Top 7 SEO Keyword Research Tools for Agencies (2024)

So what makes a premium keyword research tool worth the investment?

Why even use one in the first place?

In short: It’s all about the collected data, time being saved, and the deeper knowledge of the vertical that can be gained by the user.

In addition to directly speeding up the discovery process, keyword research tools also grant you access to current and historic data that can turn challenging campaigns into well-planned missions.

Plus, you can discover your competitors’ content gaps across search engines.

When it comes to SEO, the difference between great data and poor data is all the difference in the world.

Having information on demand and the knowledge to strategically target relevant search terms is critical.

Many experts in our industry know how to do it by hand the old-fashioned way; and there’s nothing wrong with being able to create content around keywords that are statistically proven using the DIY approach.

However, the amount of time you will save in the long run can be worth the up-front cost of a high-quality SEO tool package.

A premium SEO keyword research tool offers invaluable benefits to agencies.

A great tool should be able to scale up as accounts and employee levels grow.

Let’s cover seven well-known keyword research tools in the SEO world and go over the benefits and features that each provides, each using a single search term for comparison.

1. Google Keyword Planner

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Price: Free

Keyword Planner, Google’s classic keyword research tool, is a feature within the Google Ads ecosystem.

The big question for those doing SEO: is it still relevant in 2018?

Long considered the baseline standard for SEO keyword insights, Google loves to make it difficult to use for SEO pros with minimal PPC expertise.

Keyword Planner can show trends and data at a city, region, even for a Nielsen DMA-level area (perfect for major metropolitan areas).

When coupled with landing pages from your competitors, it’s easy to pull relevant high-volume keywords.

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Google’s Keyword Planner is also one of the best fundamental tools to use when teaching those new to SEO about the landscape, especially when you have the access to active Google Ads campaign data.

One of the major criticisms voiced by the SEO community revolves around the merging of search volumes for similar keywords.

Previously, each search variation would have its own reported volume (e.g., “dog park near me” would report differently than “dog pars near me”) and the often-repeated sentiment among SEO professionals allude to a weakened level of service and general uselessness.

Considering the rising competition in the industry, and the improvements many of the bigger vendors have made in recent years, it’s easy to understand this side of the discussion.

2. Moz Keyword Explorer

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Price: From $99/month for Standard to $599/month for Premium

Long held as the industry standard for SEO resources, Moz continues to update their core services, and their Keyword Explorer tool is no exception.

Pricing is for the entire suite of services, which is ideal for agency or multi-seat requirements.

Recent changes of Moz’s service offerings have been met with mixed-to-positive reviews.

While that can be said for many vendor efforts in search marketing, Moz is a company that continually tries to keep up with the trends and provide cutting edge solutions as they have for over a decade.

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When you enter a term into the Moz search box, you’ll receive a combination of data segments.

Keyword Overview looks at the entered term on its own and addresses expected searches per month, the difficulty of competing against Page 1 results for the same term, a rough estimate of organic click-through opportunities (versus paid ads and non-organic positions on the search engine results page), and the perceived priority that the user should assign to optimization for this term, where the higher the score, the higher the demand and a lowered level of competition.

For what it does well, there are a few issues with Moz’s tool.

For one, it tends to rank among the lowest in the volume of keyword suggestions provided, with roughly 1,000 results delivered per seed term.

Moz also provides the same granularity of search volume data that Google’s Keyword Planner provides, providing estimated ranges rather than concrete numbers.

It can also be argued that since seasonality and demand are an important factor when it comes to volume per month, that a lack of granularity shouldn’t be held against them, but rather, be seen as a barometer of expectations rather than a predictive service.

Moz updates their U.S. database frequently across 40 million+ Google search engine results pages and cycle upwards of 15 million keywords on a monthly basis, allowing for them to keep up with changes in the landscape and how people search.

Moz’s Keyword Explorer provides a user-friendly aesthetic that allows agencies to quickly identify opportunity, track performance, assess competitive threats, and drill down into the page-level details for head and niche terms.

3. SEMrush

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Price: From $99/month for Pro to $399/month for Business (Free for first 10 uses)

SEMrush has a well-earned reputation as one of the best search engine optimization tools in the marketplace.

This tool suite provides paid and organic keyword data, along with competitor information, and does it well.

