Alternative Keyword Research Tools Paid and Free Versions.

Keyword research enthusiasts the world over, have had their boat rocked. Google keyword planner had become a pay to play tool in the Google toolset. Many forums and popular marketing blogs erupted with the news and marketers were left scratching their head. I honestly feel if you devote your entire focus on just one tool that you dont own or control and then that one go to tool is taken from you you have a problem.

when Google Adwords changed the way that the keyword planner tool returned search volume data to

when Google Adwords changed the way that the keyword planner tool returned search volume data to non paying and lower spending account holders. This change in fair use policy created a storm in a tea cup among the internet marketing community, since then there has been a lot of people making quick “hacks” and “tricks” to get around this.

Ok Google but why? there are so many tools out there to help you get the job done seriously free and paid and all there easy to find.

I decided to make a video for people being SEO’s, Marketer’s and the DIY business owner’s, to learn about other alternatives to Google Adwords keyword planner tool. I will guide you on how to find them all the while by searching for “vegan pizza”, something I enjoy partaking in the consuming of on a regular basis. Having yourself a keyword research process that you can replicate and collect the appropriate data is so important, as to not waste your time and allow you to collect profitable and strategic data. The benefit of having your systems follow processes is a business strategy 101 technique, I swear by processes and encourage you to think about adding them into your business.

“Keyword research when done correctly can help David take on Goliath” True words.

Using several keyword research tools to compile your data, makes for a more effective process and not putting all of your vegan pizza in one delivery box (watch the video to understand the reference). Successful research of your target keywords provides revenue or leads, and saves you from pouring your precious time into something that does not convert. Our aim is to remove the wasted time and improve your productivity by using a follow along process and by identifying keywords with potential. One perfect example of wasted time was my first virtual assistant hire, I sent the task to identify a hot topic in the beauty industry for a client that we could create a mammoth Jumbo slice 8,500 word article on do i t yourself beauty tips and application methods for her products, this resulted in a huge waste of time because the keyword research was focused on the wrong words. My first hire of a virtual worker was not successful just like that massive article I slaved over, it  received a dismal visibility score and has almost no traffic except the lonely 10 monthly visits. I can understand sucking but that published edit was not even sucky, it was good content but the keywords were under utilised and targeting the wrong search terms.

Have no fear as recycling content is a thing! you can refresh content to be more relevant and useful, Ill cover more on this another time.

Keyword Research Strategy for the Search Engine

First Make a list of your core business elements being products services based on your knowledge of your business and industry

Second picture yourself as the consumer or client and imagine what they would search for and be using as words when looking for a service or product like what you provide and related terms that lead back to or out from your product or service this will allow you to circle in on keywords that you may not have considered before and when used effectively will attract new leads.

Third I like to use Google, Amazon or Youtube for a competitor landscape and type in my search term that I want to rank for. Doing this will allow me to see who is ranking for that term, what their headline titles are, what meta descriptions they use including any calls to action in the meta display and I recommend using SEO Moz toolbar a free chrome extension that helps identify specific domain metrics crucial in determining your competitor strength.

Now you have these key points you have the basic foundation for your keyword research. I would suggest reading on how to implement a research process for your keyword gathering I wrote more on that on the blog, or alternatively SEO Nick provides a detailed post about keyword research see his take on this visit

Alternative Keyword Research Tools and Pricing Plans

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Ok alternatives to Google Keyword Planner and lets dive into this. So I created a video that traverses the keyword research landscape providing an overview of a handful of free and paid keyword tools that will help you no matter what approach you have to keyword research. #veganpizza
Types of Keywords Research

Search Query

Looking for search terms that would come from interested buyers and people seeking more information about your service or product that type into example search term query on Google “Best Vegan Pizza Crust” you can type this into google but notice as you type Google will auto suggest the next words I take note of these words and add them to a text file for use when compiling URL titles, meta descriptions and content.

