The Best Keyword Research Tools For SEO [2019 Reviews]: Real Life Testing & Comparison – Ahrefs Vs SEMRush Vs MOZ Vs Serpstat

You don’t need me to tell you keyword research is important, as is finding the best keyword research tools for that purpose.

Or maybe you do.

You shouldn’t though.

Because if you make a mistake here you’re going to achieve the SEO equivalent of emptying your bladder over the side of a ship…during a hurricane.

You know you need a great keyword tool, but the problem is there are literally dozens of them on the market.

They all make the same promises – like revealing those untapped keywords nobody, anywhere knows about.

But how many of them actually deliver?

That’s what we’re going to look at today – testing and evaluating the best keyword tools for SEOs and affiliate marketers.

What Is A Keyword Research Tool?

Okay, before we get into the nitty-gritty of the different tools, I thought it might be a good idea to take a second here to explain what they actually do.

A keyword research tool is a piece of software or web service that allows you to achieve one of two key goals:

  • Generate a list of related keywords based on a “seed” keyword
  • Evaluate how competitive a given keyword is

You do this by typing your keyword into the search field of your keyword tool of choice:

Kwfinder Keyword Research Suggestions

And it generates a list of keywords related to your original search term by harvesting data from one or more data sources – typically from search engines.

Most other blog posts on this topic try to divide keyword tools into categories of either “traditional” or “competition”, but I don’t see the point in doing that.

Why?

  1. Because the free tools all tend to be traditional in that you type in a seed keyword and they generate a relatively useful list of results.
  2. And almost all paid keyword tools offer some kind of URL or competitor analysis function, in addition to being “traditional” tools.
I don't needs a toolses

Why Even Bother Using A Keyword Research Tool?

This is a valid question.

After all, why not just come up with your own keyword ideas and start creating content around them?

Sure, do that as long as you’re okay with throwing away the next few months of your life.

Keyword tools are worth using for two key reasons:

  • Time
  • Data

Not only do they directly speed up the research process, but they give you the keys to a myriad of insights you otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

The goal, of course, is to uncover ‘easy to rank’ search terms that’ll offer a positive ROI.

It would take you hundreds of hours to produce the same results even the crappiest keyword tool can spit out in under 30 seconds.

Useless trivia: Once upon a time ago, I actually did manual keyword competition research for a niche site.

I cried a lot that weekend.

Why using a keyword research tool makes sense:

  • They enable keyword ideation – suggesting keywords you’d never have thought of
  • They offer you insight into consumer behavior and search patterns
  • You can evaluate markets/niches before building sites in them
  • Find relevant keywords for your audience i.e. search intent
  • Reverse engineer your competitor’s keywords

Basically, they give you the kind of information that allows you to strategically target keywords as opposed to shooting blind.

Another benefit is they provide a framework to create content around – you will have keywords that are statistically proven.

The Best Free Keyword Research Tools

Let’s take a quick look at what free keyword tools are available to you, and whether they’re worth spending a lot of time on.

Hint: They’re not.

The Google Keyword Planner

This is the OG of keyword research – the grandpappy of all keyword tools.

For a long time, this was the data source for pretty much every keyword tool on the market

Or it was until Google changed its mind about sharing data with marketers.

Because Google hates SEOs and affiliates…allegedly.

What most marketers forget – or choose to ignore- is that the Google Keyword Planner is part of the Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) platform.

So its original purpose was as a PPC (Pay per Click) research tool, and not as an organic keyword tool for SEOs or affiliates.

Entering a search term into the Google Keyword Planner (GKP) will give you:

  • Related keywords
  • Average monthly searches for each keyword
    Competition (Low, Medium or High)
  • CPC (top of page ad) values

As a basics “ideation” tool the GKP is fine…but:

  1. The “Average Monthly Searches” metric is pretty much useless.
  2. I would never build a website based on their keyword competition data. Ever.

What the Google Keyword Planner did well was to provide you with a quick and easy way to generate a list of related keywords for a niche site.

But – as of the time of writing- you need to add a payment method to your AdWords account before you can use the GKP properly.

Basically, the Google Keyword Planner has had its day, and it’s time for people to move on.

Best feature

It’s free.

Worst feature

It’s not free – you have to set up a payment method to use it.

Then you can add in everything else, like the pre-millennium interface, and search volumes so vague they could run for political office.

Ubersuggest

Once upon a time, this was Ubersuggest.io.

But Neil Patel saw the huge potential in this free tool and acquired it a few years ago.

Since then the development team has spent a lot of time adding new features to it, making what used to be a barebones “autocomplete tool” far more visual, and far more useful.

Ubersuggest Dashboard

The frontend shows you search volume, keyword (SEO) difficulty, paid difficulty and CPC data.

A nice touch is that it also displays annual search volume trends, so you can plan around those seasonal lulls.

The actual keyword research tool shows you a good number of keyword suggestions:

Ubersuggest Keyword Suggestions

But it also displays your top competitors in the SERPs for whatever keyword you’re researching:

Ubersuggest Google Serp

You can also choose to simply reverse engineer what your competitors are doing by analyzing what keywords their domain ranks for, how much traffic they generate and even how difficult it might be to outrank them.

Ubersuggest Domain Keywords

And even which pages on their domain get the most traffic, data you’ll rarely find outside paid premium tools.

Ubersuggest Top Seo Pages

So, Ubersuggest is more than just your average keyword research tool – it’s a suite of tools.

Best feature

The SERP analysis features are excellent considering this is a free tool.

Worst feature

The keyword difficulty score is way off right now.

Keywords Everywhere

There’s a certain amount of beauty in simplicity, which is what I like so much about Keywords Everywhere.

This plugin for Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox provides you with some extra data via the Google API.

Doesn’t sound all that exciting, does it?

But the fact that the data is available within your web browser makes it instantly accessible – you don’t need to login to anything else.

That simple feature alone won this tool a lot of fans.

In addition to displaying “related keywords”, it also lists dozens of other keywords that “People have also searched for”.

Keywords Everywhere

So you get an at-a-glance overview of what types of keywords are related to your seed keyword, an approximate search volume, CPC data, and even a competition score.

Keywords Everywhere is what Google Keyword Planner should have evolved into.

The downside here is that you’re relying on Google’s keyword data, which they’re doing their very best to hide from the general public.

Best feature

Do keyword research directly within your web browser.

Worst Feature

Relies solely on whatever data Google chooses to share via their API.

Answer The Public

This is a keyword tool that does something very simple, but incredibly valuable – it generates a list of keywords based on Google’s AutoComplete feature.

Answer The Public

It’s not the only keyword tool that does this, but it’s more accessible than anything else I’ve come across.

Oh, and it’s free.

It basically takes your seed keyword and then applies a number of modifiers to it such as:

  • Prepositions (to, with, near, is)
  • Comparisons (or, and, like, versus)
  • Alphabetical (seed keyword + a to z autocomplete)

It also generates questions and “related searches” based on your original seed keyword.

Its “unique feature” is that it presents keyword data in a visual format.

Here’s what that looks like:

Answer The Public Visual

That looks cool, right?