SEMrush excels at many things, but we’re here to focus on keyword research for organic search.

When you enter a search term, SEMrush can provide hundreds of thousands of keyword suggestions (among the major players in the industry, only Ahrefs can boast about delivering more).

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When you enter a search term into the box, you’re presented with a number of panels that may seem a bit daunting at first.

By drilling into the organic competitors section, you’ll begin to understand why their platform is ideal for competitive keyword gaps, as it will show other in-kind and general domains that occupy the search landscape.

Being able to cross-check seed and long-tail keyword data with what your competitors are ranking for is a major reason why many search industry veterans use SEMrush.

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SEMrush will also cover terms it believes are semantically-relevant for the initial query at both a phrase and relational keyword level.

Often, this data will require a bit of filtering, but this is doable within Keyword Analytics, as is the ability to determine the type of SERP features that a term ranks for across your site or the competition, thanks to a Position Tracking option.

This feature also outlines potential outcomes for Page 1 rankings based on competition, difficulty, and can also handle multiple-location campaign tracking at the city and hyperlocal level, making SEMrush a powerful service.

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For agencies that wish to collaborate across internal teams and believe SEO and PPC work best when they work together, SEMrush also has you covered.

PPC data is also provided for a keyword, which is critical for high-competition, high-cost conquesting campaigns.

SEMrush provides considerable data related to organic search results, but its historic information on ad history and other paid search metrics vital for deeper collaboration within an agency or in-house work can’t be beaten.

4. Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

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Price: From $99/month for Lite to $999/month for Agency

Disclosure: The author is a subscribed user of Ahrefs and is not being compensated for his review.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer is a powerful, all-purpose SEO tool which provides an expansive database that is updated monthly.

Ahrefs’ keyword generator provides more results than any other tool in the marketplace, and they provide full transparency abouthow their metrics and database operate.

When a keyword is identified in Keywords Explorer, Ahrefs takes you to the screen below, where the amount of options provided can feel overwhelming at first.

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Ahrefs has many strengths outside of keyword research, but the data they provide when a term is entered is outstanding.

Keyword Explorer provides multiple levels of data along with terms broke out in parent/child topic format, making it easy to pinpoint intent and fine-tune terms which apply and those which overlap.

They break down terms by search volume, click data (which can be toggled given that many informational queries receive high search volume but low clicks), and a difficulty rating system.

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For topic-related key terms that appear when a keyword or keywords are added, you’re presented with a number of data points.

This includes the term’s placement ranking on SERP, along with the type of SERP result, the estimated difficulty of reaching first-page rankings, along with a drop-down SERP snapshot which pulls in the result for the user, all on-demand.

Tracking can be done at the city level and by language.

One of the downsides of Ahrefs is its price.

While the tool is powerful, it can be a challenge to scale for smaller agencies who would rather have many seats for users and client accounts.

Ahrefs offers options outside of their normal pricing structure via a “Contact Us” link.

But if you’re OK with a single login and fine with being booted when another user needs to do research, Ahrefs is a well-rounded solution for any digital marketing agency.

5. BrightEdge Data Cube

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Price: Varies

Disclosure: The author is a subscriber of BrightEdge services and is not being compensated for his review.

Of all the tools being covered here, BrightEdge is likely the one that sticks out the most.

Whereas other options are either free or can be manually integrated on a monthly level and by anyone with a mouse and keyboard, BrightEdge is a platform that handles client reporting, domain management, integration across Google and Adobe analytics, as well as social media integrations and analysis.

BrightEdge is also the one that doesn’t allow for manual submission of tracked domains – to do that, you’ll need to speak to your client rep.

Often compared in discussions with fellow SaaS vendor Conductor, BrightEdge offers a robust keyword research tool known as Data Cube, which provides historic data on a monthly level for any domain or keyword.

The Data Cube feature can be easily added to their reporting platform, known as Story Builder, which makes providing client reports with broad performance results for terms that center around a common segment a breeze.

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Because Data Cube only tracks at a U.S.-level for desktop and smartphone, filtering will be important.

In the top-right, you can add filters covering a number of categories using include, exclude, greater than, less than, or by number.

This comes in handy when you use the Data Cube for competitor gap assessments; the filter can easily exclude branded search terms to highlight how non-branded performance for a site compares to their real-world reputation (or how other forms of marketing and advertising influence consumers).

