How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner's Guide

Rachel Leist

Updated: August 24, 2022

Published: January 07, 2022

While Google keeps us on our toes with all the algorithm updates they keep rollin' out, one thing has stayed pretty consistent for inbound marketers looking to optimize their websites for search: keyword research.

how to do keyword research for SEO

In this post, we’ll define what keyword research is , why it’s important , how to conduct your research for your SEO strategy, and choose the right keywords for your website.

Download Now: Keyword Research Template [Free Resource]

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is the process of finding and analyzing search terms that people enter into search engines with the goal of using that data for a specific purpose, often for search engine optimization (SEO) or general marketing. Keyword research can uncover queries to target, the popularity of these queries, their ranking difficulty, and more.

Why is keyword research important?

Keyword research helps you find which keywords are best to target and provides valuable insight into the queries that your target audience is actually searching on Google.

The insight that you can get into these actual search terms can help inform content strategy as well as your larger marketing strategy.

People use keywords to find solutions when conducting research online. So if your content is successful in getting in front of our audience as they conduct searches, you stand to gain more traffic. Therefore, you should be targeting those searches.

In addition, in the inbound methodology , we don't create content around what we want to tell people; we should be creating content around what people want to discover. In other words, our audience is coming to us.

This all starts with keyword research.

Conducting keyword research has many benefits, the most popular reasons being:

Marketing Trend Insight

Conducting effective keyword research can provide you with insights into current marketing trends, and help you center your content on relevant topics and keywords your audience is in search of.

Traffic Growth

When you identify the best fitting keywords for the content you publish, the higher you'll rank in search engine results — the more traffic you’ll attract to your website.

Customer Acquisition

If your business has content that other business professionals are looking for, you can meet their needs and provide them with a call to action that will lead them into the buyer journey from the awareness stage to the point of purchase.

By researching keywords for their popularity, search volume, and general intent, you can tackle the questions that most people in your audience want answers to.

Keywords vs. Topics

More and more, we hear how much SEO has evolved over just the last 10 years, and how unimportant keywords themselves have become to our ability to rank well for the searches people make every day.

And to some extent, this is true, but in the eyes of an SEO professional it’s a different approach. Rather, it's the intent behind that keyword, and whether or not a piece of content solves for that intent (we'll talk more about intent in just a minute).

But that doesn't mean keyword research is an outdated process. Let me explain:

Keyword research tells you what topics people care about and, assuming you use the right SEO tool, how popular those topics actually are among your audience. The operative term here is topics — by researching keywords that are getting a high volume of searches per month, you can identify and sort your content into topics that you want to create content on. Then, you can use these topics to dictate which keywords you look for and target.

how to make a keyword research tool

Keyword Research Template

Build your SEO strategy with this free template.

  • Search Volume
  • Keyword Difficulty

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Elements of Keyword Research

There are three main elements to pay attention to when conducting keyword research.

1. Relevance

Google ranks content for relevance. This is where the concept of search intent comes in. Your content will only rank for a keyword if it meets the searchers' needs. In addition, your content must be the best resource out there for the query. After all, why would Google rank your content higher if it provides less value than other content that exists on the web?

2. Authority

Google will provide more weight to sources it deems authoritative. That means you must do all you can to become an authoritative source by enriching your site with helpful, information content and promoting that content to earn social signals and backlinks. If you're not seen as authoritative in the space, or if a keyword's SERPs are loaded with heavy sources you can't compete with (like Forbes or The Mayo Clinic), you have a lower chance of ranking unless your content is exceptional.

You may end up ranking on the first page for a specific keyword, but if no one ever searches for it, it will not result in traffic to your site. Kind of like setting up shop in a ghost town.

Volume is measured by MSV (monthly search volume), which means the number of times the keyword is searched per month across all audiences.

How to Research Keywords for Your SEO Strategy

I'm going to lay out a keyword research process you can follow to help you come up with a list of terms you should be targeting. That way, you'll be able to establish and execute a strong keyword strategy that helps you get found for the search terms you actually care about.

Step 1: Make a list of important, relevant topics based on what you know about your business.

To kick off this process, think about the topics you want to rank for in terms of generic buckets. You'll come up with about 5-10 topic buckets you think are important to your business, and then you'll use those topic buckets to help come up with some specific keywords later in the process.

If you're a regular blogger, these are probably the topics you blog about most frequently. Or perhaps they're the topics that come up the most in sales conversations. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer personas — what types of topics would your target audience search that you'd want your business to get found for? If you were a company like HubSpot, for example — selling marketing software (which happens to have some awesome SEO tools ... but I digress), you might have general topic buckets like:

  • "inbound marketing" (21K)
  • "blogging" (19K)
  • "email marketing" (30K)
  • "lead generation" (17K)
  • "SEO" (214K)
  • "social media marketing" (71K)
  • "marketing analytics" (6.2K)
  • "marketing automation" (8.5K)

See those numbers in parentheses to the right of each keyword? That's their monthly search volume . This data allows you to gauge how important these topics are to your audience, and how many different sub-topics you might need to create content on to be successful with that keyword. To learn more about these sub-topics, we move on to step 2 ...

Step 2: Fill in those topic buckets with keywords.

Now that you have a few topic buckets you want to focus on, it's time to identify some keywords that fall into those buckets. These are keyword phrases you think are important to rank for in the SERPs (search engine results pages) because your target customer is probably conducting searches for those specific terms.

For instance, if I took that last topic bucket for an inbound marketing software company — "marketing automation" — I'd brainstorm some keyword phrases that I think people would type in related to that topic. Those might include:

  • marketing automation tools
  • how to use marketing automation software
  • what is marketing automation?
  • how to tell if I need marketing automation software
  • lead nurturing
  • email marketing automation
  • top automation tools

And so on and so on. The point of this step isn't to come up with your final list of keyword phrases. You just want to end up with a brain dump of phrases you think potential customers might use to search for content related to that particular topic bucket. We'll narrow the lists down later in the process so you don't have something too unwieldy.

Although more and more keywords are getting encrypted by Google every day, another smart way to come up with keyword ideas is to figure out which keywords your website is already getting found for. To do this, you'll need website analytics software like Google Analytics or HubSpot's Sources report, available in the Traffic Analytics tool . Drill down into your website's traffic sources, and sift through your organic search traffic bucket to identify the keywords people are using to arrive at your site.

Repeat this exercise for as many topic buckets as you have. And remember, if you're having trouble coming up with relevant search terms, you can always head on over to your customer-facing colleagues — those who are in Sales or Service and ask them what types of terms their prospects and customers use, or common questions they have. Those are often great starting points for keyword research.

Here at HubSpot , we use the Search Insights Report in this part of the process. This template is designed to help you do the same and bucket your keywords into topic clusters, analyze MSV, and inform your editorial calendar and strategy.

Featured Resource: Search Insights Report Template

Download the Template

Step 3: Understand How Intent Affects Keyword Research and Analyze Accordingly.

Like I said in the previous section, user intent is now one of the most pivotal factors in your ability to rank well on search engines like Google. Today, it's more important that your web page addresses the problem a searcher intended to solve than simply carries the keyword the searcher used. So, how does this affect the keyword research you do?

It's easy to take keywords for face value, and unfortunately, keywords can have many different meanings beneath the surface. Because the intent behind a search is so important to your ranking potential, you need to be extra-careful about how you interpret the keywords you target.

Let's say, for example, you're researching the keyword "how to start a blog" for an article you want to create. "Blog" can mean a blog post or the blog website itself, and what a searcher's intent is behind that keyword will influence the direction of your article. Does the searcher want to learn how to start an individual blog post? Or do they want to know how to actually launch a website domain for the purposes of blogging? If your content strategy is only targeting people interested in the latter, you'll need to make sure of the keyword's intent before committing to it.

To verify what a user's intent is in a keyword, it's a good idea to simply enter this keyword into a search engine yourself, and see what types of results come up. Make sure the type of content Google is closely related to what you'd intend to create for the keyword.

Step 4: Research related search terms.

This is a creative step you may have already thought of when doing keyword research. If not, it's a great way to fill out those lists.

If you're struggling to think of more keywords people might be searching about a specific topic, take a look at the related search terms that appear when you plug in a keyword into Google. When you type in your phrase and scroll to the bottom of Google's results, you'll notice some suggestions for searches related to your original input. These keywords can spark ideas for other keywords you may want to take into consideration.

Related searches at the bottom of Google SERP that reads "searches related to cute puppies" along with keyword suggestions

Want a bonus? Type in some of those related search terms and look at their related search terms.

Step 5: Use keyword research tools to your advantage.

Keyword research and SEO tools can help you come up with more keyword ideas based on exact match keywords and phrase match keywords based on the ideas you've generated up to this point. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • Ubersuggest
  • Free Keyword Research Tool
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Keywords Everywhere
  • KeywordTool.io

Complete SEO Starter Pack

Featured resource, how to find and choose keywords for your website.

Once you have an idea of the keywords that you want to rank for, now it's time to refine your list based on the best ones for your strategy. Here's how:

Step 1. Use Google Keyword Planner to cut down your keyword list.

