Best Keyword Research Tools In 2016

The “magic words”. Remember them?

When you were a child, these words probably included “Please”, “Thank you”, and “I’m Sorry”. Each word was “magic” because it caused “magical” things to happen.

Saying “Please”, for example, could miraculously make a grown-up more willing to do things for you. “Thank You” was also “magical”, in its ability to create goodwill after the grown-up helped you. And “I’m Sorry”? Well that word seemed like downright black magic, since it could turn a furious grown-up into a cheerful one.

After childhood, the “magic words” may have disappeared. Perhaps you stopped using them. Or maybe you found a new set of four-letters words that seemed to be equally “magical”.

Whatever the #[email protected]% happened, it’s time to update your list of “magic words”. The ones from childhood are still good. But those aren’t the only “magic words” to use. Especially if you’re an internet entrepreneur. For those who are active online, there’s a new set of “magic words” – search keywords.

Search keywords are “magical” because they can cause your website to rank highly in search engine results. With a high ranking, you may see visitors “magically” appearing on your website. Depending on your site, you might then see money “magically” floating into your bank account.           

To get that kind of magic (in your bank account), you’ll need the right search keywords. The good news is that you don’t have to guess about them. You’ve got two main options for finding “magical” keywords.

The first (and easiest!) option is to have Human Proof find your keywords for you. If you choose this option, we’ll do all of the research and then provide you with the best keywords for use in building a profitable niche site.

If, on the other hand, you’d rather find the keywords yourself – no worries! Many entrepreneurs enjoy the process of finding keywords on their own. For those inclined toward “D.I.Y.” keyword research, we’d like to offer a helping hand. We’ll do that in this post by covering some of the best keyword research tools in 2016. 

Free Keyword Research Tools – 2016 Edition

The first set of tools for us to cover are the free ones. Despite their lack of a price tag, these keyword tools are actually useful. They seem to refute the idea that “You get what you pay for”.   

One of the best choices for free keyword tools is WordStream. WordStream is an online advertising company that offers a variety of complimentary tools. These tools include: a Keyword Tool, which provides keyword suggestions; a Keyword Niche Finder, which shows clumps of profitable keywords; and a Negative Keyword Tool, which highlights irrelevant, keywords that would be a waste of money to bid on.

For each of WordStream’s tools, you get up to thirty free searches. That’s a great deal since most people only need a few searches to find the right keywords. WordStream is also a great deal because its tools are completely free. You can use the tools without paying anything or creating an account.

The same cannot be said for Google’s Keyword Planner tool. Google’s offering provides another convenient way of finding the “magic words” for your online business. And, technically, the Keyword Planner tool is free. It’s just that before you can use the Keyword Planner, you need to create a Google AdWords account. Your account includes personal information such as your real name, your address, and your credit card number. You can’t lie about this information either, since Google has an uncanny ability to detect lies and immediately ban you from AdWords. As a result, you must essentially “pay” your personal information to Google in order to use its Keyword Planner Tool. If you’re willing to pay this “cost”, you’ll find the Keyword Planner to be a great help.

What Google’s tool has over WordStream is that it gives you data directly from the source. In other words, you’re getting data about keywords on Google, from Google itself. There’s no risk that the data you get will be incorrect or “lagging” in its timeliness. A risk like that does exist when you use non-Google tools like WordStream. While we don’t want to badmouth WordStream, there’s always the chance that its keyword ideas will be incorrect. WordStream claims its ideas are pulled from a trillion-keyword database, which is constantly being updated. This sounds reasonable and we’re not going to contest it. Just understand that WordStream does carry some risk, since it’s a third-party, that provides data on Google without being Google.

Google’s own tool, the Keyword Planner, isn’t without its own flaws, though. We’ve highlighted one flaw already – the fact that it isn’t truly free. Another drawback, seen in recent years, is the decline of features. Google used to allow “broad” and “phrase match” searches. Today these features have been eliminated. Without them, it’s more difficult to gauge the effectiveness of keywords.

Well, there is one way to know for sure. You could always run an AdWords campaign, paying to see which keywords work best. Then you might know.

Thinking about it, this may be exactly what Google wants. The search giant could be rolling back its freebies, so would-be advertisers stop browsing and start buying. We can’t speak for Google, so this remains conjecture. But it is something to consider, as you choose between keyword research tools.

In choosing, be sure to also consider the generically-named, “Keyword Tool”. Yes, that’s the actual name of this keyword research tool. Not exactly the most original or exciting name ever devised. If anything, the blandness of its name suggests that “Keyword Tool” could be a dead-end. It could easily be a clone of someone else’s tool or a ploy to cash in on SEO traffic. We wouldn’t be surprised in either case. Yet that’s not what we found on closer examination.

It seems that “Keyword Tool” is the real deal – a 100% free tool with an original approach to finding new keywords. “Keyword Tool” finds its keywords by using the auto-complete feature in Google. This feature attempts to automatically complete your search keywords when you start typing in the Google search box.

Auto-complete thinks it knows what you’re going to type based on the search volume for various keywords. So if you start typing words that are part of a highly searched phrase, auto-complete will wager that you’re going to type out the whole phrase. And it will attempt to save you the time by completing the phrase instantly – so you don’t have to type it all out yourself.

To you and I, Google’s auto-complete feature usually comes across as either useful or a mild aggravation. To the creators of “Keyword Tool”, however, auto-complete is a gold mine of information on what people are searching for. Drawing on this wealth, “Keyword Tool’ provides up to seven hundred fifty long-tail keywords for each term you search.

So far this approach has earned praise from a who’s-who of SEO experts. Notable supporters from that camp include MOZ founder Rand Fishkin and respected blogger AJ Ghergich.

