Revenue unlocked for our customers
$792,028,102
FreeGet a free SEO keyword reportScore my rankings

Forget Paid Tools! Here Are the Top 10 Free Keyword Research Tools for SEO

Chris Kirksey
Chris Kirksey

CEO, Direction.com

Free Keyword Research Tools Available Today
Share this
Topics
seo badge clutch seo
Is your website ranking on Google?

Get a free keyword report 
with 3 custom pricing options

Keyword research identifies the words your audience is actually using to find your business online — without it you’re just guessing.

Why is Keyword Research Important for SEO?

Keyword research is crucial for SEO because it helps you understand what keyphrases and topics your target audience is actually searching for in search engines like Google. If you want to rank highly and drive traffic to your site from search, you need to identify the terms and questions that people are asking that are relevant to your business.

Without doing keyword research, you are missing out on discovering hundreds or even thousands of specific long-tail keywords that could be driving highly qualified traffic to your site. The volume of searches is critical – ranking for keywords no one is searching will bring little traffic while ranking for high volume keywords can increase visibility and visitors dramatically.

Beyond volume, keyword research also helps expose the level of difficulty and competition for ranking for keywords. By understanding this landscape better, you can focus your content and optimization efforts on keywords you stand a good chance of actually ranking for. Going after only highly competitive keywords is often wasted effort. Keyword research allows you to find “low-hanging fruit” – keywords easier to target.

Overview of Free Keyword Research Tools We'll Cover in this Article

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore 10 highly effective free keyword research tools for conducting SEO keyword discovery and analysis. Specifically, we will review:

  1. Keyword Generator – Helps find popular keyword ideas to target
  2. Answer The Public – Discovers keyword ideas based on common search questions
  3. ChatGPT – Use conversational queries to find initial seed keywords/topics
  4. Ahrefs Webmaster Tools – Shows low competition/high-traffic keywords people use to find your site
  5. Google Keyword Planner – Get search volume and suggest keyword ideas for research
  6. Google Search Console – Shows keywords driving existing traffic that are declining in rankings
  7. Google Trends – Identify breakout keywords and trends gaining significant search interest
  8. SERP Checker – Quickly analyze if ranking is likely for a keyword by checking live results
  9. Keyword Difficulty Checker – Estimates difficulty of ranking for a particular keyword
  10. Moz Keyword Explorer – Analyze related keywords to optimize content for semantic search opportunities

Each tool serves a different purpose in the keyword research process. For example, Answer the Public helps uncover long-tail keyword opportunities while Google Trends allows you to identify breakout content opportunities.

Regardless, all of the tools discussed here will empower SEOs to conduct robust organic research without expensive paid subscriptions.

By leveraging the collective abilities of these free resources, you gain the visibility required to match your page content with search intent – the first critical step for driving qualified traffic.

Whether discovering new keyword ideas, analyzing engagement metrics, or gauging competitiveness, this guide has you covered. Read on to take your SEO keyword strategy to the next level using zero-cost tools anyone can access.

Top 10 Free Keyword Research Tools

1. Keyword Generator

Keyword Generator is a helpful resource to get keyword ideas based on root keywords you provide the tool. It generates a robust list of related keyword variations and phrases you may want to specifically target.

Simply enter a root keyword or topic, and Keyword Generator will compile a comprehensive list of keyword suggestions. You can then customize and filter the suggestions by geography, device type, and other criteria. This helps bubble up the most popular and relevant keyword variations.

Once you have identified promising keyword phrases from Keyword Generator, you can then analyze the search volume for each phrase using Google Keyword Planner or similar. Understanding search volume and search interests allows you to strategically select commercially viable keywords to target.

The advantage of using a tool like Keyword Generator is that it can massively expand your seed list of keywords and uncover hidden gem opportunities you may not have thought of. The key is to then validate and research the results further to hone in on the best keywords that are also realistic to target. So Keyword Generator excels at ideation while other tools help analyze.