In Google’s Keyword Planner , you can get search volume and traffic estimates for keywords you're considering. Then, take the information you learn from Keyword Planner and use Google Trends to fill in some blanks.

Use the Keyword Planner to flag any terms on your list that have way too little (or way too much) search volume, and don't help you maintain a healthy mix like we talked about above. But before you delete anything, check out their trend history and projections in Google Trends. You can see whether, say, some low-volume terms might actually be something you should invest in now — and reap the benefits for later.

Or perhaps you're just looking at a list of terms that is way too unwieldy, and you have to narrow it down somehow ... Google Trends can help you determine which terms are trending upward, and are therefore worth more of your focus.

Step 2: Prioritize low-hanging fruit.

What we mean by prioritizing low-hanging fruit is to prioritize keywords that you have a chance of ranking for based on your website’s authority.

Large companies typically go after high search volume keywords, and since these brands are well established already, Google typically rewards them with authority over many topics.

You can also consider keywords that have little competition. Keywords that don’t already have multiple articles battling for the highest rank can afford you the spot by default — if there’s no one else trying to claim it.

Step 3: Check the monthly search volume (MSV) for keywords you’ve chosen.

You want to write content around what people want to discover, and checking MSV can help you do just that.

Monthly search volume is the number of times a search query or keyword is entered into search engines each monthly. Tools like searchvolume.io or Google Trends can help you find out the most searched keywords over related keyword clusters for free.

Step 4: Factor in SERP features as you choose keywords.

There’s several SERP feature snippets that Google will highlight if used correctly. An easy way to find out about them is to look up the keywords of your choosing and see what the first result looks like. But for a quick overview of the types of SERP featured snippets, we’ll summarize what they are here.

Image Packs

Image packs are search results displayed as a horizontal row of images that appear in an organic position. If there’s an image pack, you should write an image-heavy post to win placement in it.

SERP features for keyword research: image packs

Paragraph Snippets

Featured snippets, or paragraph snippets, are short snippets of text that appear at the top of Google search results for quick answers to common search queries. Understanding the searcher’s intent and providing succinct, concise answers can help in winning the placement.

SERP features for keyword research: paragraph snippets

List Snippets

List snippets, or listicles, are snippets made for posts outlining steps to do something from start to finish — often for “How To” searches. Making posts with direct, clear instructions and formatting can assist in winning this placement.

SERP features for keyword research: list snippets

Video Snippets

Video snippets are short videos that Google will display at the top of a search query page in place of text featured snippets. Posting a video on both YouTube and your website can help you win this placement if tagged in the targeted keywords people are searching for.

SERP features for keyword research: video snippets

Step 5: Check for a mix of head terms and long-tail keywords in each bucket.

Head terms are keyword phrases that are generally shorter and more generic — they're typically just one to three words in length, depending on who you talk to. Long-tail keywords , on the other hand, are longer keyword phrases usually containing three or more words.

It's important to check that you have a mix of head terms and long-tail terms because it'll give you a keyword strategy that's well balanced with long-term goals and short-term wins. That's because head terms are generally searched more frequently, making them often (not always, but often) much more competitive and harder to rank for than long-tail terms. Think about it: Without even looking up search volume or difficulty, which of the following terms do you think would be harder to rank for?

  • how to write a great blog post

If you answered #2, you're absolutely right. But don't get discouraged. While head terms generally boast the most search volume (meaning greater potential to send you traffic), frankly, the traffic you'll get from the term "how to write a great blog post" is usually more desirable.

Because someone who is looking for something that specific is probably a much more qualified searcher for your product or service (presuming you're in the blogging space) than someone looking for something really generic. And because long-tail keywords tend to be more specific, it's usually easier to tell what people who search for those keywords are really looking for. Someone searching for the head term "blogging," on the other hand, could be searching it for a whole host of reasons unrelated to your business.

So check your keyword lists to make sure you have a healthy mix of head terms and long-tail keywords. You definitely want some quick wins that long-tail keywords will afford you, but you should also try to chip away at more difficult head terms over the long haul.

Step 6: See how competitors are ranking for these keywords.

Just because your competitor is doing something doesn’t mean you need to. The same goes for keywords. Just because a keyword is important to your competitor, doesn’t mean it's important to you. However, understanding what keywords your competitors are trying to rank for is a great way to help you give your list of keywords another evaluation.

If your competitor is ranking for certain keywords that are on your list, too, it definitely makes sense to work on improving your ranking for those. However, don’t ignore the ones your competitors don’t seem to care about. This could be a great opportunity for you to own market share on important terms, too.

Understanding the balance of terms that might be a little more difficult due to competition, versus those terms that are a little more realistic, will help you maintain a similar balance that the mix of long-tail and head terms allows. Remember, the goal is to end up with a list of keywords that provide some quick wins but also helps you make progress toward bigger, more challenging SEO goals.

How do you figure out what keywords your competitors are ranking for, you ask? Aside from manually searching for keywords in an incognito browser and seeing what positions your competitors are in, Arel="noopener" target="_blank" hrefs allows you to run a number of free reports that show you the top keywords for the domain you enter. This is a quick way to get a sense of the types of terms your competitors are ranking for.

Best Keywords for SEO

Understand that there's no "best" keywords, just those that are highly searched by your audience. With this in mind, it's up to you to craft a strategy that will help you rank pages and drive traffic.

The best keywords for your SEO strategy will take into account relevance, authority, and volume. You want to find highly searched keywords that you can reasonably compete for based on:

  • The level of competition you're up against.
  • Your ability to produce content that exceeds in quality what's currently ranking.

And You’ve Got the Right Keywords for Your Website SEO

You now have a list of keywords that'll help you focus on the right topics for your business, and get you some short-term and long-term gains.

Be sure to re-evaluate these keywords every few months — once a quarter is a good benchmark, but some businesses like to do it even more often than that. As you gain even more authority in the SERPs, you'll find that you can add more and more keywords to your lists to tackle as you work on maintaining your current presence, and then growing in new areas on top of that.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in May 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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The 4 best free keyword research tools

Hero image with the logos of the best keyword research tools

There's no shortage of tools purpose-built for keyword research (literally hundreds of them), and they run the gamut from beginner-focused to highly advanced. They also range from totally basic and unhelpful to super valuable.

When done right, the best keyword research tools simplify and streamline your workflow—they make it easier to find the right keywords to target and give you the data you need to actually rank for them. But they shouldn't require you to empty out your bank account and sell your first-born child in order to access that data.

After years of working with multiple clients who use all different tools for keyword research and SEO content optimization, I've seen the best (and the worst) of them—and I know how important it is to choose the right keyword planner tool. To help, I considered over 70 tools with a free option for keyword research. After in-depth testing, here are the four best free keyword research tools, including the all-around greats and apps built for more specific use cases.

The best free keyword research tools

Google Keyword Planner for researching paid keywords

Ahrefs for simple SEO tools

Semrush for advanced SEO professionals

What makes the best keyword research tool?

How we evaluate and test apps.

Our best apps roundups are written by humans who've spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. Unless explicitly stated, we spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it's intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We're never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog .

The features that make for a great keyword research tool are pretty straightforward: you search for a given keyword, and the tool tells you about it. But there are so many different ways to use keyword data, so I wanted to find tools that could handle a variety of use cases, along with a few designed for some of the most popular uses for keyword research.

During testing, I looked primarily at the factors below to determine which apps made our initial list.

Data included. The best keyword research tools give you all the data you need to rank for your chosen keyword. All of the apps we selected include, at minimum, traffic, keyword difficulty, and competitive SERP analysis .

Data sources. You should be able to trust that your keyword data is free of errors and biases, so considering where the data in each keyword research tool comes from was an important step for us. Every tool we included pulls data in from Google Analytics or Google Search Console at a minimum.

Keyword optimization guidance. You shouldn't have to be a 10-year SEO industry veteran to use keyword research tools—the best tools offer simple, straightforward suggestions to optimize for your keywords. There are tools (like Ahrefs, Semrush, and Moz) that do complete SEO analysis on your site, checking for everything from site speed and technical details to domain authority and topic clusters. That's not what we're looking for here. We're looking for tools that any business owner or marketer can use to quickly understand their target keyword and optimize their site to rank for it.

Free plan allowances and upgrades. Some tools include super limited results for free and call it a "free plan." Or they put time limits on the free plan, effectively making it more of a trial. I only included tools with evergreen free plans generous enough to actually be useful—and they won't break the bank when it's time to upgrade, either.

Standalone functionality. Since you're looking for something free, your keyword tool should be a one-stop shop—without requiring any additional tools or extensions to work for you, especially not ones you'd have to pay for.

To find the best of the best, I put each tool that checked those boxes to the test by running through an in-depth protocol. Here's what my testing workflow looked like:

If needed, I created an account and went through any provided onboarding or guided tutorials (many of these free apps don't require account creation or provide any onboarding).

I searched for a few different kinds of keywords—e.g., "free keyword research tools," "chocolate cake," and "best white sneakers"—to see the results for different search intent .

I checked which related keywords, metrics, and other data were offered. I also made note of the source, whether information was pulled from Google, included non-search engine websites (like social media or forums), or was drawn from the tool's own native data.

