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Best SEO keyword research tools of 2020

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The best keyword research tools are essential if you want to better understand how to develop targeted traffic streams to your website. This means being aware not just of which keywords you think you want to target, but also checking them against which keywords people are actually using. 

Luckily there are a number of tools available that can help provide not just keyword search data, but also generalized traffic analytics to give you an idea of potential traffic volumes for ranking well against these. Additionally, some keyword ranking tools rate keywords based on competitiveness, to give you an idea of the difficulty level of targeting these.

On top of all this, the best keyword search tools will also provide suggestions of related keywords to research as they may provide a better fit between your intended audience and your product or services.

Overall, keyword search and research tools are a great way to audit your content and traffic, searching by keyword or topic to gain a better analysis of the keywords your website needs to be targeting to achieve its sales aims.

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Best SEO keyword research tools - at a glance

  1. KWFinder
  2. Answer The Public
  3. Spyfu
  4. Google Trends
  5. Serpstat 

(Image credit: KWFinder)

1. KWFinder

Best keyword analysis tool

Target longtail
Difficulty analysis
Competitor analysis
Seasonal tracking
Affordable plans

KWFinder features the ability to target longtail keywords that may be easier to rank well for while still providing targeted traffic. Not only can you apply a keyword analysis for your own website but you can also use it to analyze other websites for what they are also ranking for, so you can better gauge the competition.

Not only does KWFinder provide keywords to search for, it also includes a lot of key metrics for keyword analysis, including search volumes with historical data. This allows for the identification of long-term trends as well as seasonal keywords you can set up a schedule to target at the right time.

You can also search for local keywords by location in order to specifically analyze what people are searching for in your area, in order to be target customers, especially when engaged in the sales funnel.

At present the software supports tracking of over 2.5 million keywords and supports 52,000+ geolocations.

As a general SEO platform KWFinder may not be as strong as some others, but as a keyword research tool it is excellent.

Pricing is relatively cheap and affordable, starting from $29.90 a month which allows for up to 200 keywords tracked, 100 searches per day, and 2,000 backlink rows. The Mangools Premium for $39.90 significantly increases these limits, and an agency plan for $79.90 allows for 1,500 keywords to be tracked with unlimited competitor analysis.

(Image credit: Answer The Public)

2. Answer The Public

Best topic research tool

Gain unique insights
Search current trends
Historical data
Free tier available

Answer The Public offers an innovative way in which you can discover current keyword trends in order to improve your keyword targeting by providing additional ideas.

Although there are over 3 billion Google searches a day, up to 20% of these are unique and so won't appear on traditional keyword difficulty and analysis platforms. By using Answer the Public you can the chance to see these important searches and keyword suggestions in order to improve the relevance of your own SEO campaign.

This is not least because you can get a better idea not only of what topics people are searching for on Google but also gain some insight into what they are thinking. This makes Answer the Public a valuable tool not just for SEO agencies  but also for those involved with general marketing and PR.

Even better is that there is a free tier available that allows you to explore the service, although the volume of keyword searches will be limited. If you like what you see you can opt for a paid plan, which allows for unlimited searches, users, and historical metrics. Pricing for this comes in at $99 or $79 a month, depending on whether you pay on an ongoing monthly basis or commit to an annual subscription.

(Image credit: Spyfu)

3. Spyfu

Best keyword research tool

Competitor research
Organic and PPC 
Historical data sets

Spyfu specializes in providing a database of keywords based not just on organic rankings but also of keywords used with Google Adwords. The result is the ability to track not just keywords but also keyword variations used by competitors, in both organic and paid search, allowing for a powerful analysis and keyword research platform.

The keyword research tool itself offers to provide deeper insights than Google's own keyword suggestion tool, with the ability to not just track ranked keywords but also keywords used in PPC campaigns. This means you can source both sets of information for your own keyword research. 

Even better is the ability to identify transactional keywords so you can focus on those keywords that convert traffic better, allowing for keyword quality rather than quantity. You can also distinguish between keywords used for both desktop and mobile devices.

While many SEO tools give preference to organic search, SpyFu provides a lot of PPC data to filter through, which makes it an ideal keyword research tool for both organic and PPC keyword research. 

Although there's no free trial available, Spyfu's paid plans all offer unlimited keyword research volumes, with the only difference between paid plans dependent on the numbers of sales leads and domain contacts, top lists, and API rows returned. The cheapest plan costs $39 a month, or $33 a month with an annual subscription.

(Image credit: Google)

Best free keyword research tool

Free
Google data
API

While Google does offer its own keywords suggestion tool for Google Ads PPC campaigns, perhaps it's most valuable tool for keyword insights is Google Trends. This is especially as the internet is a constantly changing and developing medium, and identifying clear patterns in search behavior early enough could provide a long-term competitive advantage.

For example, a sudden rise in search traffic for a particular product or service might offer an opportunity to be targeted through a range of marketing channels, not just for SEO. This was the case during the corona virus pandemic when working from home led to an increase in a wide range of search terms relating to remote working software and work from home equipment such as laptops. 

While that is an extreme example, even under normal conditions celebrity endorsements,  new product releases, and changes to consumer behavior (often driven by new technologies) means that being able to identify such trends can be valuable.

Google Trends offers probably the biggest window on this, not just allowing users to search for specific keywords and identify the trends associated with them, but also by openly providing ongoing trends and highlights. This allows marketers to be able to tap into Google's search data directly for key insights.

Best of all, like all of Google's other SEO tools, Google Trends is free to use. However, the caveat here is that unlike paid-for tools, it means that you're unlikely to be able to work with keywords by volume without being able to connect with the Google Trends API, which in itself adds development costs.

(Image credit: Serpstat)

5. Serpstat

Best keyword suggestion tool

Strong keyword tool
Multiple features
Affordable pricing

The Serpstat Keyword Research tool offers a great platform from which to cover a range of different keyword search and research options.

One feature includes the ability to do competitor research using URL analysis in order to identify keyword potentially missing from your campaigns. Additionally, you can use search questions in order to research specific keyword niches in order to identify further keywords and other ideas for driving targeted traffic to your website.

One of the more interesting options is the "tree-view" to see how keywords are distributed on your pages. While most might target specific keywords at a specific page, sometimes a different page might end up with better ranking potnential, such as by going viral. This tool aims to help you identify other useful pages which, if targeted instead, might improve your targeted ranking for those keywords.

Like other tools there's also the option to search for related keywords, but on top of this there are a number of filters you can use to narrow your selections into the most useful keywords to target.

Plans start from just $69 per month for a single user, and that allows full access to Serpstat tools and data. Pricing is otherwise based on the number of users, so other payment plans are for when multiple users are required to access the account.

Overall, Serpstat offers a lot of interesting flexibility when it comes to keyword research, and the ability to use different tools and methodologies can only be empowering for website owners and SEO's alike.