The 9 Best Keyword Research Tools


Keyword Research Guide

Doing great keyword research is like being a fisherman. Reeling in the big profits takes knowledge, a Speedo, and a thermos.

Whether you like it or not, keyword research is at the core of pay-per-click marketing and SEO practices. If you aren’t bidding or using the right keywords, short- or long-tail, then you could be selling yourself short on your potential success.

And wouldn’t you rather reel in a big whale shark instead of a few sardines? (You can obviously tell I don’t know my fish very well.)

See, doing good keyword research is like being a seasoned fisherman, casting his net at the right place, at the right time. So whether you’re looking to patch up the holes in your current keyword selection net, or expand the size of it, consider this article a potential algal bloom of profits.

By now you should know that the Google AdWords Keyword Tool is no longer available – Google has folded the tool into Keyword Planner, a combination of the old keyword tool and the Traffic Estimator. Now, you need an AdWords account to get keyword suggestions from Google. But Google is far from the only keyword game in town.

In this article, we’ll look at my nine favorite keyword research tools, plus some fancy tricks you can use to get a wooden peg leg up on your competition. Some are free, and some are not (but well worth the money).

Keyword Research Tools

So without further ado, let’s take you from being like this guy...

Keyword Tools

To this guy.

1.) WordStream’s Keyword Tool (free)

Ahhh yes... Of course I could never forget WordStream’s very own keyword tool for both SEO and PPC keyword research.

The WordStream keyword tool allows you to target certain niches (groups of related keywords), gives you further suggestions, and also allows you to group them based off of a common theme for easy ad group launches.

Best Keyword Research Tools

This keyword research tool gives you 30 searches for free, after that you’ll have to sign up for their WordStream Advisor to use it additionally.

Hidden bonus? You get a free 7-day trial on top of the 30 free searches you already did!

2.) FreshKey ($20 software)

Though not free, FreshKey is my #1 go-to keyword research tool that allows me to see beyond the regular Google Instant suggestions and predictions that appear when I start typing things in on Google.

Not only does it give you new keyword ideas, variations, and synonyms, it also sorts the keywords depending on popularity.


Instead of just getting four new keywords from the Google suggestions drop-down, you can now potentially get an unlimited amount of keywords if you keep adding small letter variations like a, b, c, d, etc. to the end of your keyword root.

Keyword Tools

Best Keyword Tool

FreshKey will even give you ideas of which negative keywords to add before you actually have to pay for them the old-fashioned way by going through your search query report.

You can also use it to get Amazon search box suggestion terms.

You can also export the keyword results as a spreadsheet or copy them directly to your clipboard.

BOOM! You can stop reading the rest of this article now. (JK)

3.) Soovle (free)

If you have multiple channels you wish to do keyword research for and want to sound like an idiot explaining the pronunciation of this tool to your watercooler buddies, then Soovle is a perfect fit.

Soovle allows you to explore the most typed in keywords on multiple search engines based on the keyword root you give it. It even includes Amazon and eBay.

Not only is it a great keyword research tool to use, but it’s also a great brainstormer as you can slowly start typing in your ideas and allow it to auto-generate its own ideas.

I would’ve never thought to call a bounce house an inflatable castle, but now I do :)


4.)  Ubersuggest (free)

Meet the keyword research tool on steroids, Ubersuggest.

Ubersuggest takes any keyword you give it and immediately gives you an almost unlimited list of alphabetized and numerical keyword variations of your original keyword.

You can even take it further by adding “bounce house ab, ac, ad” to uncover more keywords that you could potentially bid on or use for SEO purposes.


5.) Serpstat ( $19 )

Serpstat is an all-in-one SEO platform, and keyword research is one of its functions. This tool has some unique features that can help you optimize your website and get ahead of your competitors’ sites as well.

Unlike similar tools, Serpstat is a page-oriented platform for in-depth competitive analysis. You can find competitors and define missing keywords for a single URL or even entire domains. You can also view historical position data for a range of pages organized by phrase, as well as see which pages have dropped in rank and their rank distribution as a percentage, which is very handy if you want to compare data from two different time periods or observe changes over time based on algorithm updates and other factors.