Related Search Terms

If you’re struggling to find keywords think more in terms of finding related words that people may use when searching for your product or service.

think of more keywords people might be searching about a specific topic, go to Google.com and take a look at the related search terms that appear when you plug in a keyword. When you type in your phrase and scroll to the bottom of Google’s results, you’ll notice some suggestions for searches related to your original input. These keywords can spark ideas for other keywords you may want to take into consideration buyer intent
Head Keywords
These are usually single-word keywords with insane amounts of search volume and competition (Using our example, “vegan” or “vitamins”). Because searcher intent is very broad within what “vegan” related topic they are looking for its hard to cater to someone searching for the word “vegan” when you are offering the best tasting vegan pizza served 100% organic when they may be looking for “vegan” headbands the search term is too broad to cater for the query directly this makes it quite hard to attract that user with a head keyword the conversion from a single head keyword is significantly lower than say a long tail keyword.

Body Keywords

Body keywords are 2-3 word phrases that get decent search volume (at least 2,000 searches per month), but are more specific than Head Keywords. Keywords like “vegan pizza base” or “vegan pizza” are good examples of using body keywords and this search query now allows us to have an increased relative appeal to the search query than a head keyword as we now can relate to more than 1 word generating more closely affiliated relevance to the user intent.

Body keywords can still be competitive but also allow for some less competitive term success

Long Tail keywords
The best way to describe long tail keywords would be to take your head & body keywords and add another word or two to extend them further creating a long tail keyword. These are specific words describing in an extended form your target keyword like example “affordable vegan pizza oven” or “Vegan pizza topping recipes” while they are not going to be getting 50,000 searches per month they will pull their weight with attracting visitor’s to your website.

Long tail keywords convert better as they attract visitor’s that have typed in a more specific search term meaning they know more about what they are searching for where someone searching for “pizza” may just be cruising the web looking for pizza or pizza deals but someone who searches “mouth watering vegan pizza” is one hungry SOB looking for warm tasty vegan pizza and would be more inclined to purchase said pizza over the user searching for a very broad very generic “pizza” search term. It is understanding this search query demand that can make your keyword research more profitable just from understanding the pending conversion thought process.

Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI keywords

LSI Keywords are essentially keywords related to the keyword that you search for on search engines such as Google. Using semantically related words referring back to your target keyword increases the power of your keyword phrase and this has been fully endorsed by Google as a significant page ranking factor and you should consider using this method in your content marketing think more about the user than just creating content aim for your target audience by thinking as if you were looking for information on your product or service.

While it sounds like a super complex conspiracy theory type of substitutionary phrase its not that complex at all its similar to long tail keywords but using words that are more commonly associated with these body keywords.

I quite enjoy using LSI graph for finding LSI keywords the user interface is very smooth and its simple to use, they offer a free download of the best ways to use LSI keywords and its well worth the read. They also offer a opt-in for their plugin.

One thing I am on the lookout for is a reliable ecommerce keyword tool specifically aimed at Shopify, Amazon and Ebay. Ive tested several that don’t meet my standards and the tools mentioned in this review are the ones I use currently and they help identify opportunity. There is always something bigger and better out there maybe someone could drop a comment on what they use for ecommerce keyword research in the bottom of this article.

Keyword Difficulty

Can I really rank on page 1?

In all cases you need to assess the keyword popularity and the competition separately you can not associate example “vegan supplements” in the same way that you would research words like “vegan pizza napkins” the two vary in search volume in a massive way one is extremely competitive while the other is relatively unheard of so approaching your research the same every time will not be viable and you need to assess your keyword’s landscape for competitors, popularity, work involved to rank highly and success ratio’s involved.

We go back to the David and Goliath reference where if you do your research effectively you can compete with the page 1 brands but starting out with a new brand new website and relatively low industry authority you will have to put in some work and this can be an uphill battle at times but is entirely possible to compete. Do not under estimate the difficulty of the competitive keywords so using body keywords wont be enough of a plan you need to unleash long tail and LSI into your keyword application to capture the wiser market and then hone in on those competitive terms as a wise sansei once said to his pupil “crawl before you walk and walk before you run” the same rule applies here.

One hidden gem i will disclose here is that to really fine effective keywords you should be mining your analytics dashboard for the popular search queries used used for and on your site this will provide you with the data you need to understand your users in far more detail and the search queries they make mainly long tail terms, saying that long tail still comes with its own downfall being they don’t pull in 50,000 searches per month you cant expect them to be the sole reason people visit your site, so in order to really attract and capture your market you need to pump out hundreds if not thousands of long tail keywords to cast a wide net and bring people into your website from a expansive keyword funnel but you need to be aware of Google’s panda penalty as gunning for thousands and thousands of long tail keywords may run you close to the line but can easily be adhered to by monitoring your webmaster tools for declines in rank.