Even with this praise, “Keyword Tool” isn’t your only choice for a free keyword research tool. There’s WordStream and Google’s Keyword Planner. You could also think outside the proverbial box and look to non-traditional sources for guidance.

Think, for example, about Bing. As a search engine, Bing is easily eclipsed by Google. But that doesn’t mean Bing’s users are vastly different from those of Google. Nor does Bing’s tiny size prohibit you from finding useful keywords with it. This “second place search engine” can still lead you to the right keywords with its set of keyword tools. These tools are completely free (in all senses) and there’s no sign that any of their features are going to be scaled back. Add Bing to your list of free tools and don’t overlook it when you want to think outside the box.

Paid Keyword Research Tools

Free tools are awesome. No doubt. But there are definitely times when the limitations of such tools become apparent. WordStream’s free tools, for example, are great for anyone who can find what they need in thirty searches or less. These same tools don’t cut it, though, for those who are running more than 30 searches at a time, or want more features. Assuming you’re in the second camp, here are some of today’s best paid keyword research tools.

LongTail Pro

Let’s start with a tool that in just five years has already been used by over seventy thousand marketers and SEO guys. Long Tail Pro. Ever heard of it? The name might ring a bell if you’ve wandered around the Human Proof website. We’ve got a full review of Long Tail Pro posted elsewhere on the site. At the risk of stealing that review’s thunder, we’ll be brief here in our discussion of Long Tail Pro.

Anyone considering Long Tail Pro should know that it’s available for free as a ten day trial. Then, if you wish to continue, you can buy either the Pro Version ($97) or the Platinum Version ($397 flat, or $97 + $27/month).

The Platinum version demands a higher price, in part, because it allows you to calculate keyword competitiveness. This calculation produces a single score, on a scale from zero to one hundred, telling you how competitive a given keyword will be. Having such a score means, in theory, that you don’t have to pour through data, trying to make sense of various metrics. Long Tail Pro handles all of that heavy lifting for you. The only thing you need to do is remember the meanings of zero (virtually no competition) and one hundred (immensely competitive). 

Apart from calculating competitiveness, Long Tail Pro (in both versions) provides up to eight hundred keywords for each term you enter. With each term, you also get the top ten results that appear in Google, with data on those results like page rank, number of backlinks, and the age of the domain. You’ll appreciate as well that Long Tail Pro provides PPC data. This data is useful in showing the amount people are willing to pay for each of the suggested keywords you find.


While Long Tail Pro claims to be the “world’s most complete keyword research & competitor analysis software”; it isn’t the only paid tool out there. Make sure to check out SECockpit as well.

SECockpit is another paid keyword research tool. It differs from Long Tail Pro by emphasizing speed. According to its creators (SwissMadeMarketing), SECockpit can analyze up to two-hundred keywords per minute. This analysis is far faster than the average tool, which supposedly is only capable of analyzing one keyword every one to two minutes.

Along with speed, users of SECockpit also get keyword suggestions and the top ten websites currently ranking for each of their search terms. Those inside the SECockpit can then choose to scrape Google’s “Suggest” keywords. This feature seems comparable to “Keyword Tool” since in both cases, the tool relies on automatic suggestions from Google.

If SECockpit sounds appealing, you can get started with a free thirty-day trial. After that, you’ve got three plans to choose from. The least expensive is a “Personal” plan ($339 per year / $40 per month). This plan only allows ten keyword searches per day, with those searches being limited to AdWords.

If you want more searches or features, there’s the “Pro Plan” ($599 per year / $80 per month) which offers fifty searches per day and an expanded focus beyond just AdWords. Should this still not satisfy you, you probably need the Agency Plan ($899 per year / $120 per month). Agency Plans are distinguished by unlimited searches per day and the ability to have search results white labeled. 


A third paid tool for keyword research comes from SEMRush. In contrast to Long Tail Pro and SECockpit, SEMRush is about more than just keywords. A visit to the SEMRush website reveals a company focused on everything from video advertising to backlinks to product listing ads.

Within this mass of offerings, SEMRush does allow you to do keyword research. The difference here is that keyword research is one feature (of many) that you get in your monthly subscription to SEMRush’s online platform. Subscriptions aren’t for the faint of heart, given that they start at $69.95 per month (Pro plan) and go up to $549.95 per month (Business plan). Nonetheless, if you’re willing to look past the price tag, SEMRush’s keyword research feature could be what you need.

The feature is great for advertisers since it finds ideal keywords for SEO and PPC campaigns. You can also find which keywords work best in other countries and in other languages. With each keyword, you’ll get information like the cost per click (CPC), search volume, number of results, and primary competitors. All of this data can help you, just as it’s helped over five hundred thousand people, whom SEMRush says have used the keyword research feature.

Half a million people can’t be wrong, can they?

We’ll leave that for you to decide.

But do make a decision. For SEMRush. For LongTail Pro. For a free tool. We don’t care which one you choose. Just pick a tool from this post and get started. Don’t let your desire to find the “right” tool stall you on the road to internet success.

All of the tools we’ve covered here will help you to get started. So flip a coin, use lucky numbers, or perhaps give it some normal, level-headed thought. And then get to work. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll find the “magic words”. 

3 thoughts on “Best Keyword Research Tools In 2016”

  1. Looking for advice)
    Been using SEMrush but finally got tired waiting for their bases to update. Switched to Serpstat. I use it to reveal domain’s most traffic driving pages, then filter URLs that have keywords ranked 11 to 20 and boost SEO via interlinking.

    Can you help me find similar tools like Serpstat?

  2. Will definitely look to these tools, thank you!
    SEMrush has long been my to go tool for keyword research. I’d also recommend SERPstat and SpyFu for competitors research. And Ahrefs for bacllinks.

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