Get The Free Affiliate Marketing Crash Course!

100% Free Course Reveals The 11-Step Process That Grew My Niche Site From $0 To $100,000+

The Best Keywords Tool Reviewed [Why Ahrefs Is Not A Top Pick]

Doing keyword research has become a big must in both Google and YouTube.

If you are a digital marketing specialist and you wan't your content to rank well - you're going to need some quality keyword research tools as you seek to climb the Google search engine.

Sadly, the best keyword research tool is a bit hard to come by because of all the competition out there.

We'll look at the good and bad of a few different keyword research tools to help make your decision a bit easier.

Lastly, you'll find out why i recommend KW Finder the most out of any tool here. It may seem counter intuitive to go through all of the lame keyword research tools first, but this will only help give us a better understanding of what's important when finding a keyword software to use in your business.

The following article will help frame a few things you'll need to be aware of in your journey of finding the right keywords and perfecting your SEO approach.

Finding Keywords

You’re already busting your butt putting out content that people will find useful.

So make sure you’re capitalizing on your time invested in content marketing by doing keyword research!

Keyword research is crucial if you want your content to get eyeballs on it, which leads to you getting more email subscribers, sales, and money.

You CAN use a free Google keyword planner alternative, but if you have 25 bucks a month to spend on your business, using a paid keyword tool is a great investment.

You can save a TON of time using one of these paid tools as opposed to using a combo of free tools.

But first, let’s go over the 80/20 of keyword research so you know the most valuable ways to spend your time when using one of these keyword research tools for SEO.

The 80/20 Of Keyword Research

Keyword research is a lot like mining for gold.

You spend a bunch of time sifting through dirt to discover real gems.

And just like in gold mining, in keyword research you want to:

  1. Go where there’s gold (aka traffic in our case)
  2. Avoid going where there’s too much competition (aka other high ranking web pages)

The best keyword tools will do both of these things for you!

Overall, only 20% of all your effort is going to yield 80% of your traffic. This means for every search term you try to rank for only about 20% of them will do well enough to bring in a good amount of organic search traffic per month.

This is why it's vital to find a solid keyword research tool that will best fit your needs. Depending on your level of experience you may be surprised to find that different keyword research tools will offer different keyword suggestions for what you should target.

Let's dive into the finer details of these keyword research tools.

Long Tail Pro

This is a solid research tool - if you can afford it. Sadly it's a bit overpriced for what it offers. If you are in a very specific niche that lends it self to long tail keywords THAT ALSO have big earning potential then this would be a smart investment.

However, for most of us, we are in the average to higher search volume range. This Google keyword planner wouldn't be worth it for about 95% of marketers out there...

long tail pro keyword tool

The Good:

  • Good for finding true long tail keywords
  • Pulls both related keywords and relevant keywords
  • Gives you a super simple number that tells you what competition number you should be aiming for in your phrases
  • Has a bunch of filters you can use to really hone in on what you want

The Bad:

Long Tail Pro was recently purchased by an investment group - which is bad.

Why? Because now, Long Tail Pro's #1 priority is now making money for investors rather than being the best keyword research tool in the world.

Also, Long Tail Pro is not quite as intuitive as KW Finder. And as you'll soon find out, KW Finder is right in the sweet spot for most marketers needs when it comes to keyword research tools.

The Moz Keyword Explorer:

This great keyword research tool almost gets the award for number 1 out of all of the keyword research tools you can pick from. It does give plenty of good keyword data, but it just falls short on being able to do a deeper dive into the best keyword variations for your niche.

If you're going to spend tons of time and money per month on keyword research, content creation, backlinking and overall SEO strategy then you'll want to be 100% sure you've found some good keyword suggestions to go after.

a pic of the moz google keyword tool alternative 1

The Good:

  • The main dashboard is super simple
  • Better than Ahrefs and SEO cockpit because it’s faster and more intuitive with data layout

The Bad:

You can’t automatically just dig further into keyword results - you have to copy and paste the new phrase into the original search box which is a bit of a hassle.

This holds the Moz Keyword tool back from being really easy to use in the competition area, and from a higher spot.

SEM Rush: Not Ideal For Newbies, But Useful

sem rush google keyword tool alternative 1

If you wanna really double down on SEO research, SEM Rush might be the tool for you.

The Good:

  • Gives you some cool SEO information on your website
  • Shows valuable data for your target keyword

The Bad:

  • Shows too much data - some of which isn’t useful
  • Might be overwhelming for beginners who try to put together a decent keyword list


Some marketers live and die by this keyword planner tool because it is infact, very good. However this provides you with TONS keyword data you probably don't need. If you are making the jump from using a free keyword service to this then you'll easily be overwhelmed.

You'll for sure have the search volumes and specific keyword recommendations you'll need, but it might be hard to navigate if you're coming from a free keyword research tool.

ahrefs google keyword tool alternative 1

The Good:

  • If you’re an SEO ninja, you might love Ahrefs. You can get a TON of information on a particular keyword with this tool if you know how to use it.
  • It has the search volume data, keyword difficulty and competition numbers you want for your SEO analysis

The Bad:

  • You can’t enter a seed keyword and then let Ahrefs find keyword variations or suggestions for long tail phrases. You'd have to find or create a separate keyword list before you did a search.
  • It’s slow!
  • For most people, Ahrefs simply overloads you with information.