I still recommend incorporating long tails into your content marketing and on page SEO strategy. My other key point for keywords helping you get to pages numbered 1 are using LSI, semantic and synonyms to extend the use and coverage of your target keywords.

The ranking factors voted most influential were

  1. OnPage SEO
  2. Backlinks
  3. Page Load Speeds

If you can master OnPage and know how to implement good solid keyword research you will find your pages have the foundation to harness any backlinks x10 more and produce x10 more results by having a proper foundation in place. OnPage and Keyword Research go hand in hand at ranking your sites. Page load speeds are also going to affect the way websites rank, especially moving towards a mobile first index. As marketers you need to keep your head on the swivel with change and adapt as Bruce Lee would say like water in a glass. I know the bulk of my readers view on a desktop computer and not on mobile device, my top viewed from browser is Internet explorer and the average time on site is 7 minutes.


There is no point reinventing the wheel when taking a moment to look at what is already working and use that as the framework for what Google really wants.

Competitor Research

Reverse engineer your competitor’s keywords, backlinks, logo and company director’s name…wait what did he say? yes you heard me but wait its a complete joke just like the SEO & web design global leaders that offered to replicate a unnamed business owners competitor website and provided the finished website to the business owner in the complete same way that the competitor website was copied word for word but with the business owners company name as the title of the website and his profile image was used but the other company director’s name was still on the website 🙁 oh man oh man yes cheap ineffective web design and SEO who can copy a competitor website for you DFY service I would dare say that he paid more than $99 for that “Ultimate service”.

This highlights the fact that you should NOT just cut copy and paste a competitor website they may have unique leverage that you do not or they may be doing naughty things with their SEO so take a look at what they do analysis it and make up your own damn mind if you want to be the copy cat or the one being copied, Now think about that for a moment.

Things I look at with my clients competitor’s

  • Keywords and topics used
  • OnPage
  • Backlink Profile
  • Images and multi media being used
  • Site Layout – Silo and navigational elements
  • Calls To Action – CTA
  • Content Quality and cross linking
  • Social Reach & Engagement

Just to start me off Ill gather intel on these factors and make up my mind what we would replicate and what we would exploit as a weakness or avoid as they have the firm grip on until we are in a position to engage head on. I like to seek out of the ordinary keywords that the competitor isn’t ranking for and seems to not have much care for again unique market positioning can help increase reach or alienate from the market and thats what we can target.

While we want to achieve high rankings quickly and for the popular terms we also need to understand the longer drawn out picture of capturing a larger market by expanding our net to drag in smaller searches in a larger frequency all working towards the main position for all of these keywords and it is possible with work and planning the application.

So now we have more of an understanding on the importance of keywords and what keywords we want to be targeting we can move into the various tools and what they do for our keyword research.

watch the video for the run down approx run time is 50:10 and covers paid and free alternatives for search query and competitor keyword research, enjoy!

Alternative Keyword Research Tools Overview

As referenced in the video here are some honourable mentions and links to where you can access them. I do want to openly advise you that Keyword Supremacy, Market samurai and SEMRush links lead to their official websites and if you decide to purchase you are helping a Aussie battler (me) by allowing those companies to provide me an affiliate payment for helping them make a sale but at this point we are pizza buddies and you know a good thing when you see it.



Top 5 competitor keyword research mentions


The go to tool for so many marketers, there is an allowance for a 1 project on the free account and this access allows for quite a comprehensive reporting overview of your project. However most agencies and marketers will have more than 1 project at one time the paid plan will help you immensely I find this the best tool for competitor research and website maintenance the project feature is so helpful.

The free trial last for 30 days and then you have the choice to use a paid plan and the variations of these are

Pro plan offers 5 projects at $69.95 monthly,

Guru plan offers 50 projects at $149.95 monthly and

The Business plan account provides unlimited projects at $549.95 monthly. A very powerful tool that every marketer should have at least used once.



