You know what really grinds my gears?
When people who have never done keyword research for a living decide to build a keyword research tool because the “SEO market” seems hot.
We all know the importance of picking low competition, high search volume, trending keywords for our content. It’s the lifeblood of your free search engine traffic.
With the recent loss of accurate, free keyword data in the Google keyword planner, premium keyword tools are now a must have. Much in the same way a premium backlink index / checker tool is necessary if you’re serious about link building.
The issue is that many premium tool providers often don’t understand what marketers really need when it comes to finding keywords that generate profits. They bloat their tools with unnecessary and unhelpful features that ‘look fancy’ and charge you a premium for it.
This is especially true for tools targeting beginners as it’s easier to sell flashy features to unsuspecting victims *cough* customers .
As you can tell, I’m a tad jaded by the keyword research tools market, which is why I was incredibly surprised after spending several hours playing with the new kid on the block, KW Finder.
Enter, KW Finder.
KW Finder is a popular, modern-day keyword research tool brought to life by the team over at Mangools.
What separates this keyword tool is its strong focus on simplicity, keeping user experience at the heart of both design and functionality.
Aside from KW Finder’s clean – and frankly impressive – interface, it offers a one-click keyword difficulty score system as well as some unique research options rarely found in other keyword research tools.
So that’s what it says on the box, but let’s take a deeper look at how this tool actually performs for effective keyword research.
To show you the performance from a real world perspective, similar to what you are likely to experience when using this tool, I shot a quick video to showcase what KW Finder can do.
How Well Does it Perform For Traditional Keyword Research?
Traditional keyword research is using seed keywords to find the actual search terms your target audience is using, and analyzing those keywords to see which could provide the best ROI.
It involves looking at individual keyword phrases and evaluating both the monthly search volume and the overall strength of Google’s page 1 results.
How does KW Finder help you do that?
Firstly, it allows you to plug in a seed keyword to generate a list of related keyword suggestions, and even includes alternative research options to give you a different mix of results.
You can also quickly evaluate the overall difficulty of any keyword suggestion using either the reliable keyword difficulty score, or the built-in SERP analysis.
Finally, you can trim down and manage your results with the usual filter options, including monthly search volumes, specific modifiers and even keyword competitiveness.
How Well Does it Perform For Competitor Keyword Research?
Competitor keyword research is about taking your competitors sites and reverse-engineering their organic search rankings.
By looking at the search terms your competitors are ranking for, you can target keywords that are already proven. All other factors being equal, you know there’s a good chance you can aso rank for those keywords by creating similar (and better) content.
So, how does KW Finder help you do that?
Well, it doesn’t.
KW Finder doesn’t have an option to plug in competitor URLs, which means it’s a no-no for competitor keyword research. At the time of writing, it’s strictly a traditional keyword research tool.
A workaround would be to combine it with a tool like SEMRush. That way, you could find which keywords your competitors are ranking for, and plug those keywords into KW Finder for further analysis. Not the most elegant solution and it does have it’s limitations, but it can work.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a little more versatile, you might find Ahrefs better suited to your needs.
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
For this review, I fired up KW Finder to see how well this keyword research tool fares in comparison to popular alternatives.
From here on out, I’ll share my experiences from using this tool, as well as what I liked and didn’t like along the way.
First Impressions Of The User Interface
As I mentioned earlier, one of the first things you notice about KW Finder is it’s user-friendly interface, which uses a flat design to display data in an easily digestible way.
As a keyword tool that’s clearly aimed at bloggers and beginner SEO’s, I also think it does an excellent job at presenting a ton of otherwise confusing information in a way my Grandma could make sense of. Well, almost.
To show you just how awesome KW Finder’s interface is compared to other keyword research tools, here’s what Long Tail Pro looks like:
And here’s what SECockpit looks like:
I think we can all agree, KW Finder is miles ahead in the UI department and it just makes the tool so much more smooth and enjoyable to use.
Reliable Research With Accurate Search Volumes
As you may remember, Google recently changed the way search volumes are displayed in the keyword planner.
Before the update, you were able pull up specific search volumes for individual keywords. Now, they’re combining close variants and related keywords if your
Adwords spend doesn’t meet the threshold.
So unless you’re an Adwords tycoon, here’s what the Keyword Planner search volumes currently look like:
Though there are workarounds, the data is now a lot less accurate for most of us and increasingly harder to count on. And of course, any tool that relies on your Adwords account for that data will also be pulling up these broad data ranges. Not cool.
