One of the most crucial aspects of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is choosing the right keywords.
After all, it can be a little bit like the childhood story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Some keywords are hot. Some are cold. And some are just right.
The good news is that you don’t have to guess whether a specific keyword is the best choice for your organic traffic goals.
There are tons of excellent tools out there specifically designed to help you identify the best search terms and phrases to use in your text.
Even better? There are a ton of them that are completely free.
In this blog post, you will discover the best free keyword tools to help you dominate SERP results.
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First of All, Why Do You Need Keyword Tools?
Selecting keywords isn’t all about what sounds right to you at the moment.
There’s a bit of strategy that goes along with it.
As the expert in your industry, what you think your target market is searching for online and what they’re actually typing into Google might not be the same thing.
Which is one crucial reason to always do your research.
More importantly, keyword research is about looking to see what people are searching for, the terms they’re using, and whether it is possible to outrank the pages already in the SERPs.
By comparing all of these elements together using a keyword tool, you can find the right one for boosting your overall organic traffic.
What to Look For When Choosing a Keyword Tool
Because keyword research is so essential for SEO, you need the right tools to ensure you know which words and phrases to focus on the most.
However, since there are so many tools available, how can you be sure you’re getting the right one?
Here are some factors to consider:
Fortunately, some of the best keyword research tools are free, meaning you can build a rock solid foundation for SEO marketing without having to invest a ton of money.
That said, paid research tools often have more features and benefits, so you can get a leg up on the competition.
Overall, we recommend using a free tool when you’re first starting your marketing campaign, and then upgrading to a paid version when you’re ready to get to the next level.
We’ll discuss the types of keyword research tools in the next section, but these tools tend to have a specific focus.
For example, are you looking for keywords to rank for paid advertisements or organic search traffic? What about questions related to keywords?
Overall, it helps to know the purpose of using a keyword research tool before making a final decision on the type that will work best.
Some tools are better for affiliate marketers, while others are ideal for e-commerce businesses.
If you don’t have clear and specific goals ahead of time, it’s practically impossible to tell which software will help you achieve them.
How adept are you at SEO marketing? If you’re still new to the process, you want a keyword research tool that breaks down the basics so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Some programs are designed for advanced SEO marketing (i.e., SEMRush), so they’re not ideal for beginners.
Also, if you haven’t used a keyword research tool or something similar before, you may not know all the different features it can include.
So, you want to look for something that comes with tutorials or walkthroughs to help you get the most out of the software.
If you’re new to search engine optimization, it’s safe to say that you don’t know what you don’t know.
So, installing a keyword research tool isn’t going to help your bottom line if you don’t know how to use it effectively.
Try to find software that comes with comprehensive customer support you can access 24/7.
Ideally, you can send instant messages or call someone over the phone if you have questions about keyword research or the program itself.
As a rule, free software tends to have limited support options, while paid versions are much more accessible.
Types of Keyword Research Tools
Not all keywords are created equal, so you need a tool that reflects your specific SEO goals. Here’s a quick overview of the types of tools you can find online:
- SEO Marketing Tool – In this case, keyword research is just one element of a much larger picture. These tools tend to be an “all-in-one” option that can help you kickstart your SEO marketing strategy. We recommend these tools if you want to avoid silos or switching from one program to the next.
- Paid vs. Organic Search – Google prioritizes paid advertising, so you need to invest some capital if you want to rank highly for chosen keywords. However, if you have the budget, you can often get better results with paid keywords than organic ones. Some tools focus on PPC advertising, while others help more with grassroots research.
- Extension Tools – Sometimes, the best tool is one that works for you in the background. Keyword research extensions allow you to see real-time data for keywords you put into Google and other search engines. These options require a bit more legwork on your end, but they’re always running, so you can work more efficiently.
- Question Tools – Many people search for a specific question instead of a keyword string. For example, “how much is a new laptop?” might be more common than “new laptops for sale.” Ideally, you can rank highly for both keyword types to capture more traffic and build a stronger bottom line. Some tools like QuestionDB generate these user questions so you can understand their intent better and ensure your web content appeals to them.
The Best 11 Free Keyword Tools
While there are tons of different keyword tools out there, many of the free options are just as good or better than those that cost monthly or annually.
We dug into what is available to compile this list of the eleven best free keyword tools for your content marketing needs.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use keyword tool that is as accurate as possible, look no further than Google Keyword Planner.
Considered the first real keyword research tool, it comes straight from Google and offers data that shows exactly what people are looking for online.
The platform has a clean layout and is simple to use for those just learning the process of keyword research.
However, the only downside is that it does not include information from other search engines, like Bing.
This can be a problem if you have a super niche topic that doesn’t typically do well on Google, but is popular elsewhere.
By now, you probably already know that Moz is an industry leader in all things organic search.
But you might not be familiar with their whole host of tools, including their free Keyword Search Tool.
