SEO Keyword Research — what is the best tool?

The cast of a Sherlock Holmes radio play recorded at NBC Times Square in 1930, because the world does’t need another SEO keyword research article headed by an image of a magnifying glass

There are many SEO tools ‘out there’ on the web. All claim to be the best. All claim to be market leaders. But what tools to SEO professionals actually use? While I can’t speak for the entire industry I can tell you a bit about my own favourite tool for keyword research and why I love it so much.

My favourite tool for keyword research is Ahrefs. I have been an SEO professional for over twenty years and have seen many tools rise and fall in popularity (and usefulness). Ahrefs is the best I’ve used to date.

To explain why, I’m going to compare Ahrefs to the Keyword Planner tool that is a part of the Google Ads platform. It’s worth noting that only Google have the perfect data; they are the only company who actually knows for 100% definite how people use Google. But the Google Keyword Planner has some fairly serious flaws that greatly reduce it’s usefulness as a keyword research tool.

The biggest failing of the Google Keyword Planner is that the numbers are too broadly rounded up and down. So the data for any given keyword will be rounded up to the nearest 100, 1,000 or even 10,000 in terms of search volume. In many cases this isn’t accurate enough. So while the Google Keyword Planner might have the most accurate data, Google have chosen hold back on giving us accurate data.

In my experience Ahrefs is usually in the same ballpark as the Google Keyword Planner when declaring search volume. So even although they are not Google, they have similar data to Google.

Unlike the Google Keyword Planner Aherfs will also tell you how difficult keywords will likely be to be to rank. Ahrefs shows who ranks for each keyword, what backlinks they have, how much authority the domain carries, as well as many other bits of useful SEO data.

So Ahrefs is definitely my favourite. Instead of merely stating search volumes, Ahrefs gives you a brilliant starting point for the next step on from keyword research. Ahrefs pretty much tells us what is needed to rank, who the competition is and what the best place to start a ranking campaign might be.

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