What’s interesting is that KW Finder does in fact pull its search volume data from Google’s Keyword Planner, but it applies it’s own internal algorithm to maintain those exact search volumes for all keywords.
Not only are the search volumes kept in tact, but they’re even more specific than what you normally see in the Keyword Planner:
The Benefits Of Being Web-Based
I really love that KW Finder is a web-based tool.
In my opinion, some applications just aren’t meant for desktop and I think keyword research tools belong firmly in that category. The benefits are just too hard to ignore.
Being a web-based application, you can access KWFinder from any computer with an internet connection and a web browser. Compatibility issues are more or less eliminated and software updates happen seamlessly, in real-time.
Another major benefit – more specific to keyword research tools – is that it doesn’t require you to connect a personal adwords account (or any other account) in order to function properly. Everything works fresh out the box.
As someone who has experienced the drawbacks of desktop-based keyword research tools, it’s refreshing to see that KW Finder chose not to take the lead of more established tools like Long Tail Pro and Market Samurai in this regard.
Quickly Discover Keyword Competition Level
Easily the most in-demand feature of any keyword research tool at the moment is the ability to calculate a single keyword difficulty score for any given keyword.
While the scale will vary depending on which keyword research tool you’re using, this metric represents how hard it is to rank on the first page of Google for a particular keyword phrase.
KW Finder not only calculates a keyword difficulty score for any keyword (based on Majestic’s data), it also does a decent job at putting the numbers into perspective:
The color coding is a nice touch, making it easier to skim through keyword lists and pick out those low competition gems at a glance.
But I also want to make an important point here, because these scores will vary from tool to tool so having a reference point is crucial to understanding what they actually mean for you.
To highlight this, I plugged some keywords into a few different keyword research tools to see the contrast between both keyword competitiveness scores.
|Keyword||Long Tail Platinum Cloud||KW Finder||Ahrefs Keyword Explorer|
|Best camping equipment||36||51||7|
|Biggest camping tent||29||32||2|
I should point out that I chose these keywords completely at random. I didn’t go out of my way to prove a point. This is raw, untampered data.
These results do show some correlation, but it’s obvious these tools are using a different algorithm, and that’s what makes a reference point so important.
Anyways, moving on.
There is one thing I don’t like, which is not being able to calculate keyword difficulty scores for multiple keywords at once.
If you have a long list of potential keywords, you will have to manually click through each one (with a few second delay each time) to generate a difficulty score.
This, by the way, is something Long Tail Platinum Cloud does automatically for all results. Super useful.
My guess is this feature hasn’t been included in KW Finder because it would cause you to burn through your allowance far too quickly – but we’ll get to that.
Now, as cool as it is to generate a single keyword difficulty score for any keyword, it’s pointless if you can’t rely on it.
The good news is, I found it be an accurate indication of the true competition behind any given keyword, and while I always recommend a manual review before targeting any keyword, KW Finder’s keyword difficulty score was surprisingly reliable.
Even if you were to solely rely on this metric, I believe you’d still be able to rank for most keywords you find, purely on the basis of it having low keyword difficulty score (between 1-30 in most cases).
Easily Evaluate SERP Competition Strength
The SERP Checker preview appears when you select any keyword suggestion in KW Finder. It’s essentially your ‘page one’ analysis feature and works very similar to what you get with most keyword research tool these days.
To open the full SERP Checker application (which runs independently of KW Finder), click the link below the preview:
Despite being a standard feature, there are a couple things that make SERP Checker stand out from the competition.
First of all, it’s nicely put together from a design standpoint. Super easy to take in and color-codes the data even more so than what you see inside KW Finder.
This is also where you can dig deep into the competition analysis. The “Manage Metrics” button will open up a whole new world of data for you to sift through and compare.
The SERP Checker is essential for manually reviewing keyword difficulty. That said, I don’t feel like making it a separate application was justified. Sure, it’s pretty – but aside from being able to pull in more data, it wasn’t any more useful than the SERP Checker preview found inside the KW Finder interface.
In fact, the only reason I would ever need to open the SERP Checker would be to access the data that isn’t available in the preview. In other words, if it allowed you to customize the SERP Checker preview (inside KW Finder), the external application would almost be redundant.
Overall, in combination with the keyword difficulty score I think most people will find the SERP Checker preview satisfactory in analyzing SERP competition. If in doubt, you can always take some time to dive into the external application.