It is, but only if you want to develop neck, back, and shoulder strain.

Fortunately, you can also arrange the data in table format.

Answer The Public Table

If you’re looking for a free keyword research tool that generates massive lists of long-tail keywords, you could do a lot worse than check out ATP.

Best feature

It automates the process of harvesting long-tail keywords from Google, free of charge.

Worst feature

There are no filtering options. None. You have to download CSV files and do it manually.

Search Console

Oh, we’re adding Google Search Console to the list?

Yes, and for entirely valid reasons.

Obviously, Search Console can only be used if you have a website with traffic coming to it.

So if that’s not you, then skip this bit and head over to the paid keyword tools section of our review.

The thing is that very few webmasters (is that still a word?) pay attention to all those extra, and very specific, keyword queries you’ll find in Search Console.

There’s keyword gold in them thar hills!

You can use these keywords to either optimize your existing pages or to create a brand new piece of content around:

Search Console

And – as the screenshot says – you won’t find these keywords in most tools.

Why?

Because some of them have never been searched for before – Google estimates that there are something like 2 trillion never-before-seen keyword searches every single year.

Best feature

It’s one of the only ways you can find out exactly what keywords people use to find your site. Yes, you can do that in Google Analytics, but only when you link it to Search Console in the first place.

Worst feature

It’s not really a keyword research tool…but I still love it.

Honorable Mention

Keyword Shitter

This isn’t a keyword research tool in the true sense of the word.

Instead, think of it as more of an idea generator.
It’s not even remotely refined – you just type in a search term and it starts…well…pooping out related keywords.

Keyword Shitter

Probably the best use for Keyword Shitter is if you’re having a bout of keyword researcher block.

Instead of just staring at your screen going “…I got nothing…I’m wasting my life”, let this tool throw some ideas your way.

So now that we’ve taken a look at the free keyword tools it’s time to take on the big hitters of the keyword research industry.

free keyword tool vs paid one

In an ideal world, free keyword tools would be just as powerful as ones that cost anywhere from $29 to $99 per month.

But we don’t live in an ideal world.

There are dozens of different paid tools on the market, so there’s no way for us to cover every single one of them in a way that’s useful to you.

I mean, what’s the point in us reviewing 15 or 20 keyword tools you’ve:

  1. Never heard of
  2. Will never use

We simply do not want to waste YOUR time.

Something else to consider is that the days of dedicated keyword research tools are over and done. Any of the paid tools we list here are part of an overall suite of SEO tools.

So they’re hybrids rather than dedicated research tools.

In fact, some of the dedicated, old school keyword tools have been left behind as a result of this change in user needs and expectations.

That’s just the nature of this game – you either compete or you become irrelevant.

And you’ll probably be surprised at how quickly certain premium tools are becoming old news.

Our Assessment Criteria

When we were putting together the refresh of this review we decided to put ourselves in the shoes of the average digital marketer and ask one question:

What features of a keyword tool are most important to you?

The reality is that most of you really only care about a handful of features in any of these tools, such as:

  • Number of related keywords generated for each search
  • A keyword difficulty score that’s not a total and utter lie
  • How competitive the SERPs are (snippets, etc)
  • Being able to manipulate and collate keywords within the tool
  • So that’s exactly what we measured.

1. Keyword Difficulty

Ask any sensible affiliate marketer or SEO what one specific keyword metric they really care about, and they’ll most likely tell you it’s keyword competitiveness.

But keyword difficulty scores vary wildly from one tool to the next, so how can you tell which one is correct?

Keyword Difficulty Score

The honest truth is that you can’t and shouldn’t put all your faith in a keyword difficulty score.

Just because Tool X says a keyword has little or no competition doesn’t mean that’s true.

It simply means that according to the tool’s internal metrics, this is how difficult it will be to rank for that specific keyword.

You should always, always, manually check the SERPs before building content around a keyword.

Basically, ask yourself if you can publish a better blog post than your ten competitors.

And can you get more backlinks to that page than they have?

2. Keyword Suggestions

Having the most expensive keyword tool on the market might make you feel better about yourself.

But unless it can churn out several hundred (or thousand) keywords for you to analyze and choose from, then you’re probably wasting your time.

Now, the caveat here is that search volumes should never be treated as absolutes – regardless of what keyword tool you use.

Why?

Because some tools use third party data sources (Ahrefs), while others use Google’s data (KWFinder).

So you can’t compare oranges with oranges here.

Equally, you cannot rely on Google to accurately report search volumes because it’s not in their interest to help SEOs or affiliates make informed decisions on this stuff.

3. Data Filtering

It’s easy to become overawed by how many keywords a specific tool can suggest.

But sheer volume by itself isn’t useful.

In fact, it can hinder you unless you have ways to filter through your keyword data in an effective manner.

You’ll see later in this review how certain keyword tools spat out anywhere from 19k to 32k keywords for a single search term.

How would you feel about exporting 32,000 data fields, and then having to filter through them in Excel or Google Sheets?
Exactly.

You can stop crying now.

4. SERP Analysis

Personally, I put a LOT of emphasis on this one feature.

As much as I love a good ole’ keyword difficulty score, it’ll be a while before it fully replaces a manual SERP analysis. (Though I’ll be happy to eat my words when it does.)

Why is SERP analysis so important?

Well, assuming we have the right data in front of us, humans are still much better at evaluating keyword difficulty.

Human beings are pattern matching and recognition “machines”.

It just takes us longer to do it, but we can interpret the data in a way no AI system currently can.

So, while I recommend using a difficulty metric to narrow down your suggestions, you should always do a manual analysis before giving any keyword the green light.

As I briefly mentioned earlier, your ability to do this effectively relies on data.

The availability and accuracy of specific kinds of data, like:

  • Backlinks
  • Referring domains
  • Domain level authority
  • Page level authority

Now that you understand our logic, let’s look at how well our selection of paid keyword tools performed based on the above measurements.

KWFinder

This is one of those tools that could have disappeared off the radar, but thankfully it didn’t.

There’s a lot to like about KWFinder because there’s a lot going on underneath the hood.

It’s basically Budget Ahrefs, but don’t let the “budget” tag fool you.

The first thing we have to give props for is the interface.

It’s nice to have one that was obviously designed for the end-user…not for the developer.

Kwfinder Dashboard

Okay, at first glance this screen looks really busy.

But you get used to it very quickly, to the point where you feel kinda weird using other tools that don’t offer the same unified view of your data.

I personally love that I don’t have to open a separate tab for SERP analysis, keyword difficulty, related keywords, search volume trends, etc., etc.

Keyword Suggestions

The free version of this tool is limited to 50 searches, which is fine.

But when you look at the paid versions (including their Agency package) you’ll see you’re limited to 700 search results per keyword.

Now, I know some people won’t see a problem here, but I do.
700 searches per keyword is pretty poor when compared to other tools that can give you tens of thousands of keyword results, and all without breaking a sweat.

The question(s) I ask myself here is: How many keywords aren’t being returned…and are they the ones with the most value?

Keyword Filtering

One aspect of KWFinder that’s head and shoulders above most other tools we reviewed is the data filtering.

