12 Best Keyword Research Tools For SEO In 2024 (Free + Paid)

Best Keyword Research Tools For SEO

Looking for the best keyword research tools? You’re in the right place.

Targeting the right keywords will give you the best chance of ranking on Google and driving organic search traffic to your website, which is why all good SEO strategies start with careful keyword research. 

Below, we’re comparing the best tools you can use to discover juicy, high-volume, low-competition keywords that your competitors don’t know about. And to help you get started, we’ve also explained how to use each of them effectively.

The best keyword research tools – comparison

TL;DR:

  1. SE Ranking – Best overall.
  2. Mangools – Best for beginners.
  3. Semrush – Best for SMBs, agencies, and in-house teams.

#1 – SE Ranking

SE Ranking is our top pick. It gives you several useful keyword research tools in one platform and has one of the largest keyword databases on the market. It’s also better value for money than any other tool we’ve tested.

Se Ranking Homepage

As an all-in-one platform, SE Ranking comes with a lot of different tools to help with your SEO efforts. But the ones that are most useful for keyword research are the keyword research tool, competitive research tool, keyword grouper, and rank tracker.

I like to use the keyword research tool to discover and brainstorm ideas. You just enter one or more seed keywords and hit Analyze. Then, it’ll load up a report with everything you need to know about that keyword (including difficulty, search volume, CPC, etc.) as well as a long list of related and similar keyword ideas. 

To use the Competitive Research tool to find keyword ideas, enter the URL/domain of one of your biggest competitors. Then, scroll down to where it says Organic keywords and open up the report. Here, you’ll find a long list of all the keywords they rank for, and you can browse through to see if there are any you want to compete with them for.

Once you’ve found a bunch of potential keyword ideas with the above tools, you can feed them into SE Ranking’s keyword grouper tool to have them grouped into keyword clusters based on their SERP result similarity. This is useful as it allows you to target several related keywords in one post, rather than creating a separate post for each of them.

As you start creating posts around keywords, you can track your rankings in SE Ranking’s built-in keyword rank tracker. Plus, optimize your posts and pages with other SEO tools like the on-page SEO checker, site auditor, backlink-building tools, etc.

Pros and cons

  • Several keyword research tools in one (rank tracker, competitive research, keyword suggestion tool, etc.)
  • Also comes with other SEO tools
  • Large keyword database
  • Includes all the keyword metrics you need
  • No Chrome extension
  • Bit of a learning curve

Pricing

Plans start from $55/month, save 20% with yearly billing. Get started with a 14-day free trial.

Read our SE Ranking review.

#2 – Mangools

Mangools is another all-in-one platform that comes with a powerful keyword research tool, plus four other useful tools for planning your SEO campaigns.

Mangools Homepage

Mangoons’ keyword research tool is called KWFinder, and it’s super easy to use. You just enter a keyword or domain, and it’ll generate tons of related long-tail keyword ideas with low SEO difficulty for you.

Alongside each keyword, you can see metrics like estimated monthly search volume, average CPC, average competition in PPC, and keyword difficulty (KD). 

Mangools’ KD is the platform’s own proprietary metric, and I’ve found it’s usually very accurate. They calculate it based on the strength of the link profiles of the top-ranking competitors for each keyword on Google.

I also really like that Mangools tells you Trend data for each keyword, so you can see how search volume has changed over time.

Aside from KWFinder, Mangools’ SERPChecker and SERPWatcher tools are also useful for keyword research. 

The SERPChecker analyzes the SERPs (search engine results pages) for any target keyword and provides you with authority metrics for all the top-ranking sites (like DA, PA, CF, TF, etc.) so you can easily assess the competition.

And SERPWatcher is basically a keyword rank-tracking tool. It lets you know when your organic ranking positions for any tracked keywords go up or down.

Pros and cons

  • Very easy to use
  • Search by keyword or domain
  • Five tools in one (KWFinder, SERPChecker, SERPWatcher, SiteProfiler, and LinkMiner)
  • Affordable plans
  • No search intent metric
  • Limited daily keyword lookups

Pricing

Free plan available. Paid plans start from $29/month, and get 35% off with annual billing. 