I verified allowances for the free plan—whether limited by time, number of results, metrics included, searches per day or month, or something else—and the cost to upgrade to a paid plan if needed.

Where available, I tested out additional keyword research tools like competitive gap analysis, content optimization features, and more.

After spending over a dozen hours with these apps this year, I landed on the four best keyword research tools—each with a manageable free version—below.

The best free keyword research tools at a glance

The best free keyword research tool overall, moz keyword explorer (web).

Moz, our pick for the best keyword research tool overall

More approachable data presentation than many other tools

"Priority" score makes it easy to find the keywords worth chasing

Broad set of tools available for free

Less data than more robust tools

Free plan only includes 10 queries per tool per month

Moz 's SEO platform offers several different tools designed for keyword research. While Moz doesn't include as many data points as some of the other full-featured SEO tools (like SERP position history or the total number of keywords a competing result ranks for), I'd consider that a benefit. It makes for a less overwhelming user experience for those who aren't professional search marketers, without skimping on the metrics you really want.

With the Keyword Explorer tool, you can search any keyword you choose and see its monthly volume, difficulty, and organic clickthrough rate (CTR). Scroll down from there to see an analysis of current results ranking for it and suggestions for similar keywords.

My favorite feature: Moz includes a "Priority" score that simplifies keyword research by giving you the bottom line on whether a keyword is worth chasing for you. Moz automatically calculates the score based on the keyword's volume, organic CTR, and difficulty, along with your "My Score"—a metric you set yourself, designating how important a given keyword is to your business, based on your own expertise and knowledge of your business and industry.

Plus, with the Keyword Gap feature (part of the Competitive Research tool), you can find all the keywords your competitors rank for that you don't.

Moz pricing: Keyword research features are available for free for up to 10 queries per tool per month with up to 1,000 keyword suggestions and 10 SERP analyses per query; Moz Pro plans start at $99/month for 150 keyword queries per month

The best free keyword research tool for paid keywords

Google keyword planner (web).

Google Keyword Planner, our pick for the best free keyword research tool for paid keywords

Google Keyword Planner pros:

Completely free forever, even if you don't use Google Ads

Helpful forecasting features for budgeting if you do use Google Ads

Can pull keyword suggestions from just your website

Google Keyword Planner cons:

Not helpful for organic keyword research

When it comes to PPC keyword research, Google Keyword Planner is one of the best tools out there. It's completely free (even if you don't buy Google Ads), so you never have to worry about running into limits or expensive upgrades.

Google Keyword Planner includes two main features: one for exploratory keyword research and discovery and another for more in-depth research on search volume and forecasting.

The "Keyword ideas" feature is similar to many of the tools on this list: you search for a seed term, and it generates other keyword ideas, along with details on monthly search volume, change over time, competition, ad impression share, and bid ranges. You can refine your keyword list by brand or non-brand keywords, source website, and more. If you're also using Google Ads, the "Forecast" feature makes it easier to plan ahead for your paid ads and budget in advance.

Keyword Planner can inform your organic strategy, too, by showing you where ranking organically may help you save on PPC costs.

Google Keyword Planner pricing: Free

The best free keyword research platform for a broad suite of SEO tools

Ahrefs free seo tools (web).

Ahrefs, our pick for the best free keyword research tool for simplicity

Ahrefs pros:

Free tools cover a broad array of SEO use cases

Super simple to use

Includes keyword research for non-search engines (YouTube, Amazon, Bing)

Ahrefs cons:

Limited amount of data available for free

While you can't access the full Ahrefs suite for free, the company offers a surprisingly robust set of free SEO tools that are perfect for doing simple keyword research. The free suite includes a Free Keyword Generator, Keyword Difficulty Checker, Keyword Rank Checker, and keyword research for YouTube, Amazon, and Bing, among other tools.

The keyword generator includes up to 150 keyword ideas for free (100 phrase match keywords and 50 question-based keywords), along with data on monthly search volume for each and keyword difficulty for the top 10 results. The keyword difficulty tool includes a difficulty score, estimated number of backlinks needed to rank, and SERP analysis for the top 10 results.

None of these tools will give you the depth of data you'd get from a paid account, but the suite's breadth is a strength. Taken together, Ahrefs free tools can handle just about anything a basic SEO operation needs—keyword research, yes, but also link building, website audits, ranking and traffic monitoring, and more. And if your budget changes, you can upgrade to a tool that rivals the best of the best.

Ahrefs pricing: Free Keyword Generator includes up to 150 keyword suggestions with limited data, and Keyword Difficulty Checker includes difficulty score, backlink estimate, and basic SERP overview; paid plans start at $99/month for 500 search credits per month, additional data, and up to 5 keyword lists.

The best free keyword research tool for advanced SEO

Semrush (web).

Semrush, our pick for the best free keyword research tool for advanced SEOs

Semrush pros:

Tons of granular keyword data

Wide range of specialized keyword research tools

Pretty generous free plan

Semrush cons:

Can be overwhelming for those less experienced with keyword research

Most expensive upgrade

If you're looking for something more advanced, Semrush shares a ton of keyword data and makes it easy to dig into the details, like SERP features (featured snippet, reviews, site links, image pack, and so on) and granular analysis of current results. Semrush offers a broad range of keyword research tools, too, from the standard traffic and search volume data to content-driven keyword research and competitive keyword gap analysis.

That range is what really sets Semrush apart, including the standard Keyword Overview, the Keyword Magic Tool for exploratory keyword research, a Keyword Manager and position tracking, competitive Keyword Gap analysis, and Organic Traffic Insights, which—when connected with your Google Analytics or Search Console account—can uncover those famously tricky "not provided" keywords.

As an added bonus, the SEO Content Template tool lets you automatically create a content brief and optimize content as you write by grading your content in real-time for readability, originality, tone of voice, and SEO: it uses a handy bullseye graphic to help you strike the right balance. Plus, the tool visually checks off SEO recommendations (like using your target and related keywords and adding relevant links and images) as you go.

All of this means that upgrading will cost you a pretty penny—but you can use it for free at low volumes to start.

You can do more with Semrush by connecting with Zapier to keep track of SEO tasks across Semrush and your project management tool, automate site audits and re-crawls, connect with Google Analytics goals, and more. Here are some examples:

Re-crawl site audit campaigns in SEMrush when new site audits are completed

SEMrush logo

Create SEMrush overview reports for new Google Analytics goals

Google Analytics logo

Semrush pricing: Free plan includes up to 10 Analytics reports per day and 10 tracked keywords; paid plans start at $119.95/month for up to 10,000 results per report and 500 tracked keywords per month.

Can you use AI for keyword research?

You can ask AI chatbots like ChatGPT and Bard to do keyword research for you—but should you?

The main benefit of going the AI route is simplicity. You can ask for straightforward, simplified results and get a simple, streamlined answer.

Kiera asks "I'm writing an article about 'the best free keyword research tools. In a table, tell me the top 5 keywords I should target and how you know." Google Bard offers an example.

The results are clear and actionable, and Bard did a great job of synthesizing data from a variety of sources and planning for both high-traffic and long-tail keywords. (Assuming it's not lying to me .)

ChatGPT isn't connected to Google Keyword Planner, and it did a slightly less impressive—but still kind of helpful—job.

ChatGPT's response to the same thing

But both ChatGPT and Bard struggled with anything more complex than the prompt above, offering super generic advice…

Generic advice about keywords from ChatGPT

…or not answering at all:

Google Bard saying it can't give information like keyword difficulty and top competitor articles

Bottom line: AI chatbots aren't built for keyword research. They don't allow for building keyword lists, saving analyses and keyword reports, tracking your rankings, competitor gap analysis, or robust content optimization. Not yet, at least.

If you're in a bind and need simplified, bottom line-style information on a keyword quickly, an AI chatbot may be of some help. But as of today, I wouldn't recommend using AI chatbot as your primary keyword research tool—especially given the number of truly helpful dedicated free keyword research tools you can use instead.

Related reading:

The best SEO content optimization tools

The best WordPress SEO plugins

How to find low competition keywords that drive traffic

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Kiera Abbamonte

Kiera’s a content writer who helps SaaS and eCommerce companies connect with customers and reach new audiences. Located in Boston, MA, she loves cinnamon coffee and a good baseball game. Catch up with her on Twitter @Kieraabbamonte.

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17 Best Keyword Research Tools for Businesses

how to make a keyword research tool

Keyword research is a routine part of online content creation. Whether you’re making videos for YouTube or creating a new company blog, you need to target the right keywords to help your pages rank. Keyword research tools help simplify that process for you. 

This post will break down the best keyword research tools as well as the basics of keyword research for your business. You can go through the following sections to learn more:

Table of Contents

What is a keyword research tool, the importance of keyword research tools.

  • 17 best keyword research tools

What makes a good keyword research tool?

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) in keyword research
  • Frequently asked questions

A keyword research tool is any software or website that helps you find the best keywords to target. They also offer insight into what queries your audience enters into Google or another search engine. 

If you want to have success with your content, you need to know what keywords to target so you can rank for them. Keyword research tools help you identify which terms your audience is searching so you can include them in your content. 

