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Keyword Research: 27 Experts Reveal Their Best SEO Tools

I don’t know the exact keywords you’re searching for…

But you definitely want to know what the best keyword research tools are so you can get traffic to your website.

But most likely you’re overwhelmed by which of the seemingly 100s of keyword tools to choose.

I feel your pain, there are a lot to choose from and some do much more than others.

So I did the grunt work and asked 27 SEO experts “What’s the best tool for keyword research?” and some of their answers surprised me.

So read on and see what software the giants of the SEO industry are using to find keywords…

HOT TIP: Here’s why you need keyword software…

  1. To find low competition keywords for SEO purposes.
  2. To find keywords with ‘buyer intent’ that convert visitors into customers.
  3. To get ideas for content so that you can write on subjects people in your niche are searching for.
  4. Google Keyword Planner tool is free and great BUT only gives you search volume and doesn’t display whether keywords are easy to rank, where as premium tools do.

To discover 200+ profitable niche markets click the image below now…

27 Experts Reveal Their Best SEO Tools For Keyword Research

Kurt Frankenberg, Creator of Shoestring101

Surprisingly, I don’t have a favorite keyword tool. Not that there aren’t GOOD tools… there are.

But the problem with keyword research gets down to this:

Often, the person wanting to rank a page for keywords, you… is a different person than the one that’s searching for a solution to his / her problem… your prospective customer.

So keyword tools can come in handy…

But at the end of the day, they are all instruments designed to guess what your “target real human” would type into Google or other search engines.

Hi, my name is Kurt Frankenberg, and my specialty is SEO for local businesses.

Type in, “hack local search” or “hack local seo” and you’ll find the article on the subject that I wrote at the top.

Though it isn’t included in that article… I’ll give you my secret weapon for keyword research:

Interview a number of real humans that actually use the product or service that you want to rank for.

Makes sense, yeah?

Responses from actual humans, that actually HAVE the problems they’re keying words into Google to solve… are the best indicator of what other actual humans will search for.

So there you go.

Now instead of an algorithm guessing what a customer might search for… you have the human mind of an actual customer guessing what another actual customer in the market would do.

So before spending too much time and effort (and MONEY) on keyword search programs and services,

… I would say begin your quest for knowledge with the low-tech solution.

Grab a legal pad.

Make a few calls or private messages asking, “If you didn’t know my company’s name, but just wanted to get [their problem solved], what would you type in Google?”

Russ Lobo, Founder of Taurus Knight

My favorite tool for Keyword research is Keywords Everywhere.

It’s a free Chrome plugin which you install once and then every time you search for a keyword, it shows you the number of searches for that keyword.

It has good customization features where you can change the settings to include either global or a specific country like USA.

In addition to Google search, it also gives you the keyword search volume for Google suggested keywords and Google trends.

It adds keyword volume to a LONG list of websites like Google Search, Google Trends, eBay, Answer the Public, Google Keyword Planner, Bing, Etsy, Soovle, Google Search Console, YouTube, Ubersuggest, Majestic, Google Analytics, Amazon, Keyword Shitter and Moz Open Site Explorer.

Adam Connell, Founder of Blogging Wizard

Right now, I’m a huge fan of Ahrefs.

They support both traditional keyword research and competitor based keyword research.

They have a huge database of keywords and provide great suggestions. The data appears to be far more accurate than other tools I’ve tried.

This is likely due to the use of clickstream data.

There’s a unique feature that I haven’t seen in other tools – they’re able to estimate the percentage of searchers that click (or don’t click) on any search results.

There’s also deep integration between their keyword research tool and their other tools such as the site explorer and rank tracker.

Tung Tran, Founder of Cloud Living

Ahrefs – Powerful all in one suite of SEO tools.

This is no doubt the best investment you ever made for your business if you’re trying to grow traffic using SEO.

KWFinder – Easy to use and straightforward keyword research tool.

Cheaper in terms of pricing compared to Ahrefs so this is perfect for beginners who can’t afford Ahrefs yet.

Gael Breton, Co-Founder of Authority Hacker

Ahrefs because they have a ton of data and the keyword difficulty is pretty good.

We break down Ahrefs here [and here’s what I said about the tool in that article…]

It seems obvious to me that the Ahrefs team wants this to be the one tool you need for SEO, and keyword research is an important part of their plan for world domination.

And, honestly, they’re scarily close to making it all click.

