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Five Advanced Keyword Research Tools

Written by David Harry   
Tuesday, 20 April 2010 13:09

(the following is a post by Elisa Gabbert)

Sometimes a basic, free keyword suggestion tool just isn't enough. If you're ready to move beyond the limited functionality of most online tools to do more in-depth keyword research for SEO and pay-per-click campaigns, here are five advanced keyword research tools well worth checking out.

SEM Rush

SEMRush: SEMRush is a competitive research tool that's useful for both SEO and PPC keyword research and analysis. It has several pricing levels; most of the keyword information is available in the free version, but paid versions return more results. SEMRush offers several features that can help you determine the value and competitiveness of keywords:

  • Keyword Trends, Cost and Volume – SEM Rush scrapes data from Google to tell you the average and current monthly search volume of a keyword, whether the keyword is trending up or down in use, and how competitive it is.
  • Top Competitors for Your Keywords – You can view a list of the domains that rank for the same keywords as you, and you can also see how much overlap in keywords you have with a given domain.

This data is helpful for determining how you measure up to competitors for your top keywords. If you're falling behind, you may need to drill down into your keywords and determine where you can increase relevance—potentially by expanding mid- and long-tail keywords. The downside is, all competitive tools have limited use, since what your competitors are doing isn't necessarily going to work for you.Independent keyword research is crucial for gaining a competitive edge.


Compete: As the name suggests, Compete is another competitive intelligence tool. A Compete account allows you to compare traffic and engagement metrics for competitive sites as well as analyze competitors' keyword strategies.

Analytics tools include:

  • Search Analytics: Find search referrals for a given site or category or enter a keyword to see which sites get traffic from it.
  • Referral Analytics: Enter a site or category to see which websites send traffic to it and get traffic from it.

Compete kw research data

With a Pro account you can also create custom ranked lists based on growth trajectory, upstream and downstream traffic and more. As with SEMRush, Compete can give you a better idea of how your keyword marketing measures up to that of other businesses in your space. However, you'll need to supplement this data with your own, personalized research.

Rank Tracker

Rank Tracker: Rank Tracker is a keyword rank checking tool offered by After you've done some initial keyword research and begun applying your keywords in search campaigns, you can use Rank Tracker to monitor the placement of your website in search engine results. Some of the key features include:

  • Unlimited Keyword Tracking in Over 600 Search Engines
  • Integrated Keyword Suggestion Tools
  • Auto-Pilot Tracking
  • Historical Rank Tracking
  • Customized Reports

It's important to keep track of your search engine rankings so you're aware of sudden drops (which can lead to huge losses in traffic) as well as discrepancies in performance across different search engines. But rankings in themselves are not as important as actual traffic and conversions, so you'll need to supplement a rank checker with in-depth analytics and more discovery-focused tools.


WordStream Keyword Management for SEO: This product is similar to WordStream's PPC keyword management software, but minus the PPC campaign creation tools and offered at a lower price point. It offers the same keyword suggestion capabilities as traditional tools like Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery, but layers on some great extras for roughly the same price. These extras include:

  • Personalized Keyword Suggestions
  • Keyword Analytics
  • Keyword Grouping and Organization
  • Content Authoring Tools

Word Stream data

The benefits of WordStream arise from having your keyword research/discovery tools, your workbench (the database structure replaces Excel), and your analytics dashboard integrated in one platform. And the content authoring tools help you act on your best keywords by getting them live on your site. What's missing, of course, is the ability to apply those keywords in paid search campaigns within the same tool, but you can get that functionality with the upgrade.

Raven SEO Tools

Raven: Raven is an SEO tool with several monthly pricing plans and a number of helpful features for search and Internet marketers. Features that are most relevant to the keyword research stage of your search campaigns include:

  • Paid and Organic Competitive Keyword Research
  • A "Keyword Manager" with Tags for Organization
  • A SERP Tracker for Keyword Rankings

Additional functionality includes website setup tools, link building tools, and content management features. This is a lot of functionality in one SEO tool, but with such a broad focus, you may find that Raven doesn't meet all your specific keyword research needs.

Data, Data Everywhere

One thing before we go. It is important to note that we always want to have diversity in any data set with SEO. In short, one should get more than one set of data for any research in SEO. Think of it like getting a second opinion. With the tools we've listed today you should be able to get a very concise picture of the keyword/query spaces that you can be confident in. If you know of any other great tools, please do leave them in the comments.

Elisa Gabbert

About the Author; Elisa Gabbert is the Content Development Manager at WordStream, a provider of SEO tools for researching, organizing and grouping large numbers of keywords. Elisa is a frequent contributor to the WordStream Internet Marketing Blog. You can follow her on Twitter @eGabbert.