The only big downside is that Data Cube updates monthly, usually around the 6th to the 9th of the new month. This, however, is overshadowed by how well it covers keyword data for the term and by domain.

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BrightEdge is a powerful platform that is great for agencies that are seeking to scale up with minimal hassle.

Contracts typically run for one year and services provided can be added or customized to fit your agency’s current and growing needs.

Tracked keywords are also additional, which can often fail to scale up based on the demands of each new client, but provide exceptional hyperlocal tracking to the ZIP code level and update weekly.

Keyword granularity is minimal at best, and research features in Data Cube don’t go broadly into parent topics or cover paid search metrics like Ahrefs or SEMrush, but for a young agency with a young staff and the desire to keep it drag-and-drop, BrightEdge is ideal.

6. Ubersuggest

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Price: Free

Developed by entrepreneur Neil Patel, Ubersuggest is a free tool that anyone can use, and it functions similarly to how Google’s search bar uses autocomplete.

You can easily see this for yourself by heading up to the omnibox and typing in a word slowly, letter by letter.

This is a time-wasting task that nobody wants, making Ubersuggest a great way to expedite this.

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Once you’ve entered your term, you’ll first see a summary section highlighting search volume, estimated CPC, and the logarithmic level of perceived competition.

The best part?You don’t have to focus on web results.

You have the options of zooming in on Google’s Image, Shopping, YouTube, or News results as well.

Considering the price tag, this is pretty nice to have.

Ubersuggest also supports numerous languages and countries, which other premium services often make it a challenge to replicate or find inside of their platform.

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Because Ubersuggest uses Google’s autocomplete API, this tool is great for both young and experienced SEO pros who either seek a quick way to learn about how search works, or are comfortable with how keywords and content work together at a topic level.


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Price: From $48/month for Pro Lite to $88/month for Pro Plus

Often compared to Ubersuggest, Keyword Tooluses Google’s autocomplete API to pull in data by speeding up the manual process at a high rate.

The biggest benefit of using this service is that, unlike Ubersuggest, you can also pull terms across Bing, Amazon, and even eBay.

While the website claims to be free, this is a half-truth.

You can see the keywords provided, but to access the data behind the pulled terms (search volume, competition, etc.), you’ll need to pay.

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The benefit of using KeywordTool: it works well for discovering variations of keywords to build content around.

The downside: all of the other tools above do the same thing.

Are there any benefits to getting a Pro Plus account? Well, it offers a simplistic user experience and it could be worth it if eBay or Amazon search optimization is important to you.

It’s a well-made tool, but it doesn’t cover deeper needs of content marketing, which rely on a deep understanding of topics, context, and semantically-related terms.

Which SEO Keyword Research Tool is Right for Your Agency?

This is, by no means, an exhaustive list of keyword research tools.

Even among the tools discussed in this chapter, there is no “perfect” keyword research tool.

Each tool has benefits and shortcomings.

When selecting a keyword research tool, it’s best to understand where your agency’s strengths and weaknesses lie.

Tools such as Google Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest are great for quick compiling of keyword data. In many cases, the data that can be exported from their outputs can help seed deeper research with the help of Moz and Ahrefs Keyword Explorer.

While Moz and Ahrefs (especially SEMrush) are more robust in their data being provided, they come with a steeper learning and usage curve for inexperienced SEO pros. They also require more of an upfront cost, which may not be feasible for a new agency.

A service like BrightEdge comes with the biggest costs associated, but its SaaS solution for SEO covers many areas inside of a single ecosystem, including the ability to explore keyword data. This may be a benefit for agencies that wish to reduce redundancies across vendors, but eventually, it is likely that the need for a second tool will present itself as talent and effort levels increase inside of your SEO department.

One tool that we didn’t go over involves you – the digital marketer.

Because great content requires a deep understanding of the main idea (e.g., “ac repair houston”) and the supporting subtopics that require coverage (e.g., “central ac vs portable ac systems”) and the common issues that users seek answers for (e.g., “freon,” “refrigeration loops,” “coolant refills,” “troubleshooting”), the effectiveness of a keyword reporting tool is only as strong as the SEO pro using it.

Image Credits

Screenshots taken by Beau Pedraza, February 2018.

