6 Best Keyword Research Tools for SEO in 219 Are you overwhelmed by the number of keyword research tools available? Im not surprised. There are a lot of them around! But which if any is best? To answer that question I tested them all and marked them according to five essential criteria. (Keep reading to see what those criteria were.) italic Here are the best keyword research tools for 218 (as per our testing) Ahrefs Keywords Explorer (23 points) italic Moz Keyword Explorer (14 points) italic Long Tail Pro (12 points) italic Let take a deeper look at the testing criteria and results. DISCLAIMER. I must confirm that I am not marketing to anypany. I run a network of authority sites and thus am simply interested in finding out which is the best keyword research tool based on the criteria that are important to me (which I talk about below). After all the success of my business relies on me using the best tool. My criteria methodology & results In my everyday work I do a lot italic 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 as many relevant keywords as possible. Search volume trend It must show a search trend for a keyword. SERP analysis It must have SERP analysis functionality. ordered-list My methodology therefore was simple I would test 6 big keyword research tools for all of these criteria then assign a grade between 135 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 keywordmassagein each keyword tool to make sure that the results wereparable. Here are the detailed results Let take a look at a more detailed breakdown of each tool. 1. Ahrefs Keywords Explorer s (23 points) italic Number of keyword suggestions 5 Suggested 892576 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 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 Not only this tool shows the search volume trend starting from September 215 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 Keyword difficulty calculation in Ahrefs Keywords Explorer is entirely based on the back profiles of the top1 pages in SERP and nothing else. Yet weve found that Ahrefs offers the most reliable metric over any other tool. SERP analysis 5 A very detailed SERP analysis. Ahrefs will show you the accurate backs numbers for the search results. You can also see the SERP features (if any). And it 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 s#a5a7177285f73b179b3f7 (2 points) italic Number of keyword suggestions * s#suggestions 2 Suggested 954 keywords The tool has three s of keyword ideas suggestions autplete and questions so I summed them up (after filtering out the duplicates). SIDENOTE. KWFinder caps keyword suggestions at 2 or 7 depending on your plan. Data filtering 4 Filtering with KWFinder is a breeze. There just one drawback keyword difficulty data isn instantly available for every keyword unless it been requested by any user previously (unlike Keywords Explorer from Ahrefs which shows keyword difficulty for all the keyword suggestions). Search volume trend 5 The search volume trend is nicely laid out in organic KWFinder style with all the data you expect. Keyword difficulty 5 They calculate it based on SEO stats (DA PA MR MT pulled from MOZ) of the pages on the first page of Google. In my work I found KWFinder SEO difficulty metric to be surprisingly accurate. Plus it is easy on the eyes. SERP analysis 4 KWFinder SERP analysis is super simple and easy to digest. However theyre using back data from MOZ which is not a perfect source. Maybe they should think about switching to Majestic API. 3. Moz Keyword Explorer s (14 points) italic Number of keyword suggestions 2 Suggested 1 keywords SIDENOTE. Moz has a limit of 1 keyword suggestions for any seed keyword. Data filtering 5 Although filtering options in a tool from MOZ felt somewhat limited they provide exclusive semantic filters and grouping. Search volume trend Does not provide search volume trend data. Keyword difficulty 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 Moz provides only minimal data for the top1 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 points) italic Number of keyword suggestions 4 Suggested 44273 keywords An excellent result considering this tool (Keyword Magic) is still in Beta. However it only 4% of the number of suggestions from Ahrefs. Data filtering 4 SEMrush meets all the expectations regarding the data you expect to filter. Not bad at all. Search volume trend 3 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. To see the search volume trend you have to leave Keyword Magic Tool and go to Keyword Analytics - Overview section Keyword difficulty 1 As exed 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 wrong (based on our experience). This is probably one of the biggest weaknesses of SEMrush as a keyword research tool in my opinion. I had a discussion with SEMrush team about their keyword difficulty. They acknowledge this problem and are reworking it now. SERP analysis 1 SEMrush simply shows you a cached Google SERP for a given keyword with no data about the ranking pages. 