Back in the day, ranking on Google was relatively simple – you would take the keyword you wanted to rank well for and repeat it tirelessly in the text in hopes of getting to the top of the SERPs. Your job as a marketer or a content creator was to find which keywords are in demand and to try to write up a coherent text. Of course, this last part was totally optional; especially if it interfered with the number of times you could repeat keyword (ah, the bad old days of keyword stuffing)
Over time, Google smartened up and decided that enough is enough. Google has made incremental changes to their search algorithm over the years. The days where you’d want to repeat your keyword 50 times in one page are gone. Now more than ever, good keyword research and high quality content are the key to success.
Content marketers need to understand that research into user intent is now paramount.
The only way you can get the information that you need is to make keyword research one of the most important parts of your content creation process. Creating content over carefully selected keywords is what will make you – or break you, alternatively. Choosing the right keyword research tools will make your life considerably easier.
In a nutshell, it’s going to make sure that you’re not wasting your time creating content no one is looking for and it will enable you to focus on things that actually have some search volume. If you’re just starting out, doing some initial keyword research could also help you come up with ideas for profitable website niches.
Free keyword tools will not always be up to snuff, however. Many only provide basic functionality. That’s why you shouldn’t balk at the opportunity to try out paid keyword generation and analysis tools. In most cases,paid keyword tools come with a trial period. Obviously we’re biased, but we reckon Long Tail Pro is a pretty good keyword tool – you can start a trial of Long Tail Pro here.
Still, we understand that not everybody has the funds available to shell out for a paid keyword tool – that’s why we compiled this list of the best free keyword tools – so you can get up and running with your keyword research. If you’re one of these people, hopefully, you’ll give Long Tail Pro a test drive down the line.
The Best Free Keyword Suggestion Tools
To make your life easier, we’ve decided to draw up a list of 10 free keyword tool software that you can use when planning out your content strategy. Of course, these can also be used for finding out what your target audience is searching for, what their habits are, or even for planning out a PPC campaign. After all keywords aren’t just an SEO thing – they apply in all aspects of internet marketing.
So let’s dig in!
I really love the simplicity of Übersuggest. The design is clean and intuitive and as soon as you get to the page you will be prompted to enter your keyword and start the search. It serves more as a keyword suggestion tool than anything else.
Enter a keyword and press enter and you will be immediately presented with a long list of related terms. They are alphabetically grouped so you can scroll the word categories to find whatever it is that interests you. Here’s a good article about how you can take full advantage of Ubersuggest.
- Completely free tool – no registration, no hassle
- You can build your list and sent it to your email as a CSV file
- You can search web, images, shopping, YouTube, and news
- Can create a word cloud out of keyword search
- Suggestions do not display search volume next to them
- No way to understand competition for a given term
- Word cloud feature is a nice touch but it’s not particularly useful
Pretty much everyone is familiar with Google’s Keyword Planner tool. It’s been around for ages and it’s still one of the most highly regarded free keyword suggestion tools out there. After you enter your keyword – or even multiple keywords or your website address – Keyword Planner will provide you with a list of related terms paired with useful metrics that will allow you to ascertain the competitiveness of every given keyword.
- Gives out comprehensive data on all keyword suggestions – both on local and global search level
- Complete with charts, graphs, and the analysis of every term
- You need to set up a Google AdWords account to use it
- Generates up to 800 keyword ideas – regardless of the number of seed keywords
Google Trends is another freebie from the Google workshop and one that I feel is most useful for bloggers and content creators out there. Basically, what this tool shows you is what is currently trending on the web – buzzwords, hot topics, and so on. You will also be able to take a look at what caused the interests and for what period of time a particular keyword was trending and where.
- Clean results as repeated searches by the same user are not included
- Easy to see what terms are most popular in real time – great for bloggers trying to write up a trending headline
- It generates graphs that can be used as visuals on your web page
- Keywords cannot be exported
- Needs to be double-checked with Keyword Planner tool to check for competition
SerpStat is a great research tool that spews out long tail keywords that are related to your search term. What I find great about it is the fact that it allows you to apply filters to the suggested terms – so you can filter them and leave questions only or you can choose to leave only keywords but exclude toponyms. Also, SerpStat will take a close look at a number of Google domains separately so you will get a better idea what works where.