Previous Chapter 12 Great Link Building Tools That Are Essential to Your Success

Next Chapter 10+ Tools You Can Use for SEO Competitive Analysis

Category SEO Tools

Top 7 SEO Keyword Research Tools for Agencies (2024)


Which is the best tool for keyword research for SEO in 2022? ›

The best free keyword research tool for advanced SEO

Semrush offers a broad range of keyword research tools, too, from the standard traffic and search volume data to content-driven keyword research and competitive keyword gap analysis.

What is the best keyword research tool for content marketers? ›

8 Best Keyword Research Tools for SEO in 2022 (Compared)
  1. SEMrush. SEMrush is a complete SEO tool suite to carry out keyword research and improve your SEO rankings. ...
  2. AnswerThePublic. ...
  3. Ubersuggest. ...
  4. Ahrefs. ...
  5. Google Keyword Planner. ...
  6. Long Tail Pro. ...
  7. Serpstat. ...
  8. SpyFu.
24 May 2022

What is the best SEO tool to find useful and valuable keywords? ›

Serpstat provides you with a list of historically profitable keywords used by competitors to make them rank high in search results. It also figures the value of your keywords using different factors, like number of search results and cost-per-click.

Which keyword research tool is most accurate? ›

The 10+ best keyword research tools
  • Google Keyword Planner. ...
  • GrowthBar.
  • Long Tail Pro.
  • Majestic.
  • Keyword Tool.
  • Serpstat. ...
  • Moz Keyword Explorer.
  • SpyFu.
26 Oct 2022

Which SEO tool is most accurate? ›

Best overall SEO tools
  • Ahrefs. Source: Ahrefs. Price: from $99 per month. ...
  • Google Analytics. Source: Google. Price: free. ...
  • Google Search Console. Source: Google. Price: free. ...
  • Screaming Frog. Source: Screaming Frog. ...
  • DeepCrawl. Source: DeepCrawl. ...
  • Lighthouse. Source: Lighthouse. ...
  • Siteliner. Source: Siteliner. ...
  • Ryte. Source: Ryte.
30 Sept 2021

What are the latest SEO techniques in 2022? ›

Top 10 Important SEO Techniques of 2022
  • Understand Your Site's Core Web Vitals.
  • Optimize for Google Passage Ranking.
  • Focus on Featured Snippets.
  • Learn the EAT Principle.
  • Support Long-Tail Keyword Phrases.
  • Create New Content.
  • Update Old Content.
  • Focus on User Experience.
2 Apr 2021

How do I choose a keyword research tool? ›

  1. Step 1: Make a list of important, relevant topics based on what you know about your business. ...
  2. Step 2: Fill in those topic buckets with keywords. ...
  3. Step 3: Understand How Intent Affects Keyword Research and Analyze Accordingly. ...
  4. Step 4: Research related search terms. ...
  5. Step 5: Use keyword research tools to your advantage.
7 Jan 2022

Which free tool is best for keyword research? ›

Free keyword research tools
  • QuestionDB.
  • Ahrefs Keyword Generator.
  • SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool.
  • Ubersuggest.
  • Moz Keyword Explorer.
  • Soovle.
  • Keyword Tool Dominator.
  • Google Trends.

How do I find the most profitable keywords? ›

So your final step to finding profitable keywords is to take your keyword ideas and analyze their SERPs to find the ones that'll be the most profitable for you.
For each SERP:
  1. Read the “People also ask” section.
  2. Read the “Related searches” section.
  3. Click through to the top ads and pages to see what they are offering.
29 Jun 2021

Which keyword match is best? ›

1. Broad Match. A broad keyword match is when your ads show in search results for queries related to the meaning of your keywords but don't necessarily contain the exact terms. It's the default type for Google Ads and works best with smart bidding.

How do I find top 10 keywords in Google Analytics? ›

Go to the Search Console tab at the top of the report. From there, you'll see the top 50 search terms for your website. As you can see in the screenshot above, you'll see the number of clicks, impressions, click-through-rate, and average position for each of the keywords.

What is the most powerful research tool? ›

Abstract. Randomized controlled trial (RCT) can be said to be one of the simplest but most powerful tool of research.

Which tool is used for Amazon keyword research? ›

The Sonar Amazon keyword tool helps you to identify all relevant keywords to maximize visibility.