Find Hidden Gems With Multiple Research Options
The use of multiple research options is a feature I’ve yet to see integrated with other big players in the keyword research market.
While I still found myself digging through other (free) tools and message boards to get some additional seed keyword ideas, I was able to get a completely different set of keyword ideas using the “Autocomplete” and “Questions” research options built into KW Finder.
The only downfall was the restricted number of results shown in KW Finder. This is ultimately what forced me to use external sources, allowing me to find additional keyword ideas not shown inside in the tool.
So let’s break down what these options are and how they work:
Suggestions: This is the default search option. It pulls in keywords the same way you’d expect from using Google’s KW planner and applies its own internal algorithm to sort the results.
Autocomplete: Autocomplete pulls in keywords using Google’s autosuggest feature, which is basically the suggestions you see when typing in Google’s search box:
If you’ve ever used UberSuggest, you’ll be familiar with this method of keyword research. And while it does work, it is limited by the number of results shown by KW Finder, as I mentioned before.
For that reason, I’d stick to using external tools (like UberSuggest) for autocomplete keywords where you get a much larger data set. Annoying as it is, you can always import your results in sections. Ughh!
Questions: The questions feature is useful for pulling up informational based keywords by adding certain prefixes to your seed keyword, such as:
This feature could be used as an alternative to tools like Quora, Reddit and AnswerThePublic, but due to result limitations inside KW Finder, I still wouldn’t recommend ruling them out completely.
Get The Full Story With Data Aggregation
The whole idea of a keyword research tool is to help you find low competition keywords as fast and efficiently as possible.
One of the most obvious ways to achieve that is through the power of data aggregation. Presenting all the necessary data in one central location, allowing the user to make an accurate assessment of the viability of any given keyword.
Even though I would have preferred to see more link-based data in place of things like Facebook likes and G+ shares, overall it was really good.
As previously mentioned, you can find a TON of other data points by opening up the full SERP Checker application and playing with the data options, but it’s always a few clicks away which isn’t ideal.
Few other tools give you this level of useful data on a single screen without feeling too clunky and overwhelming.
Get A Handle On Your Results With Easy Filtering
KW Finder has all the filtering and sorting options you’d expect in a solid keyword research tool. Nothing special in that department.
I will say though, I did like having the ability to quickly enable and disable filter options:
This was particularly useful since performing a new search remembers the last filters used, so being able to apply my usual filters with the flick of a switch was a handy timer-saver.
One small thing I would change is having filters stay on for every new search by default. I found myself switching them back on most of the time.
A Helping Hand With Live Chat Support
Great support is something we tend to expect with online services and products nowadays, but that doesn’t mean you always get it.
Fortunately, KW Finder has the usual support options and documentation including a regularly updated blog, email support and even live chat.
I tested the live chat at 2 different time throughout the day and both times I received a helpful response in less than a minute. Not bad at all.
Potentially Problematic Request Limitations
Unlike most other SEO tools you find on the market nowadays, KW Finder uses a sort of “credit” system to limit the number of data requests any given user can make.
It makes sense. After all, requesting a ton of data puts a strain on resources which inherently increase costs. Not to mention the cost of acquiring the data itself.
The real question is, how do these limitations affect your ability to adequately perform keyword research?
Here’s how KWFinder breaks it down:
For this review, we signed up for the basic package which gives you 100 keyword lookups per day.
Initially, this seemed like a reasonable cap. What I found after testing, however, was that I BLAZED through my daily allowance much faster than anticipated.
After playing with this tool for barely an hour, I reached the daily limit on ‘keyword difficulty evaluations’. Even though I was able to continue doing keyword research, I could no longer properly evaluate many of the keywords I found.
It was… kinda pointless.
That said, I found KW Finder to be a lot more generous than Long Tail Platinum Cloud which gives you a monthly quota (not daily).
With their quota being based on number of results and not actual searches, you can literally drain your allowance in a day if you’re not careful.
Now, I have to be honest and say that I’m no keyword research expert. Aside from the fact that I know very little about the “back pain” niche going into this, there’s also a good chance my process isn’t as streamlined as it could be and unnecessary requests were made throughout my testing.
If you’re an SEO wizard who can do keyword research blindfolded, you’ll probably never run into this problem. In fact, Gael was a little surprised when he learned that I maxed out the account.
Of course, if you’re only using KW Finder on a need-to-know basis as opposed to batching months of keyword research, it’s nothing to worry about since the limit resets every 24 hours. Just something to be aware of.