I find it really intuitive and it’s quick AF too.

Kwfinder Results Filter
  1. Sort by min/max search volume
  2. Include or exclude specific keywords
  3. Choose how many words your phrases should have
  4. Only display keywords of a certain difficulty level

Keyword Difficulty

KWFinder bases its difficulty score on a number of different metrics, including Moz and Majestic.

The sample keyword we’ll use throughout this review is “dog harness”, and when we ran it through KWFinder we go this result:

Kwfinder Keyword Difficulty

56/100 indicates this is a really tough keyword to rank for, but you’ll see how that compares to other keyword tools later in the review.

SERP Analysis

Kwfinder Serp Analysis

Your SERP analysis data is available right from the main screen – there’s no need for additional tabs or windows.

From left to right you have Domain Authority, Page Authority, Citation Flow, Trust Flow, Facebook shares, Link Profile Strength and Estimated Visitors.

We have no idea why they include how many Facebook shares a URL has, especially considering Facebook content isn’t indexed by Google.

Note: One feature I’d love to see in KWFinder is collapsible panes- like being able to minimize the SERP analysis window so you can just focus on finding more keywords, and vice versa.

This is a keyword tool with a bright future ahead of it – it has already left some of its more expensive competitors eating its digital dust.

Best feature

They completely nailed the interface – it’s hard to find fault with it.

Worst feature

The limited number of returned searches (700) is the lowest of any of the paid tools in this review.

Suitable for

SEO’s or affiliate marketers on a tight budget but who need access to premium quality tools.

KWFinder Summary
Keyword suggestions KD scoring
SERP Analysis Data Filtering
Interface Price

Moz Keyword Explorer

If you’ve been around the SEO scene for more than a few weeks you’ll have already heard somebody mention Moz.

It used to be SEOMoz, but they dropped the “SEO” part a few years back.

Anyhoo, they’ve been around since 2004, so they know a thing or two about keyword research.

Moz Keyword Explorer uses clickstream data which according to Moz is “…the data collected during clickstream analysis which includes pages a user visits and the sequential stream of clicks they create as they move across the web, hence “clickstream data”.

Or to put it another way, this is data collected from a wide variety of sources besides Google i.e. other search engines, mobile apps, data mining tools, etc.

Why not use Google’s data?

Because Google is doing its level best to hide data from SEOs and marketers.

It’s not unreasonable to believe that Google will eventually turn off their free keyword data faucet.

Moz Keyword Overview

I like the way Moz presents their keyword data – it’s modern and visually appealing. You don’t have to spend very long figuring it out.

And you might also have noticed that along with all the usual stuff (search volume, keyword difficulty, etc.) Moz also displays ‘Organic CTR’ and ‘Priority’ scores.

Organic CTR represents the lack of other SERP features that distract searchers from clicking on organic links. Higher is better.

‘Priority’ is a combined calculation of search volume, ‘Organic CTR’ and keyword difficulty. Again, higher is better.

Keyword Suggestions

Moz caps keyword suggestions at 1,000 for each seed keyword, so…we got 1,000 matches for our seed keyword of “dog harness”.

Moving along.

Keyword Difficulty

Moz uses the PA (Page Authority) model to calculate how difficult a keyword will be to rank for.

Oddly enough they’ve just updated their internal keyword scoring system (DA 2.0) as of March 5th, 2019, so we timed this well.

When we checked “dog harness” Moz gave us a difficulty score of 39.

Moz Keyword Difficulty

This puts it squarely in the mid-range of scores as presented by all the other keyword research tools.

Keyword Filtering

Moz Keyword Explorer does offer you the ability to create keyword lists from the keyword suggestions it generates, but that’s pretty much where the collation features end.

Moz Keyword Filtering

Besides that, you have to export the data to a CSV file and work on it offline.

That’s not what you’d expect from a keyword tool that costs this much per month.

SERP Analysis

Okay, positive points here are that Moz Keyword Explorer shows you information like Page Authority, Domain Authority, Linking Root Domains to Page, Linking Root Domains to Root Domain (that’s a mouthful).

Moz Serp Analysis

It also shows you if Google AdWords blocks or Local Search results are present.

But that’s it.

Nothing on featured snippets, video thumbnails, knowledge graph, or any other SERP features that might affect your ability to rank on that page.

Or to even bother trying in the first place.

Best feature

I couldn’t help but the love interface. Not only is it clean and well laid out, but Moz makes good use of visuals to present data in a way that doesn’t overwhelm.

The ‘Priority’ metric is also an interesting addition.

Worst feature

At this stage in the game, Moz should be leading the pack in keyword, backlink, and competitor analysis tools – especially considering they had a 6-year head start on many others in the industry.

But they’ve fallen so far behind tools like Ahrefs or KWFinder that I’m struggling to understand how they’ll compete in the near future.

Ahrefs can, for example, generate 30x as many keywords in a single search, for the same price, and also has a vastly superior backlink analysis tool.

Suitable for

SEO’s or affiliate marketers who can afford to pay over the odds for a keyword tool.

Moz Summary
Keyword suggestions KD scoring
SERP Analysis Data Filtering
Interface Price

SEMrush

I have a lot of respect for the SEMrush team because they’ve been in the game for over a decade now.

Their keyword tool has been a firm favorite of many SEOs and affiliate marketers for years.

But how has it held up over time, especially considering their ‘Keyword Magic’ tool is finally out of Beta?

Semrush Dashboard

Visually, the interface is clean but dated, providing you with a quick overview of the important metrics, including:

  • Volume
  • Trends
  • Difficulty
  • SERP features

One annoyance is that you have two keyword difficulty metrics displayed on the same page – KD (organic) and Comp (PPC).

If you understand the difference between the two then this isn’t a problem.

But if you’re a new user you could be left scratching your head, which is never a good thing.

This is one of the overall failings of SEMrush – it tries to be all things to all types of keyword researchers.

That’s an admirable goal (if that’s the case), but it also means their interface lacks focus, and it’s starting to show.

Keyword Suggestions

SEMrush returned 17,779 keywords for our test phrase of “dog harness”, which is more than enough data for anyone to work with.

Semrush Keyword Suggestions

You’ll need to filter through this much data to find the truly valuable, low comp stuff, but this huge number of keyword suggestions gives you plenty of scope to do that.

Keyword Difficulty

SEMrush uses domain authority (DA) to evaluate how difficult it is to rank for a given keyword. Or they did last time we checked.

So, when we apply their metric to our test keyword we see that it scores 76.22%:

Semrush Keyword Difficulty

Or in other words, it’s extremely competitive, and probably not worth your while pursuing.

The problem is that this result conflicts with the data we found in other products, and by a large margin.

In fact, it’s anywhere from 20% – 60% higher than the difficulty score produced by other tools.

So, either everyone else is wrong, or SEMrush needs to take another look at their keyword difficulty scoring.

Keyword Filtering

SEMrush allows you to filter keywords using all the usual toggles like word count, search volume, and keyword difficulty.

But they do have a very neat filter worth mentioning: Filter by SERP Features.

Semrush Serp Features Filtering

Why is this important?

