7 Best Keyword Research Tools for SEO

Updated on :October 19, 2023
By :Liz Roncevic

Strong keyword research is the foundation of an effective search engine optimization campaign. Read on to learn about the 7 best keyword research tools that can help you target the right phrases and hit the bullseye.

Our world is defined by instant gratification.

This is especially true when it comes to seeking knowledge.

We can instantly Google our way out of sticky situations, verify information, and make transactions on the go.

But behind the screens, users are unaware of a silent war going on between websites, competing to steal the first spots on SERPs with their unique SEO strategies.

Many factors determine where a site ranks, with one major variable being the content itself – its quality, value, and relevance.

However, if you do not target the appropriate keywords/phrases that people in your niche usually search for, there’s no point in trying. And to target the right keywords, you need the right keyword research tool(s).

So, without further ado, let’s list down 7 of the best keyword research tools currently on the market, and discuss their key features, along with some tips on getting the most out of them.

1. Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

Ahrefs Logo

Ahrefs is an all-in-one paid search engine optimization platform that features a vast range of tools.

One of them is the Keywords Explorer.

Offering a wide range of features, the Ahrefs Keywords Explorer is arguably one of the hottest KW research tools out there, with a huge database of keyphrases.

One defining feature that immediately gives it an edge over its competitors is its diverse country-support. The tool can garner data from over 170 countries, giving you access to thousands of location-specific keywords.

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer Dashboard

Apart from that, Ahrefs updates its database every month.

Other features worth mentioning include:

  • SERP Overview & Positions History (provides the in-depth ranking history of competitors)
  • Keyword Difficulty Score (gives detailed difficulty scores for keywords and even suggests the number of backlinks required to rank)
  • Keywords Lists (lets you conveniently manage the keywords that you’ve selected for your campaign)

Tips on using Ahrefs Keywords Explorer:

  • Gain in-depth information with metrics such as Clicks Per Search, % of Clicks, Return Rate, etc. and give your keyword research a boost.
  • Check keyword ideas to get critical data on similar phrases.

2. Moz Keyword Explorer

MOZ logo

Moz is yet another resourceful platform for reliable (paid) SEO tools.

The Moz Keyword Explorer tops the list.

Offering a number of features which, if used correctly, can knock your keyword research out of the park, there’s so much that you can accomplish with this tool.

One of the best things about the Moz Keyword Explorer is that it provides intelligent keyword/topic suggestions. And it does so better than any other tool.

For example, for the keyword “moussaka,” the tool suggests the following closely-related phrases:

MOZ Keyword Explorer Dashboard

However, it goes one step further and suggests the following long-tail keywords that are directly related to “moussaka”:

Moz LSI Keywords

Some super-useful features include:

  • Organic CTR (this lets you know how many clicks your “blue link” can expect in a SERP, based on the number of search features that appear for the keyword)
  • Priority (it’s a score that lets you know if you should target a specific keyword or not)

Tips on using Moz Keywords Explorer:

  • Use the SERP analysis feature to get detailed information on which factors make a page rank.
  • If the organic CTR for a specific keyword is low (meaning that there are multiple search features appearing, like snippets, image packs, etc. and the blue links are expected to receive fewer clicks) then you should aim to optimize for search features.

3. SECockpit

SECockpit Logo

The next tool on the list is SECockpit.

It is a paid SEO-management platform, which has three facets; one for backlinks, one for the analysis of rankings, and of course, one for keyword research. 

Its keyword research tool works like any other platform – you give it a seed keyword, and it generates a list of closely-related phrases/ideas, along with their details.

But here’s the difference: SECockpit provides significantly deeper insight when compared to most tools. With a few clicks, you can get tons of data on estimated traffic, organic competition, and much more.

This makes SECockpit an appropriate tool for the pros.

Some useful features include:

  • Synonym Filter (this enables you to filter out or get closely-related keyphrases/synonyms by Adwords, YouTube, Amazon, Google Suggest, and Google related searches, right at the top)
  • Niche Bars (under the “niche” column, there are little green bars that represent a simplified metric indicating the overall quality of keywords)
  • Metrics Filter (you can de-clutter your dashboard by removing unwanted metrics)

Tip on using SECockpit:

  • There are over 100 types of filters that you can apply on SECockpit. Before performing your keyword research, go through all of the filters to make sure that you do not miss out on any useful metrics. 