We’ll take a deeper look at their keyword difficulty metric (with all blemishes) below, but the functionality of this tool is stellar.

It’s fast. There’s tons of data.

The filters are great.

And, perhaps most importantly of all, when combined with the competitor analysis you can conduct with Ahrefs, it basically becomes keyword fire hose.

Zac Johnson, Founder of Blogging

Right now I’m really loving what’s going on over at SEMRush.

I can log into my account and see any new movements across my sites in the search results, while also running site audits and keeping an eye on the competition at the same time.

In comparison to other keyword research tools out there, they are also quite competitively priced.

Rand Fishkin, Founder of Moz

I’m biased, but I love Moz.

I love the metrics – the accuracy of the volume data, the CTR Opportunity score that lets you see how many of those searchers are likely to click on organic results, and the difficulty of the SERP too.

Together, I think those numbers (and the database of billions of keyword suggestions) makes it the best keyword research tool on the market.

Sean Si, CEO and Founder of SEO Hacker

For keyword research, my go-to tool is SEMrush.

We use it because it’s the gold standard when it comes to keyword research and competitor analysis – and we use it exactly for these reasons.

SEMrush has made competitor analysis easier especially when we need to send a report to our clients.

It’s just so easy to pull out reports from this tool and this is why the SEO Hacker team and I love using this tool in our day-to-day operations.

Don’t take my word for it, try SEMrush for yourself

Gregory Elfrink, Content Marketer of Empire Flippers

SEO for the longest time always needed a suite of mismatched tools to accomplish everything.

You needed the rank tracker, a keyword research tool, a backlink tracker, an alert system to ping you on new mentions of your brand etc.

Nowadays, I just use for pretty much everything SEO related.

It has more than enough of the SEO tools I need most in my day to day job as Empire Flipper’s content manager.

I use it for keyword research, to find the backlinks my competitors have that I don’t have, and to monitor mentions across the internet.

At times I’ve even used it to see how viral some pieces of content got through a portion of their tool that is very similar to BuzzSumo.

In addition to all of this, Ahrefs just tends to be the most accurate of all the keyword research tools so when they give me a keyword difficulty score, I trust what they have to say on the subject matter since they have just such a massive database of information to derive real empirical-backed conclusions.

They have come a long way in just over a year in terms of what they have been able to do, and they’re still adding new things constantly to make the experience better.

It’s the best keyword research tool and probably SEO in general tool out there in the marketplace currently.

Matthew Barbey, Director of Acquisition Hubspot

Current favorite tool for keyword research would be between Ahrefs and SEMrush right now – both really great tools.

To discover 200+ profitable niche markets click the image below now…

Pat Flynn, Founder of Smart Passive Income

Long Tail Pro is still the best keyword research related tool I feel on the market for in-depth keyword and comp research.

Dom Wells, Director of Acquisition Human Proof Designs

I prefer Ahrefs because when I’m doing my keyword research, I want to be able to do more analysis and look into other factors.

This involves looking at the sites already ranking in the niche, seeing what other keywords they rank for, seeing how strong they are in terms of authority and size.

Ahrefs (and SEMrush) put all of those things in one place and make it very easy to quickly dig deeper.

For people who aren’t ready to do that level of analysis and just want a list of keywords and a rough “score” for their difficulty, I’ve found Long Tail Pro and KW Finder are the most user-friendly.

Todd Volkman, Marketing Manager of I Will Teach You To Be Rich

We use Keyword tool as a starting point because most of the time it will give you the high-level picture and Ahrefs gives that one slice down.

At the moment we’re using Adwords Keyword Tool and Ahrefs mainly.

I’m sure the other tools have their own flavors of data that would be really cool to have every once in a while but this is what works for us.

Michael Erickson, Founder of Search Scientists

My favorite keyword research tool at the moment if Ahrefs.

I like it for 3 reasons:

  • It provides a quick, high-level analysis: They tell me search volume, expected clicks I would receive for ranking, and difficulty of ranking.
  • It also provides a trove of deeper analysis: Who’s in the top 10, what their backlink profile is, what the SERP is composed of.
  • Ultimately, it helps provide 2 things: how easy it will be to rank, and what actions should I perform to rank for them.

Doug Cunnington, Founder of Niche Site Project

My favorite KW Research tool(s) is Keyword Keg and Keywords Everywhere which are part of the same toolset.

Keywords Everywhere is the free browser extension that makes it easy to see search volumes in the Google Search Results Page and a bunch of other places.