2. Answer the Public

Answer The Public is an excellent free online tool for uncovering unique long-tail keyword opportunities for SEO. Here is more detail on how it works:

The tool aggregates the vast sea of questions that people search for online every day. By analyzing these user search queries, Answer The Public is able to reveal the long-tail variations and question-based keywords that real people are actually asking search engines.

For example, for a broad keyword like “coffee”, Answer The Public shows related questions like “where to buy coffee beans near me?”, “how to brew pour over coffee?”, or “what is the best coffee maker brand?”. These represent very specific long-tail keywords that tend to have good traffic potential and less competition.

The value of long-tail keywords is that they demonstrate higher user intent to solve a need, rather than short broad keywords. So targeting these with very tailored content can convert visitors at a much higher rate.

Answer The Public excels at finding these long-tail variations that typical keyword tools do not suggest. The question-based nature of the results also helps inspire the right kind of content that provides true value to searchers.

3. ChatGPT

ChatGPT is a conversational AI assistant that can provide an easy way to generate initial seed keywords and topics to research further. The key advantage is that you can have a discussion with ChatGPT as you would with a human expert.

For example, you can phrase keyword queries in a conversational way such as “What are some broad terms or topics I should target around healthy cooking for families?” or “Can you give me some ideas for keyword opportunities in the home services industry?”.

Based on these conversational prompts, ChatGPT will provide suggestions for relevant high-level keywords and angles to consider. The benefit over traditional keyword research tools is ChatGPT takes into account the context and framing you provide to offer tailored ideas.

Once you extract promising seed keywords from ChatGPT, you can then feed these into other specialized tools like Google Keyword Planner to analyze search volume, competitiveness data and mine for more derived long tail variations.

4. Ahrefs Webmaster Tools

Ahrefs Webmaster Tools provides valuable keyword insights by showing which specific terms and phrases visitors are already using to reach your site. Beyond typical keyword volume and competition data, this reveals the language your own audience uses.

The tool passively collects search queries that have led users to click and land on pages on your site. By analyzing these search terms, you can discover keyword opportunities where you may already rank decently, but that could drive significantly more traffic with some optimization effort.

These represent “quick wins” since they require less lift to start driving more search visits. For example, you may find search queries that land on middle funnel pages rather than your optimal target pages. By better optimizing to rank for those terms on the right pages, you can increase click-through and conversion rates.

The key advantage of leveraging Ahrefs Webmaster Tools data is it exposes the unbiased, real keywords and questions visitors typed to find your content. This laser focuses your keyword list to match actual searcher behavior and interest. Instead of guessing what words work, you know which ones already convert.

5. Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is a free tool provided by Google to get estimated monthly search volume data for keywords you input. Beyond just search volume, it also suggests additional related keyword ideas you may want to target.

For example, if you enter a seed keyword like “coffee subscriptions,” Google Keyword Planner will show the estimated average monthly searches for that exact term, as well as other ideas like “coffee club”, “coffee of the month club”, “best coffee subscriptions”, etc.

You can add multiple seed keywords to get broader related suggestions. Google leverages search query data across their products to uncover more long-tail variations. This helps you significantly expand your list of keyword opportunities.

One advantage of Keyword Planner is that it integrates tightly with other Google products if you use them. For example, if you have a Google Ads account, you can sync your account to unlock additional columns in Keyword Planner like competitive metrics (CPC, competition level) and performance history from your own ads campaigns.

Even without a Google Ads account, Keyword Planner remains a powerful starting point for keyword discovery. The search volume and keyword idea features provide tremendous breadth for further evaluation using other tools. As part of a comprehensive research approach, Keyword Planner excels at expanding your research into new, relevant themes.

6. Google Search Console

Google Search Console provides great insights into the specific keywords and pages currently driving organic traffic to your site. Beyond just volume, it shows trends – highlighting terms where your rankings and traffic have declined over time.

Identifying these declining keywords presents an opportunity to research why you have lost positions and traffic, and outline a plan to regain them. Often it is a case of creating newer, more authoritative content than the competition.

