Editor’s Note: This post originally published in February 2011 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
When it comes to SEO and any branch of digital marketing, keyword research is incredibly important. It plays into knowing your audience as well as the user behavior that drives them, which ultimately dictates your online performance. Without spending adequate time doing keyword research for your industry, market, and audience, much of your SEO efforts will just be blind guesswork.
But like many digital marketing practices, keyword research services and software can be really expensive, costing as much as a few hundred dollars per month. The good news is that there are plenty of free keyword research tools available for brands to better understand how their users are searching for products and information online.
The following tools may be free or offer free trials, but they certainly don’t skimp on value. Using them, you can identify the best keywords for your industry and searches, identify the highest points of keyword competition and therefor better understand your competitors, and get the information you need to drive up your search engine rank. To get started, check out these 10 free keyword research tools.
This is probably the most widely used keyword tool around, and it’s totally free of charge other than what you pay Google if/once you start advertising through AdWords. This keyword research tool provides estimated search volume on Google’s network for each keyword and phrase, and it provides tons of keyword suggestions. In it, you can compare keyword trends and create a plan for targeting specific keywords and phrases. The Keyword Planner will help you prioritize which keywords you should be targeting while helping you discover new keywords you didn’t already know.
SEMRush will give you data on the top 10 keywords that your competitors are receiving traffic on for paid and organic search. With this tool, you can find the right keywords for SEO and PPC campaigns, gather phrase matches and related keywords, and get long-tail keywords. As an added perk, you can get information on multinational and multilingual online environments. This will help you enrich your web content and ad copy while giving you hard data behind the keywords you’re targeting. There is an option to upgrade after the free 14 day trial period.
Yet another tool from Google, only this one is often overlooked. Google Correlate is helpful because it shows you which keywords get searched for together. It’s not always feasible to rank for the top keyword of industry, because it’s expensive and likely dominated by a more prominent business. But by using this tool, you can find related keywords that people are searching for and create content or develop advertising strategies that cater to those related terms. Overall, Google Correlate will help you grow you keyword list and cast a bigger net.
The Alexa tool will let you see search queries of a competitor and the percentage of traffic it brings to the website. All you have to do is enter the URL in the site information area, and Alexa will retrieve details on keywords and search analytics on the specified domain. You can get a lot of keyword research done in the free 7 day trial, but after that you’ll have to upgrade to a paid version.
It should come as no surprise that SEO powerhouse, Moz, has a wildly popular and effective keyword research tool. The keyword finder offers intuitive suggestions that factor in a number of metrics, as well as a full SERP analysis. Using this one tool will help you discover and prioritize all the keywords you need to boost your search rank and get insights about your competition. You can get full access to Keyword Explorer with Moz Pro for a free 30 day trial.
With the free version of this tool, users can generate up to 750+ long-tail keyword suggestions for every search term. It’s considered one of the best free keyword tools and a competitive alternative to Google Keyword Planner, because it works so well for SEO and content creation. The tool can also be used to research keywords internationally, for advertising, and more.
This tool is nice, because there’s actually a “KeywordEverywhere” extension for Chrome and Firefox that gives you keyword volume, CPC & competition data for free. Uber Suggest lets you sort by country and where on the web you’re researching keywords, like images, shopping, YouTube, or news content. For generating keyword ideas, the tool works well and helps users with a word cloud and trend data. Plus, it was recently acquired by digital marketing expert Neil Patel, and there are even more free features coming soon.
All of WordStream’s software and services aim to take the guesswork out of online marketing, so you can expect nothing less of their keyword tool. There’s even a “nichefy” filter that works well for specific industries/niche targeting. The keyword tool is free, but users get 10 keyword searches up-front, then one free keyword search per day going forward.
Wordtracker is great for SEO research, because it has an SEO competition metrics feature as well as a SERP comparison. The tool pulls together an extensive profile of relevant keyword information across the user’s designated territory. You can use it to find related terms and assess the difficult of the competition, all right from the tool. Users can try a free 7 day trial, with account options starting at $27/month after.
All the data from Bing’s keyword tool comes from organic search rather than paid search or search advertising data. This is important, because it exposes users to the most natural keyword ideas and highly accurate numbers. Through the tool, you can generate keyword suggestions for all the markets you serve and in a wide range of languages.