If you want to find the right keywords to get relevant organic traffic to your website, you need to use the best keyword research tools.
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at 10 paid and free keyword tools to help you perform effective keyword research.
Semrush has the largest keyword database on the market. This includes more than 23 billion keywords in more than 140 international databases.
It offers an ecosystem of keyword research tools that integrate with each other to create a seamless keyword research workflow.
Pro tip: If you create a free account, you can make 10 queries per day. Including Domain and Keyword analytics queries.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most important keyword research tools by Semrush:
Keyword Overview provides a detailed overview of any keyword in the Semrush database. It’s the default top-level report that opens whenever you click a specific keyword from any Semrush tool.
The report consists of three main sections.
The first one gives you a quick but comprehensive overview of key metrics, like:
- Volume: The average number of monthly searches (and metrics like “Global volume” and search volume “Trend”)
- Keyword Difficulty: The estimation of how hard it is to rank in the top 10 organic results (on a scale from 1 to 100)
- Intent: The search intent (or the “why”) behind the keyword
Here’s a look at some of the key metrics in the first section:
The second section will give you a quick overview of other relevant keywords. Including Keyword Variations, Questions, and Related Keywords:
Finally, the “SERP Analysis” section shows you the top-ranking pages for the analyzed keyword. It also includes useful metrics like the number of referring domains and estimated organic traffic.
Here’s what it looks like in the tool:
Keyword Magic Tool
Like most SEO keyword research tools, the Keyword Magic Tool starts with a seed keyword. A seed keyword is a word or short phrase representing your main topic.
Type your seed keyword into the search bar and select your preferred location database to generate thousands of suggestions (5.7K in the case of this example):.
Want to narrow down your search? No problem. You can filter by the following:
- Broad, Exact, Phrase, and Related Match keywords
- Search Volume
- Keyword Difficulty
- Search Intent
Select the options you’re interested in, and your search will automatically narrow according to your new criteria. You can even narrow your results by including popular or high-volume words and phrases.
Pro tip: Read our detailed keyword research guide to learn how to find the best keywords with Keyword Magic Tool and other Semrush keyword tools.
The Keyword Gap tool is an SEO competitor analysis tool offering side-by-side comparisons of keywords.
It shows how many keywords you share with your rivals, as well as keywords they rank for that you’re missing out on.
First, enter your domain and up to four domains of your competitors.
To the right, the “Keyword Overlap” section shows you the relative size of each domain’s keyword profile and how much they overlap.
Below, you can analyze a comprehensive report of your current keyword profile versus the competition.
Focus on the “Missing” and “Weak” tabs to find keywords you haven’t targeted yet or those you could perform better for.
Click on keywords you like to learn more about them or send them to your Keyword Manager list to reference later.
Price: Besides the free version, you can upgrade to a Pro account for $119.95 per month. You’ll get access to a full toolset of more than 55 SEO and online marketing tools. Including our keyword research tools.
You can find a breakdown of all the subscription levels on the Semrush pricing page.
2. Google Trends
Google Trends is a free keyword tool that lets you analyze real-time and historical search trends. You can see what’s trending in regions across the globe based on sampled data and Google search queries.
Why we like it: Content ideation and planning, audience insights, building seasonal ad campaigns, and more.
Google Trends also helps you spot new trends and know when interest in them is waning.
How it works: You can use Google Trends to search for specific data or to explore more general topics and get new ideas.
Just enter your topic into the search bar and start researching.
Google Trends is one of the best free keyword research tools because it also compares keywords directly.
To compare topics, click “+ Compare” to view multiple related keywords simultaneously.
This helps you analyze audience interest in related topics. And how that interest varies over time in different regions.
Use this data to decide what to focus on in your content and even for competitive analysis.
With “Related queries,” you can generate new ideas related to your target keywords relevant to the region you want to target. This generates new ideas for your content and marketing plan and helps provide direction for your keyword research.
You can also analyze and compare interest in a topic by country. You could use this to find new audiences worldwide or make sure you’re creating content relevant to your target region.
Price: Google Trends is completely free.
Rather than focusing on keywords, QuestionDB shows you the questions people ask on websites and forums like Reddit and Stack Exchange.
Why we like it: This tool is helpful for content ideation. Its huge database of questions gives you more specific insight into what your audience really wants to know. You can use this insight to create more useful content that answers those questions.