For example, Search Console may show that you have slipped from page 1 to page 2 for “best air fryer” keyword, leading to 50% lower clicks over past 3 months. Further analysis may reveal competitors rapidly publishing better best air fryer review content.

In this case, Search Console has illuminated exactly what content needs refreshing to match or exceed the competition in order to recoup that lost traffic. Because you know those keywords reliably converted visitors previously, it is worth the effort to double down and win them back.

Without leveraging Search Console data, these small leaks in rankings over time could go unseen until positions and traffic decline irrecoverably. So using Search Console as part of routine keyword research highlights areas to bolster your on-page content, backlink profiles, or other optimization efforts for measurable wins.

Google Trends allows you to analyze search patterns over time for given keywords. Beyond just volume estimates, it shows relative growth or decline in interest. This illuminates “breakout” keywords rapidly gaining more searches.

Sometimes these emerging trends relate to new product releases, seasonal patterns, or news events driving temporary spikes in curiosity. Other times, the data exposes meaningful shifts in longer-term interests and demands.

Either way, identifying these high momentum keywords early is invaluable for publishing content while consumer attention and urgency is high. It gives you an opportunity to establish authority and capture traffic before the space becomes too competitive.

For example, Google Trends may reveal surging interest in terms like “rapid grocery delivery”, indicating changing preferences for convenience. By brainstorming relevant content ideas and optimizing early, you gain first-mover advantage before the trend peaks.

8 SERP Checker

SERP Checker allows you to easily view the current top search engine results page (SERP) for a given keyword. By examining which sites rank and their authority metrics, SERP Checker helps estimate difficulty for ranking a page for that keyword.

For example, you may research the keyword “best pizza san francisco.” Inputting this into SERP Checker shows dominant local guide and review sites ranking prominently in the results. Detailed data on their domain authority, backlinks and other factors would indicate strong competitiveness to rank a new content page here.

Alternatively, a phrase like “rustic wedding table decor” returns top results with lower backlinks and authority scores. This signals an easier path to potentially out-optimize the ranking sites for that more niche long-tail keyword with some effort.

By quickly checking a range of keyword targets across themes using SERP Checker in this fashion, you gain perspective on competitiveness at scale. This allows focusing further research and optimization time on more viable mid and long-tail opportunities. Easy early filtering of “moonshot” keywords helps significantly boost ROI potential from the research process.

9. Keyword Difficulty Checker

As part of expanding your keyword lists and research, it is important not just to find good ideas, but also filter and validate their true competitiveness. Keyword Difficulty Checker is a free tool that calculates a score estimating how hard it may be to rank a webpage for a given keyword.

The difficulty algorithm factors in metrics like the number/authority of backlinks pointing to current sites on page one, search volume, history and other signals. It then assigns an overall keyword difficulty score from 0 to 100.

Higher scores represent very competitive phrases that established authoritative sites strongly dominate for. Lower scores indicate more of an open playing field with weaker page one sites.

By running your keyword ideas through Keyword Difficulty Checker, you can quickly filter your list to eliminate terms that likely exceed your capabilities currently. This leaves you with keywords possessing realistic ranking potential to drive results.

Not wasting time chasing after unattainable high competition keywords means more effort invested into creating amazing content and optimization for viable targets. Checking difficulty early in research helps focus your SEO strategy and resources smarter.

10. Moz Keyword Explorer

Moz Keyword Explorer is a robust keyword research tool that features exploratory filters and analysis to deeply research opportunities.

You can input a seed keyword like “coffee subscriptions” and Moz will suggest many variations such as long-tail phrases, questions, and semantic keyword ideas. You can apply filters for search volume, competition levels, location, and more to bubble up viable targets. This allows thorough investigation tailored to your business.

Analyzing the keyword idea results reveals related words and questions people also search around your targets. For example, Moz shows that people interested in “coffee subscriptions” also search comparisons like “coffee subscriptions vs bean box”. Optimizing content to answer and target these searches drives overall visibility and traffic through semantic connections.