Other benefits of keyword research tools you experience include:

  • Less time spent on manually finding keywords 
  • Better understanding of keyword competition and cost-per-click (CPC)
  • Easier access to related keywords 
  • More information on your competitors’ approaches 

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The best keyword research tools

Now, let’s look at the best keyword research tools for whatever purpose you need. We’ve broken them down into categories for you: General, YouTube, and Google tools you can use for keyword research. 

General keyword research tools

First, we have general keyword research tools — those that can fit any purpose or budget. 

Moz Keyword Explorer

how to make a keyword research tool

Price: Free basic plan

Features: 

  • Keyword analysis by search volume
  • Question format keywords
  • Predictive keyword metrics

Moz Keyword Explorer is one of the best free keyword research tools. With this tool, you can access up to 1.25 billion keywords, according to Moz. This tool is a simple, straightforward option for keyword research that only requires a free account. 

how to make a keyword research tool

Price: Starting at $99/month

  • Thousands of keyword suggestions per query
  • 10 different search engine options
  • Keyword difficulty score
  • Search engine results page (SERP) metrics and positioning

Ahrefs is an all-in-one keyword tool that focuses on search engine optimization (SEO) across the board. The keyword difficulty score tells you how challenging it will be to rank for a term, which can help you tailor your approach. You can also use this tool to find related keywords and rank them on importance. 

how to make a keyword research tool

Price: Starting at $129.95/month

  • Free trials on multiple tools
  • Keyword suggestions and generation
  • Multiple marketing channel options (paid ads, SEO, and more)

The Semrush keyword research toolkit includes several tools you can try for free. Between all the options, you can generate keywords for your campaign, compare organic traffic results, cluster keywords together, and look at competitor rankings. 

Ubersuggest

how to make a keyword research tool

  • View average number of backlinks and domain authority for sites ranking 
  • See historical keyword data (requires upgrade for more than six months back)
  • Compare organic clicks to paid ones

Ubersuggest is a free tool from Neil Patel that helps users find more information about their keywords as well as related terms. The free plan offers basic research features, and you can unlock more information about each term by signing up for a paid plan. 

Answer the Public

how to make a keyword research tool

Price: Free

  • Question keyword and phrase targeting
  • Data from autocomplete searches 
  • Free searching for businesses

Another Neil Patel tool is Answer The Public . This tool lets you enter a topic, brand, product, and other terms to see what people are asking about it. This unique feature makes it one of the best free keyword research tools for question keywords specifically. 

Long Tail Pro

how to make a keyword research tool

Price: Starting at $59.99/ month

  • Keyword grouping to organize topics
  • Custom “average keyword competitiveness” metric
  • Up to 400 long-tail keyword per entry

Long Tail Pro is an excellent tool for finding long-tail keywords. This tool lets you find, group, and compare long-tail keywords to give your content a better chance at ranking. Since long-tail options are often encouraged for businesses, this tool is super helpful for filling in the gaps. 

how to make a keyword research tool

Price: Free trial available, starting at $59.00/month

  • Access to keyword metrics 
  • Competitor keyword collection
  • Keyword niche finder for specific objectives

Serpstat is another great keyword research option for companies and teams. With the niche finder, you can explore specific areas of the internet. This is a unique feature that companies in small or specific industries can benefit from.

Keywords Everywhere

how to make a keyword research tool

Price: Starting at $15/year

  • Available on Chrome, Firefox, and Edge
  • Integration with your search browser and multiple websites
  • Keyword suggestions, metrics, and more

Keywords Everywhere is an exceptional browser add-on that makes it easy to search for keywords while on any site. As you enter terms into a search bar — whether in your browser or a supported site — you can access keyword suggestions and metrics right on the page.

KeywordTool.io

how to make a keyword research tool

  • Keywords based on autocomplete data
  • Keyword research capabilities for different sites
  • Global and local focuses available

KeywordTool.io makes it easy to find keywords. You can use the location preference setting to choose the area you want to focus on and narrow it even more by selecting a website. If you want more metrics, you must sign up for a plan, but you can get suggestions for free. 

Mangools KWFinder

how to make a keyword research tool

  • Multiple location and language options
  • Intuitive interface for search
  • Local keyword research and SERP analysis

Our last general tool is Mangools KWFinder . This tool is praised for its intuitive interface and affordable price for teams. You can use this tool for everything from generating new keywords to comparing local terms and how they rank in the SERPs. 

YouTube keyword research tools

Next up are YouTube tools, which can help you find the best keywords for your YouTube videos. 

how to make a keyword research tool

Price: Free basic plan, starting at $7.50/month

  • Research directly in YouTube
  • Inline keywords available for competitor analysis
  • Autocomplete keyword suggestions 

VidIQ is the first YouTube keyword research tool on our list. This tool lets you complete your keyword research while browsing YouTube, all while looking at the ranking results. You can also use this tool to measure your competitor’s keyword usage with inline keywords.

Plus, the autocomplete feature lets you see the best keyword suggestion for your search.  

how to make a keyword research tool

Price: Free basic plan, starting at $7.50/month  

  • Trending keyword and tag suggestions
  • Data sourced directly from YouTube’s API
  • Access to search trends, topics, search volume, and more

TubeBuddy is another handy YouTube keyword research tool that helps you find the best terms and tags to target in your videos. You can use the tool to see trending topics, as well as what other people are ranking well for. This tool is ideal for staying on-trend and finding current information. 

how to make a keyword research tool

Price: Free trial available, starting at $19/month

  • Access to monthly search data
  • Optimization tips for existing videos
  • Keyword comparison options

TubeRanker is the final YouTube tool on this list. Much like the other tools, you can use this one to find keywords and access metrics about your term. The feature that sets this tool apart is the other tools that go with it — like the hashtag generator and rank tracker. 

With the combined set, you get an all-in-one YouTube SEO kit for your videos. 

Google keyword research tools

Finally, we have Google tools that you can use for keyword research. 

  • Google Keyword Planner

how to make a keyword research tool

Price: Free with Google Ads account

  • Forecasting on your keyword success based on your ad spend
  • Keyword suggestions based on starting terms
  • Bid estimates for PPC keywords

Google Keyword Planner is a free tool for those with a Google Ads account. You can use it for general keyword research, but it’s really ideal for those who use Google Ads already. You can use this tool to find new keywords, analyze their cost, and optimize your ads. 

Google Search Console

how to make a keyword research tool

  • Insights on queries, click-through rate (CTR), and website indexing
  • Optimization analysis and opportunities
  • Simple interface for all users to access

GSC is a free tool that lets you analyze your website’s SEO effectiveness. You can also use this tool to find keywords through a bit of research. For example, you can use GSC to see what keywords you rank for and receive traffic from, meaning you can target those and similar phrases. 

Google Trends

how to make a keyword research tool

  • Data on current trends in searches across the world
  • Explanations behind trends
  • Information on what topics people follow

Google Trends is a great tool for staying up on current, well, trends. This tool pulls in data on searches within a specific time frame and points to recurring themes. You can use this information to write timely content that people actively seek. 

Google search 

how to make a keyword research tool

  • Autocomplete terms
  • People Also Ask (PAA) questions 
  • Featured snippets

Rounding out our list of the best keyword research tools is Google search . If you want to find related keywords, Google is a great place to start. Searching for a starting term can help you find ranking articles, related terms, PAA questions, and more — all of which can turn into helpful keywords. 

Plus, if you want your content to rank on Google, it helps to see what works for other pages!  

Your keyword tool should fit your business’s needs. A good research tool will have the following benefits and features: 

  • A price that falls within your budget
  • Real-time analytics on keyword performance
  • Related keywords and main terms
  • Competitor analysis features
  • Platform-specific keyword search (YouTube, search engines, etc.)
  • Integration with other tools
  • Automation features 

Above all, a good keyword research tool should suit your business. If a tool isn’t a good match, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad option overall — you might just need something different. 

AI in keyword research

AI for keyword research is the process of using artificial intelligence to find keywords. These algorithms are common nowadays — AI is present in many of the keyword tools listed above, such as:

AI algorithms make it easier to search through data automatically and quickly. Keyword research tools use AI to search and find keywords with the most potential impact for your business. They also use AI to come up with keyword ideas based on the starting term. 

As AI algorithms become more advanced, you can expect to see the features improve. 

Here are a few common questions about keyword research.

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is the process of finding keywords that your target audience searches for on a given platform. With keyword research, the goal is to develop a list of keywords you can then use to create content. 

Why is keyword research important?

Keyword research is essential for any online operation. Since keywords are the terms that users search online, you need to know them to create content that ranks. They are also the backbone of SEO and help your pages rank in relevant search results.

Keyword research helps you avoid creating content for the wrong audience as well. If you know what your ideal user wants to see on your site, you will have better luck attracting and converting them.

Should I use a free or paid keyword research tool?

Whether you use a free or paid keyword research tool depends on your budget and needs. 

Many free tools have basic keyword research capabilities that can help you get started with keyword research. However, if you want something more in-depth and have the room in your budget, investing in a paid one helps you get more data on keywords. 

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how to make a keyword research tool

Stack your keyword research tool with a CRM

As you drive more traffic to your site with effective keyword research and integration, you need a customer relationship management (CRM) platform that can capture and store customer data. 

