Top 9 keyword research tools for B2B marketers

August 28, 2017

SEO

by Theresa B

Tools icon an a computer keyboard representing keyword research software

Keyword research is (still) the foundation of any successful inbound or content marketing campaign. But knowing which search terms to target in the face of fierce competition means you need the right gear for the job. So we’ve gathered a list of some of the most popular keyword research tools to help you find, analyze, and curate terms that will connect your B2B content to your target audience – and help propel your business up the search engine results page (SERP).

From free, standalone tools to complete SEO platforms, these keyword finders will help you spark new ideas, find related topics, analyze the competition, and much more. What’s good about them, what’s bad about them? We break them down.

Free keyword research tools

Keyword Tool

With this online tool, you can enter search terms and get hundreds of suggestions for related topics and long-tail keyword phrases that align with later stages of the buying funnel. (Learn more about finding and covering related topics your business needs to cover.) Keyword Tool pulls Google Autocomplete and Google Autosuggest results to show you what words people most often type into the Google search bar. Keyword Tool also displays keyword ideas that Google’s Keyword Planner tool won’t unless you explicitly enter them (Moz).

KeywordTool-1.iso

 Pros:

  •  Find up to 750+ long-tail keyword suggestions in an instant – no account required (free version).
  • View search volume, CPC, and AdWords competition for thousands of keywords (paid versions).
  • Easily export your list to use as a basis for further research.

 Cons:

  •  Information is limited (especially with the free version) compared to other hardier, more comprehensive tools.

 Who’s it good for?

Inbound or content marketers looking for related topics and long-tail search queries to build out a keyword list. We recommend using it as a jumping off point for further research.

Answer The Public

Answer The Public uses Google and Bing autosuggest results to give you an aggregated view of the questions and motivations related to any search term, displayed in simple visualizations. The free tool is quick and easy to use: just select your country, enter a keyword, and get a list of questions that people ask organized by intent (how, where, what, etc.), by prepositions (for, to, versus, etc.), and alphabetically. Here’s what questions came up under a US-based search for “fuel cell technology”:

answer-the-public-example.png Pros: 

  • Instantly find related topics represented in an easy-to-understand graphic.
  • View queries, long-tail keyword suggestions, and an alphabetical list of terms.
  • Export your results to a spreadsheet (CSV) – or save as an image that you can enhance with a variety of filters.

Cons:

  • Doesn't provide data from many different countries (e.g., Canada is excluded).
  • Doesn’t provide search volumes, rank tracking, etc.

Who’s it good for?

B2B and content marketers who want to make sure they are covering all the topics that matter to their target audience, and / or who want to find relevant long-tail keywords to research in a more comprehensive tool.  

Google Keyword Planner

Designed to help you plan your paid search campaigns, Google Keyword Planner is a free keyword research tool you can use to get new ideas, view search volumes, get a sense of the amount of competition, and manage bids and budgets. Note: You need a Google account to use the tool.

AdWords.png

Pros:

  • Enter a website URL to see which search terms Google thinks are relevant.
  • Generate and combine a broad list of relevant keyword ideas.
  • View a range of search volumes, competition, and estimated cost per click.
  • See how Google groups different search terms together (related topics alert!) and dig into individual terms.

 Cons:

  • Need to be running a campaign in order to see exact search volume numbers rather than broad ranges.
  • Won’t display certain keyword suggestions unless you enter them specifically.

 Who’s it good for?

Content and search marketers looking for a solid Google keyword tool and ad campaign planner. Unless you’re using an advanced keyword solution or SEO suite to find qualified keywords, this is a great place to get new ideas, refine your list, and analyze your Keyword Tool search phrases. Learn how to research keywords using Google Keyword Planner at Backlinko.

Paid keyword research tools and SEO platforms

Pro (aka fee-based) tools and all-in-one platforms include more features – and many let you manage all your projects in one place and offer customer support.

SEMrush

SEMrush is a competitive research tool that gives you all the keyword features you expect and much more. Keep tabs on your competitors’ keywords and find opportunities to overtake them in Bing and in Google’s organic, paid, and shopping results. You can also discover trends, display ad copy for queried terms, and view popular landing pages for ranking websites.

SEMrush.png

Pros: 

  • Comes with a robust keyword research feature for discovering new high-volume search terms with low competition – and tracking them in the search engines.
  • Lets you spy on your competitors to find new keywords and ranking opportunities.
  • Includes other related search optimization features to audit your site, analyze keyword gaps, and generate new leads.
  • Uses colorful, visual charts to help you quickly spot trends and analyze results.

Cons:

  • If all you need is a basic keyword research tool, there are less expensive options out there.
  • A lot of features clutter the dashboard, so if you don’t need them all, you can find a more streamlined interface.

Who’s it good for?

Any content marketer who wants to improve their SEO efforts, find new ranking opportunities, and monitor the competitive landscape. There is a free trial with limited features you can try before you commit to a paid plan.

HubSpot Keyword and Content Strategy tools

The HubSpot marketing platform includes a well-rounded keyword tool to help you find relevant search terms with lower competition, and then track their performance over time. HubSpot has also released a beta version of a topic clustering tool that will let you enter search terms, and then show you related topics clustered into topical themes – the architecture of SEO in the Hummingbird era.