A key advantage Moz provides is the ability to save researched keywords into reusable campaigns. This allows tracking ranking positions historically and ongoing for benchmarking and optimization. As your content improves, you can validate which keyword targets to double down on based on measurable position gains.

What’s Makes for a Good Free Keyword Research Tool?

A good free keyword research tool is an essential part of any digital marketing strategy. It helps businesses identify the most relevant and high-traffic keywords that can drive more organic traffic to their website. With so many free keyword research tools available on the internet, it can be challenging to find the right one, though. But don’t sweat – we got you covered! 

Here are some key features that we feel make for a good free keyword research tool:

Comprehensive Keyword Data

The best free keyword research tools should provide comprehensive data analysis of the keywords. This includes information such as search volume, competition, keyword difficulty, click-through rates, and more. The tool should offer insights that businesses can use to optimize their content and boost their search rankings.

Accurate Data

Data accuracy is essential when choosing a keyword research tool. Many free tools retrieve data from unreliable sources or outdated databases, leading to inaccurate results. It’s important to choose a tool that uses reliable data sources, such as Google Analytics or Google Search Console, to ensure the accuracy of the information provided.

User-Friendly Interface

A good free keyword research tool should have a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate. The tool should be intuitive and straightforward, allowing users to quickly understand and interpret the data presented. A simple and clean design will help users focus on the data without getting distracted by unnecessary clutter.

Keyword Suggestions

One of the most valuable features of a keyword research tool is its ability to suggest related keywords and phrases. These suggestions can help businesses identify new keywords they may not have considered before, expanding their reach to a wider audience. The tool should offer a broad range of keyword suggestions and allow users to filter them based on relevancy, search volume, or competition.

Long-Tail Keyword Analysis

Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific phrases that target niche audiences and have less competition. A good free keyword research tool should analyze long-tail keywords and provide data on their search volume and competition. This information can help businesses create content tailored to niche audiences and improve their chances of ranking higher in search engines.

Generous Free Plan

Look for a tool with a generous free plan that offers enough data for small businesses and marketers to make informed decisions. The free plan should include most of the essential features of the tool and allow users to explore its capabilities before deciding whether to upgrade to a paid plan.

All in all, choosing the right keyword research tool can make a significant impact on the success of your business’s digital marketing strategy, so it’s important to invest time in finding the one that works best for your team.

Takeaway

Keyword research is essential for optimizing your site with the words and phrases visitors are truly searching. By leveraging these 10 free yet powerful tools together, you gain unmatched insight into consumer demand without the expense of premium paid tools.

This ultimately enables crafting content directly shaped around intent while guiding smarter SEO resource investments to cost-efficiently gain new opportunities.

Every minute dedicated to discovering your audience’s needs pays off many-fold through higher engagement, leads, and growth from organic search. Whether just starting out in SEO or seeking to uncover new demand, this toolkit delivers immense value at zero cost.

The key is synthesizing insights across tools into an effective keyword-to-content strategy. If developing a winning SEO plan feels overwhelming, the keyword data experts at Direction.com can help.

Contact us to conduct the technical keyword research for your organization while you focus on everyday business execution. With us, you’ll gain an expansive, targeted keyword list tailored to your business as the foundation for search success.

About The Author

Related
More posts
new funnel
Article
The Difference between Organic vs Paid Search
Article
Article
Table of contents
IT Support by SADOSSecure, Fast Hosting for WordPress

Get a free
SEO proposal with
3 pricing options

Get a free, website report + proposal with an SEO strategy unique to your revenue goals. Includes in-depth competitor report to see where you rank against your top 5.

Fill out this form for a FREE website report and proposal with 3 pricing options.
seo badge clutch seo
Voted top rated
SEO agency
"We couldn't imagine working with any other team."
g2 badge seo
Market leader in
SEO strategy
“The wonder weapon of SEO agencies."
We respect your privacy and do not share your information with third parties