Google has stopped providing traffic volume numbers in Keyword Planner Tool for “lower spending” Adwords accounts. Instead, we’re seeing ranges for traffic volumes—which means it’s significantly harder to judge which keywords are worthwhile to target.
If you’re not advertising with Google and have been using Keyword Planner Tool for SEO research, keyword information is likely become limited quickly.
Google claims this is to combat bots abusing their system and it’ll still be available for real people—but it’s pretty clear in my book.
Google is not happy people are using their best data for free and they’re taking it away.
Google has been sending us messages over the years that the good stuff is really for paying clients only, from “(not provided)” in Analytics and the advent of paid Analytics features to moving Keyword Planner Tool behind an Adwords signup wall. They’re progressively rolling out fancy, useful new tools for the big spenders in advertising and analytics that no one else is getting.
A technical glitch earlier this month even forced non-active accounts to lose Keyword Planner Tool access also makes me believe that Keyword Planner Tool isn’t going to stay a free tool forever.
So that means we need to start using alternatives to Google’s Keyword Planner Tool and give up on using the Keyword Planner Tool for free organic keyword research eventually.
My Favorite Free Keyword Planner Alternative
Hands down, my favorite SEO tool is SEMRush. I’m a pro subscriber and use it almost daily to do research for my clients and my own sites.*
But you can get a certain amount of data for free without signing up!
Go ahead and give it a try below. Just put in your target keyword or even a competitor site to see what SEMRush can do:
Free Google Keyword Planner Tool Alternatives
I’ve done quite a bit of footwork for you to find the best free alternatives to Keyword Planner Tool so you don’t have to dig through countless SEO research tools to find the right ones. Some are free-ish, meaning you get access to limited data or only a certain number of searches per day.
Here’s the best keyword research tools now that Keyword Planner Tool has booted us out the door!
Free Keyword Traffic Research Tools
- SEMRush – As I said above, this is hands down my favorite SEO research tool and is something I use every.damn.day in my SEO work. You get more free data than with Moz and the reports are more extensive than what Moz offers without an expensive plan. Plans are available for even more data at $69/mo.
- Moz Keyword Explorer – You get 2 free searches per day or you can purchase unlimited access as part of Moz Pro, which starts at $99/mo. This free keyword research tool gives you a ton of information, even if limited for free users, including keyword difficulty, opportunity, and suggestions as well as SERP analysis and volume.
- KWFinder – Visually the easiest to understand, this keyword research tool allows you to target specific locations and languages. You get 2 free searches per day and access to keyword difficulty, monthly search volume data, SERP analysis and keyword suggestions with keyword difficulty right in the list. It also includes CPC data, which can help you judge opportunity for organic versus paid strategies.
- SERPS – Simple and basic, this free keyword research tool gives volume data as well as suggestions. No limits as far as I’ve found but in terms of what’s out there, it’s pretty slim on data and filtering.
- Keyword Discovery – Even simpler than SERPS data, this just shows keywords and traffic numbers.
- Wordstream – I put this free keyword tool on the list because it’s still useful but just barely. It shows keywords and a bar graph of volume estimates. All other data is hidden.
Free Autocomplete Tools
You know when you start typing in a search to Google and it starts to autocomplete what you want to type? It’s a Google feature called Google Suggest. These keyword research tools grab all kinds of information from Google Suggest.
Some of these are better than others but are a great place to start to see what Google’s already pointing searchers towards in your topic areas. Personally, I would never pay for one of these tools because there are plenty of free options available.
The downfall of many Google Suggest scrappers is they start a search with your target keyword, rather than finding other keyword ideas where the target word is in the middle or end of the phrase (e.g. “SEO course” versus “courses about SEO”). However, some on this list don’t have that negative and are noted.
- KeywordTool.io – Probably the best of the lot, this tool searches Google Suggest for more than just phrases that start with your input. You can also add negative keywords to exclude from your search, which is useful if you’re trying to isolate specific types of keywords. You can change the country and language too. If you upgrade to Pro, you can also get volume data with your searches starting at $68/mo. (Ouch. Might as well get SEMRush or Moz at that price, friends!)
- Ubersuggest – Handy tool to use Google Suggest in different countries and for different search types, including images, news, Google shopping and Youtube. It also hooks up with Google Trends, which can be a useful addition to figure out the immediate relevancy of your target keywords. It’s also really well organized by alphabetical order, so it makes quick work of staying organized!
- Keyword.io – A more advanced tool that allows free searches and includes mid-phrase keyword ideas, you can create lists easily and export them for easy keyword research management.
- Yoast SEO Suggest – This tool is from the SEO powerhouse team at Yoast, organized alphabetically.
- Keyword Tool Dominator – You get 3 free searches per day on this Google Suggest scrapper. It pulls a pretty extensive list but can take a few tries to get what you’re looking for. You can pay for unlimited use at $19.99 once.
- Soovle – This tool gets autocomplete information from multiple sources, with only 10 from Google. Probably the least useful for Google specifically in the bunch but it great for getting ideas outside of Google’s domain.
Free Competitor Research Tools
- SpyFu – Use this to “spy” on the competition and see what they’re doing well that you can learn from and target. This is a free-ish tool that allows limited access to data but it still worth using from time to time to check in on what your competitors are doing. (And you can also check yourself too.)
- KeywordSpy – Honestly, I almost didn’t include this because their data was seriously lacking. But worth trying if you’re hard up for free data. Similar to SpyFu.
Weird But Useful Free Keyword Research Tools
These tools don’t fall neatly into any category because they each take a really unique and often strange approach to keyword research. These are a good place to start for keyword ideas or if you’ve exhausted your creativity and need to find more ideas.
- Seed Keywords – Create a search scenario and ask friends what they’d search for. Obviously, designing your test is of the utmost importance! And having friends who will answer your request.
- Answer the Public – We all know answering the who, what, where, why and how questions is important—but it can be annoying to figure all those out. This tool finds those for you in a pretty dramatic way.
- BuzzSumo – Social shares matter for SEO. This tool is used mostly by social media folks but can help you understand competition for target topical areas and keywords, what your audience already likes, and help you come up with new content ideas.
- Google Correlate – Take a keyword and see what else has a similar trend line for searches. Sometimes completely useless, sometimes useful to find related ideas and terms.
Want to stay up on the latest changes in SEO and make sure you know what’s coming? Be sure to sign up for my free weekly newsletter all about SEO. Each week I send out the latest changes and how you can adapt your website and content creation workflow to stay on top of search results.
* I’m an SEMRush affiliate and if you decide to purchase the tool, I may receive a commission from SEMRush for your referral. However, I recommend it because I truly believe in its value as a must-have SEO tool! It’s a huge part of my SEO work and I couldn’t do much of my job without it.