Keyword Keg is a more robust tool — it’s paid but it’s one of the cheapest options out there right now.

Simple is best for me and a tool like Keyword Keg fits the bill for me.

Marcus Miller, Founder of Bowler Hat

My favorite tool for keyword research is always Google.
There are a few others that I like to cross-reference like Übersuggest and but I generally start with a simple brainstorming session and then start to Google the keywords.
I see what Google comes back with and how well that matches the intent we are trying to promote.
Then, we will look at suggestions made in the search box and at the bottom of the page and just keep repeating this process till we have a good list.
Typically I will organize these keywords into a spreadsheet and consider things like current position, click price for PPC and search volume.
I will also look at more intent-based metrics like how closely these keywords relate to the business activity.
We may even make notes regarding the opportunity and whether existing content exists.
There are a lot of moving parts and whilst tools can be useful you have to do some manual work to do truly effective keyword research.
I go into a lot more detail on how we research keywords in our 30 day small business SEO Tips post which covers the research and organization of successful keyword list.

Codrut Turcanu, Founder of

I like LongTailPro because I can easily see who ranks and how for each keyword I want to get info about.

This gives me an idea of how easy or hard would be to rank for specific key terms and keywords.
I liked more the software version of LTP though.

Giles Thomas, Founder of Acquire Convert

I actually love to, simply put a mid or short tail keyword in, get a load of great results and then straight to Google Adwords to learn search volumes in English speaking countries.

Dave Schneider, CoFounder of Ninja Outreach

We use Ahrefs.
It’s a comprehensive tool that helps with our keyword and content strategy.
Reading their blog makes me confident that the team behind Ahrefs knows what they’re doing and are not just mouthpieces.
The articles they produce about how to use the tool for different marketing needs are helpful resources if you want to maximize the tool’s features.

Joe Howard, Head Buff at WP Buffs

SEMRush: This is a staple for most of the SEO world.

It’s great for doing competitor research, keyword analysis and nailing down opportunities to win in search.

Any successful SEO has a way to assess what long-tail keyword areas they should focus on to attract targeted traffic and this tool has allowed me to grow to 20,000 unique visitors per month.

Not too shabby!

Jon Dykstra, Publisher of Fat Stacks Blog

Ahrefs is the tool I’m using the most these days for most keyword research.

I used and Buzzsumo Question Analyzer for long tail, but Ahrefs is my go-to keyword research tool.

My favorite feature of Ahrefs for KW research is being able to filter longer lists by keyword difficulty, number of words, and search volume.

Not only that, the competitor keyword research function is great for finding new keywords or looking for seed keyword ideas.
Overall the number of features and tools Ahrefs offers is amazing and it’s one tool I use almost daily.

Dave Michaels, CEO of Sage Groove

If I were stranded on a desert island and could only bring one keyword research tool with me, it has to be Adwords Keyword Planner (of course I’d try to smuggle a couple more).

I need both keyword ideas and the best sense of search volume possible.

My client discovery establishes a base set of keywords that I plug into Keyword Planner to generate a larger list of keywords using search volume to refine an actionable list for content, etc.

And provided you have an Adwords account, it’s free.

To discover 200+ profitable niche markets click the image below now…

Evgeniy Garkaviy, Founder of Morak

My favorite tool for keyword research is actually Google Keyword Planner.

It has the most accurate data and you can trust it much more compared to other, especially free tools. Nowadays Google is the one handing out all the traffic and for me, it is better to get the data I can really trust because very often I use it for PPC.

Another big advantage of Google Keyword Planner it shows you the average cost per click for the particular keyword.

So it is easier to predict PPC campaign budget in early stages.

But I also want to recommend SpyFu keyword research tool.

I’m using it mostly for PPC because you can get the keywords and adverts of other people who advertise in the same niche.

It can save a lot of time for you.

Chris Dreyer, Director of Marketing at

My go-to tool for keyword research is the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer.

Why We Like It:

The thing that stands out with this tool besides some of the features (which I’ll get to in a moment) is that Ahrefs, in general, has a reputation for continued improvement and innovative features when it comes to their SEO tools.

There are a lot of software providers out there and some of them develop a tool and then remain sort of stagnate.

Either their data is off or they don’t come out with continued improvements.

Ahrefs does a good job on those fronts.

As for the features, the dashboard in Ahrefs is just easy to use in my opinion.

It also presents a lot of relevant and practical information all on the same screen.