This incredibly robust platform allows you to perform detailed keyword analysis with elements like sorting by predictive keyword metrics, looking at keywords in question format, and more.
It’s an excellent option if you want more than basic research, but have a limited budget.
And, if you’ve wanted to try out Moz Pro but were a bit shy of the cost, this is a good way to test drive one of their free tools first.
Just like Moz, SEMRush is a platform that’s synonymous with SEO reporting.
Their tools are always incredibly robust and offer valid insight into how well your digital marketing strategy is really working over the long haul.
That’s why it is so exciting that they offer a budget-friendly solution called the Keyword Magic Tool.
With a click of a button, you can use this free tool to get over a million keyword suggestions from just one seed keyword.
From there, you’re able to analyze the competition score and see if it is worth trying to target with your copy.
There’s a limit of researches you can do in this free tool, but it’s still worth a try.
If you’ve never heard of SE Ranking before, it means you’ve been missing out on a bunch of high-quality SEO tools, including the Keyword Suggestion Tool.
Just insert the seed keyword, choose the location, and be ready to get various short and long-tail query suggestions.
The tool provides detailed info on the seed keyword and several types of alternatives, including low-search volume keywords, most relevant ones, etc.
As a result, you can expand the semantic core of your website and effectively optimize pages for relevant queries, getting more chances to rank higher in Google and other search engines.
That one keyword you find may be the missing link between your site and the first place in the SERPs!
Besides, SE Ranking’s tool pricing is very appealing, and you don’t have to pay right away. The provider offers a 14-day free trial that includes the Keyword Suggestion and other tools.
5. Rank Tracker
There are numerous reasons to like Rank Tracker, but the most important is that they combine many of the free keyword tools in this list into one solid package.
It includes twenty-three of the top-ranking tools to give you access to more data, more keyword suggestions, and a better overall view of the topic you’re researching.
In addition, there’s a database of the keywords your competitors rank for and an element that considers popular misspellings to help you find less obvious keywords.
If you’re looking for one of the best free keyword tools out there, this is it.
While Google Trends isn’t specifically a keyword tool, it can give you an idea of where to start with your keyword research.
This platform shows you a visual chart of the popularity of a particular keyword over time to make it easier to decide when to use it.
Search volume in other tools is typically an average across multiple months. But with Google Trends, you can see individual monthly breakdowns of searches for that specific keyword.
It is especially helpful if you’re creating content around seasonal content or you start to see a drop in traffic for a particular search term and aren’t sure why.
Although it isn’t as widely known as many of the options on this list of free keyword tools, Answer the Public is a really great resource if you’re trying to decide on specific keywords to target for your website.
All you have to do is enter a keyword and you’re given a list of questions people are asking about that term.
From there, you can create FAQ pages, add subheadings to your content that encompass those search strings, and more.
See how this could be a valuable way to boost your organic traffic?
It also makes an excellent research tool to determine what your target market is looking for on Google or Bing.
Ahrefs is another big name in the SEO world, which is why we’ve included their great Keyword Generator on this list.
As expected, the tool offers plenty of data on what people are searching for and how competitors are ranking for similar terms.
But the winning aspect to this free keyword generator is that it takes into consideration dozens of global search engines — not just Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
If your business and target market are based primarily outside the United States, this can be a big deal when it comes to getting accurate keyword data.
Unsure about a particular topic? Keyworddit is an exciting alternative to many of the other free keyword tools out there.
Why? It uses the power of Reddit to find coordinating keywords based on what people are posting in certain sub-channels.
Simple speak: the tool takes what people are posting about and dissects it into a list of keywords about a specific topic.
This can be a handy way to discover longtail phrases or even overall topics to write new blog posts or articles about.
While we wouldn’t use this tool for keyword research alone, it is pretty nifty to pair with other options for a comprehensive approach to content marketing.
For businesses within a specific industry, Bulk Keyword Generator is one of the best free tools to utilize for better research.
Select your niche from a list and the tool generates the most important keywords to focus on.
Furthermore, it also takes into account the local SEO aspect of the process, which can really make a difference for service-based companies, like local contractors.
The resulting keyword list you receive when you use this tool is huge, giving you tons of ideas for all sorts of blog posts, articles, and more.
Need to do a bit of keyword research, but you’re short on time? Google Autocomplete is always a good solution.
Just open up a new browser window, go to Google, and start typing in a search term.
The results will start an autocomplete for you, which can help turn one or two-word keywords into longtails.
It can also give you an idea of what people are searching for or how they’re phrasing a particular question.
While the process is a little basic, it is an excellent option to keep in mind when you just need one or two quick additions to your keyword list.
Wrap Up: Dominating SERP Results with Keyword Tools
Dominating the SERPs is definitely possible if you’re using the right keywords in your content.
And that process starts with using the right tools.
These eleven options are all great choices when it comes to creating stellar content that drives organic traffic.
Not sure where to start with your SEO? We can help.
Our SEO maturity assessment will give you the guidance you need for success!