How it works: QuestionDB provides important context about how your target audience interacts with your selected keywords and the types of things they want to learn about them.
First, come up with a list of related seed keywords you want to target.
Then enter one of them into QuestionDB. Ensure keywords are pretty broad because the tool will return a list of more specific questions related to that overall topic.
For example, here are a few results for the seed keyword “content creation”:
Repeat this process for the rest of your list to generate even more content ideas for your blog.
If you want to learn more about a question, you can click through to the source to read the original conversation, potentially generating even more ideas.
You can also see related topics at the top before your results:
Price: Free users can view the first 50 results for their searches.
The Pro plan is $15 per month and offers unlimited searches with unlimited results.
AlsoAsked is a tool that aggregates Google’s “People Also Ask” (PAA) data so you can analyze it to inform your strategy.
The PAA box is a gold mine for related topics and questions surrounding your keyword of choice.
How it works: AlsoAsked shows you the PAA questions sparked by your seed keyword. And displays them on a branching diagram that illustrates the relationship between these related questions.
For example, here are the questions AlsoAsked finds if you search “content creation” in the United States:
Searching for “content creation” generates four primary questions:
- What are examples of content creation?
- What does a content creator do?
- How do I start content creating?
- What skills are needed for content creation?
These questions also spark their own PAA results. These new questions display on additional branches. If you click on one of them, you can view a new diagram starting from that point.
This doesn’t just show you many topics you could cover. It also shows you the relationships between these questions. Which can help you structure your articles.
This way, you’re covering all the most important questions in the order they’re likely to be asked.
You can also export this data as a CSV or image to use in analysis or presentations.
Price: A free account allows you to perform 10 searches every month. The paid plans start at $15 per month and gives you 100 searches.
5. Keyword Surfer
Keyword Surfer is a free keyword research tool in the form of a Google Chrome extension. It allows you to see keyword suggestions directly in the SERP (search engine results page).
Why we like it: Keyword Surfer allows you to enrich your SERP results with useful data about the ranking pages. And quickly find new keyword opportunities based on your search query.
How it works: Upon installation, the tool will automatically show keyword suggestions in a panel on the right side of the SERP.
It shows related keywords, their overlap with the original search query (the percentage of search results shared with the original search query), and their search volume.
Here’s what it looks like in Chrome:
You can save the keywords to a dashboard called “Collection” and download them as a CSV file.
Besides the keyword ideas, it also shows useful information about every search result.
- Estimated monthly traffic
- Number of words
- How many times the exact search phrase appears on a page
- A “Title Changed” badge in case Google has changed the title tag link
Price: Keyword Surfer is completely free.
AnswerThePublic is a keyword research tool that aggregates Google and Bing autocomplete suggestions from 191 countries and helps you find long-tail keywords related to a topic. It does this by creating word clouds that visually group related queries.
Why we like it: AnswerThePublic is useful for content ideation. Its word clouds help you anticipate more specific questions and search phrases your audience might use. Which you might otherwise have missed.
You can use it to generate ideas for more relevant content.
How it works: Enter a seed keyword for the topic you want to write about and select your preferred database.
In this example, we’ll continue to use “content creation” and look at search data from the United States.
Then, AnswerThePublic will show us all the queries it finds related to “content creation,” grouped into thematic word clouds.
Here’s the word cloud for questions about content creation.
Because this cloud depicts questions, the search terms are grouped by question words and sorted by popularity. The search terms marked with a darker shade of green were more popular when the report was run.
However, this doesn’t always reflect higher search volume or more results overall. Clicking on any search term will direct you to the live search results for that term on Google.
You can also view the same data laid out in lists:
In addition to questions, you can also find:
- Search phrases by a preposition (e.g., “content creation for social media”)
- Comparisons (e.g., “content creation vs. marketing”)
- Alphabeticals (keywords sorted alphabetically by the word following “content creation”). For example, “content creation apps” would be grouped under “A.”)
- Related searches
Price: You can use AnswerThePublic for free, but the number of searches you can run is limited.
Their paid plans start at $99 per month and include unlimited searches, data comparison over time, or Search Listening Alerts (track a keyword over time and spot new questions, topics, and search phrases).
TubeBuddy is a browser extension that helps YouTube creators optimize, publish, promote, and grow their channels.
This suite of tools includes Keyword Explorer, which helps creators find long-tail keywords and trending topics from YouTube and Google Trends.
