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Best Free or Cheap Keyword Research Tools


Joan Benson

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This list blends the reliable with the quirky. Always start with your SERP—learn to interpret the predictive typing tools, the “people also ask” results, and the results themselves. Add some ways to de-personalize your SERP so you get a bigger peek into the results your audience receives.

Your Big, Reliable, Go-To Commercial SEO Research Tools

SEMRush and AHREFS are like the Coke and Pepsi of it all—and if there were a third cola out there, we’d have to call it Moz.

Moz: Great free keyword tools. Free account required—but no credit card. (I have also used the paid version.) When I was new to SEO and someone pointed me at Moz, I found it confusing. If this is you, try several others, then come back to Moz.

  • Moz—Free account, free pro trial (w/credit card), starts @$79/month

SEMRush: My current favorite of the freemium offers. SEMRush allows you to create a free account (no credit card) and get up to 10 queries a day. I can squeak out useful info within that limit, although I hit the wall regularly.

  • SEMRush—Free account with max 10 queries a day, starts @$99/month

AHREFS: Free tool, no account required. On the upside, the free Keyword Generator lets you specify the search engine (Google, Bing, YouTube, or Amazon). Downside? Severely throttled data and no free account or trial. Full set of tools look great through the window.

Writing with great keywords not enough? Consider your linking strategy.

The Delightful and Quirky Keyword Tools

Answer the Public: Beautiful visuals; love the wheels—both the look of the infographics and the insights they offer. Even with the free account, you can download (limited) keyword lists into a csv file. Uses Google and Bing and is great for people starting out in SEO.

  • Answer the Public—Free account gives you 3 searches/day with throttled results, free trial, paid plans start at $9/month or a one-time $99 lifetime fee. (I find that offer unique and tempting!)

QuestionDb: Free on-screen tool is great for blog ideas. It does throttle results; I received 51 of 115 questions asked about my topic—I can work with that. It pulls questions from search sites and social media. Shows you how users frame the questions and everything. Pretty cool tool all things considered.

  • QuestionDb—Free, with limits on results; paid plans start at $12.50/month.

Keyword Sheeter: In the quirky camp, for sure. Not quite NSFW, this tool relies on bathroom humor as the core of its brand. Still, fast and free results on your screen, pulled from autocomplete results from Google. Downloading or digging into the results (ahem) requires a subscription.

Need help turning keywords into content? Talk to us. We have efficient, skilled people (real humans!) who can write in your voice, for your audience.

SEO Tools from Search Engines

  • Google Trends—Not a generator—more of a keyword smackdown tool. Use it when you’re not sure which term works better with your audience or when you’re planning your next topic. Has some key regional- and industry-specific insights. More useful for content writers than campaign strategists.
  • Google Keyword Planner—Designed for campaign strategists, this tool works for anyone. However, you must tell the tool about your campaign. If you don’t have one (because you’re a content editor or writer), you’ll be feeding the tool fiction.
  • Bard—Google’s AI in beta will generate keywords and give you insights into long-tail options. You’ll get even more out of it by testing how to approach search-worthy topics.
  • Bing Webmaster Tools—Has SEO tools equal to Google’s. Free, but you must make an account to access any of them.
  • Bing Chat AI, aka “Discover” button—Find it in the upper right of the Edge browser window (looks like a chat icon). Free and worth exploring. I asked for keyword recommendations and got AI-produced copy, rich with keywords.

Need more results than a pile of keywords? Schedule time to talk with a Stamats digital strategist.