What are the Best Keyword Research Tools for your SEO Campaign?

Sarah McInerney

Head of Content

Sarah has almost three decades of experience in crafting compelling, engaging content specifically designed to boost sales and enhance brand loyalty. She’s also an expert in developing unique tone of voice that helps brands connect with their audiences. Her marketing and client service background has given Sarah a natural understanding of how to write content that makes readers take action. Whether it’s signing up to a mailing list, making an enquiry or donation or clicking the buy button, Sarah knows precisely how to convert with words. Pen down, Sarah is a proud member of the Essex Wildlife Trust and spends most of her free time enjoying inspiring walks through her local woodland and nature reserves, admiring everything that flaps, flutters and flowers.

When it comes to SEO, keyword research is an essential element of any strategy. If you don’t have the right keywords woven into your website content, then you’re just not going to get found by the very people who are searching for what you do or sell. It really is as simple as that.

The process of finding the right keywords, however, isn’t necessarily as straightforward as it may sound. Yes you need to look at the words and phrases that people are actually using, and how they fit with search intent (search intent is REALLY important by the way), but there is more to it than that.

It’s also vital that SEO keyword research focuses on making sure the words are right for your particular business and audience, and that you will realistically be able to rank for them.

In this post we are going to share a few insider tips on how to do SEO keyword research, and then list our favourite keyword research tools for you to test run yourself.

Best tools for SEO keyword research

How to do SEO keyword research?

There are six clear steps that should form part of any keyword research strategy. Here they are:

1.     Set out which pages of your website need to be keyword optimised

Your core pages, i.e. Home, About and Our Services, together with all your individual services or main product pages, will all need to be keyword optimised. Product and services pages will need keywords that are specifically relevant to what’s being promoted on those pages.

Make yourself a list of the pages that need keywords, so you have the beginnings of a plan.

Word of warning: SEO keyword research for blogs needs to work the other way around. When you are writing blog posts, your keyword research should drive your topics, rather than be used to find keywords to add after the event. So for blogs, it’s research first, write second.

2.     Choose a keyword research tool

Now you have your list of pages that need keywords, it’s time to find a keyword research tool that will help you find the right ones.

There are quite a few of these tools out there. Which is the best keyword research tool is a matter of opinion, so you will need to work through a few and settle on the one that you get along with most, and that best suits your budget, because not all keyword research tools are free keyword research tools.

3.     Do your keyword research

The place to start here is to write down a few words and phrases that spring to mind when you think about your products and services.

Now take those words and phrases, and enter them into your keyword research tool. Different keyword tools will give you different search options, but generally they will all ask you which region you’re searching in. Complete the info, then hit search.

You’ll then be given a list of keyword suggestions and, again depending on the individual tool, possibly lists of related keywords, associated questions (great for blog topics and frequently asked questions) and maybe even some content ideas.

4.     Study the metrics

Most of the keyword research tools will be fairly straightforward to follow in terms of the data their searches return.

You will mostly be concerned with search volume, which is the average number of searches per month for your keyword in your stated region. You’ll also be given a heads-up on how much of a challenge it’s going to be to rank for a particular keyword. This is listed as ‘SEO difficulty’.

Other metrics that are useful to study are the pages that are currently ranking on Page #1 for your keywords (and how strong those pages are in terms of number of backlinks and domain score); how the keyword has performed over time, and the mobile/desktop search volume split. Some keyword research tools will deliver more specific information, although you will usually need to pay for an upgrade if you want to see demographic detail.

5.     Choose your keywords

The metrics will determine whether a keyword is going to be worth using or not. Here’s a good guide as to what you ideally want to be going for:

  • Keywords with a high search volume
  • Keywords with low SEO difficulty
  • Keywords with low competition

Don’t just base your choice on the metrics though. Always consider your audience and your brand tone of voice.

You may find keywords that lots of people are searching for and that could potentially be easy to rank for, but if they don’t suit your business then there is no point using them. It will only result in a higher bounce rate, where people interested in the keyword click onto your site, then realise it’s not relevant to them and leave straight away. A high bounce rate is not something you want, as it’s not at all good for SEO.

6.     Monitor your SEO keywords

It’s really important to track your chosen keywords to see how they’re performing once you’ve added them into your website content.

There are plenty of SEO tools that can help you with this, including many of the keyword research tools.

So, now you have your keyword research strategy in hand, it’s time to take a look at some of the best keyword research tools available.

What is the best keyword research tool?

There are plenty to choose from, including a variety of subscription-based options and some free keyword research tools. Let’s take a look at the best of what’s out there.

1.     Moz Keyword Explorer (subscription – top end)

This is pretty much the Rolls Royce of keyword research tools, but it does come at a price. Whilst you get to enjoy 10 free search queries per month, you’re going to need to sign up for a monthly plan if you want full access to all the features, which is at the higher end of the pricing scale for keyword tools. You can try it out for a month though, which is one of the most generous free trials.

With Moz Keyword Explorer however, you don’t just get keyword suggestions, but also related keyword suggestions, as well as an organic click through rate and priority score to help with your targeting.

Moz best keyword research tool


2.     SEMrush (subscription – mid-range to top end)

SEMrush has to be one of the best keyword research tools out there. Yes, you have to pay a fairly top end price for it, but you can try it out free for seven days before you commit. Plus there are different plan levels so you can choose the pricing that best suits your budget and needs.

The great thing about SEMrush, is that instead of giving you reams of keyword suggestions, it hones your list down to just a few specifics, and helpfully, these are the ones your competitors are using. You get long-tail keywords, which are the powerful ones, keyword trends, SEO difficulty ratings plus useful organic traffic insights.

SEMrush best keyword research tool

3.     Ahrefs Keyword Explorer (subscription – mid-range)

Again, topping the list as one of the best keyword research tools, Ahrefs delivers high quantities of keyword suggestions and gives a really accurate SEO difficulty rating as well as metrics that will help improve your click through rate (CTR).

Again it’s a paid-for tool, but you can try it out for seven days to see if you like it. Then there are four pricing plans to choose from.

3. Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

4.     Serpstat (subscription – budget)

Looking for a budget-friendly keyword research tool? Then Serpstat is probably the one for you. And it’s more than just a keyword research tool. With this one, you get web analytics, SERP analysis, backlink analysis, a rank tracker and website audit features too. Everything in one package in other words.

You can actually use Serpstat a few times for free as long as you sign up for trial membership, but if you want to use it on a more regular basis then you’ll need a subscription plan. But these are at the lower end of the pricing scale, and well worth the investment.

4. Serpstat keyword research tool

5.     Google Keyword Planner (free)

If you’re looking for the best free keyword research tool, the Google Keyword Planner has to be your top choice.

This is a simple to use tool and, whilst its features may be pretty basic, it actually returns highly accurate results. With the data coming directly from Google, it’s the one to use if you’re targeting that search engine specifically, and certainly if you are looking at free keyword research tools rather than paid ones.

5. Google Keyword Planner

Looking for help with your keyword research and SEO strategy? Talk to Figment.

Keyword research is a vital aspect of any search engine optimisation strategy. Whilst there are various SEO keyword research tools out there that you can use to help you find the right keywords to use in your website content, it may not always be clear as to which are the best to use for your business and within your industry.

If you could use some help with keyword research, and with SEO in general, look to Figment, the SEO agency in London and Surrey businesses trust. Our extensive experience and in-depth knowledge are regularly tapped into by organisations looking to compete in an increasingly challenging marketplace.

To talk through your business growth plans with a team that’s dedicated to helping you meet your goals, you are welcome to get in touch.

SEO results made simple

Request a Quote