What would a solid SEO and content marketing strategy be without keywords? Understanding what your target audience is searching for is just as important as flour is for baking a cake.

Let’s say your business is a local bakery that makes wedding cakes. You can research keywords simply by typing the keyword “wedding cakes” in a keyword tool, organize the results by monthly search volume and discover the keywords that you should be using in your content.

There are a ton of keyword research tools available to help you do this, however, some of them are expensive, inaccurate and provide more functionality than what you really need. So, which tools are worth it? I already did the work for you and highlighted the pros and cons of each from an SEO perspective.

Here are the top four best free keyword research tools.

the top five best keyword research tools1. Google Ads Keyword Planner

When researching the keywords to use in your content, finding the monthly search volume for specific relevant keywords is only half the battle; finding the right keywords that your business should be ranking for is another. Google Ads Keyword Planner can help you do just that.

Overall functionality: As far as overall functionality, Google Ads Keyword Planner definitely tops the list. In addition to performing robust and accurate keyword research, Google Ads Keyword Planner also allows users to take their research a step further and build plans, add metrics and goals, and also create ads from specific keywords. This tool not only allows you to boost the SEO of your website content but also build a marketing strategy from start to finish.

Ease of use: Google Ads Keyword Planner is super easy to use, even for users who have never researched keywords before. Google Ads Keyword Planner guides users through the process by giving them options to research keywords based on what they are trying to do.

For example, when first accessing Keyword Planner, Google provides users with the option to either discover new keywords or get the monthly search volume for a particular keyword. If a user chooses the option to discover new keywords, users can then search for a particular keyword or by a website or web page.

top keyword research tool: ranktracker

2. Ranktracker

Ranktracker is a tool that allows you to not only research keywords, but also analyze competition and track your search engine ranking all in one platform. Even though Ranktracker is a relatively new tool available on the market, it is still a simple yet powerful platform that provides you with the SEO insights you need to attract the right traffic to your website or landing pages.

Overall functionality: Ranktracker boasts that it provides users with “everything they need to boost rankings.” This claim is certainly true from what I have gathered by researching and using this tool. However, many of the features that Ranktracker offers are only available with a paid version.

Ranktracker does offer a seven-day free trial, but it might not be enough time to really see how the tool works for you, especially since it takes at least 30 days to see how keywords perform.

Ease of use: From what I have experienced, Ranktracker is relatively easy to use; however, some of the features are a bit clunky. For example, it can take time to pull data or run reports. It is also somewhat difficult to see the increases and decreases in keyword rankings. Therefore, the tool isn’t as intuitive as it could be…

Additionally, in order for the tool to provide real-time, up-to-the-minute results, the tool needs to constantly run in the background. And unless you have a 5,000 MHz laptop, it will likely bog down your computer’s performance.

top keyword research tool: answer the public

3. AnswerThePublic

AnswerThePublic is a keyword visualization tool that combines suggested searches from Google and Bing and organizes them into a bloom diagram of related search terms and phrases.

AnswerThePublic also provides users with a free report on what keywords users are searching for on Google, which can help them determine which topics to include in their content strategies. This is also a great tool for solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, or small businesses with limited time and resources.

Overall functionality: As an avid marketer myself, I immediately fell in love with the idea of AnswerThePublic and how it helps discover content and topics that people actually want to read.

The data that AnswerThePublic collects tells you everything you need to know about your audience, prospects and customers. And with the free version of AnswerThePublic, you can perform up to three searches per day, which is likely enough for freelance marketers, solopreneurs or even small teams.

Although AnswerThePublic focuses more on performing search queries rather than specific keywords and keyword rankings, it is still one of my favorite tools. It also allows you to run reports based on specific search queries.

Ease of use: AnswerThePublic is pretty easy to use. You can see what questions and topics users are searching for in seconds. Simply create a free account, enter a keyword in the search field, click “get questions” and check out your results. That’s it. You can also easily customize search results and reports.

top keyword research tool: keywords everywhere

4. Keywords Everywhere

Last but certainly not least, Keywords Everywhere is another great tool I had to include on my list. Keywords Everywhere pulls search engine data from over 16 different websites, including Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Google Trends, Moz and more. It also works with AnswerThePublic and Google Ads Keyword Planner, showing you search volume, cost-per-click (CPC) and competition for keywords.

Overall functionality: If you have read some of my other articles, then you know I am a huge fan of browser extensions for content marketing. If there is an extension, plug-in and/or any type of tool that makes my job easier, I am all about it. Keywords Everywhere also offers browser extensions. Visit their website and choose your preferred browser (Chrome or Firefox) to install it.

Ease of use: Keywords Everywhere is also super easy to use. Once you install it on your browser, the tool does the rest. Keywords Everywhere automatically pulls in keyword data while you are typing in a keyword or phrase in the search bar.

The right keyword tool for you depends on your needs.

So, there you have it: a brief list of the best free keyword research tools to help you discover new keywords, what keywords your competitors use and what content you should be writing about.

Depending on your needs, you may find that one tool is a better fit for you over another. However, every one of these tools can make searching for keywords and giving your SEO strategy that extra oomph a piece of cake.