Best for Keyword Research Tools

Here are the best keyword research tools . You have to read full article for more details.

My criteria, methodology & results

In my everyday work (at Authority Hacker), I do a lot of keyword research.

Based on my experience, I believe that the perfect keyword research tool relies on five main criteria, which are:

Keyword suggestions: It must find/suggest as many relevant keywords as possible.

Data filtering: It must be able to trim down large keyword lists easily.Search volume trend: It must show a search trend for a keyword.

Keyword difficulty: It must have a reliable keyword difficulty score.SERP analysis: It must have SERP analysis functionality.

My methodology, therefore, was simple:

I would test 6 big keyword research tools for all of these criteria, then assign a grade between 1–5 for each. This would result in an overall score out of twenty-five for each tool.

SIDENOTE: For the “keyword suggestions” criteria, I used the same keyword—”massage”—in each keyword tool to make sure that the results were comparable.

Here are the detailed results:

Let’s take a look at a more detailed breakdown of each tool.

1. Ahrefs Keywords Explorer (23/25 points)

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer Overview

Number of keyword suggestions*: 5/5

Suggested: 892,576 keywords

Ahrefs pulled the maximum number of keyword suggestions and left all other tools far behind. Ahrefs’ Keyword Generator is powered by clickstream data and updates its database with fresh keywords every month.

Data filtering*: 4/5

Ahrefs allows you to filter the whole list of keyword suggestions by search volume and keyword difficulty. These two metrics are cached and always available for the entire database of keywords.

This tool has also got some unique keyword metrics (and thus filters) for the list of keyword suggestions not found in other tools such as:

  • Clicks
  • Clicks Per Search
  • Return Rate
  • But they will only be pulled after you click “Get metrics” button.

Search volume trend*: 4/5

Not only this tool shows the search volume trend starting from September 2015, but it also breaks it down further based on whether the searches result in actual clicks.

Search volume trend graphs is a visualization and does not show the search volume numbers for the past months.

Keyword difficulty*: 5/5

Keyword difficulty calculation in Ahrefs Keywords Explorer is entirely based on the backlink profiles of the top10 pages in SERP and nothing else. Yet we’ve found that Ahrefs offers the most reliable metric over any other tool.

SERP analysis*: 5/5

A very detailed SERP analysis. Ahrefs will show you the accurate backlinks numbers for the search results. You can also see the SERP features (if any). And it’s the only tool that shows how much search traffic the top ranking pages are getting (from all the keywords they rank for, not just from your target keyword).

2. KWFinder (20/25 points)

Number of keyword suggestions*: 2/5

Suggested: 954 keywords

The tool has three types of keyword ideas: suggestions, autocomplete, and questions, so I summed them up (after filtering out the duplicates).

SIDENOTE. KWFinder caps keyword suggestions at 200 or 700, depending on your plan.

Data filtering*: 4/5

Filtering with KWFinder is a breeze. There’s just one drawback: keyword difficulty data isn’t instantly available for every keyword unless it’s been requested by any user previously (unlike Keywords Explorer from Ahrefs which shows keyword difficulty for all the keyword suggestions).

Search volume trend*: 5/5

The search volume trend is nicely laid out in organic KWFinder style with all the data you’d expect.

Keyword difficulty*: 5/5

They calculate it based on SEO stats (DA, PA, MR, MT pulled from MOZ) of the pages on the first page of Google.

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In my work, I found KWFinder’s SEO difficulty metric to be surprisingly accurate. Plus, it is easy on the eyes.

SERP analysis*: 4/5

KWFinder’s SERP analysis is super simple and easy to digest. However, they’re using backlink data from MOZ, which is not a perfect source. Maybe they should think about switching to Majestic API.

3. Moz Keyword Explorer (14/25 points)

Moz keyword explorer overview

Number of keyword suggestions*: 2/5

Suggested: 1,000 keywords

SIDENOTE: Moz has a limit of 1,000 keyword suggestions for any seed keyword.

Data filtering*: 5/5

Although filtering options in a tool from MOZ felt somewhat limited, they provide exclusive semantic filters and grouping.

Search volume trend*: 0/5

Does not provide ‘search volume trend’ data.

Keyword difficulty*: 5/5

Moz uses their Page authority and Domain authority metrics of the top ten pages ranking for a keyword to calculate keyword difficulty.

Their difficulty score performs really well, I must say.

SERP analysis*: 2/5

Moz provides only minimal data for the top10 search results such as PA, DA, and number of referring domains. Besides you have to do FAR too much scrolling down to see all positions.

4. SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool (13/25 points)

Number of keyword suggestions*: 4/5

Suggested: 440,273 keywords

An excellent result considering this tool (Keyword Magic) is still in Beta. However, it’s only 40% of the number of suggestions from Ahrefs.

Data filtering*: 4/5

SEMrush meets all the expectations regarding the data you’d expect to filter. Not bad at all.

Search volume trend*: 3/5

A good standard trend graph covering a period of the past 12 months. It does not show you the search volume numbers for the past months but rather gives you decimal score, where one stands for the month with the highest search volume.

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SIDENOTE. To see the search volume trend you have to leave Keyword Magic Tool and go to Keyword Analytics -> Overview section

Keyword difficulty*: 1/5

As explained in their knowledge base, SEMrush takes into consideration the authority of the domains that are showing up on the results page to determine the keyword difficulty.

In most cases, their KD score is just plain wrong (based on our experience). This is probably one of the biggest weaknesses of SEMrush as a keyword research tool in my opinion.

SIDENOTE. I had a discussion with SEMrush team about their keyword difficulty. They acknowledge this problem and are reworking it now.

SERP analysis*: 1/5

SEMrush simply shows you a cached Google’s SERP for a given keyword with no data about the ranking pages.

5. Long Tail Pro (12/25 points)

Number of keyword suggestions*: 2/5

Suggested: 893 keywords

A reasonable number of suggestions, but due to limitations in “Max results per seed keyword” I had to run their “Google AdWords Suggestions” report multiple times.

Data filtering*: 3/5

Quite a few filtering opportunities, but the interface could probably use some improvement. As for me, it is a bit slow and clunky.

Search volume trend*: 0/5

Does not provide ‘search volume trend’ data.

Keyword difficulty*: 4/5

Keyword Competitiveness in this tool is calculated using the page title, Majestic Trust Flow and Citation Flow, links, and other factors of top 10 results found on Google.

Keyword difficulty score from Long Tail Pro was the second most accurate one after Ahrefs in our keyword difficulty test.

SERP analysis*: 3/5

Plenty of solid data. The downside of their SERP analysis is that it forces you into a new browser tab.

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