Because it allows you – amongst others things – to root out keywords that have zero SERP features, which should make them easier to rank for.

Best feature

The Keyword Magic window gives you an overview of a number of important metrics all in one place.

Worst feature

The Keyword Difficulty score is way off. It’s been this way for years, so that’s not a good sign.

Suitable for

Marketers or bloggers who need a combined SEO and PPC tool.

SEMRush Summary
Keyword suggestions KD scoring
SERP Analysis Data Filtering
Interface Price

SerpStat

Here we have a relative newcomer to the keyword research tool scene, arriving in 2013, but managing to introduce itself to a wider audience thanks to AppSumo.

First things first, the interface needs an overhaul.

Or a makeover, at the very least.

I’m fine with the MVP (minimum viable product) approach but SERPstat takes that to a new level.

There are benefits in offering a minimalist interface, but a splash of color wouldn’t go astray here.

Serpstat Dashboard

There’s nothing “wrong” with the color scheme, it’s just that it feels very 2004.

But looks aren’t everything.

So, how does it actually perform?

Keyword Suggestions

SerpStat spat out an impressive 19,792 keywords related to “dog harness”

Serpstat Keyword Suggestions

The keyword data is presented in the usual way i.e. volume, keyword difficulty, SERP features, etc.

No surprises there.

The “Social domains” metric is kinda cool though.

It shows you whether the likes of Amazon, Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter or other social platforms appear in the top 100 search results for this keyword.

This would be massively more useful though if it only focused on the top 10 – 20 positions.

Who cares what’s ranking on page 3 or 4?

Keyword Difficulty

Similar to other premium tools, SerpStat calculates KD based on how many incoming links a specific URL has.

But that’s not the only factor they take into account:

  • Number of referring domains
  • SerpStat Page and Trust Rank
  • Keyword in Title
  • Keyword in URL

This approach makes sense because any website that’s had its Title and URL optimized for the same keyword means business.

Basically, they know what they’re doing, so you have your work cut out for you.

So, what happens when we analyze our keyword “dog harness” with SerpStat?

Serpstat Keyword Difficulty

We get a keyword difficulty rating of 11.84.

What’s really interesting about this will become apparent when we review the final tool in our roundup. No cheating!

Keyword Filtering

Sigh.

And now the not-so-good stuff.

You can only sort data in its own columns. Apart from that, you have to export it and manipulate it externally.

Just no.

Best feature

Extremely accurate keyword difficulty score, and comparable with one of the market leaders.

Worst feature

The lack of data filtering or collating is a major oversight – sorting by ascending or descending order is completely inadequate.

Suitable for

Affiliate marketers who need or want a no-frills keyword research tool with multiple foreign language databases.

SerpStat Summary
Keyword suggestions KD scoring
SERP Analysis Data Filtering
Interface Price

Ahrefs

And last, but by no means least, we come to Ahrefs.

We have to be honest here in an effort to offer full transparency – we love Ahrefs (our review).

It’s our “go to” keyword research tool.

Is it perfect?

No, but it’s bloody close.

Ahrefs Dashboard

Ahrefs is a “hybrid tool” in that it offers keyword research, content marketing, rank tracking, and site auditing tools.

But its real strength is in helping you find those low competition keywords you struggle with – we’ll touch on that more shortly.

The ‘Keywords explorer’ interface mixes easy visuals with complex data, but without overwhelming you.

Basically, it’s easy on the eyes and focuses on positive user experience.

Far too many keyword tools just dump data on the screen in a way that developers can work with but end-users get migraines from.

Ahrefs doesn’t make that mistake.

Keyword Suggestions

What happened when we asked Ahrefs to find additional keywords related to our seed keyword of “dog harness”?

Ahrefs Keyword Ideas

We got 32,523 keywords that contained variations on our seed keyword.

That makes it the hands-down winner for the sheer number of keywords churned out by any tool in this review.

The only teeny, tiny niggle here is that it can take several moments for it to return the initial search results.

But filtering through an internal database of 150+ million keywords (for the US alone) obviously takes a bit of processing time.

Something else I love about Ahrefs is that it also identifies the parent topic for a particular keyword:

Ahrefs Parent Topic

Why is this a big deal?

Because these “parent” topics represent an entire branch of seed keywords you might never have considered before.

A perfect example of this is “service dog vest” in the above example – that would make a great additional category page for a niche site focusing on dog harnesses, or even for a larger authority site on dog clothing.

An additional benefit of the parent topic feature is that you can use it as a guideline for creating content.

Let’s say you look up the term “keyword research”.

You get a list of keyword suggestions on the left, and on the right you’ll see they’re attached to a ‘Parent topic’.

What this tells us is whether or not these keywords deserve their own page, or should simply be a sub-heading on another page.

Ahrefs Parent Topic

If you look at the above example you’ll see that:

  • Keyword research tool = separate page of content
  • Google keyword research = separate page of content
  • Free keyword research tool = subheading under ‘Parent topic’ of “Keyword search”

We’ve color coded each parent topic to highlight this in a bit more detail.

’Keywords explorer’ also shows you the last time the metrics for a keyword were updated, and even gives you the opportunity to refresh them yourself:

Ahrefs Keyword Data Refresh

Keyword Difficulty

Ahrefs bases its Keyword Difficulty (KD) score on how many incoming links a given URL has – they even include that metric in their keyword difficulty scoring.

There’s more to it than that, but the easiest way to understand it is that it’s based on the “page authority” model.

So, how did it rate our sample keyword of “dog harness”?

Ahrefs Keyword Difficulty Score

Does that result look familiar?

It should, because it’s the exact same result we got in SerptStat.

Up to quite recently, I would have considered KWFinder to be the next best thing to Ahrefs in terms of calculating keyword difficulty.

But SerpStat has come a long way in a short time, it seems.

And yes, we understand that one single KD score isn’t exactly an in-depth study, but it’s interesting, no?

SERP Analysis

This is another feature where Ahrefs slaps the competition in the face and challenges it to a duel at dawn.

Ahrefs Serp Overview
  1. Ahrefs rank
  2. Domain rank
  3. URL rank
  4. Total backlinks
  5. Total referring domains
  6. Estimated organic traffic
  7. Number of organic keywords
  8. Top keyword ranked for

That’s as much competitive analysis data as you’ll need to reverse engineer what any of your competitors are up to.

Keyword Filtering

As much as I love the filtering options in KWFinder, there’s something more intuitive about how Ahrefs manages this.

It’s probably because the filters are included in-line with the keyword results.

Ahrefs Keyword Filetring

You can filter by keyword difficulty, search volume, number of words, SERP features (snippets, etc), include, and also exclude certain words.

Best feature

This is really tough, but here goes – it’s the ‘SERP overview’ (SERP analysis) feature.

Why?

Because it’s saved me chasing keywords the wrong way up Search Intent Avenue several times.

Worst feature

When you change the search region in Keyword Explorer…it resets the keyword field.

Yes, that’s nitpicking but it really grates on my nerves.

Suitable For

Anyone who takes their SEO seriously.

