How to Choose Keywords for SEO: The best keyword research tools

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Welcome to the third and last part of the series! Now that you understand the types of keywords and steps involved in choosing them, perhaps you need some extra help? The internet is a wonderful place with tons of resources readily available. If you need help choosing the right keywords for SEO, you can definitely find some useful tools on the internet. However, with so many tools available, how do you know which ones are suitable for your needs? To save you from the tedious trial and error, here are some of the best keyword research tools based on your needs.

Best keyword research tools (based on your needs)

For the one looking for a free, easy and reliable tool to start with:

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is probably the best tool to start using if you are new to SEO. Although it is made for Google AdWords users, the data provided is useful for selecting your keywords. Since the data comes directly from Google, it is definitely reliable and forms a good foundation for any SEO project.

Get started with the tool by searching for keyword ideas using a phrase, website or category. Search with all three at the same time to get a more focused and accurate search. For example, the phrase “cheesecake” may belong to either the “Baked Goods” or “Bakeries” category. Select the appropriate category to generate more relevant keyword ideas or use your website as a basis for the ideas. The keyword ideas will come along with the average monthly searches and competition (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Keyword ideas generated with phrase “cheesecake” and category “bakeries” entered

If needed, there are also options that allow for targeting based on country or language (Figure 2). You can also get search volume and competition data for an existing list of keywords.

Figure 2: Targeting and customizing options on Google Keyword Planner

Unfortunately, as of August 2016, Google has switched to displaying ranged data instead of precise search volumes for users with no or low-spending AdWords campaign. Nonetheless, the limited data provided is still useful for SEO starters.

For the one who needs help coming up with more long-tail keywords:


KeywordTool uses Google’s autocomplete feature to generate a large number of relevant long-tail keywords based on the keyword entered. With Google as its source, the long-tail keywords generated are Google’s keyword suggestions to real-life searches. This ensures a good level of relevance. In addition, since Google takes into consideration the frequency of past searches when suggesting a particular search term, the keyword suggestions given are of substantial search volume. The best thing about It generates up to 750+ long-tail keywords for free! (Figure 3)

Figure 3: Long-tail keywords generated by KeywordTool with “cheesecake” entered

If needed, you can sign up for the paid version which provides even more suggestions, localized search volume and competition data extracted from Google.

For the one who wants additional insights and more powerful functions:


The main functions of KWFinder are similar to Google Keyword Planner. They both provide keyword suggestions, show search volume and reveal competition level. However, KWFinder has an extra edge because it is tailored for SEO purposes. In particular, the SEO difficulty score provided in KWFinder gives a more accurate and comprehensive estimate of how difficult it is to rank for that particular keyword (Figure 4). The score is a better estimate because it is calculated based on well-regarded SEO stats (Domain Authority, Page Authority, MozRank and MozTrust) of pages on the first SERP. With the score, it is easier to identify and focus on keywords with achievable difficulty. This means less time and effort wasted on optimizing for keywords which are not attainable.

Figure 4: KWFinder with exact search volumes for close variant keywords (red) and SEO difficulty score (blue)

Also, unlike Google Keyword Planner, exact search volumes are shown for all keywords, even close variant ones such as “flower” and “flowers” (Figure 4). The free version of KWFinder is limited by a few daily searches so do consider subscribing to the tool in order to fully utilize it.


SEMRush is an all-encompassing tool with powerful functions for organic search, keyword research and others such as display advertising (Google Adwords) and back-links. Besides the usual keyword research functions, the main advantage of SEMRush is its ability to provide competitors’ data to facilitate competitive keyword research (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Ranking comparison for common keywords between and

For example, you can observe who you are competing with for your keywords. By looking at the competitors’ landing pages that ranked, you can get new ideas to better optimize your content. Also, by taking note of the keywords that drive traffic to your competitors’ website, you may discover keywords that you should start optimizing and ranking for.

Although SEMRush is powerful, it does come with a steeper learning curve and hefty price tag. Thus, unless you really need it, it might not be necessary to start using SEMRush.

Moving Forward

There are many keyword research tools available in the market, whether free or paid. The tools featured above are based on the possible needs that you might have while doing SEO. The fact is, many of the tools in the market have overlapping functions. Don’t be afraid to try them out and find the ones that work the best for your SEO process.

In any case, if you feel that tools are not quite sufficient to help you, do consider getting in touch with us so we can help you grow your business through SEO!


Joey Wang

Joey Wang

Joey is captain of Appiloque's spaceship. He spends his time charting the company's future and spearheading innovation projects that make business sense. Occasionally, he gets mistaken for a computer since he doesn't need a calculator and overheats when running too many processes.

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