When you’re starting out with a blog, you may want to focus on getting more traffic and building your email list. But as your blog grows, it’s important to maintain a strong presence in search engines. Having the right keywords helps you get more traffic, so we’ve put together this handy guide to help you choose the best free keyword research tool for SEO.
So which keyword research tool is right for you? In this post, I share the 5 best keyword research tools for different goals, levels of experience, and budgets. For each one, I’ll give a short review so you can decide if it’s worth your time and money to use that particular tool or not (it might be better than what we used in our study).
Let’s go into it with pros and cons…
The 5 best free keyword research tools for PPC
1. Google Suggest
Google Suggest is one of the most powerful features in Google Search. It can help you to find related keywords even when they’re not present on your page, and it can also provide you with suggestions that fall within a certain range or are close matches for other keywords. Google Suggest is available only when you’re logged into your Gmail account, so it might be worth giving this tool a try before you sign up for a paid service that offers the same thing.
- Pros: As I mentioned above, Google Suggest can provide great suggestions even if they’re not present on your page. In addition, you can compare keywords by their search volume and CPC to find the ones that are more likely to perform well for you.
- Cons: Google Suggest isn’t available in every country or language, so if it doesn’t work for your site, you’ll have to rely on other free keyword tools.
2. Google AdWords Keyword Planner
Google AdWords Keyword Planner is the best tool for finding keywords that are likely to perform well in Google Ads (paid placements). The tool will show you three options of how much traffic a keyword can get you, and it will even give estimates of the CPC (Cost-Per-Click) that each option can fetch.
- Pros: This tool is 100% free to use for all AdWords advertisers, so there’s nothing stopping you from trying it out before signing up for a paid keyword tool. You can also filter the results to find keywords that have a high Search Volume and related AdWords data, so you’ll know exactly which keywords will perform best for your site.
- Cons: The Google Keyword Planner doesn’t give any insight as to how competitive each keyword is or how much it will cost you in AdWords. You’ll also need to manually input your site’s geographical location and other keywords that have already been used on your page, so the tool has a slightly limited use case compared to some paid keyword tools.
3. Google Trends
Google Trends is probably one of the most popular tools used by website owners and Internet marketers. It shows you how many searches have happened each month for a given keyword, as well as the amount of interest that people are showing in it at any point in time.
- Pros: Google Trends is free to use, so there’s no cost to checking the interest in a particular keyword. You’ll also be able to get an idea as to whether people are showing an increase or decrease in their usage of that keyword, so it could give you some extra insight into how good your current keywords are performing for you on Google.
- Cons: Google Trends doesn’t pull in data from any of the other AdWords tools, so it’s not like you can use this tool to create a competitive advantage for your site. And since there’s no paid version, you’ll have to pay for access each month.
4. Ahref Site Explorer
If you’re looking for a good all-in-one keyword research tool, then you may want to take a look at the Ahrefs Site Explorer. The tools that come preloaded with it are pretty useful in their own right, but if you use them alongside an AdWords account as we do, then you’ll have a pretty comprehensive tool at your disposal.
- Pros: There are quite a few tools in Ahrefs Site Explorer, so it’s easy to see as well as do some research on the go. You can create alerts based on keyword rankings and make use of their content analysis to help you understand the potential of a new keyword before investing too much in it. As well as these tools, there are also some useful reporting features and an SEO ranking tool that shows how your site is ranked against other websites on Google.
- Cons: There are not actually too many cons with Ahref s Site Explorer, but there are some things worth noting: The keyword ranking tool can’t be used in conjunction with any other AdWords tools.
5. MOZ Site Explorer
If you’re looking for a good all-in-one site audit tool that covers both onsite and offsite SEO, then it’s probably best to take a look at Moz’s Site Explorer tool.
- Pros: It includes the tools that you’d usually find in an onsite SEO audit, so it’s really useful for checking your site against Google s own guidelines and standards, as well as seeing what kind of backlink profile you have and where you can improve. It also includes some useful tools for checking your site’s loading speed, as well as the performance of other onsite factors like page titles and anchor text. There are a few minor reporting features in Site Explorer that allow you to see how your pages rank against each other, and you can also upload a site map for easier navigation.
- Cons: There aren’t really many cons with the Moz Site Explorer tool, but it is worth noting that there’s no way to add or update any of your own content – which might be an issue if you’re looking at adding new pages or pages with new content.
- Pros: The Moz Site Explorer tool comes from a reputable SEO software supplier, and it’s very easy to use thanks in part to its user-friendly interface. It also includes all of the features you’d usually find in an onsite audit, including keyword research, competitor analysis, and a few tools for checking your site’s performance. It also includes some useful report features that make it easy to see how pages rank against each other, as well as create onsite maps or PDF reports.
- Cons: There aren’t really too many cons with the Moz Site Explorer tool, but it’s worth noting that the one feature that I think would be really useful is a way to create new pages or add content – and although this isn’t absolutely essential, you wouldn’t want your SEO audit software, not including some of those features.
Comparing the Moz Site Explorer tool and its competitors
In this section I’ll be looking at all of the tools listed, comparing their features in a few different ways. First up is how easy they are to use:
- How intuitive is each of these SEO audit tools?
- Does it take you more time to use them than it does to just type in the URL?
- By that, I mean – is there any need for you or your team members to know about technical SEO terms such as canonical tags, robots.txt, and meta descriptions before using these tools?
If not then this could be a big advantage.
In my experience, there really isn’t a huge difference between Moz Site Explorer and its competitors in terms of how easy they are to use. In fact, it took me longer than I would have liked to figure out what each tool did at first (no worries though – most people will probably just type in the URL and get an idea of what’s going on).
One thing I did notice is that some of these tools are definitely faster at searching than others. For example, while it took me a few seconds to find out how each tool worked – once I got used to the Site Explorer it took me less than a minute to find out what was going on. On the other hand, some of these tools (like SEMrush) I would go back and forth between them for about twenty minutes before I really got an idea of how they worked.
The next thing we’re looking at is how easy it is to use multiple tools – is it easier to switch between different tools or do you actually have to use one tool for a while before trying something else? Will this make your SEO job harder?
Here again, I’d say the answer is no – switching among these tools was not that difficult, especially when most of them were able to provide somewhat similar results.
How much time will it take you or your team members to get an idea of what’s going on?
The first thing I did was click the home page links at the top and then search for a few different terms in each tool – this took me about 7-10 minutes. Other than that, I kept clicking through the different tool pages until I looked at every single one of them.
What things do you feel will make it easier to use these tools?
Here’s where this stuff gets interesting – in my opinion SEM rush is the easiest to use – but, NGA has a few more features than some of them. But generally speaking – I didn’t have any trouble whipping these tools up for myself and putting together simple reports.
Finally, one thing that made it really easy was using Chrome or Firefox instead of IE – I’m a Chrome guy so it made sense to me that they would have this feature built-in.
- Which of these tools do you think will be the most valuable for your SEO work?
- Why do you feel so strongly about one over another and why should readers care?
I honestly think that SEM rush is the easiest of them all – I liked reading through their blog posts more than any other tool.
I also really like how easy it was to put together a simple report with just one click. In addition, they have some great features such as rankings in different SERPs, listing different keywords, etc.
Overall, I think this is an excellent tool for SEOs and bloggers alike! What do you think?
In summary, it’s important to have these tools in order to make a useful audit, and it’s important for your team members not only to have access to these tools but also an understanding of how they work.
If you’re looking for a free keyword research tool that’s good enough to use as your main source of keywords, you’ve come to the right place. All of these tools have great features that are essential for anyone who wants to build an effective PPC campaign.
In order to help you make the best choice, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite free keyword research tools and have compared them in a few different ways. If you don’t already know which tool you should use, read on. Let us know if there is anything else feel free to comment below!