Serpstat search questions screenshot

Serpstat also allows you to view search questions and suggestions. This data is based on real search queries, meaning you can use this feature to come up with fresh ideas for creating traffic-driving content that people are actually searching for. 

Serpstat has a unique "tree-view" algorithm. You can use it to check your pages’ positions, improve the ones that are just behind the first page, and gain more traffic. 

Serpstat tree view screenshot

This tool has advanced filtering options that allow you to set your own custom parameters and get exactly what you’re looking for. Although Serpstat is primarily intended for SEO, you can research PPC keywords using the tool and content marketers may find the search questions feature quite helpful, making it a solid, cost-effective all-rounder.

6.) Search Term/Query Reports (free-ish)

Now even though you won’t be expanding your keyword net by using search query report mining, you’ll at least be improving your AdWords or Bing Ads account by patching up holes.

One common thing I notice in PPC accounts is the lack of attention and detail in which the account owner or previous agency allows one or a couple of keywords to be the “catch all” for everything. A common example would be to have the keyword +bounce +house or “bounce house” and leave it at that.

The only problem is that you can’t possibly laser-target every ad to the search query, and your landing page will definitely not be as targeted as it could be either. Not even dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) would help, because who wants to click on an ad with the headline of just “Bounce House”? Let’s just say it gets tricky, and you’re a little lazy if that’s all you do.

The search term/query report is a PPC report that shows you what search terms have actually triggered your ads based on the current keywords you’re bidding on. So it won’t expand your reach since your ads are already showing for those terms, but it will help you improve your quality scores and granularity within your account.

Here’s how to access the search term report in Google AdWords:

AdWords Search Queries

Here’s how to access the search query report in Bing Ads:

Bing Keywords

7.) Google Keyword Planner (free)

Duuuhhh...! Of course this is on the list.

The Google Keyword Planner is sometimes regarded as the alpha and omega of keyword research tools. You must have an AdWords account to access it, and that doesn’t mean you have to pay anything to use it, it’s still free.

The Google Keyword Planner will show you some pretty neat stats like average monthly searches, competition level (high, medium, or low), the average cost per click, and more.

It doesn’t give you exact keyword suggestions like FreshKey or Ubersuggest, but it actually takes it a step further and suggests more synonyms and variations than many other tools available.

Is it accurate? Sort of. I always tell people to take the suggested keyword stats with a grain of salt.

Here’s how to find it. Log in in to your AdWords account and go to the Tools and Analysis tab:

AdWords Keywords

Here are some of the keyword results:

Keyword Planner

You can find more great tips for using Keyword Planner here.

8.) Competitor Source Code (free)

This might not be the best and most fruitful keyword research tool but it allows you to see what meta keywords your competitors could be using to try to rank organically.

Since I use Google Chrome as my browser, it’s super simple to right-click on a site and select “View Page Source.”

View Meta Keywords

After that, all you have to do is locate the keywords and read what they’ve got. That’s it!

Two caveats for this method:

  • Your competitors might not be using the best keywords
  • Your competitors might not have meta keywords enabled (since Google doesn’t include meta keyword data in its search algorithm anymore)

9.) AdWords Display Planner (free)

AdWords' Display Planner tool isn't solely a keyword tool, but it does offer a great deal of functionality that could be invaluable to marketers of all stripes.

AdWords Display Planner

The Display Planner tool replaced the YouTube Keyword Tool in 2014, and can be accessed from the Tools section of your AdWords account. Although it's a little more involved than entering a keyword into the YouTube Keyword Tool, the Display Planner offers some great functionality for making the most of Display campaigns, including keyword-driven video ad campaigns on YouTube. The Display Planner also offers precious insights into the demographics and interests of your audiences, allowing you to create highly tailored Display campaigns.

Happy fishing! :)

Find out how you're REALLY doing in AdWords!

Watch the video below on our Free AdWords Grader:

Visit the AdWords Grader.


Jason Chan
Sep 18, 2013

Great post, Johnathan. I found the new keyword planner to be really bad. I really perfer the old keyword research tool because it gave me insight. I wish they gave users the option to use the old or new keyword research tools. Ubersuggest seems really cool and I'll definitely try that one out. Thanks for the keyword tool suggestions and have a great day! - Jason Chan

Johnathan Dane
Sep 20, 2013

Super happy it was resourceful Jason. FreshKey is also great, but Ubersuggest will work wonders :)

Maria Stone
Nov 26, 2016

Great! I was just using Keyword Planner. Today I got many more resources for keyword research.
You are awesome!