4. Keyword Tool

Keyword Tool Logo

If user-friendliness is your top-most priority, then Keyword Tool is just what you’re looking for.

It’s a pretty straightforward tool that provides some serious insights.

On the homepage, it lets you filter keywords according to Google, Bing, Amazon, YouTube, and various other platforms, along with location and language. 

Keyword Tool Dashboard

An impressive thing about this tool is that it provides an ample amount of keyword suggestions. On the results page, you can view related keywords, questions, and prepositions separately.

But perhaps the coolest feature is to Analyze Competitors, which can be found on Keyword Tool Pro (a paid tool).

By simply providing your competitor’s URL, you can get a comprehensive list of keywords, generated by analyzing the site’s content.

Tip on using Keyword Tool:

  • To identify profitable long-tail keywords, click on the “prepositions” tab. 

5. SEMRush

semrush Logo

Let’s go back to the “big guns” of keyword research by talking about SEMRush.

Known as an “Online Visibility Management Platform,” the website offers a long list of SEO and content marketing tools.

On the dashboard, the Keyword Research section can be found towards the right, when the SEO Toolkit is selected, like so:

Semrush Keyword Research Dashboard

Let’s briefly discuss those features:

  • Keyword Overview (provides tons of data on a seed keyword, including volume, results, phrase matches, related keywords, and even ads)
  • Keyword Magic Tool (a recent addition to SEMRush, the Keyword Magic Tool lets you conveniently generate a list of keywords and apply a number of filters)
  • Keyword Difficulty (gives you a difficulty score and shows which SERP features you should optimize for)

Semrush Keyword Difficulty Tool Dashboard

  • Organic Traffic Insight (combines data from Search Console, Google Analytics, and SEMRush)

Tips on using SEMRush:

  • To get topic ideas for your blog, use the Topic Research feature.
  • Use the Keyword Gap feature to perform an in-depth competitive analysis for up to 5 competitors.

6. Google Trends

Google Trends Logo

Google Trends is a free tool that allows you to gauge the popularity of search queries on the basis of language and region.

It’s very simple to use: Simply enter the search query and get insights via a graph on the search volume. You can even compare search queries to see which topics/keywords are trending more.

Apart from identifying popular topics, you can also use Google Trends for conducting quick keyword research.

Tips on using Google Trends:

  • Scroll down to the Related Queries section to discover all kinds of keywords.
  • To check the popularity of any Related Queries, click on it.

7. Serpstat


Serpstat is another one of those paid “all-in-one” SEO platforms, sporting an arsenal of various search engine optimization and content marketing tools.

Its keyword research tool offers boat-loads of data on thousands of keywords.

You can view the closely-related organic and ads keywords separately, and get your hands on the list of competitors ranking for a specific keyword.

A great feature is the Competitors Graph. It visualizes the performance of your competitors, giving you instant insights without having to dig deep into statistics.

Tips on using Serpstat:

  • To view Search Questions, click on “Only Questions” on the Search Suggestions page.
  • To find LSI keywords, use the Cluster Research feature.

How to Choose the Right Tools for Your Campaign

With so many keyword research tools to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

However, these factors can help you easily decide:

  • Budget - If you’re running low on budget and you don’t necessarily need to perform in-depth research for an SEO campaign, consider going for a free tool.
  • Usage - If you only wish to conduct research for your blog, and not engage in full-blown search engine optimization, it is advised to choose a stand-alone keyword research tool, rather than an all-in-one SEO platform.
  • Depth - If you’re only interested in knowing the standard metrics, then ignore filter-rich tools and opt for a standard platform.


By no means is there a shortage of keyword research tools on the internet.

However, there are only a select few (especially the ones discussed above) that truly live up to the user and industry expectations and provide accurate and meaningful data.

Just consider your budget and usage-needs before choosing one, and you’ll be good to go!

Liz Roncevic
Liz Roncevic

Liz Roncevic is the founder and owner of Bizmap LLC, a digital marketing and SEO agency located in Northern NJ. Liz and her company are committed to growing businesses by putting them on the online map through the power of effective online marketing and digital technologies.

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