Ahrefs Summary
Keyword suggestions KD scoring
SERP Analysis Data Filtering
Interface Price

Free vs. Paid

As you can see by now there’s a vast difference between free and paid tools.

Sure, the day might come when a completely free keyword research tool knocks paid tools off their lofty perches…but it is not this day.

*Must resist the urge to watch Return Of the King*

paid keyword tool Ahrefs

Anyways.

If you’re a blogger or SEO with zero, or very little money, you can actually achieve quite a lot with tools like Keywords Everywhere combined with the free searches offered by tools like KWFinder.

But a paid keyword tool is a very smart investment once you can afford one.

Free tools can’t compete with the likes of Ahrefs or KWFinder. Or at least they can’t right now.

The reason for this is that these hybrid tools are moving more towards becoming full-service SEO and content marketing platforms.

Doing that requires the investment of a lot of money in a lot of technology.

And free keyword tools (by definition) don’t make their owners very much money.

What you will see over the next 2- 3 years is one or two of the more prominent free tools massively expanding their features and moving to a paid model but at the lower end of the pricing scale.

Still Not Sure Which Tool To Buy?

There’s one thing we didn’t include which is still a key factor to consider.

PRICE.

For some, keeping costs down is a priority, and choosing a tool that ticks the right boxes without costing an arm and a leg is a more attractive option.

For others, having access to the best possible tools in order to get the job done is the only thing that matters, regardless of price.

So we thought it’d be a good idea to give you our personal recommendations, based on which of those categories you fall into.

The Best Value Keyword Research Tool

kwfinder logoValue for money is something we can all relate to.

And that’s particularly true in this market, where keyword research tools vary so much in price that it’s sometimes hard to know what you’re getting for your money.

Truth is, keyword research tools rely on data, and data isn’t cheap.

The best tools, as in the tools that offer the most comprehensive data, aren’t on the lower end of this scale as you can imagine.

That said, there are some pretty solid, but affordable options if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck.

In my opinion, the best value keyword research tool would have to be KWFinder (read our review).

This web-based tool starts at $49 per month (or $29 per month if you pay annually).

KWFinder represents incredible value for money.

The Best Premium Keyword Research Tool

On the other side of the spectrum, some people just want the most horsepower.

And that’s fine.

Thanks to fierce competition and constant updates in technology, some keyword research tools have become an invaluable hub of SEO and keyword data.

The best premium keyword research tool – again, in my opinion – is Ahrefs (read the review).

Starting at $99/month, it offers you an excellent keyword research tool, a super-reliable keyword difficulty scoring system, and a robust SERP analysis feature backed by a ginormous index of over 14 trillion links.

For me (and the rest of Authority Hacker team), there’s really no other tool on the market that can replace Ahrefs at the moment.

Conclusion

So, there you have it – our list of the best keyword research tools out there right now.

It’s obvious from reading through all the comments on the older version of this review that there are more keyword research tools than there are hours in the day to review them.
That being said, we are open to ideas on what to include in any future update.

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100 Comments

  1. I am leaning towards KWFinder.com but recently I came across keysearch.co and I wonder how these 2 tools compare in terms of keyword difficulty? Have you tried keysearch.co? I would be great to hear your opinion on it.

  2. Hey Lewis,

    Great post.
    Personally, I have been using Ahrefs and it’s a great tool when it comes for keyword suggestion. I have used SEMrush too but I found Ahrefs more user-friendly.

  3. Location de Voiture Casablanca

    Different keyword research tools like TubeBuddy, keyword everywhere and keyword tool show me different competition of a specific keyword: businessman. So which one is the right one?

  4. I was wondering if I get the best of both worlds if I use a google auto suggest based keyword tools like answerthepublic.com or soolve.com with the ones you best reviewed here, kwfinder.com or ahrefs.com?
    That is, use the former tools to come up with phrases of what people are searching for & entering them into the latter tools to determine which phrases would be easiest to rank for. I could then create content to ‘answer’ these phrases/questions.
    Is many logic flawed on if I were to combine these tools in this way? Thanks for your thoughts on this methodology.

  5. Scarlet at Family Focus Blog

    I use Jaaxy but I will check out KWFinder because I am noticing that my results are quite what I would expect if it was as accurate as I hoped. Thanks for the comparison of keyword research tools!

  6. I have used the premium versions of both Ahrefs, Moz and KWfinder. I believe when it comes to SERP results KWfinder is the best among these 3 while Ahrefs is the best when it comes to keyword suggestion and difficulty.
    By the way what are your thoughts on free tools like ubersuggest.
    Thanks for such nice article.

    1. Hey Nishant, thanks for the comment.

      I think Ubersuggest is setting the bar higher when it comes to free tools for sure. It’s no Ahrefs but if you are on a budget you can do decent keyword research with it.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing these best research tools.

    I have question related keyword research. Should we totally depend upon keyword difficulty which is shown by these tools?

  8. Great posts as always.

    I’d like to say you narrowed down the review very well that even newbie SEOs will be able to get a head start.

    In my opinion it’s not always about the pricing that we look for when choosing a Keyword research tool. We like to consider Use Cases and what we’re trying to achieve. In our experience we’ve found that no one Keyword Tool is the be-all-end-all of keyword research.

    Take for instance that we’ve chosen competition research as our keyword strategy for this particular project we are working on. We like to use the keyword tool that deliver accurate metrics on the SERP analysis.

    Something that instantly tells us what the top competing websites are already ranking for ( we use this most of the times for client’s projects).

    We could easily never give a wink about whether or not they return more suggested keyword or anything about the Keyword difficulty.

    Same goes for when we are finding profitable keywords for new idea. This time we shift attention away ( not completely) from other things and pay more attention to KD, SV , competition e.t.c.

    Nothing is written in stone here. In the end we Might likely end up combining two or there of those tools to achieve what we want.

    I cannot say SEMrush , KWFinder and Ahrefs are the best ( ah! Haven’t tested others to be sure ) but we combine them all the time to get shit done.

  9. I have read many article on same but mostly focused on just one which they want everyone to go and purchase.

    But this article seems interesting as fact and screenshot you shared shows that how each tools works.

    I have used SEMRush and Ubersuggest. Now I am using Keyword everywhere, webmaster and ahrefs altogether to find keyword and analyze.

    Depending on just one keyword research tool is not gonna help so I search keyword in google then see keyword everywhere’s data. After that I go to ahrefs and see how keyword are doing.

    In the end, I check top 10 results manually for more clear insights of keyword which I am gonna target next.

