Do You Really Need Keyword Research Tools?

Keywords are the primary ingredient of any on-page SEO campaign. Search engine spiders crawl a website and look for the keywords to decide if the page matches the searcher intent.

Keyword research tools are here to help us at this point. It shortens the process by providing valuable information. Most tools can provide search volume, keyword difficulty, PPC bid information as a standard feature.

Many companies find benefits investing large capitals for keyword research to obtain better search engine result positions. They use advanced tools to gain an advantage over their competitors.

However, many people doing content marketing is not in the same position as these companies. Most of us don't have deep pockets with thousands of dollars waiting to be invested in the keyword research.

Can we do equally fine without investing in those expensive tools?

Let's see if we can make keyword research manually.

Can You Make Keyword Research Without Tools?

You can make keyword research without any tools. Is it the most practical way of doing it?

I don't think so, let me explain why.

It is always necessary to know the competition before creating content about that keyword. Keyword competition is also called keyword difficulty in many different sources.

It is calculated as a proportion of search volume to the total number of search results provided by Google.

You can definitely make this calculation by using an excel spreadsheet or a calculator. However, you will need to spend more time while you can have the tool provides you this score already calculated.

Keyword Tools Are Expensive

The problem is keyword research tools are expensive for many people. Most of them priced from $50 to a few hundred dollars per month.

Do they worth this much money?

Absolutely not.

They usually charge much more than in fact these tools may benefit for us. However, I still believe paid keyword research tools are superior than free ones.

If you cannot afford a paid keyword research tool, free tools can still make a good job. However, If you have the budget, you should consider investing in a good one.

Keyword research tools are very similar to protein shakes. You can definitely build a muscular physique without shakes. However, having a protein shake every day would accelerate the process.

Do Free Keyword Tools Work Well?

Free keyword tools generally like Google Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest many times are good enough.

For instance, Ubersuggest can provide you monthly search volume, search volume trend, CPC estimation, SEO difficulty, paid difficulty information.

ubersuggest metrics

These metrics should be sufficient for many people.

It also provides estimated visits, the number of links, Domain Score (DS) and the number of social shares for a certain piece of content ranked for your keyword.


Most keyword research software companies don't like Ubersuggest.

Because it provides many features as standard which offered as a premium feature in paid keyword research tools.

If you want to learn more what are the all resources to make keyword research you can read this post here.

What Features Paid Keyword Research Tools Provide?

In addition to the fundamental features, free tools provide paid tools that may offer some additional benefits.

Powerful Metrics You Can Benefit

Paid tools can provide you other information like Majestic Trust Flow & Citation Flow metrics. The number of indexed URLs of a particular domain, the domain age, number of internal links.

How does this additional information may benefit your keyword research?

For instance, if a brand new domain with a low amount of powerful links ranks for a certain keyword, that keyword may be a good opportunity for you to target.

On the other hand, if on Google # 1st-page result is only listing old domains with powerful backlinks it may be a difficult target for you to reach.

Word count of content is also another important metric provided by certain keyword tools. Why is this information important? Because it gives a good idea of how long our content should be at a minimum.

As my general rule of thumb, I try to exceed 10% of the average word count of the first 10 results Google lists.

Custom Difficulty target

This is one is really cool. Certain paid tools give you the ability to define the level of keyword difficulty you should be targeting. You introduce your domain into the tool and it evaluates your domain by using many different metrics we have mentioned above.

This feature will provide you a custom difficulty target potentially bring the highest ROI for your efforts.

Calculate Keyword Profitability

Profitability is an important factor that should be prioritized from the early stages of your keyword research. Certain paid tools can calculate expected profitability for a keyword depending on the monetization method you want to implement.

For instance, selling a Shareasale product may not be equally profitable as you sell your own product since the margins are different.

Data filtering

Free keyword tools usually have limited ability to filter data for us to be used for a specific goal. Paid tools usually provide more advanced data filtering features that free tools don't have.

SERP Analysis

SERP analysis can provide us the position of our website in search results for a certain keyword. For instance, if you want to know how your website ranks for “dog treats” you can spot its position by using this feature.

Finding Synonyms

Paid keyword research tools may provide you a selection of synonym words of your keyword. You include the synonyms in your content to save your content repeating the same keywords again and again.

Recommending LSI Keywords

Paid tools may provide you finding LSI keywords related to your keywords. These words semantically complement your main keywords and help search engines to understand your content better.

Finding Low Hanging Keyword Opportunities

Paid tools have generally better research behind them. They can provide low competition opportunities more effectively than free tools. Better graphical representation and much detailed statistical information may be obtained.

Also, paid tools can constantly add up new features for your benefit since they can constantly raise capital from the subscribers.

Exporting Results

Most free tools give you limited ability to export results you have found. It is equally important to analyze and filter your data ideally on an excel file before you create the content.

If you plan to have a paid keyword research tool, I'd recommend SEMrush since it has powerful research capabilities.

Final Thoughts

Making the decision to invest in a paid keyword research tool depends on the personal choice and the budget planned for a campaign.

Always ask for a free trial from the keyword tool you want to purchase. At a minimum, you should be used the free version and want to upgrade for a premium version.

This will give you an idea of what you should expect upon the purchase of a subscription plan.

Keyword tools usually sold with yearly subscriptions and it is an unpleasant experience to ask for a refund after purchase. Keyword research tools with “no question asked for refund” should be the ones you should trust. Ask the company about the refund policy if they don't specifically mention it on their product page.

Don't let keyword tools (both paid and free ones) to limit your ability to find those keywords that no one else is pursuing. Here is the post to find and target unknown keywords.

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