Which is better SEO or PPC? ›

SEO is also more effective for local searches and can grow your online presence for longer. Pay-per-click (PPC), on the other hand, is an acquisition strategy that requires you to spend ad money to get your content in front of an audience when they search for specific keywords online.

Which technology is best for SEO? ›

SEO is a dynamic industry.
7 Emerging Technologies in SEO and Their Applications
  1. Natural Language Processing (NLP) ...
  2. Natural Language Generation (NLG) for short-form content. ...
  3. TF*IDF. ...
  4. GPT-3 for automated content creation. ...
  5. SEO A/B testing. ...
  6. Automated on-page content optimization. ...
  7. Non-text content factors.
22 Feb 2021

What is the most advanced SEO checklist? ›

The Ultimate Technical SEO checklist (2022)
  • Update your page experience – core web vitals. ...
  • Crawl your site and look for any crawl errors. ...
  • Fix broken internal and outbound links. ...
  • Get rid of any duplicate or thin content. ...
  • Migrate your site to HTTPS protocol. ...
  • Make sure your URLs have a clean structure.
13 Jan 2022

What are the 4 important stages in SEO? ›

Phases of our SEO campaigns
  • Phase 1 – Onboarding, Site Assessment, Strategy Development.
  • Phase 2 – Onsite Optimization.
  • Phase 3 – Off-Site Optimization, Citation Submission & Clean up.
  • Phase 4 – Ongoing & Advanced SEO: Link Building, Tracking, Updates.
26 Sept 2016

What are the 4 types of keywords? ›

When researching to discover a user's intentions behind making a search, we can classify all keywords into four main categories of intent: commercial, transactional, informational, and navigational.

Which keyword tool is free? ›

WordStream's Free Keyword Tool gives you hundreds of relevant keyword results, plus additional, actionable information like competition level and estimated CPC, all for free! It's an awesome alternative to Google's Keyword Planner.

Which tool can help you discover new keywords? ›

Keyword Planner helps you research keywords for your Search campaigns. You can use this free tool to discover new keywords related to your business and see estimates of the searches they receive and the cost to target them.

What is keyword magic tool? ›

The SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool is a powerful resource for keyword research. This tutorial shows you how to search SEMrush's database of 15 billion keywords to discover the most valuable keywords for your SEM and SEO campaigns.

How can I research SEO for free? ›

Google Search Console

Google Search Console gives you a taste of what the most used search engine thinks of your website. You can use it to check and fix technical issues on your website, see important SEO data like clicks, impressions and average ranking position, submit sitemaps and more.

What are the 5 types of keywords? ›

These are the five main keyword match types:
  • Broad match (max reach, min relevance)
  • Modified Broad match (slightly lower reach, greater relevance)
  • Phrase match (medium reach, medium relevance)
  • Exact match (min reach, max relevance)
  • Negative match (usually used to increase the relevance of the website visitors)
12 Aug 2019

What are the 3 key factors for a keyword? ›

Here goes:
  • Keyword Relevance. The relevance of a keyword or phrase to the subject matter on the page is positively the MOST important factor in keyword choice. ...
  • Keyword Search Volume. Obviously, if no one is searching for a keyword or phrase, optimizing for it won't help. ...
  • Keyword Competition. ...
  • Keyword ROI. ...
  • Keyword Intent.
23 Aug 2012

How do I increase keyword visibility? ›

How do I increase my visibility on Google?
  1. Register with Google Search Console.
  2. Submit an optimized sitemap.
  3. Check for crawl errors.
  4. Make your website mobile-friendly and fast.
  5. Identify high-performance keywords.
  6. Track keyword ranking.
  7. Use Google Analytics.
  8. Use focus keyword placement.

What are the 6 tools of research? ›

Research tools are specific mechanisms or strategies that the researcher uses to collect, manipulate, or interpret data. Six general tools of research: 1) the library and its resources, 2) the computer and its software, 3) techniques of measurement, 4) statistics, 5) the human mind, and 6) language.

What are the three main research tools? ›

Data collection or research tools are any tools used to measure a variable, or to collect the information needed to answer a research question. Three different data collection techniques are observation, questionnaire and interview.

What is the number 1 online research tool? ›

Google Scholar

This tool allows users to search for academic literature, scientific articles, journals, white papers and patents across the web. This is an excellent tool for research.