  10. Well I certainly agree as stated in your podcasts, the value of Authority Hacker website goes up significantly when you update your old content. This excellent post is an example of bringing us up to date on keyword tool reviews since Perrin Carrell did a nice job way back when. Things change and get out of date so fast.
    I do agree there is no contest that Ahrefs hybrid tool is a dominant force, however being a long time subscriber to Long Tail Pro, I get a great discount and refuse to terminate my subscription since their value is significantly positive paying about 80 dollars less per month than the Ahrefs $99 monthly fee. I find I like using both tools to compare notes. I disagree with some and think for the money, LTP provides pretty good keyword suggestions with very good visuals showing keyword competition and competitor analysis. At the higher price, Ahrefs provides more intense features and data, no question.
    What I learned in this review that is new to me, is it seems Serpstat is another nice product and I see they offer a 30-day free trial which is quite generous. Kudos to the improvement on this website for more consistent updating of content. I know it must take a lot of resources to do this, but your staff has always been very informative and “telling it like it is”(remember “Howard Cosell” the attorney turned sportscaster, broadcasting Muhammad Ali fights—-this was his line and built his brand of sportscasting off it–Well Mark Webster may recall this anyway) without bias to make an affiliate commission.
    I will keep reading the emails Gael sends me, listen to your excellent podcasts, and now look forward to staying on top of things with your updated blog posts.

  11. Hey. Recently started testing Ubersuggest. So far, the information correlates with the actual data of the results. Thanks for this post.

  12. Thanks for amazing article. Although you have not covered a few features of Sersptat. E.g. in Serpstat you can do keywords research only for Moscow or St. Petersburg region, and this is important and extremely convenient for those who work with international markets. You can also clastirise keywords that is also very important for Yandex SEO. I personally use Sersptat and Ahrefs, and cannot say which tool is the best one, as they have own pluses and minuses.

  13. The tools which use the Google API as you said are useless because Google don’t want to show the correct data to API users when they are not even showing the correct data on their own tool, yeah we all know that….
    So, instead go for the algorithms which are built by third party and take slight help from Google API as well like KWFINDER and AHREFS !!

  14. Thanks guys, great review.
    I use Ahrefs for backlinks and Serpstat for keyword and domain research. You might be surprised :)
    Indeed, Lewis didn’t review the best feature of Serpstat keyword research. It’s filtering, haha. I’m sure he didn’t find it exactly like me when I faced with the tool at the first time. (yeap, it’s trouble.)
    I had to contact support and after that, I discovered Serpstat from another side.
    Its keyword filtering allows doing magic. What I like the most is filter ‘Special elements in SERP – include Featured snippet, Local Pack’. If you know where to find, it seems pretty easy to works in Serpstat interface in daily routine. Look on scr. https://i.imgur.com/pbrbS6T.png

    Also, I recommend to make API comparison of all these tools. It’ll be very curious.

  15. What, no Market Samurai? *ducks* I freaking LOVED that tool when it came out in 2008…ha…it’s finally out of beta now.

  16. Well, you have written a masterpiece and i must appreciate the work you are doing. You are spreading this type of information which is very much valuable for the people. Much Appreciated. Keep posting this type of information.

  17. Thanks for sharing the latest SEO tools. This article is full of information, specially tools review is so helpful.

  18. Thanks for posting!

    I personally think that SEMrush, even with some of it’s deficiencies, is the best paid tool out there.
    I also think there are free tools that you can use for a long time before ever having to pay for SEMrush.

    The worst tool on that list? Moz. It hasn’t done anything good in years but people still use it like it’s the best one out there.
    Either way, thanks for doing a side by side comparison.

  19. Thanks for sharing such great keyword research tools. I had Long Tail Pro Plan. But I don’t like it now. I think Ahrefs is one of the best tool. Every SEO should use this. I know few peoples who promote Semrush. Semrush is good but I don’t think it’s better than Ahrefs. It’s my opinion. You did a great job. This list is just awesome.

  20. Quick question,

    What comment system do you use because whenever i click on someone it automatically goes to their website?

    Are you using default comments system with wordpress?

    PS loved the article, AHREFS is still King.

  21. JR R. Caparas | www.Mommyjhy.com

    This is a great review! Hope you can update this for 2018?

    Btw, what can you say about Keysearch as an alternative to KWFinder?

    Thanks.

    1. We’ll definitely plan on updating this in the near future. We don’t have much to say on Keysearch but it might be worth a look.

  22. I really like KWFinder and i have been their premium member once but it has now become relatively expensive compared to its previous days. Lately I have also noticed that their keyword difficulty scores are relatively higher than the competition or compared to one or two months before. What are your thoughts on it?

    1. The price is certainly a little off putting with the recent price raise. It’s important to remember that all these numbers are estimations and not an exact measure so of course there’ll be some fluctuation. It’s impossible to say why they would rank things as more difficult thought I’m afraid…

  23. Hey guys, thanks for the great breakdown. Really helpful. Just as a FYI the youtube videos for SEO Cockpit, Moz Keyword Explorer and Ahrefs are not working at this time.

    Really appreciate your Podcast and articles. Keep up the great work!

    SBA Steve

    1. Cheers Steve, I accidentally delete our YouTube Channel (ouch). I think a few have been lost permanently. We’ll remake them.

  24. Long Tail Pro is a crook. I signed up for their free service and was told I could cancel and that I did but guess what they charged me anyway. Oh they came back and came up with some crazy lie saying I had opted in twice. How could I opt in twice as I would have had to confirm my email twice. I eventually got my refund but it was done on the option that if I wanted to I could still have the service. Total scam. People need to know their tactics.

    1. While we’re not the biggest fan of LTP, I sincerely doubt they are setting things up to scam you. Subscriptions and email is a very complex part of any business and it’s very easy for things to go wrong and mistakes like that to happen. For example, you could opt in once and confirm your email. Then opt in again and it would opt you in automatically, without the confirmation because the system would check and see your confirmed status was true. These things happen and to be honest. I know because we’ve made mistakes with similar things on our won sites. So long as they refund you, I don’t see the problem. I don’t think this is a reason to avoid LTP.

  25. Thanks for keywords research tool information but Ahrefs is my favorite from years and they are really doing good job . hope they will keep updating their big database.

  26. Ivan David Lippens

    You totally did not compare these based on price and functionality.
    In order to get the best results, from the big name brands, you have to be subscribed to plans that are two times, or more, expensive than the average base price on the market, which is about $100/mo.

    Majestic DOES have a keyword tool, btw.
    It should’ve been included on this list.

    You rated KWFinder WAY too high.
    I used it for a LONG time, but it has serious flaws that their staff is unwilling to address.

    It looks nice, but you failed to accurately rate it’s ability to do any real bulk processing, which should basically be scored at zero, because you have to click on the keywords, one-by-one, in order to get the data.
    The SEO Metric is also Moz Based, and doesn’t even average all of the other metrics that are ALREADY IN THEIR SYSTEM, so it’s just lazy on their part, because they could actually give a much more interesting competitive insight.

    Their metric doesn’t filter for inflation, either, so you get a bird’s eye, but it doesn’t factor in things that could swing the numbers.
    The SERP Research aspect IS very convenient, I will give it that, but using this for consultation was literally 70% of the work, because of how LONG it took to actually reveal the keyword metrics.

    I think you rated it way too high, across the board.
    Especially in comparison with other competitors that demolish it.

    SECockpit, for example, is like KWFinder gone Hulk, or something.
    It’s clear that you don’t like the tool very much, and I get that the aesthetics aren’t very appealing, but the functionality is head over heels most of the competition, and yet you rated it so low.