5. Long Tail Pro s (12 points) italic Number of keyword suggestions 2 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 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 Does not provide search volume trend data. Keyword difficulty 4 Keyword Competitiveness in this tool is calculated using the page title Majestic Trust Flow and Citation Flow s and other factors of top 1 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 Plenty of solid data. The downside of their SERP analysis is that it forces you into a new browser tab. 6. SERPStat Keyword Research Tool s (1 points) italic Number of keyword suggestions 3 Suggested 1493 keywords Serpstat offered a good number of keyword suggestions. Around 35% of what SEMrush shows. Data filtering 2 Provides some good filtering options. But you can filter or sort a list of suggestions by keyword difficulty. Search volume trend 3 Leverages the power of an from Google Trends. Yet it does give you an overall picture of the search term popularity over time. Keyword difficulty ? Serpstat estimates their keyword difficulty based on a number of various factors such as back profiles of the top1 search results their Page Rank and Trust Rank and on-page factors such as keywords in title and URL. This metric was added to Serpstat in June 217 and I did not test it hard. So unfortunately I can give you my conclusion here. A few words about the criteria used above I suppose I have to add a few words about the criteria I used to grate these amazing tools why I used exactly these and what I expected from every tool. Number of keyword suggestions Generally the more keywords you have to work with the more likely you are to find the gems. The only fair way topare keyword tools based on suggestions number is to run the same query through each and record the results. I used the keyword massage. (That was actually one of the first words that came to mind. I could really use a massage right about now) The keyword suggestions count was pulled on 17 Nov 217. And since these keyword tools regularly update their databases you will probably get a slightly different number if you run a similar test today. Data filtering A huge list of keyword suggestions is only a starting point for a keyword research. Further on you need to filter this list effectively otherwise youre just biting off more than you can chew. A good keyword tool must provide easy filtering options. And no matter what other keyword metrics these tools have search volume and keyword difficulty are a must. Search volume trend Now that you have some keyword gems after filtering down a list of keyword suggestions you need to do individual keyword analysis. It is essential to have the keyword search volume trend over time to see if the searcher interest is rising or fading and if seasonality influences it. Keyword difficulty This section requires some extra talk. Today every good keyword research tool has some form of difficulty orpetitiveness score (do not confuse it with Competition in GKP which only applies to ads). This metric must show you how hard it would be to rank for any given keyword. With it you can easily filter a huge list of keyword suggestions and find those easy to rank for. Most SEOs estimate keyword difficulty based on the back data of the pages in top search results. But different tools may have their own approaches. The rates above are based on my own experience in keyword research and further ranking for many keywords. Besides it incorporates data from our Keyword Difficulty Test. That why Ahrefs gets 5 not just because it my personal favorite SEO tool. If you still think Im just biased towards Ahrefs here another keyword difficulty study carried out by Kelvin Mah from Humanproofdesigns recently Which Keyword Difficulty Checker Is The Most Accurate? Ahrefs wins there as well. SERP analysis This one has a lot of weight for me. Keyword difficulty can help you narrow down your huge lists of keyword suggestions. But it won replace the manual review of the SERP. This is why a good keyword tool should not only give you a fairly reliable keyword difficulty score but also give you enough data to dig in once you have identified potential gems. Why I didn include Google Keyword Planner (and a few other keyword research tools) You probably noticed that Google Keyword Planner wasn included in my test. This is because GKP is a specialized tool for PPC advertisers and is not really supposed to help with organic keyword research. Already back in 212 Rand Fishkin warned us to be careful using AdWords for keyword research s . Then one day Keyword Planner started tobine search volumes for similar keywords and phrases. That move was quite reasonable for PPC keyword research considering the Ad will be shown for any keyword in such group. But without individual search volumes GKP became a lot less useful for organic keyword research. But still Google Keyword Planner can be useful and it does have a few things going for it namely It free (with limitations). It gives you data straight from the horse mouth (this is both a positive and a negative in my opinion) So even with the annoying search volume limitations and the fact that you can only see 7 suggestions per keyword there is still value to be had from GKP. (You can learn more about how to use the Google Keyword Planner in italic this ge italic s from Google themselves!) italic But GKP aside you may be wondering why I didn include some of the other well-known keyword research tools that scrape Google autplete and related searches such as Ubersuggest In all honesty I did not test such tools because the number of suggestions they give is insufficient and because they usually don provide any statistics about the keywords they spit out. They might be fun to work with and helpful in some cases but I don think they fall into professional tools category. Final thoughts You saw the results of my test. However there are more things to consider when picking a keyword research tool. All in all your choice must depend on the level of your SEO knowledge and the job youre looking to aplish. Ahrefs is a tool for experienced SEOs who will make use of every detail they can get while KWfinder is a perfect choice for someone who just starting out considering its money ratio. Im a long-time user of Ahrefs so it may seem that Im biased. But in all honesty I love my business and my bank account more than any SEO brand. So if some other tool will help me better than Ahrefs Ill switch immediately.