Sep 18, 2013

Keyword research is crucial to a ppc campaign, get the keyword mix wrong and you will be spending a fortune. A keyword tool is a must !

Johnathan Dane
Sep 20, 2013


Sep 18, 2013

Thanks for the advice on becoming a keyword fisherman!

Johnathan Dane
Sep 20, 2013

It will feed you forever. Glad you enjoyed it!

Dipendra Pradhan
Sep 19, 2013

Thanks a lot for sharing this article with us. I was very much upset of myslef that I can't find the best keyword for my website, After checking this article I was able to find. 

Johnathan Dane
Sep 20, 2013

That's awesome Dipendra. Glad this helped you out :)

Randall Magwood
Sep 19, 2013

Youtube has a research tool? Wow... i thought Keyword Discovery would definitely on the list. FreshKkey looks like something i will try though.

Sep 20, 2013

Keyword selction is the most imprtant things before running a campaign in PPC and SEO. An these tools are very helpful to find which keyword will be good for your business that will increase your business leads..

Angelo Hudsen
Sep 20, 2013

nice info., is this tools that you have shared is accurate same as Google keyword adsense?

Johnathan Dane
Sep 24, 2013

Not quite the same Angelo. But you should see if they'd work for your needs.

Pay per click advertising
Sep 20, 2013

Hello Johnathan,I never knew that we do have these much keyword research tools. I hardly have used maximum 3 of them. Thanks for sharing.

Sep 21, 2013

I've been playing around with the new Keyword Planner from Google and must admit I find it more useful than the previous Google Keyword tool.

Sep 21, 2013

I purchased Freshkey yesterday but have not received the download link - pretty poor - a dodgy outfit.Will ask my credit card company to chargeback

Johnathan Dane
Sep 24, 2013

Sorry to hear about that Michael, I purchased another one about a week ago and got the link just fine. Did you check your spam?I'd reach out to them as well if you can't find the email.

Sep 21, 2013

I was wondered that you didn't said something about MarketSamurai. Many SEO blogs used this tool and its free for the first 12 days. Maybe you cehck that out :)

Johnathan Dane
Sep 24, 2013

If we included all keyword research tools, then I'd be dead by the time it was done. But thanks for sharing, I'm sure some readers will check it out.

Sep 22, 2013

I find the Keyword Planner rather useless. A lot of things are missing compared to the Keyword Tool. This is rather frustrating as I need proper matrix to keep going!!!

Sep 23, 2013

it´s really Interesting to see ... thank you it's well done :)

Sep 23, 2013

 Content is really worth reading and beneficial.This is really helpful. Thank you.

Logo Design Annapolis
May 16, 2017

Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your post seem
to be running off the screen in Ie. I'm not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I thought
I'd post to let you know. The layout look great
though! Hope you get the issue fixed soon. Cheers

Sep 23, 2013

Nice article. I like the way of using screenshot so its easy to the reader to follow what you express to them.

Johnathan Dane
Sep 24, 2013

Thank you anonymous

Valentino Crawford
Sep 24, 2013

Great post...I didn't know that there were so many keyword tools I'd never heard of! That FreshKey looks promising :)

Asher Elran
Sep 26, 2013

From this list after Google keyword tool ubersuggest is my next favorite one. It gives you a huge list of suggestions for any keywords.

Sep 27, 2013

nice info., is this tools that you have shared is accurate same as Google keyword adsense?

Sep 27, 2013

Good resouces. Since google has moved from adwords keytool to keyword planner, it makes me so confused to use. And now, the problems seem to be fixed. Thank you for sharing this list with us! 

Sep 28, 2013

Its great to know about freshkey. 

Bill - Annapolis Wedding Photographer
Sep 30, 2013

This is a great list of keyword tools. I have been using the Google and Bing Tools for a while. I will definitely be trying out the other ones. I just started using Youtube more so that one is definitely going to be helpful.

Rojgar Gujarat
Oct 01, 2013

It is very useful for keyword research. Thanks for sharing awesome post.

