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8 Best Keyword Research Tools in 2021

13 Mins read

Featured Image Courtesy of Search Engine Land

You’ve heard that keywords are an essential component of any SEO strategy. Well, that is absolutely correct! Keywords are a crucial element of SEO and they are vital for increasing organic traffic to your site. Quality keywords are one of the most efficient ways to attract consistent, quality traffic to your site.

However, if you’re fairly new to SEO, you may have trouble finding the right keywords for your website. A common misconception is that good keywords are those that people often search for. But there is much more to keyword research! You need to find the keywords that are most relevant for your business, prioritize ones you’ll be able to rank for, and much more.

Luckily, there are tools that can help you out with almost anything, including keyword research. The right tools are everything when it comes to your online business or affiliate site. This is especially true for keyword research, since your content strategy can either make or break your marketing plan!

That’s why we put together a list of the best keyword research tools for you. One or two of these will be essential for success!

Understanding Keyword Research Tools


Before we get to the tools, it’s important that we cover the basics. The word “keyword” is a term that people type into a search engine when looking for something online. The term itself could be misleading, because “keyword” doesn’t necessarily mean only one word. For example, if you’re looking for new scented candles, your keyword would be something like “best scented candles.”

A keyword research tool helps you discover all the keywords people are searching for on the most popular search engines – not just Google, but also Bing, YouTube, Amazon, etc. Once you find keywords suitable for your business and your website, you can use them to create content and draw traffic!

Of course, seeing a bunch of keyword phrases alone doesn’t do much for you. A quality keyword research tool will also help you discover seed keywords, long-tail keywords, competitor ranking, and even keyword difficulty. Once you have all this information, you can update your existing posts and pages or create new ones.

There is a variety of keyword research tools available. Some of them focus solely on keyword research. Others are all-in-one SEO tools that include competitor analysis, backlink profiles, site audits, rank tracking, and other key features.

Top Keyword Research Tools in 2021


1.     SEMrush

SEMrush deserves to be on top of every keyword research tools list, because it is not just a tool for keywords. It is a complete SEO tool suite that can help you improve your SEO rankings holistically. Also, SEMrush works differently from the other tools on our list.

keyword research tools
Image Courtesy of SEMrush

When using a keyword research tool, you usually type in a seed keyword and then you get a long list of recommended keywords. SEMrush, on the other hand, suggests specific keywords that your competition already ranks for. And the best part is that these keywords are usually outside-the-box suggestions that would be difficult to find with any other tool.

SEMrush gives you two research options; you can either type in a domain and see the keywords the site uses or type in a keyword. If you choose the latter option, SEMrush will display you a “Phrase match report,” which is a list of long-tail keywords that include the keyword you entered.

Unlike many other keyword research tools, SEMrush displays “Organic Keywords” data. This box shows you the top five keywords your competitors are ranking for. This data can give you a handful of solid keywords and also show you the exact queries your competitors are ranking for.

Pros:

  • A complete SEO tool suite;
  • Tool allows in-depth competitor research;
  • SEMrush database contains 800+ million terms;
  • Yearly keyword trends are displayed;
  • Tool reveals long-tail keywords and ad group ideas;
  • Keyword difficulty analysis and organic traffic insights.

Cons:

  • Technical issues tend to occur on the website, and it is sometimes not accessible for a few minutes or even hours.

Pricing

SEMrush has four different pricing plans, and the users can choose between monthly and annual billing. Just like for all the other tools, annual billing is a much better and more affordable option. The lowest tier plan starts at $83/month.

SEMrush offers its users a free seven-day trial, so they can try out the tool before making the purchase. You do need to enter credit card details to get access to the trial, but there will be no charges if you choose to cancel your subscription during the trial.

For more details on this amazing tool, check out our SEMrush software review.

2.     Ahrefs

Ahrefs is one of the best keyword research tools for content creators currently available. The tool provides an in-depth keyword report to the user and relies on clickstream data to provide unique click metrics.

keyword research tools
Image Courtesy of Ahrefs

The feature users like the most is the “Keywords Explorer,” which gives you super in-depth information on each keyword. Keywords Explorer will display some usual data, such as search volume, but also a breakdown of the first page competition and how many people click on the search results.