Capped Keyword Results
Probably one of the biggest drawbacks of KW Finder is the limited number of keyword results. Depending on your plan, results are capped at either 200 or 700.
I found this to be quite limiting, especially when you compare it to the huge number of results other tools pull up for the EXACT same search.
To give you a comparison, Long Tail Pro gave me 701 results:
And Ahrefs Keyword Explorer gave me a massive 28,383 results. To put it in perspective, that’s a 141x increase over KW Finder.
The results limitation was particularly annoying when I tried to use filters to narrow down my search, since they would only apply to the original 200 results. As you’d expect, I was usually faced with this screen…
Aside from keyword results being capped, the this limit also applies when importing your own set of keywords. A little strict if you ask me, but I can kind of understand why this would be the case.
As I explained at the start of this post, traditional keyword research involves plugging in seed keywords and using the suggestions to scope out better opportunities.
Fortunately, the guys behind KW Finder added the ability to start a new search based on any keyword suggestion.
The problem, as I quickly found out, is that the tool doesn’t allow you to open these searches in a new window or tab. Instead, it actually replaces the suggestions you currently have.
In contrast to Long Tail Pro, for example, it just lacks the efficiency of being able to switch between different tabs without losing your current set of results…
KW Finder literally forces you to choose a single path with your research as opposed to allowing a more multi-task approach. Not the worst thing in the world and maybe even negligible to some, but it definitely slowed me down.
Link Metrics in Preview
Another thing I quickly noticed about KW Finder was the lack of certain link-related metrics being shown in the SERP analysis preview.
While it shows you how many dofollow links are pointing to each individual page, that just doesn’t give you the full picture. Not even close.
For example, it doesn’t tell you the number of referring domains – a key piece of information when it comes to evaluating the strength of any site. When you consider how crucial links are for keyword research, it seems a little odd that KW Finder chooses to leave out such important data points from the SERP Checker preview.
The only way to see this information is to open the full SERP Checker application for each keyword phrase and enable the additional metrics. Unfortunately, there’s no way to change the metrics shown in the SERP Checker preview.
Is KW Finder Right For You?
KW Finder is an excellent piece of software that holds it’s own against the heavyweights in the keyword research arena. But while it’s the research tool of choice for some, it’s not quite a one size fits all.
If you’re just getting started with blogging and you’re still finding your feet with SEO and – more specifically – keyword research, this tool will feel like an absolute dream.
It’s by far the most intuitive keyword research tool I’ve ever used, and it offers a platform that allows anyone to start picking out profitable, low competition keywords in a matter of minutes.
The one-click keyword difficulty score feature will no doubt be one of the biggest incentives for beginners to use this tool, and as gimmicky as it sounds, I think this will save newbies a lot of wasted time going after keywords that are just too competitive.
With the absence of more advanced metrics inside KW Finder, it almost feels like a deliberate move in order to appeal to more entry-level marketers. Of course, that’s not to say it doesn’t do the job well, because it does – it just feels more geared towards beginners in that respect.
If you’re primary concern is bootstrapping your business, KW Finder is very reasonably priced in comparison to other keyword research tools.
While the lowest paid plan is $29/month, paying annually will give you a huge ~60% discount, which works out to around $12/month.
It says 50%, but it’s actually closer to 60%
Even without the bulk discount, KW Finder stacks up very well against other popular keyword research tools in terms of affordability:
|Keyword||Long Tail Platinum Cloud|
|KW Finder||from $29 per month|
|Long Tail Pro||from $37 per month|
|Ahrefs||from $99 per month|
|SECockpit||from $40 per month|
|SEMRush||from $99.95 per month|
|Market Samurai||$149 one-time fee|
If you’re on a really tight budget, you could always sign up for a month, rinse it every day and build up enough keywords to keep you busy for the winter. Just remember to export your keywords before your membership expires.
High Level Marketers
If you run a full scale agency or you’re a heavy user of SEO tools, you may find KW Finder both a little too basic and potentially limiting for your needs.
While it can be combined with other tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs for competitor analysis, the paid plans for those tools eliminate the need for KW Finder in the first place. For example, Ahrefs does everything KW Finder does and more.
You also need to factor in the low limitations. Unless you’re using the highest package at 500 requests per day, heavy usage could have you banging your head on the ceiling before the day is out – especially if you’re working with a large team and multiple clients.
