctuation in ranking on the SERP. Once you know which keywords are driving traffic and what the website ranks for, it's much easier to determine your rank potential and the tactics needed to move up the SERPs.

Ben Johnston

Digital Marketing Associate, Sagefrog Marketing Group

I am a big fan of using Ahrefs for our SEO strategies. We use the premium version (Advanced), but the Lite version works just fine for most businesses. It really helps us with keyword research as well as researching our competitors top pages, which for e-commerce sellers almost always tells us their best selling products and what to target. We also set-up a Moz account for each of our clients so we can track any changes and make adjustments to all of our on-page SEO strategies as well.

Andrew Maffettone

Director of Marketing & Operations, Seller’s Choice

In my personal experience, the free ones don't give you the same insight and multitude of data points as some of the paid ones. We use Ahrefs at KlientBoost...What I look for in a tool is not just initial keyword research, but the ability to track ongoing ranking for particular keywords, get a variety of suggestions based on particular data points, and also be notified if we obtain or lose outbound links. Some tools even allow you to have a workflow feature for assigning tasks to teammates as you're doing your research.

With people being so busy and looking for more efficient ways to carry out tasks, having a more comprehensive tool saves you money -- so might be worth the monthly cost.

Holly Winn

Social & Content Marketing Manager, KlientBoost

I've been doing SEO since the early 2000's and the best SEO tool that I have found is Ahrefs.com. Ahrefs is a paid service, but the time it saves and the value it brings makes it a no-brainer. The amount of data and insight you can gain about your website, competitors, keywords, and backlinks is second to none. I know it gives me a competitive advantage over other SEO [firms] who aren't using the tool.

Garrett Smith

CEO/Founder, Pitch + Pivot

While Ahrefs is primary a link research tool, its keyword research tools are too good to ignore. Ahrefs can find any website's ranking organic keywords, ballpark the traffic value if you purchased it with PPC, and perform a content gap analysis to see which keywords your competitors are targeting that you're not. Ahrefs also has a great content explorer that will help you find the best performing content for any subject, along with a healthy number of filters to help you narrow down your search. It's a premium tool with several packages, but it's worth every penny.

Joe Goldstein

SEO Director/Operations Manager, Contractor Calls

...if I were going to recommend one single tool, it would easily be Ahrefs Keyword Explorer. This is due in no small part to the additional tools and resources available to users in Ahrefs. I've found amazing opportunities to both capitalize on untapped SERP real estate or to outdo competitors where they're weakest using Ahrefs Keyword Explorer.

I also think that their keyword difficulty metric is one of the most directionally accurate options available in any keyword tool. Couple that with frequent updates, a powerful indexing engine, and fairly accurate search volume numbers and you've got pretty much the ultimate keyword research tool.

Sam Warren

Director of Marketing, RankPay

How to Use Multiple Keyword Research Tools

The one thing that we notice about most search marketers or SEO professionals is that they are not using just one single tool. Although tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs provide all-in-one solutions, most experts will tell you that they use a variety of sources to optimize their content.

When looking at an SEO stack, the best suggestion is to combine a paid tool’s offerings with the insights from various free tools. Ultimately, the paid tool is going to give you most of the keyword research that you need but various keyword tools can help with ideation and verification of data. If you’re looking for a keyword research stack, look at combining solutions that are good for different areas of keyword research. We break down the keyword research stack into 5 areas:

  • Best Tool for Content Ideation - This is initial keyword research when you are looking for ideas or topics to focus your content on. Based off of our research and various experts suggestions, Answer The Public is a great starting point while in the ideation process.
  • Best FREE Keyword Database - Where is the best place to access simple data that is accurate? Ubersuggest. Until recent years, people would have thought Google Keyword Planner is the go-to tool for basic keyword data. However, the validity of keyword data has been questioned by search experts across the SEO space. Simply put, when you’re looking for the FREE accurate keyword search volume try Ubersuggest.
  • Best Keyword Difficulty Tool - Keyword difficulty projections make it easy for search marketers to understand how likely or reasonable it is to rank content on Google’s first page. The three tools that project the most accurate or realistic results are KWfinder and Ahrefs.
  • Best SERP Analysis Tool - SERP analysis is an important part of keyword research as it stacks the top results on search and compares them. In order to rank, SEO experts must have a familiarity with the websites of the types of websites that are currently ranking and strategize to outrank the various sites. Ahrefs and KWfinder both provide SERP analysis that outperforms the other tools offerings.
  • Best SEO platform - This is based off of the entire platform offerings, not exclusively keyword research. For search marketers looking for robust tools that offer SEO insight for more than just keywords, Ahrefs and SEMrush are tools that industry professionals cannot live without.

Key Takeaways

Most search marketers do not just rely on one tool for all of their keyword research. However, there are many all-in-one tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs that will handle a vast majority of keyword research.

In order to really understand what works for your business, and to determine your business’s preferences, it is best to try out multiple tools. Even the advanced tools that have paid membership or subscriptions offer free trials, which help users gain comfortability within a platform before forking out the cash.

If you are a marketing agency who isn’t focused on offering SEO services but would like to explore its capabilities, Vendasta offers SEO services that can be sold to your clients within the Vendasta marketplace. Find out more about SEO Network and selling SEO services to your clients!

Share this downloadable local SEO checklist with your clients to ensure they are covering all of the necessary search marketing components.