Nutshell is the perfect platform for capturing customer data. Once you capture the data, you can use Nutshell to manage your sales pipeline and encourage leads down the funnel.

That’s just the beginning. Start a free trial to see what Nutshell has to offer, or check out a live demo ! 

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MARKETING INSIGHTS

10 best keyword research tools

  • Rebecca Tomasis
  • Jun 26, 2023
  • 13 min read

keyword research tools we break down the best of the best

If you have ever decided to create your own website , you probably have asked the question before, " What is SEO? " Even if you're still building your website SEO knowledge, you probably know that keywords are an important part of getting found online.

Adding specific keywords to your website’s content can help it show up on Google when someone searches for the specific key phrase. So, how do you go about finding the best ones? Well, a keyword or key phrase isn’t just something you pluck from your brain and run with. In order to find the best-suited keyword options to get your website found on search engines, research is required. You'll want to keep your customer intent in mind during your research process.

When it comes to how to do keyword research , you have more than a few options at your disposal. Since you’re trying to rank well on Google, it’s easy to assume you should use its own keyword research tools, and technically speaking, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, other tools can provide some context for you to see the bigger picture.

Below, we’re going to show you 10 great keyword research tools you should definitely try when getting started with keyword research for your own DIY SEO strategy :

10 keyword research tools

Google Keyword Planner

Google Trends

G-Trendalyser

Google.com Incognito

Moz Keyword Planner

Google Search Console

Keywords Everywhere (extension)

01. Google Keyword Planner

Let’s get the most obvious option out of the way first. Google’s own Keyword Planner provides a fairly easy to understand approach to keyword research. Simply type in the keyword or phrase you want information on, and boom: You’ll see the average monthly searches for your keyword, the competition of others using this keyword, and both the low to high “top of page” bid prices, giving you a range of how much you can expect to pay per bid if you decide to use Google Ads.

Technically speaking, it’s not hard to access the Google Keyword Planner, but you will need to create an Adwords account and provide credit or debit card information before you can access it. While you won’t have to actually pay for anything to use the planner, it’s a hurdle some people jump over only begrudgingly.

Changes to the planner have also made it less useful as a keyword planning tool - it no longer shows precise volumes for keywords, opting instead to show a range. This number can range between 1K- 10K on a single keyword. So it's not necessarily as accurate as it use to be.

However this aside, according to Ofir Buchsweiler, SEO Content Expert at Wix , it is an important keyword research tool for understanding how Google's algorithm looks at topics and related user intents. We could argue this is more important when choosing keywords than specific volumes so we're definitely not ready to write this tool of just yet.

Bottom line : This free option is for people who want a no-frills keyword research tool directly from Google itself.

keyword research tools google ads

02. Semrush

Semrush is a favorite of many, thanks to its vast number of features it brings to its users. And if you’re looking for an all-in-one SEO platform, there’s a reason you’ll find this one at the top of many lists.

Whether you’re looking into standard or long-tail keyword research, or even the keywords most used by your competitors, Semrush has your back. With its Keyword Magic tool, you’ll be able to get over 2 million results and have them grouped together by topic. These are just a few of the several features this platform has on offer. It also includes traffic analytics, advertising research, and much, much more.

For Kyle Place, SEO Content Expert at Wix , Semrush is a go to because it shows the intent of the keyword, making it easy to get an overview of the keyword when exporting large data sets, especially into pivot tables.

i love how semrush shows the intent of the keyword which makes it to get an easy overview when you export large data sets, especially in a pivot table

Semrush is also great for making competitor analysis easy. Wether you want to delve in deep with its domain overview tool and get an idea of what other websites are ranking for and with what pages, or wether you want to use its keyword gap feature to compare what you are ranking for, compared to your competitors - including where you are ranking better or worse than them, and important keywords you may be missing out on.

But even a simple keyword overview search on Semrush will give you a lot of information on your competitors, if they're ranking for a keyword you plan to target. You can see if they're ranking for it, and if they are just how many backlinks that page has, as well the precise number and other keywords the page ranks for, and how much traffic it generates. These are all important for understanding your ability to rank, and what you can expect from ranking.

Let's use the example of the keyword 'create a website.' The number 1 ranking result is, https://www.wix.com/. It has 35.4K referring domains, 414.04K backlinks, 1.0M search traffic and 21.2K registered for the url. These metrics alone show how competitive this SERP and ranking here would be a tough task.

If you’re just looking for a keyword research tool, you’ll find it here and there are a number of free searches you can do with Semrush but a paid plan is the best option.

Bottom line : Semrush is best for those who want a full suite of SEO tools and don’t mind paying for it.

keyword research tools semrush

Another very popular tool for keyword research comes from Ahrefs , and it packs a punch in the features department.

The Ahrefs keyword tool not only offers a great feature set, but it’s also likely the easiest on the eyes. With great charts to visually show you the strength of your keyword, it’s definitely a little less intimidating than some of the other tools on this list. One of the primary insights is the Keyword difficulty, which can provide suggestions on how to best take advantage of it, like adding backlinks.

Ahrefs offers some flexibility for your research, specifically where your keyword is ranking. You’re able to search from a multitude of locations, whether it’s Google, YouTube, Bing, Yandex, Baidu, or Amazon.

For Kyle Place, SEO Content Expert at Wix , Ahrefs is a leader in the keyword research tool field with features such as its position history graph, SERP overview and traffic potential. You can see the historical data on a keyword, who else is ranking for it and the amount of traffic you could expect to generate once ranking for it.

From the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer tool we can glean a treasure trove of information about a keyword and how to target, but also how to build supporting content around it. Let's take the keyword ' start a blog ,' searched for from the US.

Straight off, and all on the same page we can see that this keyword's US volume is 3.3K, global volume is 15K and its traffic potential if ranking first is 900. We also get its terms match and related questions - and this data shows us that 'how to start a blog' has a much higher volume for the US, 22K, and if we really want to go after traffic we should probably target this keyword as well as 'start a blog,' to maximize our organic potential.

We can also see the top ten pages ranking for this keyword, both letting us know what kind of content we would need to produce in order to rank, but it also gives us an idea of the intent for this keyword. If the first page is filled with blog posts ranking, so this is the type of page we should create to target it. If its mainly product pages which take you directly to opening a blog - so this is the type of page we should target the keyword with.

The same feature also gives us an idea of the keyword difficulty - a general feel of the competitiveness of the keyword in terms of our ability to rank with it.

"Ahrefs is the 'Swiss Knife' version of SEO tools when it comes to covering needs. Probably the best in the industry when it comes to internal/external links tools, accurate KW research (compared to competitors) with a solid content explorer along with an underrated rank tracker and side audit options that are a viable option for people who want a one stop shop to run their SEO efforts." Ido Shazkin, SEO Content Expert at Wix.

Ido acknowledges that "Ahrefs is not the most user friendly tool - but it meets the more savvy marketers needs when it comes to expanding features and discovering more practically & usable opportunities for research and growth (Calendar ranking, comparing titles to actual SERP etc...).It's also worth noting they have a very interesting blog worth following and their "how to" video's on using the platform are spot on."

Bottom line : Ahrefs offers an all-in-one SEO suite that isn’t free, but brings a lot to the table. It's also evolving all the time, with new features being added and improved

keyword research tools ahrefs

04. Google Trends

Google Trends can be fun to see what’s popular on the search engine, but it can also just as easily be used for your keyword research.

Simply type in your subject and you’ll be presented with a timeline, showing the popularity of your keyword. You can apply filters for location, time (default is 12 months), category, and search type. The latter allows you to filter between a standard web search, YouTube, news, image, or Google Shopping search.

Below the timeline, you’ll see a couple of charts that break down the popularity of your search term by subregions, which can be helpful for local SEO. Below that, you’ll see related topics and queries that may further help you optimize your keywords.

It's also useful for planning seasonal content, if that's useful for your business - and to understand what keywords trends when throughout the year. This is important for eCommerce stores, for example, looking to make the most out of holiday and seasonal shopping searches and trends.

The keyword ' christmas presents for men ' searched for from the US, starts to increase in volume from the end of October, reaching a peak by mid December, at which point it dramatically drops and plateaus until October the following year. New content or refreshing legacy content targeting on this keyword should e done in time to reach the wave of the search trend, in order to maximize on its traffic potential.

Bottom line : Google Trends is 100% free and is great to get inspiration and optimization tips on keywords.

keyword research tools google trends

05. G-Trendalyser

If you're looking for keyword research at the trend level, so G-Trendalyser is another great place to start. This free tool is great for understanding more about emerging rising trends pulled from Google trends, and is a great start if you're planning on targeting more trendy and topical keywords for maximum traffic potential. This might put you in direct competition with news sites but if that's your target, this is a good tool to use. This tool recommendation came to us directly from Crystal Carter, Head of SEO Communications at Wix.

It's super simple to use, simply add your keyword or trend, choose your relevant country and then decide if you want to see trends from the past hour, past four hours, past day, past 7 days, 30 days, 90 days or past 5 years. It's a great way to track trends also and to help you get better a spotting trend peaks and falls.

