Best Keyword Research Tools for SEO & Business Growth

Business Marketing Tyler Rice

by Tyler Rice
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Updated Sep. 10th, 2019
Keyword research is essential to any successful SEO strategy. It is also a critical part of any competitive business strategy.

Online business strategies can’t really happen without a solid foundation in keyword research.

In fact…

It is such a crucial component to business growth that many companies invest thousands of dollars each month to target the correct keywords.

best keyword research tool 2019

But, why?

Well, not only does targeting the correct keywords help rank your website higher in specific search terms, but it can also help in targeting the traffic that is going to convert to customers.

This higher converting traffic is going to bring in more sales for your business.

We decided to bring together the best keyword research tools on the market for 2019.

seo keyword research tools

Here are the business keyword tools that made our list for being the best in the industry.

  1. Google Keyword Planner
  2. SEM Rush
  3. Ahrefs

Let’s begin with the free tool offered by Google.


google keyword planner tool

#1: Google Keyword Planner (Free Tool)


The Google Keyword Planner tools is probably the most popular and widely-used tool on the market today.

The reason for its popularity is the fact that it is 100% free and you do not need to pay for Google Ads to use it.

The free price tag also comes with many limitations.

One of the biggest problems with the Google keyword planner is the lack of ability to see what keywords your website is currently ranking for.

We feel that knowing the current keyword rankings of a website is an integral part of any successful SEO strategy, although, the Google keyword planner tool is the perfect place to start for any beginner entrepreneur looking to save some extra money.

Keyword Research Tool Analysis: Google Keyword Planner



  • Free to use
  • Lists similar and suggested keywords
  • Can export keywords to CSV file


  • Not many specific long-tail keywords
  • Can’t see current website keyword rankings
  • Lists many irrelevant keyword terms

Keyword Tool Overview:

To use the free Google Keyword Planner tool, you must first sign-up with Google Ads. While Google wants you to pay for this additional service, you only must have an open Google Ads account to use the free tool.

You do NOT have to pay for any active advertisements to use the free keyword tool.

On the first screen of the Google Keyword Planner is a single box where you can ad your keyword term.

seo tool for search terms

We will start with the keyword term, “best drone with camera” and see what similar results and ideas we can come up with.

On the next screen, we see the data associated with the search term and other similar terms.

google keyword planner tool

At the top of the screen, you can change the location and language of the search terms being used. From there, you can see the “search volume trends”, which shows how the search term is trending by each month on mobile and desktop devices.

If you scroll down the screen, you will arrive at the broadly related keywords.

broad keyword terms sem

This is an excellent place to find new and relevant keywords along with seeing the search volume and competition associated with each term.

While this keyword research tool is a simple platform with limited data, it is an excellent place for any entrepreneur or beginner to start working on keywords for a business strategy.

While, it is a great place to start, you will soon find yourself looking for more helpful data to grow your business or search engine optimization strategy.

The next tool, SEM Rush is not only the #1 recommended keyword research tool by the top SEO experts, but it has also been used to increase the traffic and sales for our own business.

sem rush keyword tool 2019


#2: SEM Rush – Top Choice in Keyword Research Tools

SEM Rush has for many years been the leading tool for digital marketing agencies and competitive business owners for keyword research.

Here’s the thing…

SEM Rush is so much more than your average keyword research tool.

It is truly a full-scale marketing platform that can help you improve your business in so many ways.

Here are some of the metrics that you can use with SEM Rush to improve your company.

  • Traffic Statistics
  • Organic Keyword Rankings
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Social Media Competitive Analysis
  • Website Audit
  • Brand Monitoring
  • Link Building Analysis
  • Content Analysis

The possibilities are endless with SEM Rush and with a monthly plan, you can have access to all these reports and be able to craft custom reports depending on your business goals and needs.

Just simply enter your business (or competitor’s) URL and see the magic happen!

Keyword Research Tool Analysis: SEM Rush


  • Full-scale marketing platform
  • Lists current keyword rankings
  • Amazing competitive analysis reports
  • Full site and SEO audit


  • The monthly packages start at $99.95 (which is well worth it).


 Keyword Tool Overview:

Let’s investigate the SEM Rush platform and how easy it can be to navigate.

sem rush domain start

We begin by adding in the website URL in the “Domain Overview” search query box. In our case, we used the popular “” website.

Right away, we see some cool metrics pop up on the screen.

sem rush keyword tool metrics

If we click on the “ORGANIC SEARCH” link, we end up on another screen that shows the current keywords that the website is ranking for.

This page also shows the amount of organic traffic these keywords are bringing in to the website.

sem rush keyword explorer


If we scroll down the page, we see the top performing keywords and the amount of traffic each term brings to the website.


best keyword tool sem rush


As seen in this screen, the keyword “entrepreneur” is their top performing keyword bringing in 12.61% of their traffic.

We also see that this keyword term brings in a volume of 368,000 people a month, is ranking the website on the first position, and has a cost-per-click (CPC) of $2.07.

Wait for it…

It gets even better.