I really want this to be a good service, but you'd be better off just using a free keyword research tool for your keyword ideas. The main problem is that it's held back by a lack of competition research. Meaning, you can't see how competitive the landscape is on the Google search engine.

screenshot of keyword

The Good:

  • Shows competition data
  • Shows you information about what keywords a given website is ranking for

The Bad:

  • No competition data. This is a dealbreaker. A competitive research is essential if you want to improve rankings for your website

SEO Cockpit:

Avoid this one all together. It does actually allow you to get a few good insights for a given keyword or two on your own website, but the keyword ideas and overall keyword suggestions are not the best. It's actually often all false data. If you're going to spend money on a per month basis for keyword research tools then you NEED the data to be reliable.

Again we have another instance where using a free keyword research platform would be better. Even using plain old or another free tool to get keyword ideas would be better than relying on any search term suggestions from this tool.

screenshot of seo cockpit google keyword tool alternative 2

The Good:

  • You can put in your website URL to get some valuable data about your SEO.
  • It's a good example of what these software platforms should NOT be.

The Bad:

  • UI is clunky
  • Is SO SLOW!!! There’s just no reason paid keyword research tools should be this slow.
  • It pulls false data, which is pretty unacceptable for a tool that costs money. For example, look at how the tool thinks that these high ranking websites have a Moz score of 0: Ahrefs Keywords Tool
KW Finder

And we have a winner! This is my favorite keyword research tool.

This has both a free keyword research tools option and a paid version as well. But I'd say go with the paid version over the free keyword research version.

Here's why you'd want to pick this for your number one keyword planner.

Touch n' Go Search

Sometimes you don't want to sacrifice a whole afternoon just to search for the best keywords.

This is especially true if you're still deciding what niche to go into. In this instance you'll want to do lots and lots of smaller deep dives to see if a niche is really worth it.

You'll spend 5 to 15 minutes on each niche, throw in a few of what you think the best seed keywords are, then decide if it's viable or not. You can't really do this with most keyword research tools. The speed of which you can enter keywords, get an overview, and then search again for keywords related to your niche is a huge time saver.

Which brings us to our next benefit of this google keyword planner.


Not every search you do will be super fast, however KW Finder does a good job at returning search volume and keyword difficulty score data fairly quickly.

Other Google keyword planner tools are pretty slow in comparison. This can be especially true if you're searching for multiple of the best keywords all at once. Each search you do needs to be decently quick if you're going find the best keywords. Just like in the example above, you'll spend a few minutes on a specific group of keywords, but if that doesn't pan out, then you'll need to pivot your search criteria quickly and look for keywords that are better.

Search User Interface

It seems like everything is hyperlinked and clickable with this tool. This is good because the initial search you do most likely won't be a good keyword. However, it will display other relevant keywords you may click on for monthly search volume data and additional valuable data as well. Once you do this, the search for the best keywords has begun!

For those who are new to finding keywords this is exactly why I recommend this tool. It has a very nice balance of data and usability. For other keyword research tools it feels like you need a masters degree just to decipher all of the complex data. It can be frustrating when all you want to do is find a few decent keywords to start creating content around.

You're easily able to move back n' forth between potential keywords which makes this tool my top pick

Rank Tracking

Want to keep an eye on how well your specific URLs and keywords are doing? This keyword search tool has a built in rank tracker to help you keep an eye on your most valuable keywords.

This is a huge time saver because you can easily look at a few data points each week rather than having to keep up with dozens of unique URLs all the time.


The price for this product is quite good. It starts at around $29 per month and goes up from there. For most people just starting out you'll want to go with this base model. If you're more advanced then the model just above it for $10 more a month works well too.

For enterprise users there's a bigger price point of $79 per month, but most users will only need one of the two starter packages.

Compared to other tools out there, this one has all of the best bells and whistles for the best price. There is a small downside however,

Lack of Advanced Tools

If you are an advanced SEO person then you'll find this keyword planner tool to be lacking. Ahrefs will be a better solution for you, but again for most people you won't really need the advanced functionality. This tool is perfect for anyone who is at an intermediate knowledge/ability level or below.

A Companion SEO Plugin You Should Use:

If you're in the world of WordPress then I highly recommed the  Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin.

Once you know the keyword phrase, how do you optimize your blog post / page for that phrase?

You download the Yoast plugin and let it do the work for you.

The Yoast tool isn’t perfect, but it gets the job done of telling you some of the important factors Google and other search engines consider.

Here’s a short list of SEO factors to look out for:

  • Make sure the post title and “slug” contain your exact keyword phrase
  • Make sure the meta description for the post contains your exact keyword phrase
  • Make sure that there are pictures with related keywords in their “alt” tags

What's also nice is the general scoring it provides. If you're new to the SEO tools and keyword research game then this is a must-have plugin for your WordPress site.

The Final Verdict

If you want to make keyword research a part of your content marketing routine, you need to make it easy to do.

That's why you need to work with the best keyword research tools on the market.

KW Finder makes keyword research easy while giving you the information you need to make data driven decisions. If you want a bit more complexity, you can try Long Tail Pro or Ahrefs.

Whatever tool you ultimately use to find keywords, whether it's a paid or a free version, just make sure that you put in the effort of looking for the gold in keyword research.

A Last Word

You can have the best list of keywords to target in the whole world but it's all for not if you don't take action.

Action is the element that we all seem to forget about.

Just because you've used the best keyword research tools to find a few golden search phrases doesn't mean you'll actually find gold.

Imagine someone told you how to make beach front property, but all you had to do was work like crazy for the next 3 to 5 years... Would you do it? That's often the hard work and dedication it takes to build an online business but no one seems to want to do the work.

Remember, no matter how good you think your keyword phrases are, you'll still need to make content that ranks for those keywords in the search results. This means a well-written blog post, a YouTube Video, and perhaps even a podcast episode as well.

Begin building your foundation today and the rewards will compound over time.