Another feature that makes Ahrefs stand out is how the tool displays keyword difficulty. The majority of keyword tools will present vague data such as “easy” or “difficult.” Some tools might even give you a score such as “89/100.” However, Ahrefs takes this data to the next level and actually displays how many backlinks are required to rank on the first page of Google.

Pros:

  • Accurate keyword difficulty score;
  • 1,000+ keyword suggestions;
  • Supported in over 171 countries;
  • Click metrics for improving CTR;
  • Extensive SERP overview.

Cons:

  • One of the more expensive keyword research tools.
  • Some users reported that traffic stats are slightly off.

Pricing

Users get to choose between four pricing plans – Lite, Standard, Advanced, and Agency. The plans start at $82/month if you choose the annual payment option. However, if you choose to pay monthly, the Lite plan will cost you $99.

Ahrefs offers its users a seven-day trial for $7 on their Lite and Standard subscription plans.

3.     Moz Pro

Moz Pro is a keyword explorer that is easy to use and provides out-of-the-box keyword recommendations. This SEO tool boasts all the features you’d expect from top-notch keyword research tools. Plus, it has two unique data points: Organic CTR and Priority Score. These two awesome features show users how many clicks they can expect to get from a target keyword.

keyword research tools
Image Courtesy of Moz

The Organic CTR score rate demonstrates the number of clicks you’re expected to attract if you rank on the first page of Google. Priority Score is a combination of all the individual factors a typical tool uses to suggest keyword options. It combines data on CTR, search volume, and keyword difficulty to help you select the best keywords for your website. Basically, Priority Score tells you whether or not you should target a particular keyword.

Moz Pro also does a great job at finding “lateral” keyword ideas. For example, if you input keyword such as “weight loss,” Moz will display closely related keywords such as “weight loss foods,” “weight loss pills,” etc. Now, this is what all keyword research tools do – but what makes Moz Pro unique is that it tends to outsmart other tools and display some unique suggestions, such as “foods that help burn fat for men.”

Pros:

  • MOZ Pro gives unique keyword suggestions;
  • Organic CTR and Priority score ensure smart targeting;
  • Users can sign up for a one-month trial period;
  • The tool can generate SEO reports.

Cons:

  • Crawls and campaigns are limited and based on a membership plan.

Pricing

Moz Pro is not a standalone keyword research tool; it is an SEO suite. Moz offers four different plans – Standard, Medium, Large, Premium. The lowest plan costs $99/month on a monthly plan or $79/month on a yearly plan. All Moz plans include Mozbar Premium, multiple search engines, SEO insights, 24-hour support, one-on-one walkthrough, and Moz Q&A forum.

The company offers a free 30-day trial on the Moz Pro Medium plan.

4.     Ubersuggest

A keyword tool is undoubtedly an incredible asset that can help you outrank your competitors and drive more organic traffic to your website. However, the downside of keyword research tools is that they are very pricey. Here is one tool that you can use entirely for free!

keyword research tools
Image Courtesy of Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest offers its users a free plan and several premium plans, which are much more affordable compared to other tools. The free plan does have some limitations. For example, you can research only three keywords/competitors in a day.

Still, this is quite a generous offer since you’ll be paying nothing and still have an insight into keyword suggestions, search volume data, and keyword difficulty. In addition, Ubersuggest displays a table of the top 100 Google results for a certain keyword, with estimated visits, number of backlinks, a domain score, and a total number of social shares.

All free users have access to Keyword Analyzer, Competitive Analysis, and SEO Explorer. If you decide to register for free, you will get certain benefits such as more keyword suggestions, daily rank tracking, and personalized SEO suggestions. Ubersuggest also comes with a Chrome extension that can help you improve your workflow.

Pros:

  • Keyword research tool that can be used for free;
  • The free plan includes advanced features such as historical data;
  • Premium plans are very affordable;
  • The tool can be used both for keyword and competitor analysis.

Cons:

  • Lower-tier paid plans have limitations in terms of the number of daily reports or even keyword suggestions displayed.

Pricing

In addition to the free plan, Ubersuggest offers perhaps the most affordable premium plans. You can choose between the Individual plan ($12/month), the Business plan ($20/month), and the Enterprise/Agency plan ($40/month). All plans come with the same features. However, the difference is in the number of daily reports you can make, projects you can have, and even the number of keyword suggestions.