    I don’t think you understood what it really does, or maybe you just didn’t like the aesthetics, I dunno, but you severely underrated SECockpit.
    First of all, it does Unlimited Keyword Searches a day, at the best plan, and each search delivers 10k results.

    Every other solution on the market has monthly limits.
    So, with SECockpit, you can do ten searches in a niche, and collect 100k keywords, or 100 searches, and collect a million keywords.

    One of the biggest lures, for this tool, is it’s niche value metric, which is basically correlative filtering, in that it can automatically compare volume to competition, and that’s something I have generally used Google Sheets for.
    The main downside is that, as far as I can tell it, doesn’t have an area where you can enter your own lists, which is one thing that has kept me from pulling the trigger on it, myself, unfortunately.

    I agree that Ahrefs is the best overall solution on the market, but the price is such a drag.
    Comparing various solutions through shared accounts, Ahrefs squashes pretty much everything else.

    Still, there is a need on the market for something that can do large scale processing of search volume, and simple competitive analysis.
    ScrapeBox is one of the best things I’ve found, so far, but without volume, get ready for one big-messy site. :P

    SERPStat does seem to be more competitive, and they do have large query limits, which is cool, but I’d be curious if you can enter a list, like that.
    I recently decided to go with SEO PowerSuite, because it’s a one-time fee, and there are no limits on Keywords.

    It integrates with your Adwords API, but my buddy was telling me that you can spend about $10/mo on a YouTube ad, and get access to search volume data.
    Not sure how that all works, but after a ton of research, this was the best solution I found, at least on paper, when it comes to large scale keyword processing, including search volumes, and metrics.

    I messaged support, and got a coupon, as well, for those who are interested.

  27. A very well researched and analysed post on keyword research tools. Thanks for putting it all together, its actually really helped cement which tool to use. I have used them all at one point or another. I have my likes and dislikes with them all. I agree with you totally if we could all afford Ahrefs that would be my tool of choice. I think kwfinder is what I tend to use most these days, not just for price not breaking the bank but overall layout, its quite well put together.

  28. One of best reviews on these tools. Thanks Lewis!

    We have used SEMRush, MOZ, SERPStats, and Ahrefs. Based on project usage & experience, our vote definitely goes to Ahrefs. Ahrefs has very comprehensive and deep analysis on keywords, as well as the most accurate data, as far as we know.

  29. Hey mate! Great analysis, i love your graphics like a draw, what tool are you using for it?

    Thanks for the info!

  30. Great Post guys. Maybe in the future, you can try out keysearch.co tool aswell. I have used both KWfinder and Keysearch and found both of them VFM.

  31. hi authorityhacker, want to recommend you a new but already recognizable tool for in-depth keyword research – K-Meta Tool.

  32. Great Compilation of Keyword Research Tools!
    I think these tools are not for us. We can’t afford it because they are too expensive & our projects are not too much. But still, MOZ OSE is a good tool for me & it’s a freemium tool.

    Sharing any free tools would be appreciated.

    Thank you.
    Yasar,

    1. Hey Yasar, we’ll probably make a post on free tools eventually but to be frank the paid ones do tend to be much better.

  33. Wow. This article couldn’t have come at a better time, as I just set apart some budget for a paid KW Tool.

    Question for you guys:

    I’m thinking about also using the KGR technique (where you go for keywords with search volume below 250, divide the allintitle google results by its volume, and if the result is 0.25 or less then the KW is good to use).

    Do you think it’s still a good idea these days? And from these tools, what would be the best for this technique (I’ve seen that Ahrefs usually gives an estimate of search volume that is below other tools).

    Thank you, and looking forward to more awesome guides.

    1. Hey Mike,

      We don’t really use this technique, we mostly rely on link metrics of the top 10 and word count / content quality.

  34. Been a few months since I did any SEO, so I just discovered the limitations in Adwords for non-customers. Results like 1,000-10,000 are just not going to cut it.

    This is by far the best roundup of tools that I’ve seen. Some have more tools listed, but if I wanted a list I’d do a Google search! Your comparisons and charts were so helpful and conscientious. Nice work!

  35. I wish one of these reviews took a look at some of the less obvious tools out there. There are thousands of reviews comparing Moz, SEMRush and Ahrefs. But what about SE Ranking, SEO Profiler and SEO PowerSuite? (I have no business affiliation with these sites/services, but have used them and they are priced very competitively).

    1. Tim- I was wondering the same thing, I just signed up for a demo of SEOPROFILER.com and was pretty dang impressed at how direct it was compared to some of the other tools. I love AHREF’s but it doesn’t really give you any “what to do” information. I was surprised at the lack of coverage or even a decent review of the tool at all. I have no association with the company, but your comment was the only thing google could find that wasn’t an automated type of review.

      +1 for SEOPROFILER.com review. The Client reports and straight forward interface look pretty fantastic for those of us who do SEO for clients.

      Hey, maybe it’s just a secret :)

  36. I consider keyword is key to success. But this is one of the most confusing task for me. I following all popular blogs to enhance my keyword research knowledge. “Competitor-Based Keyword Research” is new to me. I will apply this method from my next project :) great share indeed :)

  37. Hi Lewis,

    I thinks this is my best article i have come across on keyword tools…you have really clear all my doubts which I use to have while searching for a keyword in kwfinder and SEmrush..this is best post sharing all the important information of each keyword tool…!!!Thanks for sharing this!!

    Arvind

  38. Hey Gael,

    One of the strengths that Semrush was known for – for long time, is it’s ability to show “What your site/competitor site is already ranking for”.

    Would you say that Ahrefs provides just the same if not more accurate keyword data that you’re already ranking for? Obviously in all other departments it seems to be the winner to me…. But what about this area?

    1. Yep, Ahrefs lets you do that with more data. I know SEMRush was the only one for a while but times have changed.

  39. Amazing review Lewis! I use SEMRush at the moment but also have my doubts about the numbers sometimes. I will definitely try ahrefs!

    1. Hey, Johan. Also take a look at linkody. I’ve tried the lot and found it to be more user friendly. Those tools can get confusing!

  40. I love what you have described here on the different keyword tools. I think since there has been some updates in getting search estimates from the biggest search engine, all of the keyword tools are somehow a little in the dark in terms of the number of potential search per month for a keyword. So they estimate it and provide a KC that is inaccurate. The best thing is to look at the top 10 sites that rank for the keyword and see if you can outrank them with better content. Keyword tools are best to investigate what keywords you can go after and then you choose the winners and not the KC.

  41. Wow really in-depth post. I love how you broke down each section and provided a rating score along with video reviews of each software! I’ve used Long Tail Pro, SEMRush, and KWFinder. I agree that SEMRush’s keyword difficulty score is inaccurate, but I do love using it to see what keywords other websites are ranking for and how much traffic they’re generating from it. KWFinder has a really nice clean and easy user interface. The only complaint I have is I wish they would display the keyword difficulty on all the keywords versus me having to click on each one to see the score. Overall happy with their software so far.