We added the keyword ' nft ', from the US over the past 30 days. We found out that the top trends around this topic (by order of value) are: nft meaning, what is nft, gamestop nft, nft marketplace, nft art, what is an nft, nfts, nft price .

Our next step would be further research - what are the intent, volumes, traffic potential and competitiveness of these keywords? Could some of these be targeted with one article, perhaps ' What are nfts ?' Could there be potential for other articles here targeting nft price, nft marketplaces and nft art separately.

06. Google.com Incognito

If you're looking to get started with keyword research and aren't sure where to begin, it can help to have an idea of what keywords you should be looking further into and which you should put aside.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to search for keywords you may already have in mind, related to your site or business, in Google.com but in incognito mode. Searching in incognito means you aren't shown results based on your previous search history, online preferences and past actions or your cache . It gives you an unbiased look at the SERP and can show you what kind of website pages and content rank for a keyword (intent) and your competitors who are ranking for it.

Right click on Chrome and choose a New Incognito Window. Make sure you're on google and then search away.

Let's say I want to write a blog post targeting ' marketing strategies .' A quick incognito google search shows me that everything ranking for that keyword is a blog article, so the intent is informational and I should aim to create a blog article too. It also shows me who is already ranking for that specific term - and that my competition for ranking, the Shopify blog for example, is pretty tough. My blog article will need to be of the highest quality, meet the search intent incredibly well and ideally have strong, high value backlinks behind it.

Based on this I might then choose to take my marketing strategies keyword into another research tool and understand if there is something less competitive I could rank for first, as I build up my site's authority in this field.

You can also make use of Google's autofill in search to create new keyword ideas to then research further. A quick typing of 'marketing strategies' into google search sees e other keyword variations popping up - marketing strategies examples, marketing strategies for small business, marketing strategies to increase sales.

Bottom line : a Google search in Incognito is a great place to start if you're looking for basic keyword ideas to drive more detailed, actionable research.

07. Moz Keyword Explorer

Moz is a great resource for all things SEO, so it’s unsurprising that it also offers a fantastic keyword research tool.

Your standard set of features are present, such as keyword search volume , as well as the ability to generate and save keyword lists, but that’s not all. You can do a deep dive into long-tail keywords in question format, optimize your keywords for your international audiences, and advanced competitive keyword analytics. Those are just some of the features that you’ll get with the Moz Keyword Explorer.

While it’s probably not a complete deal-breaker, you’ll need to sign up for an account just to use the tool.

Bottom line : The SEO experts at Moz have created a fantastic free tool for keyword research that’s not intimidating to use.

keyword research tools moz

08. Google Search Console

Google Search Console provides a wealth of information about the organic performance of your website and it can be very helpful for keyword research, just perhaps not in the way you’d expect.

The Search Console will only provide terms that you’re currently ranking for, so if you’re looking to research potential new keywords, then another tool may be better suited for your needs. However, seeing what phrases people are using to find you on Google can help further optimize and expand on what’s already there. You can do this by finding more search terms around topics you already rank well for.

Let's say you already rank well for ' create a website ,' and you can see this in Google Search Console. You might then want to research other related terms, using some of the other keyword research tools mentioned in this piece, to build on that ranking and traffic momentum. Ideas such as 'create a business website,' or 'create a tourism website,' might be good terms to target.

You could even find that some key phrases could be performing better with a couple of on-page tweaks. To do this we recommend filtering your Google Search Console by Queries last 28 days and then by Position (remember this is an average for the time frame you've chosen) ordered from highest to lowest.

Work through your non-ranking queries - can you figure out why you're not ranking, and what you could do to turn it around. Better content? Improved on-page optimizations?

Google Search Console is also great for understanding how well you're ranking, and how much traffic you're generating for branded search terms. To do this choose New > Query > Queries Containing > Your business or brand name. This will show you the branded queries you rank for, with which page of your site and how well you rank, plus if they bring organic traffic and how much.

You can then also plug your branded queries into any of the keyword research tools mentioned in this article to understand if your competitors are targeting them, and potentially ranking higher for them - it happens. It's also a great branding exercise and to make sure you're represented with your most relevant pages for branded searches. Wether it's a product page or a blog article make sure the content that ranks best represents the strength and value of your brand.

Need some help getting off the ground with the Google Search Console? Check out our Ultimate Beginner’s Guide.

Bottom line : The Google Search Console is a free tool that can help you get insights on your existing keywords and how to optimize them.

keyword research tools google search console

09. Keywords Everywhere (extension)

If you’re sick of spending a countless amount of time on individual keyword research tools, you can lighten your load with the Keywords Everywhere extension for Chrome and Firefox web browsers.

This freemium extension allows you to get useful information for keywords without needing to go to a dedicated site. A simple Google search will automatically yield related keywords to your search query as well as a “people also search for” section to the right of the search results. If you’re looking to mine more info on your search (and you probably are), then you’ll need to purchase credits to get details about search volume, CPC, and competition. These details will appear directly within the autocomplete box while searching and below the search bar after you’ve executed the search.

Bottom line : Keywords everywhere is a paid extension that takes a lot of the grunt work out of keyword research since it’s built-in into your browser after it’s added.

keyword research tools keywords everywhere

10. Also Asked

This is a great keyword research tool which you can use free for a set number of searches over a predefined period, or you can make use of their paid plans. Be warned this tool is highly addictive and useful, so if you're going to give it a try best to be prepared to add it to your SEO arsenal for good.

First of when you enter a keyword to research, you can choose your language and geo - our default is the US but we love that we could also look from pretty much anywhere else in the world. It also currently supports searches in 44 plus languages, so for localization teams and both local and international SEOs, it's an important tool to know.

The strength of Also Asked lies in how it represents the data - we love the visualization of the related search terms and questions from a keyword. It also breaks it down via a hierarchical graph which helps us understand the most important topics within an entity and which to prioritize with our keyword targeting and content.

By plugging in the keyword ' what is seo ', from this tool we can understand that the next level of potential terms to target include: what is SEO and how it works , what is SEO in simple terms , what are the 4 types of SEO and what is meant by Google SEO . Any article writing about ' what is seo ' should probably then address these potential target keywords, assuming more in-depth research into the intent behind them and their competitiveness checks out.

The never level of the chart then gives ideas for keywords that might work for new content creation ideas - how do you do SEO marketing, how much does SEO cost - which allow you to build authority around your SEO content.

Bottom line: great for understanding keywords as topics, and for building hierarchy between keywords within a subject. A good first step for new topic ideas, although you'll need other keyword research tools to understand the intent, potential traffic and competitiveness of a keyword.

Interested to learn more about SEO topics and techniques? Check out the Wix SEO Hub for the most updated and relevant content.

You can also check out these tips to optimize your Wix website for more inspiration.

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Keyword-Research

Using Our Free Keyword Tool

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Written by Leigh McKenzie

For those just starting with SEO, it can be daunting to invest in expensive keyword research tools .

That’s why we’ve created this free keyword research tool , leveraging the extensive database of 25.23 billion keywords from Semrush.

This tool assists in pinpointing low-competition keywords, sparking ideas for blog content, and providing insights into monthly search volumes.

Our own experience at Backlinko.com stands as a testament to the power of keyword research .

By employing these strategies, we’ve achieved top ten rankings for over 13,000 keywords.

how to make a keyword research tool

In the following sections of this guide, we’ll demystify the often complex metrics and jargon associated with keyword research tools. We’ll also offer strategies to maximize the benefits from your keyword analysis.

Furthermore, when you’re prepared to delve deeper into SEO, we provide a comparison of the top seven keyword research tools, guiding you to make an informed decision for advanced SEO execution.

What Is a Keyword?

Before we embark on the fascinating journey of keyword research and the best tools for it, let’s lay down the foundation by understanding what a keyword truly is.

A keyword is a word or phrase that users enter into a search engine to find relevant information online. Keywords are crucial because search engines use them to understand the content of web pages and determine how relevant they are to particular search queries.

Optimizing content for relevant keywords is a fundamental aspect of SEO, as it helps improve a website’s visibility in SERPs.

Understanding Keywords and Search Volume

As a webmaster, you want to make sure your page appears as high up in the SERPs as possible when users search for your target keyword. To give your pages the best chance of ranking on Google and other search engines, you need to carry out keyword research to find a good keyword to target.

Then, you need to create content that’s relevant to this keyword that users will find valuable. The content also needs to match the search intent of users.

The search intent of a keyword refers to the reason most users are searching for a specific keyword. There are four main types of search intent:

Search Intent Types

Search intent is one of Google’s many ranking factors, so you need to pay close attention to it if you want your pages to rank.

Another vital factor you need to focus on during your keyword research is search volume .

Keyword search volume is the average number of times a keyword is searched for during a specific time period. This is generally calculated monthly. It gives you an insight into how popular certain keywords are and how much traffic you could potentially drive to your site by targeting them.

So, What’s Considered to Be a High Search Volume for a Keyword?

Well, there’s no definitive answer to this, as it depends on several factors. These include search intent, competition, type of industry, and seasonality.

For instance, the tech industry caters to a broad target audience. If a keyword related to technology were receiving 500 searches per month, it might be deemed as having a low search volume.

