Keyword research is vital. It’s an essential tactic for developing a powerful content strategy, targeting pay per click advertising campaigns and improving search engine optimization.

I dive heavily into keyword tools and research in my book SEO for Growth – The Ultimate Guide for Marketers, Web Designers, and Entrepreneurs.

keyword research

photo credit: shawncalhoun via photopin cc

For many years, Google offered what was undoubtedly the most used free tool for conducting research on popular and not so popular keyword phrases with useful information regarding popularity, competition and suggested variations of phrases.

The tool was actually an AdWords offering that effectively helped people do better AdWords planning, but it certainly worked for all manner of research.

Recently Google decided to more tightly integrate the tool with AdWords and rebranded it as AdWords Planner. In addition to requiring users to log in to an AdWords account to access the tool a great deal of useful research functionality has been stripped away.

While I found that it was sufficient for most basic research it no longer serves that need very well.

Below are four free alternatives and four paid alternatives that I suggest business owners and marketers consider adding to their resource and research routines.

Free keyword tools

My favorite paid options

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Thanks a lot, John.

    Perfect timing…as I’m looking hard at some alternatives.

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  • Hi John, thanks for the article. Out of the paid keyword tools, what is your absolute favourite one? I am currently at the stage of choosing between MOZ, RavenTools and another fairly new tool: WebMeUp.

    • Martijn – I think it depends on your use – I think MOZ is the best for your own personal use, but if you need an agency tool to manage lots of clients I really like Raven for that.

      • Hi John, I have been testing raventools pretty intensively. I do like the way you can download and customise reports. Need some expertise on backlink checking: which is your favourite tool out of the ones you’ve used?

  • Thanks John. Out of the paid ones you mentioned, which keyword tool is your absolute favourite one? I am currently in the stage of choosing between MOZ, Raventools and another fairly new tool: WebMeUp.

  • Thank you very for sharing these tools sir. Really helped a lot. I used WordPot before and it’s a nice free keyword tool and easy to use.

  • Thank you, John! This could not have come at a better time for me as I’m planning a new site / blog and want something beyond Google’s keyword tool. So, perfecto and thanks 🙂

  • The Digital Age Blog

    Thanks for sharing John. As a new blogger, it is always great to discover useful tools and I am keen to start using WordPot.

  • David Cheng

    Great list. We use Moz and they offer free stuff too.

  • Helpful post. This provides and alternative to people looking for a keyword tool. I am also in search of a keyword tool and I am sure that your list be hepful for me.

  • mo

    thanks for this post . The new decision by Google not only SUCKS, but i’m certain will prove to be a mistake on their part…

  • Very helpful info here. Now I can find profitable keywords without G00gle !

  • Roger

    Thank you for this information as I was also looking for an alternative to google.

  • Garry

    Thanks a lot, sir!

  • heruborneo

    thank u form information

  • Antony Le

    Thank you good sir! short, sweet, and full of helpful info.

  • I am user of Google key word tools. It is vast options moreover it is used by 70% population of this globe.

  • mYayra de Souza

    Thanks for sharing. I tried to use The site says it no longer accepts new signups.

  • Maria Davies

    Short and neat list John! Any feedback about it while looking for free Ubersuggest alternatives, looks quite good to me so far.

    • Arun Raj

      Thanks Maria Davies, it’s look good tool.

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  • Its really helpful for keyword research.

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  • As of now, not only do you have to have an AdWords account, you have to set up an active campaign to use it. Boo, Google!

  • Lee

    These keyword tools are COMPLETELY different than what I am looking for. The old Google Keyword Planner had a feature where you could add a “parent site” for an affiliate site, say, for example …, where we would enter only the part of the web address, i.e. the “parent site” and google would scan the site, up and down, forwards and backwards, until it found any and all related keywords that one might use in a search … THAT MIGHT BRING SOMEONE TO THAT SPECIFIC SITE that I am researching by using the “exact match” check box that was on the left. NONE of these tools appear to have that same feature! I just want a tool right now that will scan a website, no matter the site, and come up with a list of possible keyword/keyword phrases that are based on the site that would come up as result of someone googling those particular phrases. Does ANYONE know of a particular tool that will do that for me? Thank you in advance.

  • ellpeppa

    and where ?))))

  • i use another alternative tool – massive keyword database and the best thing about this tool is that it is very easy to use.)))

  • Arun Raj

    Thanks a lot sir for this info ..Raymondphang

  • alesiavsworld
  • salilpa

    How about AdNabu?. We not just help in keyword research but also help you to create single keyword ad groups from them instantly

  • bloggerbhai

    Thank you for this very informative post.

  • Jason Cole

    One more free easy tool with 3.6 billions keywords database:

  • Patrick

    Somebody tried KeywordMate already? A new seo keywordtool with website specific analyses and advices…sounds good actually

  • hotma utama

    Thanks for the information… see n follow Thanks

  • Andrew Quang Nguyen

    I use another tool call, free long tail keyword search and you can view CPC, search volumes, Keyword Competition, and other ranking.

  • I don’t mind KeywordShitter, too. Sometimes it gives me interesting long-tail that I don’t get on KeywordTool

  • George Coem

    Great list of tools!
    Gush, how awfully lot of them I’ve been trough) Although you cannot just have Google KW Plannner suspended yet you sure can use tools like SERPStat or Buzzsumo for your keyword research.

  • The information you provided is very much helpful

  • Mark Folly

    Hi there, great article. I’ve been using for some time and it’s my favourite tool as it has many other useful metrics 🙂