So what makes a premium keyword research tool worth the investment? Why even use one in the first place? In short: It’s all about the collected data, time is saved, and the deeper knowledge of the vertical that can be gained by the user.
In addition to directly speeding up the discovery process, keyword research tools also grant you access to current and historical data that can turn challenging campaigns into well-planned missions. Plus, you can discover your competitors’ content gaps across search engines.
When it comes to SEO, the difference between great data and poor data is all the difference in the world. Having information on demand and the knowledge to strategically target relevant search terms is critical. Many experts in our industry know how to do it by hand the old-fashioned way, and there’s nothing wrong with being able to create content around keywords that are statistically proven using the DIY approach.
However, the amount of time you will save in the long run can be worth the up-front cost of a high-quality SEO tool package. A premium SEO keyword research tool offers invaluable benefits to agencies. A great tool should be able to scale up as accounts and employee levels grow.
Let’s cover three well-known keyword research tools in the SEO world and go over the benefits and features that each provides, each using a single search term for comparison.
Google Keyword Planner – Keyword Research Tools
Often referred to as AdWords Keyword Planner, Google’s classic keyword research tool is a feature of the AdWords ecosystem.
The big question for those doing SEO: is it still relevant in 2018? Long considered the baseline standard for SEO keyword insights, Google loves to make it difficult to use for SEO pros with minimal PPC expertise. Keyword Planner can show trends and data at a city, region, even for a Nielsen DMA-level area (perfect for major metropolitan areas). When coupled with landing pages from your competitors, it’s easy to pull relevant high-volume keywords.
Google’s Keyword Planner is also one of the best fundamental tools to use when teaching those new to SEO about the landscape, especially when you have the access to active AdWords campaign data. One of the major criticisms voiced by the SEO community revolves around the merging of search volumes for similar keywords.
Previously, each search variation would have its own reported volume (e.g., “dog park near me” would report differently than “dog pars near me”) and the often repeated sentiment among SEO professionals allude to a weakened level of service and general uselessness.
Considering the rising competition in the industry, and the improvements many of the bigger vendors have made in recent years, it’s easy to understand this side of the discussion
Moz Keyword Explorer – Keyword Research Tools
Long held as the industry standard for SEO resources, Moz continues to update their core services, and their Keyword Explorer tool is no exception. Pricing is for the entire suite of services, which is ideal for the agency or multi-seat requirements.
Recent changes of Moz’s service offerings have been met with mixed-to-positive reviews. While that can be said for many vendor efforts in search marketing, Moz is a company that continually tries to keep up with the trends and provide cutting-edge solutions as they have for over a decade.
When you enter a term into the Moz search box, you’ll receive a combination of data segments. Keyword Overview looks at the entered term on its own and addresses expected searches per month, the difficulty of competing against Page 1 results for the same term, a rough estimate of organic click-through opportunities (versus paid ads
and non-organic positions on the search engine results page), and the perceived priority that the user should assign to optimization for this term, where the higher the score, the higher the demand and a lowered level of competition.
For what it does well, there are a few issues with Moz’s tool.
For one, it tends to rank among the lowest in the volume of keyword suggestions provided, with roughly 1,000 results delivered per seed term. Moz also provides the same granularity of search volume data that Google’s Keyword
The planner provides, providing estimated ranges rather than concrete numbers. It can also be argued that since seasonality and demand are an important factor when it comes to volume per month, that a lack of granularity shouldn’t be held against them, but rather, be seen as a barometer of expectations rather than a predictive service.
Moz updates their U.S. database frequently across 40 million+ Google search engine results pages and cycles upwards of 15 million keywords on a monthly basis, allowing for them to keep up with changes in the landscape and how people search.
Moz’s Keyword Explorer provides a user-friendly aesthetic that allows agencies to quickly identify opportunity, track performance, assess competitive threats, and drill down into the page-level details for head and niche terms.
SEMrush – Keyword Research Tools
SEMrush has a well-earned reputation as one of the best search engine optimization tools in the marketplace. This tool suite provides paid and organic keyword data, along with competitor information, and does it well. SEMrush excels at many things, but we’re here to focus on keyword research for organic search.When you enter a search term, SEMrush can provide hundreds of thousands of keyword suggestions (among the major players in the industry, only Ahrefs can boast about delivering more). When you enter a search term into the box, you’re presented with a number of panels that may seem a bit daunting at first.
By drilling into the organic competitors section, you’ll begin to understand why their platform is ideal for competitive keyword gaps, as it will show other in-kind and general domains that occupy the search landscape.
Being able to cross-check seed and long-tail keyword data with what your competitors are ranking for is a major reason why many search industry veterans use SEMrush.
SEMrush will also cover terms it believes are semantically-relevant for the initial query at both a phrase and relational keyword level.
Often, this data will require a bit of filtering, but this is doable within Keyword Analytics, as is the ability to determine the type of SERP features that a term ranks for across your site or the competition, thanks to a Position Tracking option. This feature also outlines potential outcomes for Page 1 rankings based on competition, difficulty, and can also handle multiple-location campaign tracking at the city and hyperlocal level, making SEMrush a powerful service.
For agencies that wish to collaborate across internal teams and believe SEO and PPC work best when they work together, SEMrush also has you covered. PPC data is also provided for a keyword, which is critical for high-competition, highcost conquesting campaigns. SEMrush provides considerable data related to organic search results, but its historic information on ad history and other paid search metrics vital for deeper collaboration within an agency or in-house work can’t be beaten.
So what you want in 2018 for your website’s SEO?