5.     Mangools

Mangools is one of the best tools you can get, and its price is quite affordable. It is important to point out that Mangools is not just a keyword research tool, but a suite of five SEO tools that can cover everything from classic keyword research to backlink analysis and SEO analysis of competitors.

keyword research tools
Image Courtesy of Mangools

Thanks to ease of use, visualizations, and a great UX that helps you process all the data quickly, Mangools is a perfect choice for complete beginners. It is an excellent choice for bloggers, affiliate marketers, marketing agencies, and even SEO professionals.

If you go for Mangools, you’ll gain access to the following tools: KWFinder, SERPChecker, SERPWatcher, LinkMiner, and SiteProfiler. KWFinder is quite a self-explanatory tool, so let’s dive in and explore the others included in this suite.

SERPChecker is a search engine results analysis tool that allows you to see what sites are ranking for your target keywords. SERPWatcher, on the other hand, allows you to keep an eye on your rankings for keywords in search results. LinkMiner is used for backlink analysis, and it allows you to analyze the backlink profile of your competitors and find link building opportunities. SiteProfiler helps you keep an eye on your competitors’ websites.

Unlike some other tools that don’t offer all features on lower-tier plans, Mangools doesn’t make such distinctions. All features are available even on the cheapest plan.

Pros:

  • SEO suite that includes five tools;
  • Easy to use, even for absolute beginners;
  • One of the more affordable tools on our list;
  • A good mix of simple and advanced data for both newbies and experienced users.

Cons:

  • The Basic plan is slightly limited in terms of keyword suggestions and the number of keyword lookups on a daily basis.

Pricing

Mangools also allows its users to choose between monthly and annual payment options. There are three plans to choose from: Basic, Premium, and Agency. The Basic plan costs $29,90/month if you choose the annual billing option. If you prefer to pay monthly, the plan will cost you $49/month. It is important to point out that the Premium and Agency plans are practically unlimited, whereas the Basic plan has some limitations. For example, you can look up only 100 keywords per day or carry out competitor keywords search 25 times in a day.

Mangools offers its users a free 10-day trial. Also, the company offers a 48-hour money-back guarantee!

6.     Longtail Pro

Longtail Pro is a keyword research tool that allows users to find low competition, long-tail keywords for their website. The tool was made primarily for website owners who focus on keywords for search engine optimization (SEO), not for paid ads.

keyword research tools
Image Courtesy of Longtail Pro

Long Tail Pro has a seamless and beautiful interface, making it very easy and straightforward to use the tool. Users who haven’t tried a keyword research tool before might find the interface a bit cluttered at first. However, they will be able to learn how to use the tool in a matter of minutes.

Longtail Pro’s most significant advantage is that it allows you to quickly find keywords in bulk based on a seed keyword that you input. After each search, the tool will provide hundreds of keywords as well as search volume (monthly search volume), advertiser bid, number of words, rank value, and Keyword Competitiveness (useful for judging the competition and keyword difficulty).

Long Tail Pro shows low competition long-tail keywords, with search volume estimates and competition metrics. This allows you to quickly and easily pick the most appropriate keywords for your website and your SEO/marketing strategy.

Last but not least, Longtail Pro also allows its users to do a thorough competitor research.

Pros:

  • Keyword suggestions are displayed in bulk;
  • Keyword Competitiveness score is included in the search results;
  • The tool can be used for multiple blogs and websites;
  • The rank tracker feature is very accurate;
  • The competitor analysis feature is very detailed.

Cons:

  • The number of seed keywords and manual keywords that users enter is limited.

Pricing

Longtail Pro is an excellent choice for budget shoppers, as it is an advanced tool that can be bought at an affordable price. Longtail Pro will cost you between $25 and $98 each month when paid for annually, depending on the plan you choose. Those who prefer the monthly subscription will have to pay between $37 and $147 each month.

For more information on this tool, make sure to check out our Longtail Pro review.

7.     Google Keyword Planner

When compared to other tools on our list, Google Keyword Planner is quite basic and doesn’t have too many advanced features. So, why did we even include it on our list of the best keyword research tools?

keyword research tools
Image Courtesy of Google Ads

Well, first of all, Google Keyword Planner can be used for free! More importantly, it is one of the most accurate sources of keyword data on the market because all the data comes directly from Google and the results integrate well with AdSense monetization.