Fervil Von
Oct 08, 2013

Great keyword research tools Jonathan, its my first time to know about Freshkey so it would be nice to try it too. Any reviews about wordtracker? I wonder how good it is since and I'd like to know about your rating on it why it isn't included in your list? Thanks for sharing this.

Mar 04, 2018

Great delivery. Great arguments. Keep up the great effort.

Oct 10, 2013

Is there a reason you did not mention Market Samurai?  Most top notch bloggers out there are using that tool.  Just curious.

Oct 11, 2013

Fresh key is one-time payment option ?

Oct 12, 2013

Along with Soolve and Ubersuggest, there's a similar tool called KeywordSuggest ( What I like about it is that you can use the * character behind your search terms, for example * reviews, and you'll get niche like suggestions. You can even dig deeper like l* reviews and get suggestions like lawn mower reviews. Unfortunately, this feature works only for Google and Amazon, but it has proven very useful in my research.

Oct 17, 2013

Great list of tools for Keyword research. i was looking for an alternative other than boring Keyword Planner. Soovle and Ubersuggest seems cool. Wish Freshkey was free. Thanks a ton for sharing this!

Oct 21, 2013

Though it pulls much of its info from keyword planner, I really like long tail pro because it also tells you roughly how competitive a keyword is.

Oct 22, 2013

Johnatan, thank you for posting this reviews.I think those are great keyword tools but there is always the competition dimension missing. When I do keyword research I like to immediately filter my keywords by AllIntitle and Average PR in the Google SERP. This way I can immediately see what keywords have potential to be kept in the list and what others I need to get rid of directly.There is a very nice keyword research tool named iLovePage1 (guess why !! :D) not mentioned that can quickly do it.I find it very interesting because in just one step it allows me to get to gold seed keywords in seconds.I think you should try it out and add it to this list.thank you,Mike

Oct 27, 2013

Thanks for the great ideas Johnathan!I’ve been doing keyword research all weekend and these ideas should definitely help my strategies.I’ve been using this one for a while too – it’s like google instant and bing suggest all rolled into one….ubersuggest.

Annapolis SEO
May 16, 2017

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hoping you write again soon!

Oct 28, 2013

Keep up the great articles.  You can never have enough keyword/SEO reading material.  Long-tails have been helping out a lot.

John O'Riordain
Nov 04, 2013

Awesome list, thanks!Here's another awesome tool I'd recommend using: RankTracker . It's very user friendly and its 'Suggest Keywords' feature is a killer.

Nov 11, 2013

Thanks for the great ideas

Nov 14, 2013

Keyword is definately  a good one but I was not pleased with keywordspy and semrush due to the irrelevant stuff i get when I do a research. Although both say that they update on a regular basis, you find a lot of irrelevant or generic keywords(which include stop words), which may not be effective for your campaigns

Amit Kumar Mondal
Nov 25, 2013

Thanks for this nice information

Dec 05, 2013

Every way has its pros and cons. Those who say this way bad should think of how you can take full advantage of it.

Dec 07, 2013

Do none of these research the competition? I can just use Google instant for keyword suggestions, but what I want to know is how well they will or won't rank.

Dec 16, 2013

Freshkey would be nice if you didn't have  to sit through nearly an hour of informercial videos just to get the damned key and the URL to use it.  I was so angry by the time I'd sat through nearly 2 hours of videos that I emailed them and told them that I told them to give me my money back.  What a load of horse-pucky.  I already bought the tool, stop pimping me.  I think you should update this article to warn people that their "Dare to Be Great" approach can be really vexing for people who simply want the keyword research tool.  I mean, they already got our money.  It's obvious that they refuse to send the license until you've suffered through the videos, pimping their other products.  I'm sure it makes them a lot of money, and it's equally obvious that the keyword tool is a loss-leader just so that they can drag you into the sales channel, with NO escape, but I'm sure I'm not the only person who ever turned right around and told their credit card company to cancel the transaction. Too scummy for me.  Probably a great tool, but...either charge more for it, or stop with the timeshare salesman tour approach.  ("you've won a free trip to Ibiza!  All You have to do is take our tour of our timeshares!")Absolutely infuriating.    


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