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Keyword Research Tools: 6 Best Keyword Research Tools
(Free & Paid)

by Tim Schneider

Keyword research is a crucial part of SEO. Finding quality keywords is one of the best ways to create quality content for your site. But finding these keywords manually is near impossible, so we've complied a list of 6 of the best free and paid keyword research tools available to help you level up your content strategy.

Keyword research consists of discovering new keywords related to your niche or industry, so that you can create content and organize your site into consistent content silos. And more easily cover a niche in it's entirety.

Following such an approach can help your site build authority and get more traffic from Google. But when dealing with thousands of keywords, manually researching them can be difficult if not impossible. Fortunately, there are a few tools that you can use to make that process much easier. We’ve compared 6 free and paid SEO keyword research tools to make this list. These are the 6 best keyword research tools we tested.

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The best free keyword research tool is Google's very own Google Keyword Planner. It uses Google's own data to provide the user with a list of semantically related keywords to one or multiple target keywords.

Developed by Google, this dynamic platform empowers marketers, content creators, and SEO professionals to discover high-impact keywords, analyze search trends, and optimize their website content for maximum visibility. With its comprehensive data on search volumes, competition, and cost-per-click (CPC) estimates, the Keyword Planner enables users to make informed decisions when building keyword lists for both organic search and paid advertising strategies.

As an essential component of Google Ads, this invaluable tool not only provides insights into current and historical keyword performance, but also forecasts future trends, ensuring you stay ahead of the competition and drive targeted traffic to your online presence.

The data it provides is not as in depth or accurate as some of the other tools we'll be taking a look at, but straight from the search engine giant themselves it's hard to go wrong.

Google Keyword Planner Example

Google Search Console is a versatile suite of tools designed to help website owners, marketers, and SEO professionals monitor their website's performance in Google search results.

When used in conjunction with Google Keyword Planner, Search Console becomes an even more potent resource, enabling users to develop a comprehensive understanding of their website's search engine optimization and keyword targeting efforts. See how to use them together to do keyword research in our guide here. By analyzing data from search console, such as impressions, clicks, and click-through rates (CTRs) for specific keywords, and using these keywords as seeds in Google keyword planner (Or any other keyword research tool listed), you can target keywords that are already generating clicks and leads for your website.

Google Search Console

This synergy between the two tools ensures that businesses stay competitive and maintain a strong digital footprint.

Ahrefs is a comprehensive SEO and digital marketing platform renowned for its robust keyword research tools, designed to help businesses optimize their online presence and outrank their competitors.

Ahrefs Keyword Research

By leveraging Ahrefs extensive database of over 10 billion keywords, marketers, content creators, and SEO professionals can uncover valuable keyword opportunities, evaluate search volumes, and analyze keyword difficulty scores to make informed decisions when crafting their content and targeting strategies. The platform's intuitive interface and advanced filtering options allow users to pinpoint long-tail keywords, identify high-traffic search queries, and discover untapped niches with lower competition. In addition, Ahrefs provides crucial insights into backlink profiles, SERP analysis, and competitor keyword data, empowering users to refine their SEO strategies and maximize their website's organic search visibility.

With its data-driven approach and user-friendly design, Ahrefs stands as a formidable ally in the ever-evolving world of digital marketing. Pricing starting at $99 for their Lite plan.

Another formidable and comprehensive digital marketing suite that offers an impressive array of keyword research tools, designed to help businesses enhance their online presence and stay ahead in the competitive digital landscape.

Semrush Keyword Magic Tool

SEMrush's keyword research capabilities empower marketers, content creators, and SEO professionals to uncover profitable keyword opportunities, assess search volumes, and determine keyword difficulty to develop targeted content and advertising strategies. The platform's versatile functionality allows users to explore long-tail keywords, analyze SERP features, and gain insights into competitor keyword usage, ensuring a well-rounded approach to SEO and content marketing.

SEMrush's Keyword Magic Tool simplifies the keyword discovery process by generating millions of keyword suggestions based on a single seed keyword, providing users with a wealth of options to optimize their campaigns. By integrating SEMrush's keyword research tools into their digital marketing arsenal, users can effectively improve their website's organic search performance and drive targeted traffic.

Semrush Keyword Magic Tool

As far as pricing, their generous Pro plan starts at $119.95 per month with a 7 day free trial.

SE Ranking is another all-in-one SEO software similar to Ahrefs and SemRush.

SE Ranking Landing Page

Tailored to assist businesses in optimizing their online presence and outperforming their competitors. With SE Ranking's keyword research capabilities, marketers, content creators, and SEO professionals can effortlessly identify profitable keyword opportunities, examine search volumes, and evaluate keyword difficulty to make informed decisions when developing content and targeting strategies.

