As an internet marketer, keyword research is one of the most important things you can do, especially if you are focusing more intently on content marketing and digital marketing. However, one of the best keyword research tools available- the Google Keyword Planner – has recently been stripped of a lotof its usefulness.
“Advertisers with lower monthly spend may see a limited data view in the Keyword Planner. For example, you may see values such as 0, 1-100, 100-1K, 1K-10K, 10K-100K, 100K-1M, 1M+ in the average monthly searches column.In addition, other advertisers may trigger the limited data view by reaching a limit on the number of searches for search volume data.These changes will ensure that AdWords advertisers are able to get the data they need to optimize their accounts.”
It’s thought that Google created these changes to:
Make more money (which is legitimate - they have an incredibly useful tool after all)
Keep free users from abusing their system (apparently this was a bit of an issue)
Regardless of the real reasons behind Google’s most recent change, the effect is the same: the Google Keyword Planner is MUCH less useful than it once was.
Check out the differences, courtesy of some screenshots snapped by Barry Schwartz for an article on SEO Roundtable: Before the change:
There's a reason the Google Keyword Planner was the best tool around for such a long time. Look at all this amazing data you get - FOR FREE!
However, as they say... all good things come to an end.
Here are the Google Keyword Planner Results After the Change:
As you can see, there’s a pretty massive difference here. Greg Finn, writing for Search Engine Land.com, says “the ranges that Google will provide for those with small (or no) spends makes the tool almost useless.”For example, the category “1-10,000” searches a month is NOT useful to you in the slightest.
You need to know more concrete numbers than what Google now provides in order to make data-driven decisions for your online marketing strategy and digital marketing campaigns. However, you may be in a place where spending money each month on a keyword research tool isn't viable and you want to get your keyword research done without having to spend the extra money.
If this is the case with you and your business, then don't worry. In this article, you'll find reviews 13 of the top free Google Keyword Planner alternatives, with the best ones picked out for you. And if you're not afraid to spend a little bit of money, read our article here on the best paid alternative Google keyword tool.
Why Keyword Research Is Important
If you’re a bit more advanced in your internet marketing strategy and journey, feel free to skip this section and go directly to our more relevant recommendations below. Also, keep your eyes peeled for the next post in this series where you’ll find out what the BEST keyword research tool is, regardless of the cost involved.
However, if you’re wondering why keyword research is important in the first place, then you have come to the right place. Keyword research allows you to create content for your website that Google can find and show to other people. Keyword research also lets you see what other people are actually interested in learning about or finding online.
If you get good at keyword research, you can go from feeling like a blogger who is putting out stuff on their website that’s never getting read to an honest to goodness content marketer who gets ROI from the content you put out.
It’s the difference between being on the freshman team or the varsity squad. Or as Steven Press field would say, it’s about the difference between being an amateur and being a pro.
You Have to Beat the Competition!
The first page of Google gets 92% of all the traffic for any given search phrase, and that is a lot. Additionally, the top four results on the first page get 2/3 of the overall traffic!That means you want to go after keywords where you have a realistic chance of ranking on the front page of the search engine results page;even better if you can be in the very top results.But to know that information, you have to have the right tools!
If you want to feel like you're serious about reaching your goal of financial freedom and you want to squeeze the most results out of the effort you’re already putting into creating content, then KEEP READING.
Well, it has the best data selection as you can see below:
SEM Rush gives you:
Phrase match keywords
Organic search results
Ad copy for the keyword you typed in
SEMrush also lets you put a competitor’s URL into the tools you can gain insight into what keywords they are ranking for, how many backlinks they have, where those backlinks are coming from, their monthly search volume, and so much more.
The limitation of this tool is that it’s not truly free. You can use SEMrush for about ten free searches before you are asked to sign up for a free account. Once you have a free account, you can use another ten searches before you are asked to upgrade to SEMrush’s “Pro” plan at 70 dollars per month.
You’ll see what the best keyword research tool is regardless of the cost in the next post, but for now, we are focusing on the free versions of the best keyword tools
However, ten free search queries per day is still quite a bit, and the data SEMrush gives, like the information about your competitor’s website, is quite extensive which is why it’s the winner of this roundup.
A Little Trick for Unlimited Searches
If you have a VPN, you can use it to refresh your IP and get another ten free searches from SEMrush. Ironically, this may not work if you’re signed into a free account. But if you don’t mind having to refresh your IP every ten searches, then SEMrush is clearly your best free choice for an optimal keyword research tool.
Let’s say you don’t want to bother with free accounts, refreshing your IP, or anything else, but you still want to get some valuable keyword data for free.
In that case, SEO Book’s keyword tool is your best bet. This great tool gives you plenty of data, including:
Google vs Bing + Yahoo searches
CPC for paid ads
SEO Book gives you this data not only for your exact phrase and search terms but for a bunch of related keyword phrases as well. You will find that this data is a lot more valuable than if you were just given keyword suggestions like a lot of the free tools we’ll list below.
You don’t get quite as much info and suggestions as you get with SEMrush (such as the CPC ad copy) and there’s no competition analysis, but overall, SEO Book’s keyword tool is quite useful for on-page optimization.
The Freemium, Limited Use, And Free Account Requiring Tools
These tools are more useful than the truly free keyword suggestion tools you can find below.
However, that additional utility comes at a cost, such as:
Having to pay money after a certain number of searches
Not being able to see all the data without paying
Having to sign up for a free account
A lot of these tools have free trials, or you can use a VPN to get more searches daily. Let's get into the tools!
KW Finder is an awesome research tool because it gives you all of the most relevant information about any given keyword phrases on one screen. It also lays it out in a clear and intuitive format that helps boost your keyword planning.
KW Finder costs only $49 a month, and for that price, you have access to 100 searches a day; however, don’t forget that free searches are still an option! If you want to invest less than Ahrefs, SEMrush or MOZ, then this is the way to do it.
KW Finder is FAST as well. It quickly gets you the keyword difficulties you need, other relevant keywords to include, and your backto creating SEO content fast!
Any restrictions? You have to sign up for a free account - but then you get three free searches per day for life.
Keyword Revealer is a rock-solid contender in the "free to very low cost" keyword tool arena.If you get tired of the three free searches, you can get a big upgrade to 15 searches per day for only 10 dollars a month. That's a pretty sweet deal if you're on a budget.
You also get access to the keyword difficulty tool which shows you the highest ranking pages for your phrase, along with some of their stats. This info can show you how easily you can get a page to rank on the first page of Google for that phrase. Keyword Revealer is definitely in the spotlight as the best free keyword tool.
Two search queries per day aren't much; however, the Moz tool is pretty easy to use and well laid out for a better user experience. The paid option of this keyword tool is quite expensive, so if you're on a budget and you want to use this tool, then you're probably going to want to have a VPN.
Any restrictions? A few free searches, then you can refresh the page and get more.
Compared to some of the other options here, SERPs is a little basic: it doesn't have any data on competition analysis for example.
The Truly Free Keyword Generating Tools
These keyword tools are truly free, but remember, you get what you pay for.
You can still use these tools to get some useful suggestions during your keyword research; however, without hard search volume numbers for these phrases, it's difficult for you to find the "gems" hidden in the dirt.
Still, for raw idea generation and keyword ideas, these tools are free, quick, and easy to use.
Answer The Public has a pretty cool interface that can show you a "mind map" of all the different suggested keyword phrases. It also uses an interesting "who, what, when, how, which" approach to keywords which is can be useful.
The unique draw of Soovle is that it gives you results from a bunch of different search engines at once, including the following:
The downside is that none of this data has any volume information attached to it, so it's a bit of a shallow and broad tool to use. However, if you click on any one area, you are taken directly to the SERP (search engine results page) for that phrase, which is a cool feature.
Which Free Alternative to Google Keyword Planner Should You Use?
If you don't mind using a VPN and refreshing the page (or just limiting yourself to 10 searches a day), then SEMrush is the clear winner. However, if you want a truly free option, then SEO Book is your best bet for the best keyword research tool.
If you are looking for more in the way of features for your keyword research tool, then you may want to consider foregoing a free version and opting for a paid tool instead. For a more affordable paid option, then KW Finder is your go to!
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Miles is a full time internet marketer who sells information products and a niche membership program with his wife, Melanie. Together they have created a lifestyle business that allows them true location independence and this blog where you get to see behind the scenes and see how they have built their online business from scratch.