  42. Hello Authority Hacker staff. Thanx for all great info relating to hacking into computers with authority(just joking!). You can tell I have been listening to many of your educational podcasts, as in one, you mentioned a possible pitfall with the domain name you chose here for your website(Gael and Mark).
    I actually discovered, at my part time job, they allow me to put in my earbuds connected to my cellphone. The other employees who do this I’m sure are listening to favorite music. Not a chance here with me; I’m cranking away trying to hear every podcast you guys have put out so far. Yes I’m getting paid while listening to how to succeed in affiliate marketing. These podcasts are a great motivational venue, I love it.
    As for keyword tools, I will be honest with you at this time. I am a long time customer of Long Tail Pro. As a courtesy for hanging in there, I get about a 50 percent discount on their monthly fee for the new platinum cloud and it allows me 25,000 keyword allotment in a month. I have not come close to using it up yet. I waited for many months for the cloud version to start running as promised and there were some shaky moments. But knowing Spencer Hawes was the originator of the software, I decided to be patient. Everything has improved significantly I have found. Their customer support was a complete “F” maybe 6 months ago. I my experience now with “heather” has been a complete turnaround to a rating of A+. I feel, at least in my case, with the discount, Long Tail Platinum is a very good tool and probably will continue to get better. I am using Semrush on a free trial, will do the same with Afrefs in the future. But to compare LTP at 17 dollars a month to Ahrefs at $100 monthly, one would expect to get more data from additional areas which is obviously the case based on your review here. Just wanted to point out, that if one is on a budget, I find LTP of very good value currently. All these keyword tools are probably going to have to switch to clickstream data to improve accuracy and consistency on search volume figures.
    Since I have covered maybe over 50% of your podcasts, I would also like to comment on the talented staff member, Perrin Carrell. I think it was Gael who mentioned on a podcasts, that you are inclined to cut down on amount of words in your posts meaning in the future, the likes of Perrin Carrell is being instructed to keep his posts shorter and more concise. Personally, I think this is a mistake. In my opinion, when Perrin writes a post, I read every darn sentence even if it is 10,000 words: it just his style is so educational, I find no wasted words and end up learning a ton more. Its one affiliate marketer with huge writing skills (and teaching skills)that I would not put on a leash. Otherwise to AH and your staff, great job overall.

    1. Hey Dan, sure, when you get a tool for half the price the value proposition changes drastically which is why it makes sense in your case. However, after a bit of time, you’ll make much more money than those tools cost and that’s when you find the best performing one and cost isn’t a big deal anymore.

      As for the long vs short articles, we actually publish more often as a result of that policy meaning you get the same amount of content, just split between more posts :).

      Glad you like the site!

      1. You hit the nail on the head. Agree here with everything in your reply.
        What else is new! Relevant points and logic of sound advice. Thanx.

  43. I don’t like KWFinder because support is very bad. I send email to them in 14 April but until 18 April, I don’t receive any respond.

    1. It seems startups and revamped keyword tools have limited resources in the early stages, whereby customer support lags behind the tool itself. It took the new, revised Long Tail Pro quite some time before customer support became a realistic working asset to customers. They charge relatively small monthly fees so it takes a while for resources to catch up in all aspects, in my opinion. Google has shaken the boat for sure regarding keyword tool operations.

  44. So at the end of the day Ahrefs takes the cake!

    I’ve found Ahrefs to be the best all around tool for sure. It’s amazing that they’re both the best backlink tool and the best keyword tool. As a paying subscriber I’m glad they keep innovating and keep winning.

    If they were to implement the website value estimator like SEMrush has, and also get better CPC data, as well as a better rank tracker and site auditor, they would cause everyone to cancel every other subscription!

  45. For a long time I loved Semrush… it was my to go tool.

    Now I use it together with Ahrefs… but honestly I’d rather just pay for one.
    What I loved about Semrush is how easily they showed the keywords that are closely related and
    keywords i’m already ranking for, and a little more user friendly in my eyes.

    But I am not sure how accurate they are anymore with their data, and ahrefs keyword difficulty is
    a lot more accurate as you mentioned.

    Here’s a specific issue I’m having with both. They are showing completely diff numbers for organic traffic numbers.
    Here are screenshots for my site using both tools.

    Semrush showing 24,000 monthly visitors and with 40% increase trending up.
    screenshot – http://www.learntodance.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Screen-Shot-2017-04-14-at-2.35.28-PM.png

    Ahrefs is showing much lower – 14,000 monthly visitors, and sort of trending down
    screenshot – http://www.learntodance.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Screen-Shot-2017-04-14-at-2.37.01-PM.png

    Why such a big difference? Who is right here?

    1. Yeah, those numbers are off with every tool, the only accurate way to look at your traffic is to use Google Analytics. However, the trends tend to be accurate. Basically, the use of these tools is to compare how big sites are compared to each other and how the traffic trends. The actual number is never really that important apart from that.

      1. Hey Gael,

        As a follow up, I did look at my GA and isolated just the organic traffic from USA and I can see that the number is very close to the one ahrefs is reporting….

        So another win for ahrefs in accuracy.

  46. One thing that I would like to add regarding Long Tail Pro (that you probably didn’t test) is the bad performance for languages other than English.

    For example, if I enter quite a common search term in Dutch in Longtail Pro, it comes back saying: “Sorry, there are no results related to your search”. If I enter the same term in KW Finder, it instantly comes up with search volume data and suggested keywords.

    I contacted Longtail Pro about this and they said that they have problems with other languages than English and that they’re looking for other data providers to fix this. I was assured that they were working on it and that it was their top priority. I should see “a drastic improvement by end of this month”. That was beginning of March, and I’m still not seeing any data for very common keywords….

    In other words, for my Dutch site Longtail Pro is pretty much useless at the moment.

  47. That has to be the best damn review I have ever read about SEO software. Thanks so much for putting all the work into this.

    I have been on the fence between Moz, SEM and ahrefs. I finally narrowed it down to SEM or ahrefs. I can only afford one. Leaning toward SEM because it has more variety of tools and since I can only afford one, it serves me better. But in an ideal world I take two (just not sure which two).

    Thanks again for this awesome work.

    1. Hey Steve,

      Thanks for the kind words. Means a lot.

      I’d advise running a free trial on both tools to see which one floats your boat. But if you want my personal opinion, I’d go with Ahrefs all day long. Probably no surprise if you read this review :)

  48. Thanks, Lewis! Great overview with important details. What do you think about also free keyword research tool as http://kparser.com?

    Our team has developed it for own needs. But our colleagues have loved it in one day. So, we are happy to share it with everyone seo master. I’ll be happy to see your conclusion about our tool.

  49. There are a lot of things I like about kwfinder (especially the aesthetics), I hope that the Mangools team looks into creating a separate tool or maybe adding it to kwfinder for competitor research, like what Semrush has.

    If they did this and raised the cap limit on the searches per day, then they would be my go to tool for all kw research.

    1. Yeah agreed, they’re in a good position right now. I think they could become the go to for beginners while Ahrefs keep their higher end spot.

    2. Hey Nate,

      I have to agree. Though for me, it’s less about the # of searches per day and more the # of results per search. I think they should at least have a higher tier plan to see 1000+ suggestions. I have no doubt KW Finder will continue to get better, we’ll just have to see what that means exactly.

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