What is a good keyword score? ›

A good Quality Score for branded keywords is between 8 and 10. A good Quality Score for high-intent commercial keywords is 7 to 9. 7 is a good Quality Score for low-intent keywords. Aim for a Quality Score of 3+ on competitor keywords.

Which keyword is best in Google Ads? ›

What makes a good Google Ads keyword?
  • High search volume. Not unlike the way we approach organic search keywords for SEO, we also want our Google Ads keywords to be have a high monthly search volume to give us a better chance of reaching more users. ...
  • Topic specificity. ...
  • Appearance in your ad's landing page.

How do I compare two keywords? ›

Compare searches ;
  1. Open Google Trends.
  2. Search for a term, like hamburger .
  3. In the "Compare" box, search for another term, like veganism .
  4. Next to the first search term, click More ; Change filters.
  5. Select a country or region and click OK.
  6. Next to the second search term, click More ; Change filters.

How do I find trending keywords in my industry? ›

Here are 14 of the best sources to help you find out what's trending.
  1. Google Trends. Google Trends is the gold standard for identifying trending search topics in your industry. ...
  2. Exploding Topics. ...
  3. SparkToro Trending. ...
  4. FrontPageMetrics. ...
  5. Feedly. ...
  6. Podcast Notes. ...
  7. Buzzsumo. ...
29 Sept 2021

What is the most searched product on Google 2022? ›

  • Clothing. 37% of searches.
  • Video Games. 34% of searches.
  • Toys. 15% of searches.
  • Cosmetics. 9% of searches.
  • Home appliance. 3% of searches.
  • Electronics. 2% of searches.

What is the most searched question on Google 2022? ›

What are the Most Asked Questions on Google in 2022? Have you ever thought about what are the most asked questions on Google? You may be surprised to know that the most frequently asked question on Google was “What to Watch?”. This search query generated 7.5 million online search queries every month.

How many searches is a good keyword? ›

What Is a Good Keyword Search Volume? As with all things SEO, it depends. The simplest answer is to aim for a minimum volume of 100–1,000 searches per month. However, we'll go over some factors below to help you determine if a keyword is a good choice for you.

Which is the tool to research keywords? ›

1. Google Keyword Planner. Keyword Planner, Google's classic keyword research tool, is a feature within the Google Ads ecosystem.

What tool is used to keyword research in Google ads? ›

Keyword Planner helps you research keywords for your Search campaigns. You can use this free tool to discover new keywords related to your business and see estimates of the searches they receive and the cost to target them.

Is there any SEO tool as good as Google keyword planner? ›

SE Ranking provides accurate SEO data and insights on keyword searches via Keyword Research tool, a comprehensive Google Keyword Planner alternative. Their keyword analysis tool has access to 3 billion keywords in 78 countries and is one of the largest keyword databases available.

What are the 3 match types for keywords in Google Adwords? ›

Of the 3 keyword matching options, exact match gives you the most control over who views your ad, but reaches fewer searches than both phrase and broad match.

Which tool is used for keyword planning? ›

Google's Keyword Planner is designed to help you research keywords to use in your Search Network campaigns. It is a handy free tool that allows you to discover keywords related to your business and see the estimated monthly searches they receive as well as the costs to target them.

Which keyword is best in Google ads? ›

What makes a good Google Ads keyword?
  • High search volume. Not unlike the way we approach organic search keywords for SEO, we also want our Google Ads keywords to be have a high monthly search volume to give us a better chance of reaching more users. ...
  • Topic specificity. ...
  • Appearance in your ad's landing page.

How do I create a SEO keyword strategy? ›

How to Create a Keyword Strategy for SEO
  1. Understand your business' audience. ...
  2. Choose a tool for research and tracking. ...
  3. Add lots of keywords to track and analyze. ...
  4. Choose the best targets. ...
  5. Organize your keywords into topic clusters. ...
  6. Write, publish, and refine content. ...
  7. Analyze and iterate.
18 Sept 2018

What is the best keyword strategy? ›

The best keyword strategies rely on highly relevant keywords, which are keywords that relate closely to your business or are associated with your industry. Once you know the keywords you want to bid on, the next step in your keyword strategy involves crafting text ads that incorporate your keywords.

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