Overall it’s still an excellent piece of kit with plenty of strong attributes, I just feel like these limitations let KW Finder down as a high-level marketing tool.
Finding Informational Keywords with KW Finder
Informational keywords are terms and phrases people use to find an answers to problems. Unlike commercial keywords, you’re not trying to sell anything with your content, at least not directly.
To find informational keywords in KW Finder, you can start by doing a general search using your niche as the seed keyword:
From there, you can analyze specific suggestions using the keyword difficulty score as your primary indicator. Click any keyword keyword and wait ~3 seconds for it calculate a difficulty score based on link metrics. Once it’s calculated, you’ll be able to see it at a glance in the keyword suggestions window.
Now, this is a kind of shotgun approach but it should do a pretty good job at bringing in some keywords that are already informational by nature. So in this example, I could write an epic piece of content around the keyword “shoulder blade pain”.
This keyword phrase has a huge 18,100 monthly searches and a low keyword difficulty score of 30. As you can see, it’s very possible to find some solid keywords using just the standard search option.
KW Finder does, however, try to give you a helping hand when it comes to finding informational keywords. Using the “Questions” research option, you can specifically pull in query-based keyword suggestions without any extra work.
Using the same seed keyword as before, I was able to pull in a whole slew of keyword suggestions I wouldn’t normally see in the regular search tab – just by letting KW Finder add it’s own question-related prefixes.
I did find the results from using this research option to be on low side in terms of search volume, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth targeting.
Overall, it’s a nice option to have and you can occasionally pick out some great keywords using this research option, but at this stage, it’s not quite advanced enough on it’s own to replace other, external research tools.
In my opinion, the hybrid approach still works best.
Finding Commercial Keywords With KW Finder
Commercial keywords are terms and phrases people use when they’re looking to buy something and as a result, these type of keywords convert really well. Unlike informational keywords, the primary goal is to make a sale.
To find commercial keywords in keyword finder, you can start by doing a general search using your niche as the seed keyword:
Once you have you have your keywords suggestions, the first thing you’ll want to do is use filters to narrow down your search.
Filters are especially useful for commercial keywords because they almost always use specific modifiers. Unless we’re talking about exact product names, the modifier is often what gives a keyword commercial intent in the first place.
What you’ll often experience when using KW Finder for commercial keyword research, and something I touched on earlier in this review, is that you often get no keyword results after applying specific filters.
This happens because KW Finder shows only a small number of keyword suggestions, from 200 on the Basic plan and 700 on the Premium plan. In other words, the initial sample is just too small to work with.
Instead, you’ll need to continuously dig through your keyword suggestions, perform new searches and apply those same filters until you eventually strike gold.
Not efficient by any means, but there’s a workaround you can use to improve the quality of your results and reduce the amount of time spent on performing new searches. The trick is to use commercial modifiers as part of your seed keyword, instead of using them to filter results afterwards.
By doing that I was able to find the keyword phrase “best mattress topper for back pain”, which has a decent monthly search volume of 1,408 and a keyword difficulty score of only 30.
Now, there’s one other tool I found useful within KW Finder and that’s the “Autocomplete” research option which allows you to bring up a completely different set of keyword suggestions.
While this option tends to yield lower search volume results, you can usually pick out some very targeted commercial keywords that are much easier to rank and still worth considering as part of your overall keyword strategy.
In this example, I found the keyword phrase “actipatch back pain therapy review”, which has only 90 searches a month but an incredibly low keyword difficulty score of 21.
Looking at the SERP competition, it has a DA 25 in first place with 0 links pointing to the page. Even with very little authority and a handful of links, you could easily take the top spot for this keyword phrase.
Despite a few small hiccups here and there, I liked KW Finder a lot and I can definitely see myself using it in place other tools.
As someone who’s go-to keyword research tool has always been Long Tail Pro, the user-interface is so refreshing to use and incredibly efficient at presenting large amounts of data in a relatively small space.
The additional research options do a good job at providing unique keyword suggestions without having to leave the tool. While it’s not a complete all-in-one tool, it’s a step in the right direction as far as I’m concerned.
With a few functionality tweaks – such as multi-tabbed research, batched difficulty calculations and customizable SERP Checker preview – KW Finder would almost be faultless as a traditional keyword research tool.
When it comes to competitor-based keyword research, it only makes sense in combination with other tools (like SEMRush) which won’t get you very far on a free plan. Something to consider if you’re more interested in that method of research.