This is a very powerful research tool that helps drive targeted leads, provides competitor keyword intelligence and overfall increase conversions by allowing you to see buyer intent keywords that you can in turn use for your campaigns. They offer 4 pricing options ranging from $29 to $299 monthly of course the higher the price the more features you will have access to very handy to have in your arsenal.


Now Spyfu is and can be used for search queries and competitor keyword research its one of those versatile tools that can do a multitude of things. You can find profitable keywords and eliminate the words that are not as effective saving your time and allowing you to focus on words that will improve website traffic and increase rankings. They offer 3 monthly payment plans $49 to $139 and this is a steal for price and functionality I find this tool to return quite in depth data and covers using multiple tools and thats quite handy if performing a lot of research.

KW Finder

I really like the interface of KwFinder its easy to use and returns data that you can use to your advantage, Competition, long tail variations city modifier and they are offering 3 monthly pricing plans but you can use the free version for up to 5 times per day so you can include this one in your supplementary tools list.

Free – 5 searches per 24hrs – 5 keyword evaluations per 24hrs and 25 search results returned

$12 per month – 100 searches per 24hrs – 100 keyword evaluations per 24hrs and 200 results returned (Great value)

$25 per month – 500 searches per 24hrs –  500 keyword evaluations per 24hrs and 700 search results returned


Using Alexa to determine website traffic is great and really helps determine popular websites but it also helps with enabling you to view the most popular search queries of that website extremely useful if you have ever dived into your search console of the Google Webmaster Tools you know how search traffic queries can benefit your marketing. Alexa offers 3 pricing plans per month from $9.99 to $149.00 and should be on your list for competitor analysis.



Top 5 search query research mentions


Moz is the ultimate white hat leader of SEO I love the branding of Moz and the more than anything else the community of people that interact and offer free helpful insights on the forums. As far as keyword research goes Moz offers a keyword explorer tool that while not the most informative tool it still holds its ground on the top 5 list in my eyes you have two options when using the keyword research search bar when the search has been run you have two columns one has keyword suggestions and the other has SERP analysis both with ability to export your research.

Keyword suggestion helps you identify potential keyword opportunities showing search volume and relevance to your search term

SERP Analysis is just that it shows the top 10 for the search results of your search phrase

You can easily identify the Moz Toolbar (chrome extension) with the keyword tool on Moz.com very similar functionality. Very handy and can help you with your keyword research with super simple steps to get it done like the pro’s I use the toolbar almost daily. Moz makes the list #veganpizzaresearchtoolskeywordsstuffandmoz #longesthashtaguseonablogpostawardyesorno ?


Answer the public

Keyword research has never looked so good, this is one of the most unique webpages on the innernets, you are greeted by an older gentleman in a turtle neck skivvy with a trending beard and cool glasses who performs some minor but intriguing movements while you use the search bar on the page. I urge you to visit the page just to see this, but it gets better once you have entered your search term you are brought to yet another unique design layout and a very impressive relationship image of your keyword and some simple question based relationship links for example these questions are linked back to our search term “vegan pizza” I’ve Bold text the relationship arm leading out from our search term keyword.

Who sells vegan pizza?

Are Domino’s pizza vegan?

Where is the best vegan pizza?

How to make vegan pizza sauce?

Whats vegan at Pizza Hut?

So some very creative suggestions for planning content and page layouts and even URL structure and its super helpful seeing these questions laid out so you can see your keyword research opportunities at a glance.



Soovle provides a unique circular layout for the various search terms using 7 search engines and is very easy to use, the data can be downloaded and you can search for several terms the search engines used are:

  • Google
  • Bing
  • Yahoo
  • Amazon
  • Youtube
  • Wikipedia
  • Answer

Soovle is a very powerful free tool for research and even just mapping out keywords it includes search volume and cost per click CPC of these search terms and the ability to see it all displayed on the different search engines on one screen is a huge benefit.


Freshkey is a paid tool at $49.95 its a couple of years old but still relevant in todays market I use this as a supplementary tool to my go to tools and it opens new opportunities for me in the research phase helping me find buyer search terms and phrases and the results are returned in measure of popularity so you can easily see whats working and find new opportunities for your research. Freshkey is a downloadable program it is not browser based unlike 98% of tools mentioned here.

