6 Free Tools for Competitor Keyword Research

There are many tools out there that can calculate the difficulty to rank different keywords. The problem is that most of the really good programs available on the market cost a good amount of money – so what if you just have a few keywords you want to research? Luckily, there are many tools that can perform competitor keyword research, and most of them are free or come with a free trial. These tools provide invaluable information about the competition and the difficulty of the keyword you are trying to rank – without having to break the bank in the process. Below you will find a handful of free tools or tools with free trials that I use to do competitor keyword research.


semrush homepage showing a search bar

Semrush is certainly one of the leading keyword/SEO research tools on the market – and rightfully so. It is used by large and small SEO companies from all over the world, and features a wide variety of keyword research and tracking tools. By signing up for the free trial, you get access to 10 additional requests on top of the 5 free requests you get originally. Requests can be for keyword difficulty, keyword spying on your competitors, as well as a few others listed on the features page.

Semrush Key Features

  • Track your most important keywords against Semrush’s massive 23.5 billion keyword database. Semrush boasts to have the largest keyword database worldwide, so you’ll have no problem tracking the keywords you care most about, but can also discover new keywords that you site could rank for as well.
  • Traffic Analysis allows you to see your top competitor keywords, along with user metrics belonging to your competitors such as the number of visits per month, average number of pages viewed per user, and bounce rate.
  • Semrush Pro gives you access to website auditing for up to five sites, helpful social media tools, and scheduled reports.

Semrush Free Trial

  • Free trial allows you to perform basic searches (limited to 10 per day). There are also three paid pricing tiers: Pro: $119.95/mo, Guru: $229.50/mo, Business: $449.95/mo. Paying for the whole year up front for any plan provides a 17% total discount.

ahrefs Positions Explorer

ahrefs position explorer and other SEO tools

Ahrefs has a free trial of their keyword tools for all users as long as you sign up and verify using an email. With Ahrefs, you can see around 10-15 organic keywords from your site and what they rank for. I personally use Ahrefs primarily to check what backlinks I have received, they are the most accurate I have found in terms of reporting. Another cool feature is you can use the calendar view under backlinks to see when they were added and from what URL based on the date they were added. Really useful if you want to see your newest backlinks!


spy on competitors using SpyFu's free keyword tools

SpyFu is really one of the best tools I’ve found that provides a ton of keyword information, completely free. I went in-depth talking about SpyFu in my tutorial videos: (Link opens Youtube video)

You can also check which keywords are being used by your competitors, and also compare two sites to see which keywords they share, as well as an estimate to the number of visitors they receive each month based on their SEO scores.

KW Finder


Mostly an unknown tool, but I find KW Finder as an easy way to search for CPC data that Google AdWords also provides, but without the need to login and go through multiple steps to see the keyword volume and other stats. You will want to check the data with another tool if you’re going to do ad spending, because sometimes I have found the data to be slightly inflated. Otherwise – it’s a handy tool for getting search volume data and providing a quick gauge at how difficult it is to rank a keyword.

MOZ Open Site Explorer

moz site explorer

Moz is pretty expensive and really only intended for serious internet marketers and agencies, but it does have a few tools that provide limited amounts of data if you’re looking for some insight on keywords. The Open Site Explorer provides a list of inbound links (similar to that of Ahrefs) and also a top pages section to see the best performing parts of your site, just to name a few features. As with most top-tier programs, the more data and searches comes with a monthly plan – and Moz starts off at $100+ a month for their cheapest plan. I think I’ll stick with SpyFu for now.

Google Keyword Planner

google keyword planner homepage

We couldn’t have a keyword competitor list without having Google Keyword Planner on the list. Google Keyword Planner is as close to the authority as you can get in terms of search volume, CPC, and related keywords. Tools like Long Tail Pro work directly off the data that Google Keyword Planner provides. If you are just starting out, this is the program you should become familiar with before any of the other ones. It’s also the only tool that is completely free for all features. You do not need to spend money on advertising to use this tool, you just need to create a Google AdWords account (no funding necessary).

And that’s about it! All of these free tools will point you in the right direction and enable you to check up on the competition and determine which keywords are best to focus on for your next SEO goal. Do you have a (free) competitor keyword research tool that could be useful to add into this list? Leave a comment below or send me a message in the contact form and I’ll be sure to add it to the list as long as it’s not spammy.

1 thought on “6 Free Tools for Competitor Keyword Research”

  1. Thanks, Jon! Great overview with important details. What do you think about also free keyword research tool as http://kparser.com?

    Our team has developed it for own needs. But our colleagues have loved it in one day. So, we are happy to share it with everyone seo master. I’ll be happy to see your conclusion about our tool.


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