However, the collectible vintage typewriter industry is, naturally, more niche, and so 500 monthly searches for a keyword related to this industry may be considered high.

Essentially, context is key. Just because the keyword search volume for a term seems low (say, 200 per month) doesn’t mean it would be considered low within that particular niche.

Factors That Can Influence Keyword Search Volume

  • Seasonality: Witness fluctuations in search volumes during specific seasons or events.
  • Trending Topics: Stay ahead by understanding how current events and trends can temporarily boost keyword search volumes.
  • Industry Growth: Ride the wave of growing industries, experiencing a surge in related keyword search volumes.
  • Local Modifiers: Discover how local additions create long-tail keywords, a crucial aspect of local SEO.

The Significance of Keyword Search Volume in SEO

In the realm of SEO, keyword search volume is a cornerstone.

Here’s why:

1. Identifying High-Traffic Potential

Keywords with high search volumes indicate a high level of user interest. If you target these keywords, you give your site a good chance of receiving a significant amount of traffic.

However, simply targeting a keyword with a high search volume isn’t enough. You need to make sure the content you create is highly relevant to the keywords you target and matches the user’s search intent.

2. Uncovering Market Trends

Analyzing the search volume of keywords over time also helps in identifying market trends. In this way, it serves as a window into the evolving interests of your target audience.

If you notice the search volume for a certain keyword steadily increasing, or suddenly spiking, it’s a good indicator of the topics your audience is currently interested in.

3. Enhancing Your Content Strategy

Keyword search volume is your compass in crafting a content strategy that resonates with your audience. Rather than creating content for keywords that you think your audience will be interested in, search volume data enables you to write content that you know they’ll be interested in.

This knowledge can guide your entire content campaign and help to ensure user engagement remains high and your rankings continue to improve.

Strategies to Leverage Keyword Search Volume for SEO Success

Harnessing the power of keyword search volume can significantly bolster your SEO efforts.

Here’s how:

1. Comprehensive Keyword Research

Search volume data is an integral part of in-depth keyword research . It’s one of the best ways for you to gauge the interests of your target audience and ensure the content you create matches their search intent and provides value.

Getting users to convert with high-quality content is more important than driving huge numbers of users to your pages that are unlikely to convert.

how to make a keyword research tool

“I would rather have 100 readers that convert at 10% than 10,000 readers that convert 0.01%. If you’re going after a lower quantity of traffic but users are really satisfied with it and want to convert, then that’s success. It’s not all about huge volumes of traffic. Start with creating the best quality content and trying to convert it as best as possible, which will compound more over time.”

2. Analyzing Competitor Keywords

Competitor keyword research is the process of analyzing and identifying the keywords that your competitors are targeting in their online content, including websites, blog posts, and online advertising. This type of research helps you understand the terms and phrases your competitors prioritize to attract and engage their audience.

This analysis will allow you to identify keywords that your competitors are targeting successfully and where they may be underperforming. The insights you gain will help you discover potential opportunities or areas to differentiate your strategy.

For example, let’s say your competitor is focusing on high-search-volume keywords that are highly competitive, yet they are not ranking well for them. In such a scenario, instead of also targeting these high-search-volume keywords, consider aiming for keywords with lower search volume that are easier to rank for.

3. Utilizing Long-Tail Keywords

As long-tail keywords typically have lower search volumes than short-tail terms, they also tend to have less competition.

Keyword Search Volume

By identifying less competitive long-tail keywords and incorporating them into your keyword strategy, you can maximize the results of your SEO efforts. Concentrating solely on high-search-volume keywords that are highly competitive won’t yield quick and favorable rankings.

Therefore, it’s essential to diversify your keyword strategy by targeting a well-balanced mix of long-tail keywords and search queries with higher search volume. This approach will significantly increase your chances of achieving success.

4. Continuous Monitoring and Analysis

Once you’ve done your keyword research and created the content for your search terms, you’ll need to keep a close eye on them. This means tracking the search volumes of your target keywords to gauge their efficiency.

You should use a tool such as Semrush’s Keyword Overview to monitor increases and decreases in the search queries you’ve targeted. Then, you can assess how these fluctuations are affecting your other performance metrics like click-through rate and conversion rates , as well as the ranking positions of your pages.

Selecting the Right Tool

Now that you’re up to speed on keyword search volume, it’s time to take a look at the seven best keyword research tools currently available for gathering search volume data. I’ll be focusing on the free versions of these tools unless there is no free version available.

Let’s dive into the best free keyword research tools available to help you improve your SEO strategy.

Semrush

Good For: Accuracy, trending terms, database coverage

Best Feature: Keyword Magic Tool

Free Plan: 10 keyword searches per day with the Keyword Overview or Keyword Magic Tool, analyze up to 10 competitor domains per day with Domain Overview, track up to 10 keywords per day with the Position Tracking tool, and much more.

As the study we mentioned before shows, Semrush’s algorithm updates mean that it’s the most accurate tool for search volume data, and its database has much better coverage than other tools.

For example, 3.82% of the keywords in GKP’s database were “not found” and this rose to a MASSIVE 18.22% for Serpstat. Meanwhile, only 1.78% of the keywords in Semrush’s database were “not found”. In my opinion, this makes it the best keyword research tool available.

2. Google Keyword Planner (GKP)

Google Keyword Planner

Good For: Pay-Per-Click (PPC) keyword research

Best Feature: Forecasts for PPC campaigns

Free Plan: The full version is completely free

GKP is a feature that’s included within the Google Ads platform. I’d say it’s the best free keyword research tool for paid ads, but it’s not as good for organic keyword research.

Still, in Semrush’s keyword search volume study, GKP achieved a 40.94% search volume accuracy score in the head-to-head with Semrush, which got 59.06%. Although it was still way behind Semrush, it did a lot better than many of the other tools.

Moz

Good For: Quick and easy (but fairly limited) search volume data

Best Feature: Keyword “Priority” score

Free Plan: The 30-day Moz Pro trial gives you access to all of the tool’s features

Moz is a good all-round SEO tool that has a pretty decent keyword research tool. However, in the search volume accuracy tests in Semrush’s study, it only scored 24.29% compared to Semrush’s score of 32.39%.

how to make a keyword research tool

Good For: Keyword Difficulty score

Best Feature: Keyword volumes for Google, Bing, YouTube, and Amazon

Free Plan: This is a free browser tool

In the head-to-head with Semrush, Ahrefs was WAY behind in accuracy. It was accurate 39.53% of the time compared to Semrush’s score of 60.47%. Still, the Free Keyword Generator is easy to use and quickly gives you access to keyword search volumes.

The biggest downside is that you can only view this data for 10 keywords. To access more data, you need to pay for an Ahrefs account.

5. Serpstat

Serpstat

Good For: Both SEO and PPC keyword research

Best Feature: Allows you to access data from many different databases

Free Plan: 10 keyword searches per day

Serpstat has a wide array of features you can use for your SEO and PPC campaigns.

how to make a keyword research tool

Good For: Analyzing both Google and Amazon keywords

Best Feature: Ability to bulk upload up to 10,000 keywords

Free Plan: Free 7-day trial of any of the paid plans

The Sistrix “Toolbox” contains a simple keyword research tool. It enables you to retrieve volume data for keywords across search engines and Amazon. All you need to do is sign up for a free trial and log in.

7. Mangools

Mangools

Good For: Getting a wide variety of data about keywords

Best Feature: Keyword “Trend” data column

Free Plan: 5 keyword searches per day, 25 keyword suggestions, 50 daily tracked keywords

In terms of free keyword research tools, Mangools is pretty competitive with what it provides as part of its free plan and trials. Still, in its head-to-head with Semrush in the previously mentioned study, Semrush’s search volume data was closer to the GSC reference data (61.46% of the time) than Mangools’ data (38.54% of the time).

Which is the Best Keyword Research Tool?

Based on the results of Semrush’s study and my own experience, Semrush is (by some distance) the best keyword research tool available. Its user interface is intuitive and enjoyable to use, and it can’t be beaten when it comes to its search volume data accuracy, the size of its database, and its trending terms precision.

How do you use Semrush to access search volume data?

Well, there are several different features for this. To begin with, let’s take a look at the Keyword Magic Tool.

First, sign up for a Semrush account , and then log in. Click “Keyword Magic Tool” at the left of the page.

Semrush – Keyword Magic Tool

Type in a keyword and click “Search”.

Keyword Magic Tool – Search – Running shoes

You’ll see a list containing your keyword and other related keywords. The “Volume” column tells you the average monthly search volume for each term, and the “KD %” column gives a score out of 100 to each term, indicating how hard it would be to rank for it.

You can see that the volume for “running shoes” is really high and the keyword difficulty percentage is 95, meaning it would be incredibly hard to rank for this term.

Keyword Magic Tool – Running shoes

The long-tail keyword “white running shoes” has a lower difficulty score of 27 and has a relatively high search volume, so that will be a good keyword to target instead.

White running shoes – Volume and KD

Next up, let’s check out Semrush’s “Keyword Overview” tool. You can then enter up to 100 keywords, and choose your location.

how to make a keyword research tool

On the next page, you’ll see the search volume for your location and the keyword difficulty percentage. You’ll also see the volume for other locations.