The platform's advanced filtering options and user-friendly interface enable users to discover long-tail keywords, uncover high-traffic search queries, and pinpoint low-competition niches. Moreover, SE Ranking provides valuable insights into competitor keyword data, backlink profiles, and SERP analysis, allowing users to fine-tune their SEO and content marketing efforts. By incorporating SE Ranking's keyword research tools into their digital marketing toolkit, users can effectively boost their website's organic search visibility and attract targeted traffic.

Pricing for a full SE Ranking subscription starts at $49 per month. With additional pay as you go research tools available.

Optiwing is a keyword grouping tool that can be used in conjunction with any other keyword research tool listed to create topical clusters of keywords that can then be targeted with individual articles. It uses real-time SERP data to cluster keywords into groups based on the frequency of the same pages appearing in the top 10 results. Preventing keyword cannibalization, and helping you rank for more keywords.

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Put simply, if 3 or more of the same pages rank for a collection of keywords, then these keywords are grouped together. KeyClusters makes the reasonable assumption that if 3 or more of the same pages can rank for a series of keywords, then you likely only need one page to target these keywords.

The tool works with keyword reports from Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Google Keyword Planner, or you can upload a custom keyword file (for example, one made from Google Search Console data).

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We uploaded 1000 keyword from a SEMrush export file on the topic of "Antique Furniture". The results are available as soon as the job is completed in the browser which makes them very easy to scan, they're also available do download as a CSV (Microsoft Excel) file.

Optiwing Keyword Grouping Example

The Optiwing dashboard is really intuitive to use, and since it uses real Google search results you can group keywords by device (mobile, desktop), geolocation, and use any language.

The tool took about 2 and a half minutes to group the 1000 keywords, which is quite fast considering that it uses real-time Google SERP data. You can see the results here. As you can see it gives tight and accurate clusters of keywords around a topic based on the search results.

Optiwing Keyword Grouping Example

In terms of pricing, you get 100 free credits when you sign up to Optiwing, no credit card entry required. Pricing starts at $4.42 per 1000 keywords on a pay as you go (PAYG) basis. Credits never expire and there are no subscriptions to cancel, so no wasted money at the end of the month.

With the rapid pace that AI is improving, another free keyword research tool to consider is ChatGPT.

ChatGPT Homepage

ChatGPT, an advanced language model developed by OpenAI, offers a unique approach to keyword research, providing users with an alternative to traditional SEO tools. By leveraging ChatGPT's natural language processing capabilities, marketers, content creators, and SEO professionals can generate keyword suggestions, explore related search queries, and uncover long-tail keyword opportunities through interactive and context-driven conversations.

ChatGPT SEO keywords

While ChatGPT may not provide the same level of data-driven insights as dedicated SEO platforms, it can be an invaluable resource when brainstorming ideas and exploring creative keyword options. Additionally, ChatGPT can assist users in crafting optimized content by offering recommendations on keyword placement, density, and relevance. Incorporating ChatGPT into your keyword research toolkit allows for a more organic and conversational approach to the process, empowering users to discover unique keyword opportunities and optimize their online presence.

Keyword Research Frequently Asked Questions:

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is finding search terms that people commonly enter into search engines. Keyword research is useful for SEO by allowing us to:

  • Determine the popularity of specific search terms
  • Evaluate a keyword's difficulty ranking (How hard it is for a newer or more established website to rank for that keyword)
  • Discover new keywords to help inspire our content and writing.

With keyword research, we can answer important SEO questions such as:

  • What are people searching for?
  • How many people are searching for it?
  • What format do they want the information to be in? (Answering a question, ranking list, offering examples, etc.)

Once you understand what your target audience is looking for, you can tailor make content that is search intent-oriented while still providing value to everyone who discovers it. This is essential, especially considering Google's Helpful Content Update. This update is designed to rank content higher that genuinely helps users and provides value for their specific needs. So for understanding user intent and to get your content to rank higher, you must master keyword research. Which is a much simpler task than you might think.

How Do I Do Keyword Research?

You can read further on our guide on how to do keyword research here.

What is Keyword Grouping?

Keyword Grouping is a SEO technique that consists of grouping semantically-related keywords together, so that you can organize your site into consistent content silos or keyword clusters. It also helps generate insight on keyword search intent, and more easily cover a niche in it's entirety without writing an article for every single keyword.

What is the Best Keyword Grouping Tool?

The best keyword grouping tool currently is Optiwing keyword grouping tool. It uses real-time SERP data to cluster keywords, eliminating keyword cannibalization, and helping you rank for more keywords, while being the most flexible and affordable tool on the market.

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