- Filters our results
- Ability to look at different Google domains separately
- Ability to research competition – both in organic search and ads
- Limited searches if you do not register – registered users get 30 queries and 30 search results daily
- Unintuitive for beginners – you need to know a bit to actually get the most out of it
I absolutely love AnswerThePublic! It’s an ingenious tool that allows you to see the questions people across the web ask in relation to a specific term. Granted, it’s not your run of the mill SEO keyword tool as it does not tell you the search frequency and competition but it’s still an awesome addition to content marketers’ toolbox. It will present the questions in a designed graphic that separates them on the basis of how they start: who, when, how, are, and so on. You can also view the list of sentences with propositions that apply to your search term or alternatively browse through everything alphabetically.
- Great visualization of questions related to the search term
- A curated list of question for across the web – great for bloggers and writers looking for inspiration
- Ability to save the images and share them over email or on social media
- No relevant metrics that allow you to see volume
- Completely useless when trying to ascertain competitiveness of a keyword
Keyword IO is a no-nonsense tool that has an appealing front page that both clean and intuitive. It allows you to target your keywords by country so if you’re using it to get an idea what’s being searched in your neck of the woods you definitely want to give it a try. A list of keyword suggestions will appear on the panel in the left and you can mark them or transfer them all to the left panel to export or copy them to the clipboard.
- Downloadable lists
- Keywords organized by alphabetical order
- Ability to search through Google, YouTube, Bing, Amazon, and even Fiverr
- Requires a sing-up before you can download your list
- Only a certain number of suggestions available in free version
- Filters restricted in the free version
- Annoying interstitial ads when trying to expand on a keyword
- Finding metrics can be troublesome
The biggest plus with Wordstream for me is that it allows up to 30 free searches so there is plenty of opportunity to figure out how the tool works and would it or not be of any use to you. In the free version you will get up to 100 results and the only metric that is readily available is relative frequency – which is shown as a bar chart so it’s not particularly useful at all. To get access to a full list of keywords you will have to sign up and leave your email address.
- Ability to filter the list by striking out undesired words
- You can email the list to your email address
- Keywords can be removed as you like before you send the list to your email
- Without sign-up, you can only access the first page of the results
- Important metrics, such as Google Search Volume and Competition are blacked out completely in the free version
SEO Book is a decent tool that unfortunately can’t be used without free registration. While it does take only a minute it is still a nuisance although they claim that it prevents excessive scraping. A basic account is completely free, however, and it’s well worth a try. SEO Book spits out a rather clean page with all the relevant metrics included in it – you even have access to daily searches which is neglected by a lot of other services but can be useful to some.
- Clean overview with relevant metrics easily accessible without charge
- Search volumes displayed for Google and Bing Yahoo
- Option to directly export lists to CSV
- Log in required to access the tool
- Fuzzy match option ties in results by guessing user intent – not always successfully
- You can only export a single keyword term or full lists – no additional options
Keyword Spy is a comprehensive tool that is more geared toward PPC but can be used by content marketers to get a feel for what the users are searching online. What I like about it is that it has separate tabs for PPC competitors and organic competitors. It will also show you search volumes for related terms and a pretty accurate CPC as well as pull out the overview of ads competing for your particular keyword.
- Great overview and usability
- Various tabs relating to organic/paid competitors, misspelled/similar terms, and more
- Graph depicting search volume and pricing for PPC
- Only one available search before registration
- Free version offers a limited number of keyword suggestions
- Unable to download keyword lists in free version
So, which Free Keyword Tool is your favorite?
The whole list of keyword tools up here is definitely usable and I suggest making one of these tools your regular stop before writing up an article or a post. If you don’t know what people are searching for you will definitely not be able to produce anything of value and will be simply adding to the clutter that Internet has become recently.
In my experience, if you’re anything more than a light user you will want to focus on Google’s Keyword Planner and Google Trends. Because of their usability and functionality, they will prove to be a lot more valuable than other tools – (Long Tail Pro is better of course). Investing in a professional keyword research tool is a smart move for professionals and anyone who is really serious about keyword research – with LongTailPro’s trial period you stand to lose nothing but will definitely free up a lot of hours that you will spend by combining different free tools to get the same results!