Top 7 Keyword Research Tools in 2016 and the latest Google Keyword Planner update

Best Keyword Research Tools in 2016


Keyword research can be the most challenging aspect of SEO.  Keywords after all, are what Optimization experts consider the ‘core’ of SEO.  So when it comes to figuring out what keywords you want to target, what tool do you use?

In the past several years, new tools have been made and Google’s Keyword Planner tool has had some competition.  Tools that give you a better and more friendly user interface and more insight to keyword competitiveness as well as search volume have been made to give people a better way of finding keywords quickly and easily.

Also, if you had not heard, an update to Google Keyword Planner was released in August of 2016. As posted on SearchEngineWatch and SearchEngineJournal, the update was suspected to be an error or glitch due to unexpected restrictions. The update meant that you could not see certain data such as specific amount of average monthly search volume for a specific keyword unless you had an active Google Ads campaign.  Another update, posted on SearchEngineLand, showed that low-spending adsense accounts could not view specific amount of search volume for keywords.  Instead you saw a range.  Eg: 10-100 instead of 55.

So putting aside Google Keyword Planner’s confusing update, what tools do most people use for their keyword research?  In no particular order, here are the top tools we found that are widely used amongst SEOs and online marketing professionals.



  1. Google Keyword Planner

Probably the #1 Keyword Research tool. Simply, it is made by Google and it is free.  “It is easy to use, yields hundreds of possible keyword phrases alternatives, a unique multiply keywords feature, and many more.”

Some of the advantages of Google Keyword Planner include Ease of Use, Easy to Export Data, Ability to Multiple and Expand your Keyword List, alternative keywords and multitude of opportunities, and filters.

You can search for keywords using actual keywords to see what Google cam come up with or it will research keywords based on a specific URL.  The disadvantage is that the Keyword Planner does not seem to offer a negative keywords feature or long-tail keywords.

Also it is built for advertisers, so it has little to do with keyword competitiveness for publishers.  You may not find very unique keyword which no one is targeting. For best profitable keywords, you have to use other keyword research tools as well.


Summary: Great to use for a free, easy to use tool to check multiple keywords.  Bad for long-tail keywords, publishers, and keywords that no one is targeting.



  1. WordStream’s Keyword Tool

It’s free to try out but you have to pay to access to full tool.  7-day free trial plus 30 free searches, then you have to pay.  WordStream offers a tool that has a friendlier interface than Google Keyword Planner.

It grabs data from Google but also provides some long-tail keywords.  It allows you to view keywords in an organized way through a multiple column list.


Summary: Great for long-tail keywords and very organized.  It’s not fully free though.




Claiming to be the #1 alternative to Google Keyword Planner, it allows you to view keywords in a very unique way.  But you won’t be able to view the detailed insights for the keywords unless you pay for the Pro version.

The way gets keywords is using Google’s Auto-Complete.  It takes your keyword, then expands on it and only shows you keywords that have search volume (unless things have changed recently and it shows you keywords with no volume).

So for example, if you search “ink refill”, the tool will show you every long-tail keyword with “ink refill” with search volume.  It’s pretty handy.

The Pro plan that includes Search volume data starts at $68 per month.

AdWords is omitting data to bias advertisers toward certain keywords. – Rand Fishkin, Founder of


Summary: One of the best alternatives to Google Keyword Planner.  Gives a great list of long-tail keywords for any keyword you are researching.  It’s not free though.



  1. SEMRush

A tool whose reputation is HUGE amongst the best SEOs in the world (voted #1 amongst 61 online marketing experts).  You can access it for 14 days for free, then pay for the premium version, unless you can find a coupon for 1-month free.

It allows you to view very specific insights for keywords in a very user-friendly dashboard.  You can view which keywords you or your competitor is ranking for and the stats for those keywords.

“Unlike other tools where you need to add seed keywords to start your research, here you just need to add your URL (or your competitor’s URL) and it will show you all of the keywords that are ranking for that site.”


Summary: Considered one of the best by many of the top SEOs who have the money to invest in a tool.  You can easily see which keywords your website or your competitor is ranking for and see detailed insights.  Not fully free.



  1. SpyFu

A tool talked a lot in the SEO community, this tool gives you the same insights that most of the other tools show but it also allows you to track your website and its pages and posts to see which keywords they are ranking for.  You can also spy on your competitor and view your history.  SpyFu also comes with some modules including Compare Websites, Keyword History, Domain History, and Related Keywords.

“We were able to gain very good insight into our competitors. We would recommend this service to anyone!”

Limitations: This program doesn’t have the depth of keywords that some competitors do, although this is changing. Also, the data for SpyFu is monthly, rather than real-time.

Price starts at $79 per month.


Summary: Known for one thing: spying on your competitor.  It’s not free, nor is it real-time and it isn’t as detailed as other tools.



  1. KWFinder

A keyword tool that is free but gives you deeper insight if you pay for it.  Probably one of the most user-friendly, innovative, and insightful keyword research tools that many SEOs have been talking about.

It is pretty good at finding low-competitive keywords.


Summary: A superb tool that a lot of SEOs have been talking about and is very well made in terms of design.  Gives great data in a user-friendly intuitive way.  Not completely free.



There is a very high chance that there are a lot more tools out there but of course tools have their own algorithms  and their own design, so everyone has their own preference.  SEMRush and Google Keyword Planner oftentimes are the 2 best tools that people use.

The best way to research keywords is to find out what other people searching for by using Google Auto-Complete which will show you related keywords, then you can use Google Keyword Planner which is free.

Don’t be confused about pricing.  Every tool has their own subscription fees.  Take a look at screenshots for each tool, look at the reviews, then think about which tool you would be more comfortable in using.  You shouldn’t have to spend so much just to rank a site.  Simplicity is always a great thing.

It is suggested that you use multiple keywords on each page of your website.  Research at least 4-5 long-tail keywords with a high search volume then spread them out on your page, but try to put primary targeted keywords towards the top of your content so Google puts more value on it.

Use keyword variations so Google knows what your content is about.    Hopefully people will find your content if you ping your website and get a few quality backlinks.