Keyword Overview – Expensive watches

Now, let’s take a look at the Keyword Gap tool, which allows you to compare your keyword profile with your competitors’.

Enter your domain and up to four competing domains, and click “Compare”.

Semrush – Keyword Gap

On the next page, scroll down to view a table of keywords you share with your competitors. You’ll see the search volume for each term and the search engine rankings that you and your competitors occupy for these terms.

Keyword Gap – Results

This allows you to benchmark the performance of your keywords against your competitors. You can also identify how search volume correlates to your search engine rankings.

The variety of tools on offer is just one of the reasons why we think Semrush is the best keyword research tool around.

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COMMENTS

  1. Keyword Research: The Beginner's Guide by Ahrefs

    1. Brainstorm "seed" keywords. Seed keywords are the starting point of your keyword research process. They define your niche and help you identify your competitors. Every keyword research tool asks for a seed keyword, which it then uses to generate a huge list of keyword ideas (more on that shortly).

  2. How to Use Google Keyword Planner [New Guide]

    Step #1: Access the Google Keyword Planner. Step #2: Choose Your Tool. Step #3: Filter and Sort the Results. Step #4: Analyze the Keyword Ideas Section. Step #5: Choose a Keyword. Bonus Step #1: Get Exact Keyword Search Volume Data. Bonus Step #2: The GKP Hack. Brian's Tip. Try the FREE Backlinko Keyword Research Tool.

  3. Free Keyword Research Tool

    Moz's Keyword Explorer neatly ties together keyword research metrics and makes complex analysis easy so we can spend less time in spreadsheets and more time generating qualified website traffic. The World's most accurate SEO keyword research tool with over 1.25 billion traffic-driving keywords. Full keyword analysis with Ranking Keywords ...

  4. Free Keyword Generator Tool: Find 100+ Keyword Ideas in Seconds

    Discover keyword ideas, all day long. Find relevant keywords from our database of over 8 billion queries. Just enter up to ten words or phrases and choose from one of six keyword ideas reports. Fill your content calendar for weeks, months, or even years in minutes. Keywords that contain your seed in the order it's written.

  5. How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner's Guide

    Here's how: Step 1. Use Google Keyword Planner to cut down your keyword list. In Google's Keyword Planner, you can get search volume and traffic estimates for keywords you're considering. Then, take the information you learn from Keyword Planner and use Google Trends to fill in some blanks.

  6. 19 BEST Keyword Research Tools for SEO [2024 Reviews]

    Brian's Bottom Line. One of the best overall keyword research tools on the market. Worth a try. 11. Moz Keyword Explorer. Find keywords that will generate the most traffic. Moz's Keyword Explorer does an awesome job of finding "lateral" keyword ideas. For example, take a seed keyword like "weight loss".

  7. Keyword Research for SEO: The Definitive Guide + Template

    GSC Keyword Research. The Google Search Console is a goldmine of keyword ideas. Here's how it works: First, login to your GSC account and head over to the "Performance Report". This report shows you the terms that bring in the most clicks from Google search. Then, sort the list by "Impressions".

  8. The 9 Best Free Keyword Research Tools

    The best free keyword research tools. Keyword Generator for finding popular keyword ideas. Answer The Public for finding keywords phrased as questions. ChatGPT for finding seed keyword ideas. Ahrefs Webmaster Tools for finding low-hanging keyword opportunities. Google Keyword Planner for finding related keywords.

  9. Fundamentals of Keyword Research

    A New Way to Do Keyword Research: This article and video walk you through another way to complete keyword research. SEO Unlocked: Keyword Research Part 1: In this video, I walk you through the basics of keyword research. SEO Unlocked: Keyword Research Part 2: This is the continuation of my keyword research walk-through videos.

  10. The 4 best free keyword research tools

    The best free keyword research tools at a glance. Best for. Stand-out feature. Free plan. Moz Keyword Explorer. An all-around solution. "Priority" score for determining valuable keywords. 10 queries per tool per month, with 1,000 keyword suggestions and 10 SERP analyses per query. Google Keyword Planner.

  11. Ubersuggest: Free Keyword Research Tool

    From head terms to long-tail phrases you'll get hundreds of suggestions from our free keyword research tool. You'll also see volume, the competition, and even seasonal trends for each keyword with the help of website analytics. To make things a bit easier we generate a list of keywords for you based on what is working for your competitors ...

  12. Keyword Research: 8 KEY Steps to Find the Best SEO Keywords

    Step 4: Create a list of seed keywords. Now that you've broken down your main category to different buckets of sub-topics, you can start creating a list of seed keywords. These keywords need to be related to your various topics, and more importantly, are terms that your target audience might be searching on Google.

  13. Find Your Campaign Keywords with Keyword Planner

    Google Ads Mobile App. Stay connected to your campaigns on the go, monitor your campaigns in real-time, and take quick action to improve performance. Learn more. Get your ads to the right customers with Google's Keyword Planner. Discover how to do keyword research and find the right keywords for your campaign.

  14. Free Keyword Tool

    WordStream's free keyword research tool is intended as a complementary tool to Google's keyword planner. Both tools allow you to search for keywords to add directly to your account. One advantage WordStream's keyword search tool has over Keyword Planner is the inclusion of concrete search volumes, rather than search volume ranges.

  15. How To Do Keyword Research (+ Tips and Tools)

    1. Brainstorm potential keywords. The first step to keyword research is brainstorming a list of possible keywords. These keywords can be as broad as you want and include anything that relates to your industry, products, or services. A bike shop in Harrisburg might use keywords like, "bike shop," "bike rack," "bike seats," or any ...

  16. How to Use Semrush for Keyword Research

    Keyword Research Basics. The Semrush toolkit offers you several ways to gather the best keywords; good basics never fail, and traditional keyword research is where you should start. Steps to take: Get a Quick Analysis. Build a Main Keyword List. Find Your Competitive Edge.

  17. 17 Best Keyword Research Tools (& How To Use Them)

    Keyword analysis by search volume. Question format keywords. Predictive keyword metrics. Moz Keyword Explorer is one of the best free keyword research tools. With this tool, you can access up to 1.25 billion keywords, according to Moz. This tool is a simple, straightforward option for keyword research that only requires a free account.

  18. WPBeginner Keyword Generator Tool

    Free Tools. Business Name Generator Get business name ideas for your new website or project.; WordPress Theme Detector Free tool that helps you see which theme a specific WordPress site is using.; Free Keyword Generator Keyword research easy. Get 300+ keyword ideas about your topic from Google. 27+ Free Business Tools See all other free small business tools our team has created.

  19. 10 best keyword research tools

    Let's get the most obvious option out of the way first. Google's own Keyword Planner provides a fairly easy to understand approach to keyword research. Simply type in the keyword or phrase you want information on, and boom: You'll see the average monthly searches for your keyword, the competition of others using this keyword, and both the low to high "top of page" bid prices, giving ...

  20. Free Keyword Research Tool by Backlinko

    To begin with, let's take a look at the Keyword Magic Tool. First, sign up for a Semrush account, and then log in. Click "Keyword Magic Tool" at the left of the page. Type in a keyword and click "Search". You'll see a list containing your keyword and other related keywords.

  21. How to Do Keyword Research (Get 584,958+ Readers) in 2024

    2. RightBlogger 's Free Keyword Tool. RightBlogger is my all-in-one suite of 65+ powerful tools for content creators, bloggers, and entrepreneurs to create great content, faster. Inside RightBlogger, we've got AI-powered content tools for improving your research, creation, optimization, and promotion.

  22. Free Keyword Research Tool (AI-Powered) SEO Keyword Ideas

    This free keyword research tool functions by typing in a main keyword or phrase, then it generates a list of related keywords and their search volumes, competition levels and (soon) a rankability score. This data will help you identify the most effective keywords to use in your content & guide in optimizing your blog posts for search engines.

  23. Free Keyword Research Tool from Wordtracker

    The Google keyword research tool is the 'Keyword Planner'. It's designed for Adwords and not SEO, so competition and other metrics are given only for paid search. Numbers are scaled from a sample, and similar keywords are grouped together. Instead, use a tool built for keyword research. Actual (not grouped) keywords. Actual (not banded) results.

  24. 7 Best Free Keyword Research Tools » Rank Math

    A keyword research tool, whether free or paid, is software designed to offer essential keyword metrics such as search volume, competitiveness, and cost-per-click (CPC). It assists businesses in pinpointing the most important keywords for reaching their target audience effectively. Keyword research tools also help streamline your SEO strategy in ...

  25. How to Do Keyword Mapping for SEO (+Free Template)

    Using your favorite keyword research tool, you do a little searching and see that the keyword "metal roof cost" has really strong volume (9.9K), and a moderate level of competition (57). That's great, and you're all set to write your blog post.

  26. The technical-reasoning network is recruited when people ...

    Cumulative technological culture is defined as the increase in efficiency and complexity of tools and techniques over generations. While the role of social cognitive skills in cultural transmission has been long acknowledged, recent accounts have emphasized that non-social cognitive skills such as technical reasoning, a form of causal reasoning aimed at understanding the physical world, are ...