Hubspot.png

Pros:

  • Gauge keywords in the context of search volume and difficulty factors.
  • Track where you (and your competitors) rank for specific keywords.
  • See which search terms are driving traffic and leads.
  • Try before you buy with a free trial.
  • Cluster related topics with the beta content strategy tool. (HubSpot customers can sign up for early access here.)

Cons:

  • Need to be a HubSpot customer to access the tools.
  • If all you need is a keyword tool, this might be overkill.

Who’s it good for?

B2B marketers and agencies looking for a single marketing automation platform to manage everything from keyword and topic discovery to lead generation.

Moz Pro

The Moz Pro SEO suite lets you use one product for multiple SEO tasks – including keyword discovery, analysis, and tracking rankings. The included Keyword Explorer tool (also available as a stand-alone) gets high marks for discovering keywords and search volume ranges with a high degree of accuracy and scoring those with the greatest potential.

Moz keyword explorer.png

Photo Credit: Moz Sample Keyword Explorer List

Pros:

  • Research new topics using their audience intent explorer.
  • Build and prioritize keyword lists based on search volume, difficulty, opportunity, and importance.
  • View competitors’ and your own backlinks.
  • Leverage site crawling, on-page optimization tips, competitive analysis, and scoring.
  • Use the Moz browser extensions to do competitor research on the fly.
  • Try before you buy with a free trial.

Cons:

  • If you don’t need all the features, they can seem overwhelming.
  • Backlink analysis is not as in-depth as tools like SEMrush.
  • The number of keywords that can be tracked is limited compared to some other tools.

Who’s it good for?

Companies looking for an affordable all-in-one SEO platform with comprehensive features.

STAT Search Analytics

Designed and priced for enterprise-scale SERP tracking, STAT Search Analytics lets you monitor your daily rankings for an unlimited number of sites, URLs, and keywords in markets all over the globe. You can also keep tabs on your competitors without caps on websites or keywords.

Photo Credit: STAT Search Analytics

Pros:

  • Track thousands of web properties and competitor sites, in every country and language served by Google.
  • View search volumes, CPC data, and desktop and mobile rankings for any keyword from any SERP – including Google universal results (maps, news, etc.), Yahoo, and Bing.
  • Zero in on local search results by city, state, province, ZIP or postal code, or neighbourhood.
  • Define keyword segments, customize your reports and dashboards, and set up rank change alerts.
  • Automatically sync changes across all sites you’re managing, and share keyword sets across multiple web properties to lower costs.
  • Get extensive support and unlimited training sessions – whether you need help learning to use the software, customizing reports, or brainstorming strategy.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t offer keyword or topic suggestions.
  • If you’re only tracking a small number of keywords or competitors, there are more affordable tools out there.
  • No free trial offered – need to set up a demo with their team.
Who’s it good for?

Large-scale enterprises who need unlimited everything – from websites, keywords, and competitors tracked to the number of collaborators and training.

Conductor Searchlight

Conductor Searchlight lets you manage your global SEO initiatives – from keyword research and competitive analysis to website architecture, site performance, and custom reports.

conductor searchlight.png

Photo Credit: Conductor Searchlight

Pros:

  • Combine keyword research with other ranking factors, all aligned with the buyer’s journey.
  • Identify your online competitors and find opportunities to outrank them.
  • Predict traffic, leads, and potential revenues – and prioritize based on return on investment.
  • Access an experienced customer support team to help with everything from onboarding to using the platform.
  • Customize your reports to your needs.
  • Take advantage of a streamlined, modern user experience (UX).

 Cons:

  • If all you need is a keyword research tool, this might be overkill.
  • Depth of features means a steep learning curve.
  • Price tag for smaller businesses.

 Who’s it good for?

 In-house copywriters, content managers, search professionals, and enterprises with large, multi-site properties or subsidiaries looking for an advanced SEO platform.

BrightEdge Data Cube

Designed for enterprise companies with over 1,000 employees, BrightEdge Data Cube is a comprehensive keyword tool that analyzes organic traffic data and lets you see what kind of content is performing for your competitors. It’s part of a complete SEO and content platform.

BrightEdge 2016-08-17 11.42.06.png

Photo Credit: BrightEdge

Pros:

  • Conduct URL-based or keyword-based research in real time.
  • Find related keywords with specified search volumes.
  • Zero in on semantically related keywords with low competition.
  • Manage, track, and assign SEO tasks.
  • See which competitors are using rich content strategies to get new ideas for content marketing and ranking opportunities.
  • See which keywords and content are performing best over time.
  • Create customized dashboards.

Cons:

  • It can take time to learn how to use all the tools.
  • The number of pages and keywords you can track is capped, which may be an issue if you’re dealing with thousands of pages or hundreds of keywords.

Who’s it good for? 

Content managers of enterprise-level e-commerce sites who want to monitor performance and use advanced executive reporting functionality.


That completes our list. If you’re suffering from information overload, here’s a quick summary in chart form:

Chart of keyword research tool features

Keyword optimization is critical to improving your reach and rankings, but it’s far from the only factor. Find out more about creating content that satisfies the search engines and your best customers in our free e-book, “SEO in 2017: Is Good Content Good Enough?

Download our free SEO in 2017 e-book

Which keyword tools do you love, and why? Let us know in the comments.

SEO