Read our Mangools review.

#3 – Semrush

Semrush is without a doubt one of the best keyword research tools on the market, but it isn’t cheap. The starting cost is much higher than most competitor platforms, but you get a lot for your money.

Semrush Keyword Research Homepage

As an all-in-one suite, Semrush aims to give SEO professionals everything they could possibly need in one place. All told, there are 40+ tools, and at least six of those are designed to help with keyword research.

My favorite is the Keyword Magic Tool. It can pull up millions of keyword suggestions for you from Semrush’s huge keyword database—the largest keyword database in the world, in fact.

Just enter a seed keyword, choose your target location, and hit enter to generate a report full of thousands of suggestions.

You can organize the suggestions by search volume, keyword difficulty, intent, CPC, or any other metric to quickly find the best opportunities. Plus, filter out keywords that contain certain words and phrases with the Exclude tool, or limit results to keywords with a specific search intent (e.g. transactional, commercial, informational, etc.).

I also love the Keyword Gap tool. It helps you to find gaps in your keyword strategy by directly comparing your site to up to four competitors. Just enter all the domains you want to compare and hit enter to pull up the report.

In the Keyword Gap report, you’ll see a visualization that shows you your keyword overlap. And next to that, an overview of ‘missing’ keywords that your competitors rank for but you don’t. These are likely some of your best keyword opportunities.

Other tools include the Domain Overview tool, which you can use to find an exhaustive list of every keyword a given site ranks for (useful for reverse-engineering your competitor’s strategies), the Keyword Manager (which groups your keywords into clusters automatically), and the Position Tracking tool (which tracks the keyword rankings of your site and your competitors).

Pros and cons

  • Largest keyword database on the market
  • Multiple keyword research tools (plus 40+ other SEO tools) in one
  • Covers all keyword metrics
  • Great for finding the keywords your competitors are ranking for
  • Very expensive
  • The UI is messy as there are so many tools in one dashboard

Pricing

Limited free plan available. Paid plans start from $139.95/month, and save up to 17% with annual billing.

Read our Semrush review.

#4 – Soovle

Soovle is one of the best free keyword research tools available. It pulls autosuggestion data from pretty much every search engine on the web and compiles them all in one place. 

Soovle Homepage

What makes Soovle great is how simple it is. You just open up the site and start typing, and Soovle will list dozens of autocomplete suggestions from Google, YouTube, Bing, Amazon, Yahoo, Wikipedia, and more across the page. These are your keyword ideas.

You can cycle through the suggestions for different channels by clicking the right arrow button on your keypad. And if you’re targeting a search engine that’s not visible on Soovle by default (like Yahoo, Ask, Yandex, or Baidu) click Engines in the top right to add them to the page.

If you see a keyword that you’re interested in targeting, you can drag it to your ‘Saved Suggestions’ in the top left to add it to the list. Then, download your Saved Suggestions later as a CSV file.

You can also click on any keyword in Google to open up the search engine results pages (SERPs) for that keyword and analyze the competition.

Unfortunately, though, Soovle doesn’t provide search volume estimations or keyword difficulty scoring. So, you’re best off using it alongside other tools if you want to get the most out of it.

Pros and cons

  • Completely free
  • Great for gathering keyword ideas from autocomplete suggestions
  • Covers multiple search engines (Google, YouTube, Bing, etc.)
  • Easy to use
  • No keyword metrics (no search volume estimations or KD)
  • Relies solely on autocomplete data

Pricing

Soovle is completely free to use.

#5 – Keyword Tool 

Keyword Tool is another simple but powerful tool that uses autocomplete data to generate keyword ideas.

Keyword Tool Keywords Homepage

It works like this. First, you load up the website and choose the search engine you want to pull autocomplete suggestions from.