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-2 # Fábio Ricotta 2010-04-20 13:53
Great post Elisa!

I love the SEM Rush tool. We always use it at our work. I've never tried this Rank Tracker tool. Thanks for the tip!
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-1 # Andy @ FirstFound 2010-04-20 15:53
I've heard good things about WordStream before. Might check it out.

Thanks for the list Elisa!
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+2 # Branko 2010-04-20 17:39
It is important to notice that none of these tools should be used for traffic volume prediction. I had a pro subscription for compete and the numbers there are so off that it was pretty much useless. Almost nothing useful could be extracted from compete.

Surprisingly MSN AdCenter Labs kwd tools are really really good. Especially the search funnel tool, enables some really nice derivative keyword extractions
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0 # Thomas Scott 2010-04-20 18:36
I'm a raventools user and I find that I use it more than some of the other tools on the list. It includes access to SEMrush which I find highly valuable for client pitches and research. For the low cost, it's a good foundation for company SEO work and although it is designed for pros, can be used by internal marketing folks just as well.
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0 # Directory Sieve 2010-04-22 12:35
those are some very good tools, very few people actually use compete for analysis because they think its just a tool to tell you rank of a website like alexa. Its time that people realise the true potential of these tools which have access to loads of web data for analysis.

and talking of alexa, the new "Search Analytics" tab that shows keywords in alexa ranks, is a great keyword finder tool as well :-)
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0 # Elisa 2010-04-22 14:46
Thanks, all, for your comments! I like the point about using tools like Compete that aren't as obvious for keyword research. I think it's a good idea not to rely on just one tool all the time.
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0 # searchengineman 2010-04-25 05:52
Having relied on Google's set of tools, which I take with a grain of salt. Are there any comprehensive studies out there which show the forecast accuracy of these tools? I wonder how you would even be able to measure this.

How correct are these tools?

My questions are:
"What is the value of my chosen words?", or even
"How many impressions or clicks I should expect to get?"

Requires a crystal ball in some cases. I have yet to see an authoritative article that pieces the tools together, into a process.

More importantly keyword research being so important to the success for PPC and SEO for individual sites. I am curious as to what favorite methods you all use?

So I'll show you mine..I hope you'll show me yours!

Searchengineman Method:

A) Site Scan - Using Google Beta Keyword Tool
Derrives core words. Up to 800. per site.

B) Competitive Scan of online competition same Google Beta Keyword Tool

It's a good idea to see if your competition is targeting the same stuff, these leads to further insights:

C) If you can use SKtool from Google even better (Requires an existing PPC campaign)
Google will even tell you which pages it recommends.

D) Use Google Webmaster Tools to research most popular Queries

E) Grab any data from Site logs, Analytics or actual terms typed in for ADWORDS- Keeping in mind this will generate a lot of long tail.

PURGE duplicates.
Add Plurals
Add Geo Terms City

F) Go to Yahoo Questions, I believe Word tracker also has a beta tool and find the most common questions on your topic. Look at the questions and the answers.

This is a good opportunity to also generate your negative keyword list to further qualify your strategy.


Now Generate Traffic Estimates for Geo-Target using regular Google keyword tool - I use Broad setting- Use Exact if you need Granular.

D) Go even more Granular analysis using Google Insights for regions. I use my most important keyword as a baseline and see how the traffic stacks against it. Pay attention for breakout words

Now you should have lots of words. I will sometimes use the Google Wonder Wheel to find even more. And begin to develop an SEO strategy, for content creation.

I'm curious how all of you use your Keyword Research. How you combine tools and gather competitive intelligence?

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0 # Ravi Shanker 2010-04-26 05:43
Here is some more

Keyword Tools:


Use the Keyword Tool to get new keyword ideas. Select an option below to enter a few descriptive words or phrases, or type in your website’s URL.


Discover the best keywords to target on your website. Keyword Discovery compiles keyword search statistics from all the major search engines world wide, to create the most powerful Keyword Research tool.


Word tracker can tell you the exact words that your customers use whenever they search, no matter what industry you’re in, and no matter what products or services you sell.


Keyword Research Services that gives you access to over 295 billion keywords in 41 languages spanning 243 countries using multiple keyword sources like Google, Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery. Smart Marketers no longer fish from just one lake of keywords. In fact, you gain an immediate edge over the competition when you…


The Search-based Keyword Tool provides keyword ideas.


Over 100 Niche Content Website Tools At Your Fingertips!This Overture (Yahoo!) Keyword Suggestion Tool is based on source code provided by Aaron Wall, the author of SEO Book.
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