If we click on the keyword term, we are taken to yet another page that goes into more detail for that phrase.

sem rush keyword tool

If we scroll down the page, we see the other websites that are ranking for the keyword and the position they are in. We also find other phrases that include the keyword as well as similar keyword terms.

sem rush search term example

This is just a short example of how powerful SEM Rush can really be for your business.

While there is so much more that can be done with this program, this short demonstration was from a simple domain overview…

Which can be done with limited data for free when searching from their homepage.

While we recommend SEM Rush for any entrepreneur or marketing agency, there are other great keyword research tools that can be of great value for you. Let’s looks at the tool found at the iconic SEO analytics site, MOZ.

MOZ keyword research tool


#3: MOZ Keyword Explorer – Great Choice in Keyword Research Tools

MOZ has been the leading name in SEO analytics software and they also have an excellent tool for keyword research.

They have more advanced monthly plans that rival the tools offered by SEM Rush but there is also the option to use the keyword research tool with a limited number of searches and results each month.

If you are not researching too many keywords and phrases, using the MOZ Keyword Explorer in conjunction with the Google Keyword Planner is an excellent and free way to find great suggestions and opportunities.

moz with google keyword planner

Let’s check out the pros and cons of one of the largest names in the digital marketing industry.

Keyword Research Tool Analysis: MOZ Pro



  • Excellent backlink analysis
  • Advanced keyword research tool
  • Competitive analysis reports
  • Full site and SEO audit


  • Does not include advanced reports
  • No social media integration
  • Plans start at $99/month


Keyword Tool Overview:

There are many features that are noteworthy in the PRO version of MOZ, but we think the most valuable tool of the analytical suite is the keyword research tool which is offered for free with limited searches.

Let’s dive into the “MOZ Keyword Explorer”.

When you first arrive at the keyword research tool, it simply has one search query box to enter in your search term.

moz keyword search query

While SEM Rush had you enter a domain name to find the keywords, this keyword tool is like the Google Keyword Planner in adding in a keyword to find similar suggestions.

We investigate the free version of the MOZ Keyword Explorer by adding the search query, “how to learn CPR”.

MOZ keyword explorer review

On the next screen, we see some great metrics such as monthly volume, difficulty rank, keyword suggestions, organic click-through-rate (CTR), and a SERP Analysis.

This tool is an excellent way to fill in data that the Google Keyword Planner tool does not include such as the click-through-rate and the other websites that are ranking for a specific keyword term.

When looking at the SERP Analysis, we see that the first results is a training article from the Red Cross, which has a domain authority of 91.

moz keyword explorer reviews

Having the ability to see the other websites ranking for certain key terms will allow you to complete a better analysis of why their content is ranking high and how your content can be better.


Other Great SEO Tools


While there is no doubt that Google, MOZ, and SEM Rush dominate the industry with well-rounded keyword research tools, there are some other fantastic options that are not covered in these main programs.

Here are some of our recommended favorites.

1. Ahrefs

Ahrefs, while bring a pricey program, is the king of backlinking software. If you are building an email outreach campaign and working on backlink research, then ahrefs is certainly a program to check out.

2. Serp Sim

Snippets are becoming extremely important in the SEO space and drives strong click-through-rates. Having a program display a serp snippet with your page in mind, can help you optimize correctly for this.


Best Keyword Research Tool to Use?

Well, it depends.

If you are a new entrepreneur that is looking to save on operating costs for marketing, I would opt for the Google Keyword Planner and the MOZ Keyword Explorer combo.

Using the two tools together, you can come up with some incredible metrics for free.

But, if you do have even a small budget towards marketing, we recommend going for the monthly SEM Rush subscription.

There are also many other lesser-known tools used by SEO professionals such as the Free SERP checker by Serpwatch. 

This keyword research tool is used everyday by our business and we would not be where we are without the data we have used from this program.

You can check out each keyword research tool from the links below.

Google Keyword Planner

MOZ Keyword Explorer

SEM Rush

Keep in mind that keyword research is just one step in understanding what SEO improvements you need for your business. There are multiple free SEO reports available that will help lead you in the right direction. 

Know of a keyword research tool that you think belongs on this list? Please comment below and let us know which tool works best for you and your business!


  1. Priya Sharma

    I use SEMrush and I am pretty impressed by the tool and it also satisfies me and it is also useful for me. Not only this, but it also increased my productivity.

  2. Joquim

    Hi Tyler,

    It’s great to hear from the expert sharing their favourite tools with us for doing keyword research. However, I have a question relating to the Google Keyword Planner. It contains information on the keywords used on Adwords right? How is that helpful for getting information on SEO keywords? For that we would use Google Trends isn’t it… or am I getting it wrong?

    I mean, keywords for Adwords is different from keywords for SEO… right?

    • Tyler Rice

      Hi Joquim,

      Both Google Trends and the Google Keyword Planner are excellent tools to use for both SEO and AdWords. Regardless if you are using the keywords for paid ads on search engines or for organic results on search engines, they are all being used on the same channel. In fact, exporting some keyword data into a data plan for AdWords can simply be exported to a CSV to be used for SEO and other purposes just fine without paying for Google Ads. Best, Tyler

  3. Exert pro

    Thank you So much for your Information. Hope it will be Good For Everyone.


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