If you’re trying to come up with keyword ideas for blog posts, you’re probably going to want to choose Google or Bing, for example. If you’re looking for product keywords, you might use Amazon or eBay. And if you’re making videos, you might use YouTube or TikTok.

Then, you enter a seed keyword (a broad keyword related to your niche) and choose the locations you want to pull suggestions from. If you’re not doing local SEO and don’t want to target a specific region, just select Global/Worldwide.

Finally, hit Search. Keyword Tool will serve up a long list of keywords related to your seed keyword, alongside metrics like their monthly search volume, trend data, average CPC, and competition score. You can sort and filter results by any of these metrics.

If you find a keyword you want to target, you can add it to your Keyword Basket, and export your ideas to a CSV file or copy them to your clipboard.

Pros and cons

  • Generate hundreds of keyword ideas in seconds
  • Localized autocomplete suggestions
  • Includes keyword search volume and competition metrics
  • Easy to use
  • Relies solely on autocomplete data
  • A bit expensive

Pricing

Plans start from $89/month, and you can save 20% with annual billing. Try it out for free.

#6 – Serpstat

Serpstat is another all-in-one platform with a huge keyword database. It comes with several tools including keyword research and keyword clustering.

Serpstat Keyword Research Tool Homepage

With the keyword research tool, you can analyze any keyword (or a big batch of multiple keywords) in a couple of clicks, to see things like their search volume and competition. Plus, explore how interest in the keyword has evolved over time with Keyword trend data.

You can also use it to generate related organic and paid keyword ideas, and to find out who the biggest competitors in organic search are for any target keyword.

If you find a keyword you’re interested in targeting, you can add it to Serpstat’s rank tracker in a couple of clicks to get daily SERP updates on the competition.

Other tools you get with Serpstat include domain analysis, backlink analysis, site auditing, and an AI content generator.

Pros and cons

  • Generate thousands of keyword ideas in seconds
  • Analyze multiple keywords at once
  • View all the important keyword metrics plus historical trend data
  • Access other SEO tools including keyword rank tracking, backlink analysis, etc.
  • Daily query limits
  • Too many features can make the UI confusing for new users

Pricing

Plans start from $59/month, and discounts are available with yearly billing. Get started with a 7-day free trial.

#7 – QuestionDB

QuestionDB is a great tool for finding question-related keywords. It’s super easy to use: Just enter a broad seed keyword and QuestionDB will generate a report with dozens of question searches related to that keyword, alongside volume and difficulty metrics.

QueestionDB Homepage

Unlike a lot of other keyword research tools, QuestionDB doesn’t just rely on one source for its data. It sources keyword ideas from multiple sources in real time, including search engines and social media.

And because of that, it’s capable of coming up with keyword ideas that other tools often miss. In particular, it does a great job of finding super-long-string keyword ideas (7+ words), whereas you almost never get keyword suggestions that long in other tools.

Alongside each keyword idea, QuestionDB shows you the estimated monthly search volume and difficulty score. The data for these metrics comes from DataForSEO, which is one of the leading SEO database APIs, so they tend to be fairly accurate.

Pros and cons

  • Uses multiple sources for keyword suggestions
  • Finds lots of keywords that other tools miss
  • Includes keyword and difficulty metrics
  • Easy to use
  • Some of the keyword suggestions it generates are too long and ungrammatical
  • Daily search limits on all plans

Pricing

Free plan available. Paid plans start from $15/month, and get 2 months free with annual billing.

#8 – Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is Google’s native keyword research tool. It’s free to use, which is great, but it’s built more for advertisers than SEOs, and it has a few major drawbacks.

Google Ads Homepage

There are two ways to use Keyword Planner: To discover new keyword ideas and to get keyword search volumes and forecasts.

To discover new keywords, you either enter a niche-relevant seed keyword or a website URL, then select the locations you want to target, and hit Get results.

On the results page, you’ll see hundreds (if not thousands) of related keyword ideas, alongside important metrics like average monthly search volume, competition rating (low, medium, or high), bidding range, YoY change, and more.

