Google Keyword Planner is the most popular keyword research tool available, and with good reason – it’s free, and it’s from Google, so the assumption is that you are getting information straight from the horse’s mouth. All your keyword research problems solved in one easy to understand package.

But how does Google Keyword Planner stack up against the competition, and why do the competition exist at all if Google has it covered? This blog will cover a few of our favourite keyword research tools. As you will see, each one has its strengths and weaknesses, and – as with keyword research itself – what you need is unique to your business.

Google Keyword Planner – The Google keyword research tool is designed to complement the AdWords search engine marketing (SEM) platform. It uses machine learning and analysis tools to help you build a database of complimentary keywords. image of Google Keyword PlannerImportantly, because the tool is designed for SEM, the traffic is based on expected clicks as a result of advertising. Client behaviour differs exponentially between organic searches and ad searches, and as a result the Google Keyword Planner is a great place to start defining your topic clusters but won’t offer any significant insight in terms of traffic volumes, organic click-through rates and the volume of complimentary keywords.

Ahrefs – Designed originally to track SEO backlinks, Ahrefs has grown into a more complete offering, including an intuitive keyword research tool. Shot of Ahrefs Keyword DashboardThis tool offers users not only insights into specific keywords, but also searches top performing pages and creates lists of other terms those pages are ranking for. In addition, complimentary phrases that may form part of the topic cluster and their volumes are also listed.

SpyFu –  Do you have a competitor who is smashing you online? SpyFu allows you to pull back the curtain on their website and discover the keywords they are ranking for, and who is linking to them. Spyfu looking amazing and doing it's thingThere is also a cool little AdWords tool that gives you an estimation of their monthly spend, along with their targeted SEM words. More importantly, SpyFu shows you which of your competitor’s keywords are most profitable, their difficulty in terms of ranking and how they are achieving those ranks.

SerpStat – If you want to know which keywords your ranking for at the moment, and are looking for a detailed keyword research/website optimisation package, then you’ve come to the right place. Screenshot 2017-10-05 11.58.26.png

The user experience is intuitive, and lets you see not only good keywords to rank for, but opportunities for you to pick some low hanging fruit. With the Google volume tab and current position tab, you can drill down into your topic clusters and come up with a strategy that allows you to profit from SEO more quickly. There is also the option to audit your existing website infrastructure and identify critical issues that need to be rectified to optimise your rankings.

Which is best? We use all of them, because each of our clients has unique requirements; an online clothing store has different requirements to a SaaS provider. All of these tools are superb, and each offers either a free trial or limited functionality. Start with the problem you are experiencing, and see if the tools can quickly and easily help you. Keyword research is the most important part of the search engine optimisation process, and a small investment in a research tool will save you time and money in the long run.