For example, you can see the search volume for one phrase or multiple phrases (depending on what you entered), difficulty measurements, synonymous keywords, suggested variations, and keyword ideas that you may not have thought of.

The traffic share by domain report is also very helpful.

It helps us see at a glance where our client’s sites or our own site is ranking compared with competing domains in search.

You can also see traffic share by pages which is the real differentiator in search since Google ranks pages and not entire domains.

How We Use It:

I should point out that we never rely entirely on one tool or data source for our client work.

When we use Ahrefs Keyword Explorer it’s to analyze appropriate targets for client sites.

We need to find terms that are relevant to our clients’ services and that will drive qualified traffic.

We also analyze competition for any given phrase so that we can be sure it fits into our clients’ goals and any budgetary constraints.

Much of the data gleaned from the tool informs our strategy for accomplishing our clients’ goals in search.

Louie Luc, Founder of Income Prodigy

My favorite tool for keyword research is Ahrefs.

There are several reasons why Ahrefs is my go-to keyword research tool of choice.

It is a true Swiss Army knife in all things SEO: for finding easy-to-rank keywords, spying on your competitors’ keywords, unveiling hidden link building opportunities, checking your keyword rankings and exploring the most shared content online.

I just need to enter a keyword or topic into their “Keyword Explorer” tool to find hundreds of keyword suggestions.

If I’m working on a new website of mine, I make sure to sort the list of suggested keywords by Keyword Difficulty and pick the ones with the lowest score.

If I’m working on a more established and authoritative website, I can go for more competitive keyword terms.

I can also enter my competitors’ URLs to find out which keywords they are ranking for to try and outrank them. At the same time, I can learn where they got their backlinks from and see if I can replicate them.

There is also their “Content Explorer” tool that I use to discover new topic ideas that are potentially highly shareable on social media.

It’s very useful to find content ideas for my authority websites and online business podcast.

Virginia Nussey, Operations Manager at Bruce Clay, Inc

I would imagine you’re going to get a lot of people responding to this question with tools like SEMRush, Google Keyword Planner and BuzzSumo.

So here’s a tip for content writers that helps in the keyword research process a little further into the content creation workflow — the point of identifying the SEO qualities of top-ranking pages for some target keywords.

This is researching the keyword at the stage of competitor and SERP analysis.

Use the SEOToolSet Research Summary and Multi Page Analyzer to view useful competitive insights of top-ranking pages for a chosen keyword.

When you enter your keyword into the search field of the Research Summary, you’ll get back these keyword statistics (data source is Bing): average activity, CPC, best demographic and a trending chart of the keyword popularity over a year.

Under that, you’ll see the top domains ranking for that query, and under that, you’ll see top pages ranking for that query, with their Google and Bing rankings.

Select 3 to 5 of the pages listed there (choosing your selections based on rankings and matching the content to the query intent like info or shopping that you’d like your content to match) and then hit “Run Multi Page Analysis”.

This will give you all kinds of useful stats about those pages, from the most frequently used keywords on the pages, length of metadata tags, average body word count, and other insights that help you craft specifications for a new piece of content or for optimizing your existing content to be more relevant to the target query.

By way of example, here’s one screen of the Multi Page Analyzer for the keyword “how to do keyword research”:

To discover 200+ profitable niche markets click the image below now…

So What Is The Best Keyword Research Tool?

Now you’ve learned what keyword research tools are the best, and not only are you walking away with ideas here, but you’ve learned a whole bunch of ways to take advantage of single tools.

For most of the experts in this post, their favourite keyword research tool is Ahrefs.

Almost half the answers here are for Ahrefs, but if you want to get exact, here’s a leaderboard of keyword tools:

  • Ahrefs: 13 votes
  • SEMrush: 5 votes
  • Adwords Keyword Planner: 5 votes
  • Long Tail Pro: 3 votes

What keyword tool should you choose?

That all depends on how intense your SEO process is and what your budget is for tools.

Serious SEO’s who need to get in-depth with their research and have a generous budget should consider Ahrefs.

Jawad has gone into depth here with what Ahrefs can achieve as it’s a powerful tool for gaining more traffic.

If however, you’re on a tight budget and just want to know what keywords people in your niche are searching for and don’t need the in-depth analysis then Google Keyword Planner or LongTailPro will be sufficient.

How about yourself? What’s your favorite keyword tool or process for SEO research?

Agree or disagree with anything these SEO experts have said?

Tell us in the comments below…