Why we like it: You can perform YouTube-specific keyword research via Keyword Explorer. Beyond that, you can use their templates, split testing, and other tools to help you test and apply your new keywords to your channel.
How it works: TubeBuddy Keyword Explorer is inside the browser extension and app once you’ve granted it access to your YouTube channel.
To use it, enter a keyword or topic you’re interested in, and click “Explore.”
In the “Summary” tab, you’ll find a score for that keyword. This score considers the amount of competition you have and how well-optimized the top-ranking videos are.
You can also access weighted scores specific to your channel with a paid account.
Here, you’ll also find a breakdown of interest over time in that topic on YouTube and Google, as well as related video topics and tags.
The “Results” tab provides a snapshot of the current YouTube results for that keyword, including the top-ranking videos and channels. You could use this for competitive research.
If you click through to watch one of those videos, you’ll find a “Videolytics” panel. It shows performance data, SEO, best practices, and even video tags:
Price: With a free account, you can access the top three results per search in Keyword Explorer and perform 25 searches per day. Additionally, you won’t have access to some channel-specific data like weighted keyword scores.
There are multiple paid tiers (including an enterprise option), but the most popular is the Star account for $11.99 per month.
Keyword Tool uses autocomplete data from various search engines and sites—including Google, Bing, YouTube, Amazon, Instagram, eBay, and the Play Store—to help you find and target long-tail keywords, products, and hashtags.
Why we like it: Keyword Tool focuses on long-tail keywords not visible in Google’s Keyword Planner.
How it works: First, select the search engine and country you want to view data from. Then enter your seed keyword.
The Keyword Tool will generate a list of autocomplete suggestions, questions, and prepositions from your selected search engine.
Select all the keywords you want to target and click “Export” to download them to a CSV or Excel file.
Price: You can use the free version of Keyword Tool without even creating an account. The free tool generates up to 750 suggestions for each seed keyword searched.
Pro accounts start at $69 per month.
9. Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is part of the online advertising platform Google Ads. It enables users to research keywords and place bids on them to show ads in search results, mobile apps, websites, and online videos.
Why we like it: Because it’s primarily an ad platform, Keyword Planner focuses more on pay-per-click (PPC) data than organic search data. So while it’s useful for any digital marketer or SEO specialist, the tool is most valuable for those involved with paid advertising.
How it works: To access Keyword Planner, you’ll need a Google Ads account. If you’re not sure how to set that up, you can find instructions in our blog post on using Google Keyword Planner.
You can use Keyword Planner to do two things:
- To find new keywords
- To find historical data about keywords you already know about
To find new keywords, click “Discover new keywords.” Then either enter a seed keyword or select “Start with a website” and enter your domain or a competitor’s.
Then refine your results by including or excluding branded keywords or broaden your search using Keyword Planner’s suggestions. You can also filter by competition, ad or organic impression share, top-of-page bid, and more.
Then, add your selected keywords to a new or existing ad campaign. Or export your keyword ideas to a CSV file or Google Sheets.
To find search volume data for a list of keywords, you can first click “Get search volume and forecasts.” Then either type, copy and paste, or upload your list of keywords.
Here, you’ll find historical and forecast data for your batch of keywords. You can use this to track keywords you’re already targeting and pivot your strategy accordingly.
How much it costs: While Keyword Planner is technically free, you can only access it via a Google Ads account (which asks for billing information).
It’s best to access this tool using an account that spends money on Google Ads, as this can help you access better data.
Soovle is a free keyword research tool and customizable search engine aggregator that collects search suggestions across up to 15 different engines. Including Google, Bing, Wikipedia, Amazon, eBay, YouTube, and more.
Why we like it: You can quickly compare related search suggestions across many different search platforms and find new long-tail keywords to target.
How it works: Soovle displays the top suggested searches related to your seed keyword across each search platform.
Use the search bar in the center of the screen to enter your seed keyword. The suggestions will automatically populate over their respective search engine logos.
You can use your left and right arrow keys to toggle through each search engine and click on any suggestion to view its live search results page.
To save a suggestion for reference later, drag it to the book icon in the top left corner.
Price: Soovle is completely free.
Want to test out some options before committing to the best keyword research tools for your business? Sign up for a free trial of Semrush today.
And to learn more about the keyword research process, here’s what you should read next: