For the past, present, and mostly likely the distant future, as a search marketer, keywords are your currency and language. Keywords are what drives the topics of the content you create, your PPC campaigns, and even peripherally the interests you target on social media.
Access to a tool with keyword ideas and indicators of relative importance of one keyword over another is an absolute necessity. With the recent news of Google blocking access to its Keyword Planner to anyone without an active account, it is prudent to be prepared with options in the event this restriction becomes the norm.
Here are 10 alternatives to Google’s Keyword Planner for finding keyword ideas and search volume predictions.
- Ahrefs: Alongside Ahrefs’ backlink reporting and organic traffic dashboards, they have a really powerful keyword research tool which provides keyword ideas as well as search volume for all match types. For those conducting keyword research for SEO, Ahrefs has a keyword difficulty score metric which recently in head to head testing was declared to be slightly more accurate than other tools that offer a similar feature. Ahrefs is a paid tool, but if you sign up for a free trial and then cancel, you will maintain access to a free version of their tool.
- SEMRush: SEMRush has a keyword tool that is driven by its huge dataset of search data from 26 different countries. SEMRush results return keyword ideas, estimated search volume, estimated cpc, keyword difficulty score, and current ranking domains for a keyword.
- Moz: Moz recently launched their own dedicated keyword explorer as a supplement to their SEO research suite. You can choose from nearly any location in the globe to conduct your search and filtering options allow you to exclude your specific query term to get more ideas, or even choose only question phrases that contain your keyword. Keyword results include related query ideas alongside estimated search volume and a keyword difficulty score. Moz also shows domains currently ranking for the keyword and recent mentions of the keyword.
- Keywordtool.io: This tool scrapes keyword suggest ideas from Google, YouTube, Bing, and even Amazon. You can choose suggested keywords from every Google TLD, language, and location and there are similar options for the other engines it supports. For free, you will get hundreds of suggested keywords, but you need a paid plan to access search volume estimations.
- Scrapebox: Mostly known as a black hat SEO tool, Scrapebox has plenty of white hat uses too (see this great guide from Neil Patel) including conducting keyword research. With Scrapebox, a small handful of keywords will easily turn into hundreds and even thousands of possibilities. Scrapebox is software that needs to run on a Windows desktop environment, but the upside is that it’s a one-time purchase vs a monthly or annual subscription.
- Wordstream: Primarily a paid tool to help search marketers manage their pay per click campaigns, Wordstream has a free keyword tool which allows a limited number of searches. Free results only include related keywords, but Wordstream’s paid subscribers can see search volume, too.
- Bing: While not the obvious choice if you are conducting research for Google campaigns, Bing’s keyword tool can still provide helpful insights on related keywords. You need to have a website verified in Bing’s Webmaster Tools in order to use the tool, but it is otherwise free to use. The keyword ideas are not as broad as those that you might get from other free keyword tools; however, one advantage in Bing’s favor is that they display both broad and exact match search volume.
- Keyword Discovery: This is one of the oldest keyword tools in existence and they pull search data from the widest list of search resources. While I have found, at times, their predicted search volumes vary widely from what Google shows, this is a very useful tool for discovering ideas you might never have otherwise found. Its a paid tool, but you can conduct a limited amount of free searches.
- KWFinder: Keyword searches can be focused in five different countries or most of the world’s most popular languages. Results include a keyword difficulty score and keyword ideas can be filtered by a number of different metrics. This is a paid tool, so you can only conduct a limited amount of searches for free.
- 7Search: 7search.com was one of the world’s first PPC networks; although, you may not have met someone who’s ever used it. Their keyword tool is really simple to use and its free. Results include keyword ideas as well as search volume on the 7Search network.
Even if Google maintains its non-advertising requirement status quo to use Keyword Planner, it’s still helpful to use some of the tools above when conducting keyword research just to get another perspective.
Additionally, if you are conducting SEO or SEM campaigns in places around the world where Google faces actual competition—such as in Asia—you might be better off using keyword tools created for that local market.
Baidu: The largest search engine in China has a free keyword tool as a part of its webmaster tools as well as a Google Trends-like product that gives hot trends and related keywords.
You can also use DragonMetrics for keyword research (paid tool with a free trial) which is like a an Ahrefs/SEMRush/Moz for Baidu.
Naver: The dominant search engine of Korea has a keyword tool to find popular keywords on its network. (Note: Naver’s tools work best on Internet Explorer)
Yahoo Japan and Yahoo Taiwan: These are the leading search engines in their respective markets and they each have their own keyword tools (both behind login walls). Their keyword data should be the same as what Google shows since they use Google’s organic results.
Yandex: The leading search engine in Russia and also very popular in Russian-speaking countries. Their keyword tool has Russian as well as English data.
If you are looking for a guide on how to do keyword research, check out the linked chapter of our SEO guide.
Featured Image: Screenshot by Elis Schwartz. Taken June 2016
In-post screenshot by Elis Schwartz. Taken January 2016.
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our daily newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!