Alternatively, you can enter a list of the keywords you want to analyze, separated by commas, and hit search to view their estimated monthly search volume, as well as other historical metrics, and forecasts for how they could perform.

All good so far, but…

My biggest issue with Google Keyword Planner is that it’s way too vague in its search volume estimations.

Instead of giving you a precise estimation like most third-party keyword research tools do, it only gives you a range. For example, 1k-10k monthly searches or 10k-100k monthly searches. This might be all you need to know if you’re running ads, but for SEOs, it’s usually not accurate enough.

The other big problem with Keyword Planner is the UI. It’s frustrating to work with, and it’s even a hassle to sign up as you need to create a Google Ads account and set up your first ad campaign before you can get access to it.

Pros and cons

  • Keyword data comes straight from Google (so you know it’s accurate)
  • Generates hundreds of keyword ideas in seconds
  • Completely free to use
  • Great for finding PPC keywords for Google Ads campaigns
  • Doesn’t provide exact monthly search volume estimations (only an estimated range)
  • Frustrating user interface (UI)

Pricing

Google Keyword Planner is free to use.

#9 – Google Search Console 

Google Search Console isn’t a keyword research tool in the traditional sense. However, it’s great for finding hidden keyword opportunities within your existing content.

Google Search Console Homepage

Here’s the best way to use Google Search Console for keyword research:

First, open it up and go to your website Performance report. Then, scroll down to where it says Queries. 

Here, you should see all the Google searches that are sending traffic to your website, alongside the number of clicks each query generates, and your average ranking position for them.

A lot of the time, you’ll see a bunch of queries here that you didn’t originally optimize the page/post around and that you aren’t ranking in position 1 for, but that are nonetheless driving the bulk of your traffic. These are the ‘real’ target keywords for your content.

So what you do then is go back into your content and make sure it’s as optimized as possible for those keywords. That’ll give you a better chance of ranking even higher for the keywords you now know are already driving traffic.

Of course, Google Search Console is only valuable if you already have some traffic coming in, so it’s best used alongside other tools. Traditional keyword research tools will give you a starting point, then Google Search Console will confirm exactly which keyword to optimize for.

Bonus tip: Use these content optimization tools to re-optimize your existing content around the keywords you identify in Google Search Console.

Pros and cons

  • Completely free
  • Can find ‘hidden’ keyword ideas in your content
  • Find your ‘true’ best keywords based on existing traffic
  • Accurate and reliable
  • Doesn’t include search volume or difficulty estimations
  • Requires you to have a website with traffic to be useful

Pricing

Google Search Console is free to use.

#10 – AnswerThePublic

AnswerThePublic is one of the most interesting keyword research tools out there. 

Answer The Public Homepage

All you have to do is enter a seed keyword, and it’ll display circular graphs that show you every related question and search query to that keyword imaginable, based on autocomplete data from Google, YouTube, or Bing.

My favorite way to use AnswerThePublic is to find question keywords to flesh out my blog posts with.

For example, let’s say I’m writing a post about ‘SEO tools’, and I want to add an FAQ section to the post so that I can make sure I’m covering all aspects of the topic (and give the post a better chance of ranking for closely-related keywords).

In that case, I’d enter the keyword ‘SEO tools’ into AnswerThePublic

and scroll down to the ‘Questions’ visualization. Here, I’ll be able to see at a glance every question that search users have asked about ‘SEO tools’. 

Question keywords are grouped together based on the word that the query starts with (e.g. what, who, why, are, can, which, etc.) and displayed alongside their monthly search volume and CPC, which makes it easy to find the most valuable opportunities.

Underneath the Questions chart, other circular charts show you related Preposition and Comparison keywords. Again, these are grouped together based on the words they include (e.g. to, with, without, for, versus, etc.). You can find some fantastic long-string keyword opportunities in these charts.

You get 3 daily free searches with AnswerThePublic, which is great if you just want to test it out. And if you want to use it more frequently, you can upgrade to the Individual plan to get 100 searches a day, or the Pro plan for unlimited searches.