This tool was actually meant to be used by advertisers who want to run their ads on Google. However, it’s still a useful tool for onsite SEO. One feature that makes Google’s keyword planner stand out is the “Top of page bid.” This information shows you how much advertisers are bidding on a keyword. For example, if you see a top of page bid of $10, people are spending an average of 10 bucks per click.

To access this tool, you will need to have a Google Ads account. In order to create this account, you’ll need to enter your payment details. But don’t let this alarm you! You don’t have to run an active campaign or pay for anything to use the tool.

Once you’ve got access to the Keyword Planner through your Google Ads account, you can type in any keyword and view data for (very approximately) how many monthly searches it has. The keyword planner will also display a list of related keyword ideas, which you can scroll through or download.

Pros:

  • Google Keyword Planner can be used for free;
  • Users can discover commercial keywords using the “top of page” bid range;
  • Accurate search volume directly from Google’s search engine;
  • One of the best choices for business websites.

Cons

  • The tool is quite basic, and there aren’t any advanced features.

Pricing

Google Keyword Planner is available for free, and there are absolutely no limitations to using the tool. Prior to getting access to the tool, users need to create a Google Ads account and enter their card information. However, the users will never be charged for anything unless they decide to run an active campaign.

8.     Answer the Public

Answer the Public is a perfect choice for bloggers who are just starting out. The tool is incredibly simple to use, and you don’t even need to make an account to use it. Just enter the website, type in your keyword, and explore the results.

keyword research tools
Image Courtesy of Answer the Public

AnswerThePublic works slightly differently from the other keyword research tools on our list. This tool presents keywords in a nice visual format, although you can also see them in a list or download a .csv file of results. The keyword results are based on Google and Bing’s auto-suggest/auto-complete features. If you click any of the keywords, it will open up in Google in a new tab. This will show you what content is ranking for the keyword and whether there’s a featured snippet on it.

But that is all you get. If you plan to do thorough keyword research and you need more detailed information, you will have to sign up for the pro plan.

Pros:

  • Excellent tool for bloggers and beginners;
  • The tool can be used for free, and no registration is required;
  • Excellent for content ideas as it ton of hidden keywords in any niche;
  • All keyword data can be exported easily using CSV format.

Cons:

  • This tool doesn’t display keyword search volume data or any other keyword metrics.

Which Keyword Research Tool is Best for Your Blog?


We presented you with some of the best keyword research tools currently available. And, since there are quite a few options, you might find it hard to decide which one you should choose.

For many people, budget plays a great role. Tools such as SEMrush or Ahrefs are quite pricey and, therefore, not an ideal choice for those who are just starting out. However, these can be easily replaced with great yet affordable tools such as Ubersuggest, Mangools, or even Longtail Pro.

We also included a few tools that can be used for free: Ubersuggest, Google Keyword Planner, and Answer the Public. Out of these three, Answer the Public provides the least information regarding keywords, but it is an excellent choice for bloggers who need content ideas. Google Keyword Planner was meant to be used by advertisers who want to run their ads on Google. However, it is a great option for those who want to optimise their website, since all the data comes directly from Google. Ubersuggest is an excellent tool for keyword and competitor analysis, but the free version allows users to do only three searches per day.

If you’ve had a website for quite a while now and you’re not on a tight budget, then you can’t go wrong with SEMrush, Moz Pro, or Ahrefs. These are some of the most advanced keyword research and SEO tools on the market, and they have the features to help you optimise your website and increase your organic traffic. Longtail Pro, Mangools, and Ubersuggest are excellent alternatives for these pricey tools since they come with advanced features as well, but their price is more affordable.

Keyword Research Tools Wrap-up


Our list of the best keyword research tools contains the most advanced software currently available that yields great results. To find the tool that will perfectly suit your needs, start by analyzing your business and your budget.

If you’re looking to explore keyword ideas, then the free tools on our list are just what you need. If you are looking to carry out serious optimizations on your website, then the premium tools on our list will undoubtedly help you out.

Free keyword research tools are an excellent way to get started. However, they lack some advanced features and data. Premium, paid keyword tools run on huge amounts of data and are more efficient at finding low-competition keywords or even long-tail keywords. So, even though free keyword tools are excellent at the beginning, you may need to switch to more advanced tools to be able to grow your website and your business and keep up with the competition.

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