Free Tools for Competitor Keyword Research

SMS Text

If you’re trying to figure out what keywords to go for, chances are you are going to take a look at some of your competitors to see what they are ranking for. But if you don’t have access to professional and premium SEO tools, how do you find out this kind of information?

Here are four free tools to get you started in finding a variety of keywords being used by your competitors. These tools will help you see what keywords bring them traffic as well as other interesting details that can help your SEO campaign.

1. Open Site Explorer

Open Site Explorer also falls under the SEOmoz tools umbrella, so once you’re logged in to SEOmoz, you have access to this as well. To use this tool for keyword ideas, enter the competitor’s URL and go to the Anchor Text Distribution tab.

SEOmoz Open Site Explorer Keyword Tool

This will show you up to 20 keywords that your competitor uses for anchor text when link building, hence letting you know what they are targeting and how strong their link building campaign is with the number of root domains and links using that anchor text.

2. Google AdWords Keyword Tool

I know, I know, we all know about Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Usually I use the type in a word and let it make suggestions for me aspect, but for this exercise, I entered a domain to see what would happen.

Google AdWords Keyword Tool

The key is to go to the Columns, and check Extracted From Webpage. Then you will find that if you entered, it focuses on a particular page from the domain, and not the domain homepage. So if there isn’t a or other similar type of page, you won’t get the homepage’s keyword suggestions. But for other specific pages on the site, you can pin down the keywords that AdWords recognizes from those

3. SEMRush

SEMRush allows you to enter a domain and view ten of the top keywords that the website ranks for organically, showing the keyword, position in search results, traffic percentage, and other useful information, especially if you are going to use CPC for your website.

SEMRush Keyword Tool

It also shows what URL on the site ranks for the specific keyword, but I removed that column to make the image fit in the space above.

4. Alexa

Aside from just giving you your traffic score, Alexa also gives you the chance to see keyword queries that bring a high percent of traffic to a particular URL. Just go to the Site Info tab and enter your competitor’s URL. Once you Get Details, go to the Search Analytics tab to see top queries driving traffic to the site, and keywords that are on the rise / decline.

Alexa Keywords in Search Analytics

If you scroll down from here, you will also find lengthy lists of keyword phrases for high impact search queries for the URL, search engine marketing activity based on ads for particular keywords, and additional keyword opportunities that the competitor (or you) could pursue.

Your Free Tool Suggestions

And there you have it – some great (and free) keyword tools to use to see what your competitors are up to. What other freebie SEO tools would you suggest to further your competitor keyword research?


Image Credits
In-post Photo #1: Screenshot from Open Site Explorer
In-post Photo #2: Screenshot from Google AdWords Keyword Tool
In-post Photo #3: Screenshot from SEMRush
In-post Photo #4: Screenshot from Alexa


Kristi Hines
Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, ghostwriter, and blogger who develops high-quality content for businesses.
Kristi Hines
Kristi Hines
Get the latest news from Search Engine Journal!
We value your privacy! See our policy here.
  • Vivek Parmar

    These are awesome tool and i use almost all of them. As far as i know SEMRUSH is not a free tool. Its a paid tool

    • Dan

      I think they have a free option. I have been on there a few times, but the results do look limited.

    • Kristi Hines

      It’s not free.. it only allows you to see the first ten organic keyword rankings for a domain as mentioned above. The free version gives you a few ideas, whereas the paid version will give you the complete picture.

    • Kristi Hines

      It’s not free.. it only allows you to see the first ten organic keyword rankings for a domain as mentioned above. The free version gives you a few ideas, whereas the paid version will give you the complete picture.

  • Alyasha

    Yeah SEMRUSH lets you do few free searches I think before it asks you to register.

    • Kristi Hines

      Yeah, you only get the first ten keywords in the free version. Sometimes that can at least get you started. 🙂

  • KJ

    I always get some great info and links using SEOmoz Pro.

    • Kristi Hines

      SEOmoz does provide some great tools, even some very useful freebie ones!

  • Adjone Robin

    SEOmoz does always provide some great tools and info.

  • Mlhowse

    When I check my own site Alexa, I find it to be well off the mark. I Have Keywords on there that never appeared on my google analytics stats.

  • Anonymous

    This good way

  • shazan sayani

    ahan good and what about Market Samurai?? It will not give you the data of competitor but gives your PBR which is really helpful.

  • Anonymous

    I’d put spyfu on the list

  • Steven

    Google’s Wonder Wheel is seeming to be an eye opener to me. But, SEOmoz’s tools are top.

  • Faresun

    I like KeywordSpy but he is not performent for french results.

  • Rahul

    I think the best keyword tool among this Google Adwords Keyword Tool. I mostly use this tool. The other tool which I have just started using is Keyword Eye.

  • Webnwebs

    Very useful information. Thanks for sharing

  • ideq

    Nice tips, and I just know about alexa. I think I can use alexa only for my own blog. Ouuwh my poor knowledge 😀 Thx again

  • Debbie

    I’m a complete noob so these tools will be an amzing help to me. The only one I had was SEMRush. Thanks so much for all the valuable information! =-)

  • Donatus

    This is a very resourceful information, i think i will try semrush. i love using google adword tool always

  • jack

    what about the, which i often used to analyze my competitor’s site, SEMRUSH is great too ,but i found that the data provided by the above-mentioned two tools some times has a noticeable difference, so i would like to use several tools to draw a more accurate conclusion! anyway thanks for your information!

  • Jeff Brown

    Typo: “Enter the URL of your competitor to receive one word, two work (typo), and three word phrases….”

  • Jannet

    Keyword Competing should be on the list of your competitor keyword search tools.

  • Agus Demak

    So, is there some tools that provide good result for free? I just want use for my personal web and I have not a lot of money…


    Based in experience the best is Google Adwords Keyword Tool.

  • Jomar Lipon

    I personally used Google Keyword Tool and OpenSite Explorer in finding my keyword for my website 😀 This give me a good result until today. I never tried the other 3 tools maybe I would try it 🙂


    Google Adwords Keyword Tool is probably the best out there.

  • Alex

    1. Term extractor no longer exists
    2. OSE: the keywords you get are the main keywords your competitor wants to rank for. They are logical, you know it all too well. This tool won’t tell you anything new.
    3. Adwords keyword research tool: only good if you check their site page by page. It won’t look at all keywords used on the whole site.
    4. SEMrush – not free, alas.
    5. Alexa is probably the best of all you listed.

    the best way to see the competitor keywords is to have access to their GA or WMTs data, anything else, pretty much useless.

  • cj

    None of the tools listed above worked for me and enabled me to find my competitors keyword for a certain article.

  • Johan Hernández

    What I don’t like about these tools (except for google) is that you cannot base your metrics on searches for specific country (Costa Rica in my case).

  • Darshan Vapi

    Thanks for the nice details but I couldnt find SEOmoz Term Extractor anymore. I visited the parent website and still not able to locate it. Any comment pl?

  • Arun Singh

    Google Adword Keyword tool and Alexa is the best tool for competitor keyword research.

  • H M Hannan

    I think Google and Alexa Keyword research tools are better.

  • Rao

    To my knowledge i would rate google adwords tool, SEM rush would be top choice. SEOMOZ tools are better for checking the rest of On page optimizations and site authority.

  • Tanya Shree

    One of my favorite keyword tools are Google Adword keyword tools and Sumrush .

  • Adam Warner

    After they replace the Google Adwords I can’t understand their concept.

  • Sunshine Coast Web Development

    Great article on some simple ways to really improve your search engine keyword recognition. Thanks again.

  • waqas cheema

    these free 5 tools are best to check Competitor keywords