Freshkey uses 7 search engines and is one of the only tools that incorporates Etsy and eBay in its search engine. If you want to add some variations to the norm for keyword research methods and views use Freshkey.



Ahrefs is Solid!


Ahrefs is more commonly associated with backlinks, but is rarely associated as a keyword research tool. I rate Ahrefs as a keyword explorer beast of a tool.  Ahrefs keyword and content explorer features are very powerful and I see them making a play for most useful tool if you could only pick one paid tool. They hold a very reputable mention in this list and if I had to pick the best overall tool, I would raise the hand of Tim Soulo and his team as the best overall tool hands down.

Noteworthy feature the content explorer


Ahrefs boasts a powerful keyword explorer feature and offering a visually similar dashboard to SEMrush. The tool is available by a paid plan unlocking a sweet dashboard where you can view your tracked keywords, rank of keywords, access to site explorer, indexing of backlinks, check competing pages.  Also very noteworthy is the powerful content explorer containing all the usual suspect metrics you may be accustomed too. I like this tool for more than just backlink profiling it has more useful features and is a must for improving your keyword landscaping along with your back linking profiles and overall your content marketing.

There are 4 monthly plans available. Lite is $99.00 for 5 campaigns, Standard is $179.00 for 10 campaigns, Advanced is $399.00 with monitoring of 25 campaigns and the largest plan available is the Agency at $999.00 monitoring up to 100 campaigns at one time.



Honourable mention goes to Sean Malseed of Rank Tank seen here for his community contributions worth checking out. *Update Rank tank was sold and Sean no longer represents the brand.


Rank tank is 98% FREE to use as long as you subscribe to the email list and its good karma to follow Sean on Twitter. There is 1 paid product that uses the API from SEMrush into a Google Sheet this runs at $15.00 and from user feedback is awesome.

Keyword Shitter

This tool gets a mention for the depth of the data returned for a search and for the unique branding. I still recommend using this despite the use of foul language in the brand name it does return some useful opportunities and should be included in your keyword research tools list.


Market Samurai

I currently use Market Samurai as one of my main keyword research tools and it provides much more than just keyword research I use it for a variety of reasons being opportunities for Adsense, competitor mapping, search query

With the full version you will have access to an SEO competition analysis feature great for mapping out the competitive landscape

Domain research helps you choose a domain that will boost rankings and provide the best results for climbing the SERP’s

Provides opportunities to generate income from your website traffic by allowing you to publishing display ads onto your website.

Content Marketer allows you to research and find articles, to repurpose & publish content related to your target keyword.

Promotion engine allows you to build and promote high authority backlinks to your website that help your overall search listing.

Free Trial 

Full Version

Purchase the full version and get bonus of Lifetime Market Samurai Software Updates

giving you access to our new and updated tools as they evolve

(value: $295 per year) & Priority Email Support – contact our help desk with any questions, and receive a personalised priority response (value: $695 per year)


The BEST for Keyword research tool period!


Keyword Supremacy

Most Anticipated keyword tool release is without a doubt Keyword Supremacy which comes out for public release on 10th October 2016 and is created by two very SEO savvy dudes being Todd Spears & Herc Magnus very down to earth guys that actually have a vested interest in creating a community around their software developments as I can personally vouch with the release of their Schema injection plugin for WordPress Project Supremacy. Keyword Supremacy is a one time purchase fee and then runs on credits included below is the link to the Keck Plan with 65 credits.

Keck Plan 65 credits

Free trial of Project Supremacy

Welcome the MEGA POWERS welcome the Winners!



I hope you have enjoyed this overview and now feel hungry for some mouth watering cheese-less vegan pizza, and consequently indulge yourself  to a nice tasty treat.

If you have any Keyword research tools that you use that are not on the list, please feel free to add them in the comment section. There really are so many new ones coming out all the time it is hard to keep up to date with the latest trend in Keyword Research.

Having the understanding is only half the battle, I suggest you invest in implementing a process that you can follow to halve your time spent on research. I created a 19 step checklist that you can follow along when doing your very own research.

Thank you for reading and see you on the next one.


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