Pros and cons

  • Unique user interface
  • Perfect for finding question keywords
  • Displays keyword suggestions in easy-to-read visualization
  • Analyze keywords with monthly search volume and CPC metrics
  • No keyword difficulty scoring
  • Daily keyword search limits on Free and Individual plans

Pricing

Free plan available. Paid plans start from $9/month, and you can save by signing up for a lifetime plan.

#11 – Moz Keyword Explorer

Keyword Explorer is a powerful keyword research tool from Moz. You can use it to generate ideas from Moz’s huge database of over 1.25 billion keywords.

Moz Homepage

It works like any other keyword research tool. Just enter a term/phrase or URL, choose a location, and hit search to load up a keyword report.

In the report, you’ll find tons of keyword suggestions alongside their monthly search volume. And you can click on any keyword to analyze it in more detail.

Moz provides the usual difficulty and volume metrics, plus a couple of really useful metrics I haven’t seen anywhere else.

One is the Organic CTR score, which tells you the percentage of clicks for that keyword that go to organic results, rather than paid ads.

Another is the Priority score, which combines other metrics to determine how valuable a keyword is overall.

Note that you’ll need to sign up for a Moz account to get started. Free users can conduct 10 free keyword research queries per day, but you’ll have to upgrade to Moz Pro for more. Upgrading to Pro also gives you access to a bunch of other useful SEO tools including rank tracking.

Pros and cons

  • Includes some unique keyword metrics
  • Huge keyword database
  • Generate hundreds of keyword ideas in seconds
  • Analyze keywords individually or in bulk
  • A little pricey

Pricing

Free plan available. Plans start from $69/month, save 40% with yearly billing.

#12 – Google Trends

Google Trends is a hugely underrated tool for keyword research. You can use it to find hot new keywords that your competitors don’t know about and analyze whether a given keyword’s search volume is trending up or down.

Google Trends Homepage

Unlike most other keyword research tools, Google Trends doesn’t provide you with monthly search volume estimations, so it’s best used alongside other keyword research tools.

The way I like to use it is this: First, I enter a seed keyword that’s relevant to my niche. For example, for Blogging Wizard, I might enter something like ‘SEO tools’.

Then, I’ll change the settings to ‘United States’ and ‘Past 12 months’, and then scroll down to the ‘Related queries’ tab at the bottom.

Here, Google Trends will show me ‘breakout’ keywords related to my seed keyword (i.e. ‘SEO tools’) that have been trending in the US over the last year (e.g. ‘AI tools for SEO’)

The keywords Google Trends serves up here have all seen significant growth in monthly search volume, so they’re probably going to be good terms to target.

But to make sure, I’ll grab those I’m interested in, then feed them into another keyword research tool like SE Ranking to check their monthly search volume and competition difficulty.

That’s how you use Google Trends to discover new keywords, but you can also use it to validate keywords that you’re already thinking about targeting. 

To do so, just enter them into the search tool and then look at the ‘Interest over time’ graph. It should tell you whether search volume has been increasing or decreasing over time. If it’s increasing, that’s a good sign. If it’s decreasing, it’s not so good.

Pros and cons

  • Find trending keyword ideas
  • Discover whether a keyword’s search volume is going up or down
  • Easy to use
  • Completely free
  • No estimated monthly search volume 
  • No keyword difficulty scoring

Pricing

Google Trends is free to use

Final thoughts

There you have it—12 of the best tools to help you find and analyze keywords.

To figure out which one is best for you, you’ll need to weigh up factors like the keyword metrics each tool provides, the size of their database, and any other SEO features they come with.

And remember: You don’t have to limit yourself to just one. There’s no reason you can’t use multiple keyword research tools in tandem. 

In fact, that’s often the best way to make sure you’ve covered all angles and find the really juicy keywords that your competitors have missed.

For more tools that can help you with your SEO efforts, check out our roundups of content writing tools, Ahrefs alternatives, and SEO reporting tools. And to learn more about the state of SEO this year, check out these statistics.


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